In preparation for my child’s (known colloquially as The Widget) upcoming 9th birthday, I have been sneaking packages from Japan and Hong Kong into the house, each laden with imported Gokaiger toys.  I am also, apparently, buying a parakeet, a gift that the child both knows about and is pretty insistent that she absolutely needs after the expiration of her poor hamster last year.  As someone who is VERY hard to buy for, I kind of envy her, as she is always shocked and delighted by each birthday or Christmas gift, whereas I often find myself smiling and nodding at something that I don’t want, wouldn’t have purchased for myself, or worst of all, already have.  To that end, I’ve had to implement Rodrigo’s idea of a list of things that would make good gifts for me each fall, so that my late-December birthday and Christmas unwrapping (which are and will always be separate, even if one gift is small and symbolic) doesn’t end with another plaid shirt or Spider-Man toy from McDonalds…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) got you this watchfob, but can’t understand why you’re so shocked about it’s hair, asking: When it comes to gifts, given the choice, do you or do you NOT want to know what you’re getting in advance?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I personally don’t want to know. To me that sort of takes away the point of a gift, especially at Christmas. My wife’s family are insane in that they each by their own gifts and then give them to the people that will then give them back to them. I refuse to take part in that heresy.

  2. When it comes to gifts, I have found that either a person is surprised or they get what they want. So, for me, I have found surprise a bit overrated with gifts.

  3. I finally just started keeping a wish list on Amazon of various priced things for people to use. I also use it to keep track of what I might buy myself. That being said I like to be surprised with something I want.

  4. I prefer to be surprised. Which is probably a good thing because whenever I provide a list of ideas, all my family members proceed to get me something that isn’t on my list anyway. Fortunately, most of them know me well enough that their choices are usually pretty good. For the few others, well, let’s just say that I also have a good sense of humor. And bad gifts only have a brief statute of limitations before you can dispose of them properly!

  5. I prefer the surprise.

    Funny enough, I have some friends in Japan that I asked if they could send me a couple of the Gokaiger Ranger Keys and I offered to pay them back. Instead, they continue to surprise me with packages containing new Super Sentai and Kamen Rider collectibles. They won’t accept a dime and continue to send me surprises (even sent a Mothra plushie along with more Ranger Keys a little while back).

  6. I created a shared Google document of items under 20 dollars that I thought I needed or wanted at some point. It has tons of stuff on it (mostly books), so I never really know what I’m getting, while at the same time knowing what I’m getting is something I want. Best of both worlds.

  7. I don’t like to be surprised. Typically I just ask for Amazon gift cards so I can get what I like. I don’t expect people to know that I want the JMS Spider Man Collection Volume 5 Ultimate Edition. Chances are they will either get it wrong, or their eyes will cross if I try and explain specifics.

    • ……and of course I use those gift cards by first coming to the Major Spoilers website and using the Amazon portal.

  8. In my family we typically share lists of gift ideas before the holidays. It’s hard to know what people will enjoy/appreciate/need, even if you know their general interests/hobbies. For example, even if you know someone is in to photography you wouldn’t want to guess what kind of flash or tripod to buy them. With suggestion lists it’s still somewhat of a surprise because you won’t get everything from the list, and people have the right to go “off-list.”

    • My stepmother completely misunderstood the lists. I did a similar thing and would make a list of things I might like. Every year she took a look at my list and said I was greedy (even though I explained I wasn’t expecting the whole list, just one or two things).

      I tried to keep the list diversified enough because of both the family budget (one year we’d have a lot to spend, the next we might be scraping by) and availability, but also left some things vague enough (like “Anything Star Wars” or “Any Superhero T-Shirt”).

  9. Mine’s kind of a weird mix. For one, I know I will be getting certain things every Christmas, socks, skibbies, and new sleep bottoms, and love this fact. (I actually got a little worried last time when I was down to 4 packages to open and hadn’t got any, my parents came through though.) And with my parents finally embracing more of my geekier hobbies, table-top gaming, comics, etc., I have to give them a bit more info before they can get me anything just to make sure it is something I actually would want. However, the best gifts every year are the ones that come completely out of left field, such as the giant Marvel and DC encyclopedias, the Original Trilogy DVD’s packed with the Marvel comic adaptations of each, or the hard bound-special edition Lord of the Rings trilogy book set, that lets me know my parents are really paying attention to what/who I’ve become.
    So, I guess that means I like the spot-on surprise gifts better, but still really enjoy knowing that I will always get certain things because my parents are awesome like that.

    • We have some traditional gifts that we give our kids every Christmas and they react much the same way you do when they’re down to the last few items and the oddball board game hasn’t been given yet.

  10. This is why I love Amazon’s wish list feature. With the Wish List extension in my Chrome browser, I can mark anything on any site as a want and add it to my Amazon wish list. I have a large mix of things on my list in various price ranges and it either tells people exactly what to get or gives them ideas if they want to find something for me.

    I prefer being surprised except when the gift is from my parents. If I don’t specify what I want for them, they will default to a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers and while I don’t mind nice kicks, I don’t like having fifty different pairs when I can’t wear sneakers to work.

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