Dear Nicole: How do you thaw ‘gift freeze’?

Dear Nicole,

I have an illness I’ll just call ‘gift freeze.’ When I have to buy gifts (like right about now), all of a sudden it’s like I’m completely dumb about what the people in my life would like. I don’t know what to buy anyone. How do I unfreeze myself so I can actually participate in Christmas?

— Gift Freeze Victim

I relate to your struggle, GFV. I have several really thoughtful friends and a mother who select perfectly thoughtful gifts consistently while I walk in a store and don’t even know which direction the bathroom is.

Online can be a good source for you, not necessarily to buy but for ideas. Most major retailers (and some blogs) have ‘Gifts for Her’ or ‘Gifts for a Food Lover’ and other such categories on their website. This might give you an idea of what is possible. “Oh he did say he wanted a scarf.” or “I noticed she borrowed my Dutch oven a couple times the last couple years.” may come to you as you browse the selections.

Another thing is to be thoughtful throughout the year (yes, I know it’s a bit late for this). I have a note on my phone I keep updated when someone mentions liking a particular band or wishes they could get a particular item, I write it down, whether it’s June 1 or Dec. 26. It’s almost like having the space to record it makes me a little more thoughtful in general as I look for things to add to that list.

But please, no matter what, take the perfection out of it. There is no such thing as the perfect person, the perfect gift or the perfect holiday. Just buy something you think they’ll like and, if they are the right kind of person, they will appreciate both the gift and the gesture.


Dear Nicole,

My friend just regifted me something I gave them a few years ago. They clearly have no idea, but I’m kind of insulted. Should I say anything?

— Boomeranged

Once a gift has left your hands, the recipient can do whatever he or she wants with it. That person can put it in the bathroom, let the cat sleep on it, whatever. It belongs to them.

I am personally guilty of the regift but have always worried I would accidentally regift it back to the person who originally gave it, which is why I now either sell unwanted items or give them away.

In any case, do the universe a favor and donate it/sell it to someone else. Putting it back in your friend circle by giving it to someone else may boomerang it right back to you in an unexpected way. (The universe is a strange place and I bet this very idea has been a sitcom episode plot at least once!)

Or keep the item if you like it. In terms of level of offenses, this one is pretty minor. Maybe your friend saw this gift and thought to themselves. “Jim would like this more than I do.” And let’s face it, at one time you did because you bought it and it sat in their closet for 12 months. You can mentally note that your friend does not share your love of, say, cat-themed coffee mugs and move on.

Or, hope the item becomes a running joke. The regift that never dies is a popular tradition among some circles of friends.


Dear Nicole,

My cousin borrowed my car to pick up a Christmas tree. I thought he would use the roof rack (I have a Subaru with one), but somehow he put the tree IN the car. I know this because there are pine needles and sap everywhere. While it smells nice, it’s a mess and he has said nothing. What should I do?

— Pine Tree Air Freshener Not Needed

I appreciate you seeing the silver lining in this (at least it smells good).

I think a lot of people are unintentionally inconsiderate about parts of their lives.

I dated someone who hated when I left knives in the sink. I wanted to let them soak; he thought I was trying to kill him by death of a thousand cuts. I had no idea until he blew up at me one day. While I still think his delivery could have been improved, once he pointed out the behavior, I could stop doing it. Or at least do it a lot less. (Yes, I did occasionally slip up.) But now, I am very intentional about where I put knives in a general way.

So you need to tell your cousin he left your car a mess and show him why it’s a mess (sap on back seat, pine needles in between seat cushions, etc.). Most people will be mortified and offer to take your car for a cleaning. If he shows no remorse, you’ll have to scrub your own sap and just vow never to lend him your car again… or develop a very specific set of rules for anyone who borrows your car in the future.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

Latest posts by Nicole Ouellette (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.