Gift giving is a treacherous thing. There are many different philosophies.

Some make a list and want something directly from that list. Others want to be surprised and purposely don’t tell people they want anything. Still others truly don’t want anything.

As for the gift-giver, some want that list, others just want a hint, and still others rely on what they know about the person and wrack their brains to come up with something creative and interesting.

Some want to purchase the gift, while others want to give an experiential gift that one could never buy on their own.

A few years ago, a friend of mine worked on trying to get me in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade holding one of the ropes of the Spider-Man balloon. Now that’s definitely something I couldn’t buy myself. (I wouldn’t have even thought of it.)

Gift-giving is often frustrating – especially as we get older. People become harder to buy for as they are more able and inclined to buy what they want. It’s made even more frustrating when you have competing philosophies.

One of my best friends doesn’t like to be surprised and insists on specific things she wants, while I like gifts that are creative and unpredictable. (The thought being I’m not buying it with my own money, so I’m open to anything.)

When we exchange gifts, I try and be creative for her, which she doesn’t like, and she doesn’t know what to get me, because I like to be surprised.

This often leads to arguments that dance around this question: Would you rather be disappointed that someone close to you has no idea what to get you? Or would you rather be given something you have absolutely no interest in having?

Gift giving, on its face, sounds like it should be a wonderful and generous act. But, in reality, I can’t believe how much disappointment and anger it can generate.