My Christmas Card Shananigans

Christmas is a great time of year. Hopefully we all agree that the real reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Without Him, none of this would matter. A nice perk to the holidays is gifts (be honest, you like them as much as the next guy). I am going to risk sounding cliché and state that for as much as I enjoy receiving gifts, I enjoy giving gifts just as much, if not more. There is just something about putting thought into a present for a loved one and then watching them light up when they open it. It makes me feel all warm inside. I like that feeling.

As the youngest in a family of five, gift giving has become much simpler in recent years. We still love each just as much, we just realize there are more important things than giving each other meaningless objects to sit around the house. For this reason, gift cards for entertainment are great. It gives the person you love a chance to get out, maybe make a memory or two, and to top it off, not spend any money (unless you were a cheap skate and didn’t get a large enough gift card). The problem with gift cards, at least for me, is they are about the most anti-climatic gifts ever. While kids get to rip into large boxes full of goodies, you are left handing your brother a piece of paper that says, “Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.” What joy. How do we make gift cards more fun to give (and hopefully to receive)? We incorporate a gag gift into the presentation.

Take last year for example. I wanted to give my wife a gift certificate for a massage because she is on her feet all night at work and while my back rubs are numerous, they suck. I admit it. I didn’t just want to hand her the email print out or even put it in a greeting card, so I tried to get creative. I pulled out my 2007 Upper Deck Rookie Premiere box, retrieved all 30 cards from my Rookie Premiere binder and put them back into the box. I hid the gift certificate under the plastic tray, replaced the tray and cards, and then sealed the box in heat shrunk wrapping. On Christmas morning, I told her as I handed the box to her that this was a special present. When she ripped off the paper, I could tell she was a little confused why she was holding a box of cards. I explained that she had mentioned she would like to understand my hobby a little better and now she had her own small set of cards to look at. She still seemed skeptical, so I told her to at least flip through the cards. She began leafing through them as I pointed out that Brady Quinn still hadn’t lived up to his hype and that Adrian Peterson was the best card of the set. She was acting interested, but I could tell she was still confused why I bought her cards for Christmas. I took the box lid and said, “Hey, this says to look for rare autographed cards randomly inserted into the sets. Were any of those autographed?” She flipped through them again and said that none were. I then said, “Well, maybe they didn’t want to leave out one of the cards since you are buying a full set. Maybe they put it under the plastic tray.” When she lifted the tray out, she immediately saw the gift certificate, and the cards became an afterthought. When I said the cards were really mine and that I wanted them back, she admitted she had no clue why I had given them to her and that she was faking her interest…because I hadn’t noticed. At least we had a good laugh about it.

This year’s target: Mom and Dad. Later today, they will be receiving a fairly large wrapped rectangle. When they rip off the paper, they will see they have received a box of 2006 Upper Deck Exquisite football cards. They will open the box and slide out a much fancier hinged box. Inside they will find a small grey box, which will be filled with 10 completely blank decoy cards. Once they flip through all of them to ensure they are all blank on both sides, I will throw in a “That’s odd. I wonder if they had a packaging problem at the factory. Is there anything under that plastic tray?” (Note: a good card box hoax will include a nicer box that includes mutiple parts, not just a basic box from Upper Deck Series 1). Under the tray they will find an unmarked envelope. Inside the envelope? A gift certificate to a local restaurant, in no way related to Upper Deck or cards in general.

I’m not sure how I will continue this next year or who the target will be, but I have a feeling I will have fun planning it out.

Do any of you have similar stories about giving fake gifts, pretending to give cards to non-collectors, or otherwise disquising gift certificates? I would love to hear other examples…

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One Response to My Christmas Card Shananigans

  1. jswaykos says:

    Nice – I’m a big fan of the ol’ decoy box trick! Never done it with baseball cards, though…

    As for spicing up gift certificates, print design is 1/3rd of my job, so I’m usually able to come up with something creative to at least show that some effort/thought really did go in to the gift.

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