For the first time in my life, I'm dating someone who celebrates Christmas. This means I really ought to get him a Christmas present. I was racking my brain for ideas, when I remembered that the Beau doesn't own a teapot, and it's something of a tradition for me to give my sweeties teapots.
The thing is, last time we discussed teapots, cartesiandaemon said that he wanted a teapot that is manly but not too boring. But I have no idea what makes a teapot masculine; ok, I can probably guess that it shouldn't be covered in roses or fairies, but I probably wouldn't choose that sort of design anyway. I wonder if something from Bodum might work? Any suggestions, anyone?
(Yes, cartesiandaemon can see this post; we agreed that it's better to do away with surprises and therefore avoiding the risk of choosing something inappropriate for whatever reason. I know what he plans to get me, and it's very cool, so I need something equally romantic.)
I'm also somewhat nervous about going to his family for Christmas. Partly because I'm a little clueless about Christmas, but I probably do know more than I think I do from books and media and celebrating Christmas at school and work and general culture. But mainly because it feels like such a serious relationship step! I mean, cartesiandaemon came to us for Passover and met my whole family at once, which is probably far more scary, especially as we'd only been going out a few weeks by then, and he didn't complain about it at all. I have it in my head that Passover is a hospitality thing, but Christmas is a family thing. I am sure it will be fine, but if anyone would like to give me any tips or reassurances for dealing with being a guest at a partner's family Christmas, I would appreciate.
Oddly enough, this year is the first Christmas I've ever spent with a significant other, despite being in long term relationships almost continuously for the last six years. My first boyfriend's mother had issues sharing and I've gone to Limmud every Christmas since I started dating Alec.
It's not a break from tradition, it's Christmas this year being on a Thursday. I'm spending Christmas with Alec's parents on the grounds that neither of us is allergic to their house and they live in North West London so we can get the Jew coach to Limmud.
You know, I really love how it's the queer women on my flist who are able to give me the best advice about masculinity, without assuming that masculine simply means "not girly" or else "neanderthal". Thank you. And yes, in the end the teapot that we both like is black with dark jewel blues and greens for the decoration, and squarish but not to the point of being ugly and blocky. So I feel very comforted that this was your immediate suggestion. (The Bodum ones would have been the fallback if I couldn't find anything more special, because while they're gender appropriate and aesthetically appealing, they're also a really standard accessory for everybody in my peer group who has some pretension to style in home decor, so it would have been a bit boring.)
Thanks for the Christmas advice too. I would generally expect to bring some kind of host gift anyway, so making that a Christmas gift doesn't seem problematic. And yeah, I do have genuine respect for my beau's family for bringing him up to be a decent person. I don't think there are many young children in the family at moment, at least J has never mentioned any!
(1) Get everyone who is going to be there a present. (2) Be prepared to join in any games. (3) Help with the washing or drying up. (4) Humour anyone who wants to watch the Queen's speech (you can usually lighten the mood by doing an impression of it 5 minutes before it is due to start). (5) However, do not stand when the national anthem is played or say "vive la revolution!" unless either is a family tradition. (6) If you have Christmas Dinner at lunchtime it is acceptable etiquette to decline further offers of food for the rest of the day, especially if you refer back to the third helping of something. (7) If there are crackers, wait till one of the hosts suggests pulling them. If, through superior cracker-pulling technique, you end up with all the toys inside, it is usually gracious to share them out. (8) Revise last year's television timetable so that you can join in the moan about the television choices being even worse than last year. (9) Never, ever, watch "The Snowman". Really, don't. (10) Has he mentioned the afternoon walk?
1) I'd be inclined to disagree, although it depends on how many people will be there. cartesiandaemon might want to get something for his parents for you to give them, though?
I'd add a general suggestion to go along with whatever happens - every family has its wacky Christmas traditions; and if you can try your best to tolerate everyone's foibles things will be smoother (although you may find yourself grinding your teeth at times ;)
Bodum teapots are joyous things, and very functional.
 insert pedantic disclaimer about some that might not, and all those families that don't do Christmas
1) I'd say a small gift for the parents/hosts of the gathering would be appropriate, but no need to get everyone individual presents. A bottle of something to share or a household gift might be nice.
Apart from anything, attempting to buy presents for a bunch of people you have never met is bound to be a nightmare headache. I now buy small gifts for D's family when we see them at Christmas, but that's a lot easier these days as we know each other now and I get on quite well with some of them independently.
