Out of the Gravel Pit
February, the Month of Awakening... as in awakening late on the 15th with a lump
on your head after having given your dearest neofriend a Packet of Gravel for
Valentine’s Day? Don’t ask me how I know. I just know. *shifty eyes*
You are not alone. Each year, thousands of Neopians hit the shops in hopes
of finding the “perfect” gift for that special friend. And each year, a few
wake up late on the 15th with a minor concussion and suspiciously familiar gravel
scattered about them. Not you, you say? Oh, that was your evil twin? I see.
I believe you... really. *skeptical glance*
Choosing a gift can be stressful. The tired old phrase, “It’s the thought that
counts” should probably be rewritten to say, “Your thoughts count!” A gift is
a message that expresses your thoughts about the recipient. Giving a gift is
giving a bit of yourself to someone you value. If the gift doesn’t go over well,
it hurts... and yes, I do mean more than that lump you’re used to wearing, Mr.
This year, you (and your *ahem* evil twin) have help! Here, for your concussion-free
reading pleasure, I present a mini-course in Valentine’s Day shopping, Neopian-style.
Before beginning your shopping, you must first consider the mood you are trying
to convey to the recipient. Are you aiming for a reaction that is sweetly sentimental,
laughing-‘til-it-hurts, somewhere in between, or something different altogether?
Settle on a description of the intended effect and keep that in mind throughout
your gift hunting. Certain items simply will not fit your sentiment, which will
help you narrow down your list quite a bit.
Another factor which will help whittle down the list of possibilities is your
budget. Once you’ve determined a budget, you can really set your creativity
free to find the most meaningful gift within your price range. There are wonderful
items available in every bracket from 50np to well over a million.
Also consider your friend’s interests. Is she obsessed with expanding her neohome
and neogarden? Is he working toward completing his album or a section of his
gallery? Take a peek at your friend’s neohome, album, and gallery. Do you find
inspiration there? You might also consider swallowing your pride and asking
your dear one’s friends for help. Hey, it’s better than a concussion, right?
Now that you’re armed with intention, inspiration, and a budget, let’s shop!
Brainstorm a list of words that might fit your sentiment and search for items
named accordingly. For Valentine’s Day, you might consider starting with the
following list and adding your own terms as befits the person for whom you’re
shopping: cupid, valentine, love, heart, bouquet, flowers, and sweet. Alternately,
you can choose a type of item (jewelry, candy and petpets seem to be popular)
and go from there. This is where knowing what a person is into really comes
in handy, since you can take inspiration from an established collection, or
deliberately choose something different as a special message between the two
So, you have a list of potential items that fit your budget and the message
you’re trying to convey, but you can’t choose which item is “the one”? Review
each item individually, examining the image and the item name-do they both support
your message? This should eliminate a few items from your list. Finally, consider
the item descriptions and cross off any item for which the description fails
to back up the intended mood, unless of course you want to send mixed messages
(but that’s another article!).
Congratulations! You’ve sifted the thousands of items available in Neopia down
to a small list of gifts tailored to that one precious friend. At this point,
you can simply choose any of the items on your list to give, or you can narrow
down your list further by getting a helping brain from a friend. (No, your “evil
twin” does not count as a friend!)
Now, with this information in mind, let’s review why you-oh, sorry!-why your
“evil twin” *winkwink* should not have chosen the Packet of Gravel. Well, look
at it! It’s a... packet of gravel! And the description-did you read the description?
You didn’t read it, did you? Go on, read it. *taps foot impatiently* For the
loser? The loser!?! And that, my friend is why you woke late on the 15th with
the gravel scattered about you. You know better now, don’t you?
Ah, you’ve learned to buy (and bought) a lovely present this year... the big
day arrives, and you’re ready to present your gift! Do you toss it and run,
hoping your friend will know you gave them a peach because you think their sweet?
After all this hard work, do you really want to take the chance that they might
interpret it to mean you think they're the pits? Absolutely not! Do include
a little message so your friend understands the thought behind the gift. A simple,
“Happy Valentine’s Day! I chose this (insert item name here) for you because
(insert reason here)” will do just fine, but feel free to expand this theme
to suit the situation. We all like to be valued, and this is an opportunity
to express in your own words how you value your friend so much that you just
had to make a gift of *this* item. Your thoughts count, and now is the time
to reveal them.
Yes, I know, there are a few shy souls out there who are still unsure about
the gift purchased, unsure about how it will be received... just unsure in general.
You know, you could get a friend to make the delivery for you while you bask
in the relative safety of anonymity. You’d still have to explain the gift to
your friend, who would then explain to the recipient, but it is possible to
remain truly anonymous (if you really want to). Now, before you start leaping
for joy and rush to neomail to ask a friend to take on this job, bear in mind
that your friend is going to get most of the thanks for your hard work. If you’re
still bound to pursue the indirect route, please talk with your friend and decide
together who will be financially responsible if the Pant Devil or Grundo Leader
strikes and under what circumstances your identity will be revealed. Clearing
things up ahead of time can help avoid conflict later. Also, if you happen to
be the friend playing delivery person, be prepared for some serious curiosity
being thrown your way.
And there you have it, folks-the path to a pain-free Valentine’s Day! Now relax... it
really is the thought that counts.
There will be a test on this material on the 14th day of the Month of Awakening.