I love you, but not enough to give up my weekly manicure.
This year’s shaky economy makes gift-giving a lesson in sacrifice. Often, altruism pays off, resulting in overwhelming gratitude.
Other times — like when you buy somebody a custom-picked garment and receive a generic candle in exchange — financial sacrifice bites.
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That’s why I’m advocating a return to the old-fashioned “no purchase necessary” gift.
Sure, you can call this approach tacky, selfish, even a little inappropriate.
And you’d probably be right.
That doesn’t mean the cost-free gift can’t spread happiness and joy.
For instance, consider all the merriment you’ll see on Christmas morning when you announce you’re removing all annoying catch phrases from your vocabulary.
If you thought Grandma was happy to annually receive argyle sweaters, wait until you witness her elation upon realizing she’ll never again have to feign laughter at your failed Larry the Cable Guy imitation.
Altered social networking habits also make great gifts.
Nothing exudes seasonal generosity like a gift-wrapped promise to refrain from all Facebook status updates involving your toddler’s bodily fluids.
Or, vow to cease all FarmVille-related postings.
Trust me, that’s the equivalent of a diamond ring.
Still stuck? Consider these ideas:
Ignore your sister’s request for perfume and instead tell her you’re going to go an entire year without asking when she’s going to get married, find a job or start having kids.
She’ll scream like a little girl receiving a Barbie Dream House.
In lieu of seasonal fruit baskets, treat your co-workers to a cost-free Christmas miracle: no loud, drama-ridden personal phone conversations for next six months.
Finally, delight your loved ones by throwing away That Shirt — you know, the eye sore that generates awkwardness at family gatherings for either being too revealing or resembling a rag left in a downtown trash bin.
See, cost-free gifts have really come a long way since those cheesy coupon books we used to make in elementary school.
By simply abandoning a few of your annoying personality quirks, you can spread good cheer faster than the swine flu.
The process requires no long lines, no size selection, no credit card debt.
Most importantly, these gifts echo one of the holiday season’s most important lessons: It’s the thought that counts.
Even if that thought is “I’d rather spend money on myself than on you.”