Wikipedia defines a paradox as a statement that – despite apparently valid reasoning – leads to a self-contradictory conclusion. I believe that so-called novelty gifts are a great example of a paradox. Novelty, of course, means ‘new and unusual’ but tends to be synonymous with ‘nonsensical and useless’. Novelty gifts are paradoxical because they are nearly always so absolutely terrible that they in fact have no novelty value at all. They simply cause that awful feeling where the recipient has to force a smile while pushing aside the thoughts of “oh crikey, she thinks I’m so immature that I’d actually like this rubbish”. It’s not a good feeling. Almost without exception, novelty gifts are a waste of money and nobody – literally nobody – likes to receive them.
Take the current top 50 gifts for men on Amazon.com. I know that us blokes can be difficult to buy for but come on people, I value the human race more highly than this: fully 60% of them sit plum-square in the novelty segment of the market and I fail to see what anyone would do with any of them. Look at these examples. Remember: these are supposedly aimed at fully-grown men who walk upright and have functioning brains.
Take this PGA tour pitch-and-putt auto-returner for example. I suppose it may entertain for ten minutes or so, but how often does anyone really think it will be used after the first day? Nope. Time to stuff it into the back of the cupboard until it’s safe enough to sneak it into the recycling bin one day when you are out.
And have a look at this one. Words genuinely fail me for the “novelty latex rubber creepy cry baby mask”. Folks, this is in the top 50 man-gifts. What has happened to us all? Even in my most creative moment I would struggle to think of a single word that could even lay the foundation of a positive response to receiving this. What is anyone supposed to do with it? Are we ten?
And check out this “multiple skulls head decoration” as another case in point. It’s a lump of plastic....with fake skulls on it. Sure, it’s aggressive and weird and some blokes kind of like that. But even then, wouldn’t your man prefer something he could actually....use?
This final example though has to be the winner of the ‘most paradoxical novelty’ award: I present to you the “gigglebeaver toilet football game.”
“This makes a great novelty gift for men and teenagers!” is the claim. Well, I suppose it might for some. But let’s be absolutely honest here – even the person who invented it would surely openly concede that it’s total junk. I’m sure that everyone will be rushing to set this up before dealing with the aftershocks of last night’s prawn madras.
Look, I’ve got absolutely nothing against buying a gift with the sole objective of making someone laugh. I get it, I really do. But I just think that – especially when it comes to buying gifts for men – the novelty gift has become an easy “out” for avoiding having to make a proper gift-buying decision. Men – especially nice, decent, modern men with brains – like gifts that they like. Gifts that reflect their interests and values, that allow them to express themselves or immerse themselves in something. Gifts that show that you’ve actually put some thought into it.
So here is my plea - please think twice before buying novelty nonsense. Even if for no other reason, just think of the plastic waste. Let’s not clutter our oceans with cry baby masks. Stuck for ideas for proper gifts for real blokes? Check out our inspirational gift ideas page for all the inspiration you’ll need.