Dear Answer Angel:
Can you help me avoid a problem that has bugged me for the last couple of Christmases? I've bought the "big" present for my boyfriend (a splurge, I might add). Then there we are on Christmas morning in his parents' living room, and he opens his present from his mom and stepfather. Have you already guessed? It's the same present I bought him that is sitting under the tree, waiting for the oooohs and ahhhhs that won't come now. How do I avoid this duplication and disappointment all around?
-- Holiday Letdown
Most important, congratulations on your generous desire to give your man a special gift he really wants. The way to make sure that your present is unique (in other words, that his parents don't steal your thunder) is to conspire in advance. Tell the 'rents, "I'm planning on giving Jack a ------. Because we've had some duplication in the past, I thought I would check with you first to avoid the problem this year." Let's hope they reply by saying that they'll choose a different gift. You could even suggest one.
If they insist on giving what you had planned, at least you'll have some notice and can pick something else. One final idea: Perhaps Jack would really love a gift that is too expensive for you or his parents to buy individually. In this new spirit of cooperation, why not go in together on one big present? That way everybody wins.
Here to help
Send your holiday-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.