The 5 Best and Worst Gifts Given to Me by Boyfriends

It’s that time of year. Time to feel the pressure to give the perfect gift to the person you love. I have dated some really thoughtful guys, all of whom have managed to at some point give me something really thoughtful. Some of those same guys have also given me a serious case of bad-present face.

The 5 Best Gifts I’ve Ever Received from a Boyfriend

The monogram and journal in question

1. One boyfriend designed for me my very own monogram and had it tooled onto a leather journal with the wish that I would become a writer.

2. Another guy organized an ice-skating trip to the outdoor rink downtown. He then got one of his photographer friends to sneak around taking pictures of us so we had this totally sweet picture to cherish.

3. One year I was feeling really bad about myself as I grew out a pixie. My boyfriend at the time found the best hairdresser in town and bought me gift-certificates enough to work through that awkward mullet phase.

4. Another guy I dated listened to the fact that I didn’t want to do Christmas gifts. We stayed home, made dinner, and watched cheesy movies. It was the best.

5. A college boyfriend surprised me with a trip to New York and tickets to see a play by one of my favorite playwrights.

The 5 Worst Gifts I Have Ever Received from a Boyfriend

1. An ice-scraper. In fairness, it was a very nice ice-scraper.

2. A camera that was more a gift for him than for me.

3. A cheap scarf from Paris that the dude had bought for himself because he was cold, but gave to me when he remembered he should have gotten me something.

4. Tickets to a concert to see a band that was his, not my, favorite.

5. Gloves.

So, readers, what are your best and worst gifts? Have you been suffering from present face?

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

8 replies on “The 5 Best and Worst Gifts Given to Me by Boyfriends”

Best: My ex (the idiot that he was) actually bought thoughtful presents (I wish I could say he was thoughtful about anything else). For Christmas he bought me a new (vintage) copy of To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (the copy I used for my modern fiction class broke at the binding). He also bought me two of my favorite movies on DVD (LIKE A MONTH AFTER MY BIRTHDAY): The Big Lebowski and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
A few years ago my folks bought me seasons 1 & 2 of The Adventures of Pete and Pete on DVD.

Worst: Aside from my grandma and aunt getting me presents that I was way too older for all the time when I was younger, I remember the year I turned five my dad bought me a Thomas train set (it was mostly for him) and I fucking hated it for some reason. But looking back on it, I am glad that I had fairly unisex toys as a kid. I think it helped me get past some of the stupid “gender roles” society tried to put on me (which I think was honestly my problem with the train set).

Since I’ve never had a significant other I’ll just share my best and worst overall.

Worst: a friend went to France and got this illustrated book of The Princess and the Pea, in French. I can’t read French, I dislike the story of the Princess and the Pea and the book is so tall that I can’t fit it on any of my bookshelves, so it it’s not even on display.  What’s sad is she obviously wanted it for herself, but she has guilt issues about buying things specifically for her so she got it for me instead.  It’s not that it’s a bad gift from the outside, but she clearly wasn’t thinking of me when she got it.

Best: There are 2.  One is a necklace from Crete that another friend got me that is disk of hephaestion, thought to be a calendar.  The second is an Aztec calendar painted on leather; the friend knew I enjoyed studying Meso- and South- American ancient cultures and got me something she knew I would enjoy.  Funny that both of my favorite gifts are calendars, but I guess that’s how it goes.

Worst gift?

A ten stone diamond necklace and a solitaire diamond ring from my emotionally abusive ex. They were like a yolk and mark of ownership. I felt tonnes lighter when I ended it and could remove them at last without being indebted to him.


My best gift from a boyfriend was a bag of Swedish berries for our one year anniversary, still together 3 years later! It was so thoughtful because I love Swedish berries and after the outlandishness of the former boy, something as simple as a bag of candy fit exactly right with our relationship

It wasn’t for Christmas, but I got a hair salon gift certificate too and it was so wonderful and unexpected. I was still in school and super poor and just couldn’t deal with my hair at all. The salon didn’t even sell gift certificates, so he had them write one out on some stationery and everything. It was really sweet.

Worst was a digital camera from a different boyfriend. It was a great camera but I only shot Polaroids back then and a scanner would have been much more appreciated so I could scan the Polaroids and put them up online. Getting me the digital camera just showed me how much he didn’t really know me at all. He thought the point was having photos (any kind of photos) online, but it was the process of taking the photos (and specifically taking Polaroids) that meant something to me. Obviously we had bigger issues than photography!

Best: a boyfriend when I was a teenager gave me a painting.  That he painted himself.  For me.  The relationship was short-lived, but that painting still lives in my room.  Other best gifts include my brothers getting me amazing Blackhawks tickets, a hand-knitted scarf, a trip to London (planned in advance, but still an AWESOME gift from my parents) and, this year (again planned in advance and because my parents are awesome) tickets to American Idiot this winter and Book of Mormon next winter, both with the family.

I really have nothing in mind for worst.  Maybe I’m just easily pleased, or maybe I have been blessed with some really good gift givers, but I don’t remember anything in particular.

I will admit that while sometimes I can come up with the perfect gift, I have also given some truly terrible gifts in my day, so I try not to be too hard on anyone for a less-than-stellar gift.  We’ve all been there.


– Picture of the mountains around my parent’s place, after I said I missed the mountains. Also put said picture on a book mark so I could keep it with me all the time



– A book from the best seller rack at the NZ version of Walmart that he bought because “it looked like something [I] might read”. He spent no time actually finding out if I would read it. I probably would have but his cavalier attitude about it meant I just get angry whenever I see it.


Thankfully the best and worst are two completely different boyfriends. The best is still hanging around, I have no idea what the worst is up to.

This year we’re just buying food magazines subscriptions using loyalty points for each other. Easiest present buying ever!

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