The Art of Gifting Couples


A Letter to the Schaumburg, Illinois Fan Club
by L. E. Don (April 1, 2008)

Dear Fan Club Members,

Some of you have addressed what you call "the problematic of couple gifting" in your recent correspondence. One of you mentioned that often when gifting on the street you are confronted with a dilemma: many people walk in pairs, so to which member of the couple do you hand the gift and then photograph? What is the proper gifting protocol? The man first or the woman?

Remember that the act of gifting often reveals underlying social conventions and tensions, etc. Your are performing a social act and not merely handing out a gift. So this area of gifting expertise offers intriguing possibilities.

Polite convention seems to dictate the woman gets priority, but is that not sexist? Yet if you choose the man, is that not way too patriarchal?

Then what if the couple is gay or lesbian? To whom do you hand the envelope? Again, the one who seems the most dominant of the pair?

The Solomonic solution, of course, would be to could choose to give each member of the pair a gift envelope, but that seems like overkill (and expensive); then, again, one could divide the usual $20 gift into two envelopes of $10 each, but that's extra work and you'd have to mark the envelopes so as to distinguish them from the $20 gifts.

An alternative tactic fan club members are urged to try is the "antagonistic" form of couple gifting. Here's three examples: 1) give the envelope to the member of the pair you sense seems more "dominant," and then request that he (or she) hand the envelope to their partner as a gift. Watch what happens: happy compliance or angry refusal. Photograph the resultant interaction; or 2) drop the envelope in front of them and let them fight it out as to who gets the gift; document the struggle; or 3) pose a question or riddle for them to answer, whoever gives the correction answer gets the gift.

Anyway, you get the idea. Invent your own versions of such contests which then determines who you gift.


L. E. Don, Project Manager