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Out of the Gravel Pit


by crickeetbug

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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. Giftgravel.

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 of you.

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.

Class dismissed!

 
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