Rachel Dugan: 'Giving a subtle self-rewarding gift is a fine art'
They say it's better to give than to receive - but I'm not so sure. The real gifting sweet spot comes when you give and receive.
It was at the forefront of my mind earlier this week after my husband served up a plate of delicious homemade ravioli, the result of me gifting him a pasta-making course for his birthday.
Let me introduce you to the joy of the self-rewarding gift.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
Tickets for gigs fall into this category, as do vouchers for an array of experiences that require a companion (afternoon teas, spa days and the like).
Then there's the classic of the genre, the surprise trip away, which promises a massive reward for the gifter.
However, unless you are the default plus-one, these presents all come with the risk you will be left high and dry, so probably best to keep these kinds of presents for partners or particularly close friends.
As well as the above, there are some other, less obvious ways of securing yourself a grubby kickback.
Buying someone an updated version of something they already own can be a winner. I once bought my other half a state-of-the-art running watch to replace the basic one he'd been using for the last year. As he "ooohed" and "ahhhed" over his new toy, I smiled graciously, all the time wondering how long it would be before the inevitable bequeathing to me of the old watch.
This tactic works particularly well for gifts of a techie nature, as the rate at which products update ensures the discarded 'old' item is still quite new.
When it comes to co-habiting couples, there is always the option of gifting something 'for the house'. Generally, this needs to be quite a 'sexy' household item or else it will be seen at best as a crap gift and at worst some kind of slight on their home-making skills.
For instance, vacuum cleaners are generally not well received, unless your partner (like me) finds hi-tech cordless Hoovers strangely alluring.
My other half, long wise to my present ploys, did once try to reciprocate but failed miserably. For my birthday, I was given the Playstation 3 I knew he'd been hankering after for some time.
But the key to getting away with self-rewarding gifts is choosing something the person actually wants or will enjoy.
Now I never tire of telling people how my husband once bought me a Playstation 3, an act so abhorrent the retelling is invariably met with sharp intake of breath. Now, there's a gift that keeps on giving.
Don't judge my PDAs with my beloved pooch
LET'S face it, nobody likes PDAs, (Public Displays of Affection) but when I pucker up and plant one on our dog in public, I resent the fact people are silently judging me.
It also happens when I feed him a chip, then go straight in for one myself without first emptying the contents of a bottle of hand sanitiser over my head.
Sometimes it feels as if the whole world is suffering from a collective case of germophobia.
We are constantly being reminded about the many trillion germs in our homes. From the coffee machine to the toothbrush holder to your make-up bag, it feels like we are living in one ginormous petri dish humming with bacteria.
The germ-mongering is so intense it's a wonder half the population haven't decided to live out their days in a self-disinfecting Perspex box.
So I do understand why people look on disapprovingly when I kiss my dog or feed him something from my plate.
But this week a Swiss clinic revealed men's beards are in fact more germ-ridden than your average pooch.
So, germophobes of Ireland, lay off me and my dog and save your disgust for smooching hipsters and other beard-related PDAs.