Gift Guide: Hostile Gifts

This month, we’re putting together a series of feminist gift guides. 

It’s that time of year again! Time to talk about hostile gifts.

A hostile gift is not merely a bad gift or an insulting gift. Rather, a hostile gift is meant to intentionally inspire perplexity, confusion, and apoplexy in the recipient. This third annual hostile gift guide should help you not only to select a hostile gift, but to determine whether you have received one. 

This year, I’m trying a different tack with hostile gifts: Gifts that could be great on their own, but can be hostile in the right context. You may have already received some hostile gifts this year, or maybe you have a relative you can always count on for a hostile gift—if so, please tell us about them in the comments! If your mother-in-law gave you mimeographed diet tips or an old bottle of ketchup, please let us know.

1. A book or music you know that person has and loves. Say your favorite book is Fun Home by the great Alison Bechdel. You talk about it all the time, you’ve given it to everyone you know. If someone gives it to you saying, “I know how much you love this,” that’s just weird and it’s probably a hostile gift.

2. Food, drinks, or sweets you’ve sworn off. If earlier in the year your “friend” gave up sugar, it would certainly be a hostile gift to buy them the most gorgeous, delicious chocolate bar from one of these women chocolatiers for Christmas, saying, “I thought you might want a special treat now.”

3. Shallow, Selfish, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision NOT to Have Kids by Meghan Daum. A great book that’s potentially a hostile gift for anyone who already has kids or has one on the way.

4. Cookbooks for people who hate to cook. I personally would love to receive a copy of The Sugar Cube (the Bitch Media staff misses having the Sugar Cube on our street!), Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian India, or Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week. If you’re lucky and you make a hostile gift to just the right person, maybe they’ll regift it to you!

5. Purity by Jonathan Franzen. There are only two options for Purity: It’s either a burdensome tome by an author they hate or a book that they think they might like but will never have time to read and that will instead sit on their bedside table, haunting them all the way through 2016.

Read another hostile gift guide right here. 

by Julie Falk
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Julie Falk has been the Executive Director of Bitch Media since 2009.

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