I don't think anyone is really going to expect you to do that the first time you meet, although a small offering to whoever is hosting would be nice as it would on any occasion when you are visiting somebody's home.
Yes, just going along with things seems only polite and sensible. And I'm prepared to put up with a reasonable level of wackiness; after all, my family go a bit nuts at Passover, so I'd be a hypocrite if I couldn't cope with other families being eccentric or overwhelming. I feel a lot better now that I have some general idea what to expect, though.
It sounds like it's not going to be an absolutely huge gathering, but a bit of grouping for a family of second degree relatives sounds reasonable. Also no little ones to get jealous if they don't get their own presents.
I like games. Even the boring family kind of games, so I don't think this bit will be any problem for me if it happens. And if people in general watch the Queen's speech, I'm not going to be offended or unbearably bored for the whole ten minutes it lasts. Whereas if they don't, I shan't miss it.
I like the idea of a walk, in fact. It seems that cartesiandaemon's people live in a pretty part of the country that is nearly but not quite the Lakes. And generally walking is a low-key, undemanding way to be sociable. Plus, getting out of the house and moving around a bit sounds desirable as a counterpoint to eating too much in the company of large numbers of strangers.
Why, thank you for such a comprehensive list, whoever you are! Presents I can do, though I will need to get lots of advice from the beau on what's appropriate for individuals. And it's not ridiculous because we're not talking about a huge gathering, at least not by Jewish standards! Games and washing up I would have assumed anyway.
We did actually sometimes watch the Queen's speech in my family; my mother has some monarchist tendencies. So that part of Christmas is not completely weird to me. I think I shall cheerfully admit to knowing nothing about TV; after all, I don't even live in England or celebrate Christmas, so why on earth would I know what was on TV last year? Not eating more after having a huge meal sounds sensible, and I very much doubt I will have any superior cracker-pulling technique, but I'll bear your advice in mind if I do. Walking sounds perfectly lovely, so if that's a standard Christmas tradition I shall be fine with it.
I am mystified by the idea that I might be in terrible danger of watching The Snowman if not strictly warned against it. But I will certainly remember such a dire prohibition!
It's possible that not being in the habit of celebrating Christmas may actually be an advantage when sharing it with someone else's family, because you don't have your own established set of Christmas traditions, and hence it won't feel strange when theirs are different. The only advice that springs to mind (other than ordinary being-a-congenial-guest stuff, upon which you don't need advice) is something that you've probably already done, which is to ask your Beau to fill you in on how things tend to work. For example, if they are a family (like mine) who open Christmas stocking presents first thing in the morning and larger presents later, you may wish to know this in advance so you can organize your gift buying accordingly. But other than that, just relax and enjoy yourself!
Thanks, that's a very good point. I'm not going to feel awkward or deprived cos they do things differently from that I'm used to. And I know I need to ask how things work rather than just assuming. You're quite right, it will most likely be enjoyable and unstressful. Yay Christmas!
I was trying to think of some ideas to suggest, and a teapot was the first thing that occurred to me, as something I don't need, but would enjoy having, and would really really enjoy having as something from you, it just seems so appropriate. I feel all warm and fuzzy already.
Unfortunately, I don't quite know what I do want in a teapot, which is the absolute worst thing when trying to get something for someone, "masculine" wasn't a very helpful description :)
The other thing to spring to mind was shiny dice. Because I don't have _any_ dice (other than a few d6 in board games), and I don't roleplay often enough to need them, but it would be very fun to have. Conveniently, there, anything shiny is exciting. But a teapot is probably a better idea.
I'm also somewhat nervous about going to his family for Christmas.
*hugs* I should email you a complete step-by-step description of a typical Scorton family event so you never have to feel nervous. I was excited to have dragged you to a first Christmas, but in terms of visiting, there's almost no christmas specific things you'd need to know before hand. And most of the time you'll be with me, mum and Grandfather, so not a very large group.
 I was going to say my surname, but I try to keep that to a minimum on the internet. I was going to give mum's family name, but then, certain websites insist on that as a password. I was going to give Grandma's family name, but then certain websites insist on that as a password for mum. So.
Come to think of it, the "mother's maiden name" schtick will be even more hopeless in a few years, when all those mother's pre-married careers are documented all over the internet.
*hug* I'm glad I made this post, cos now you've sent me lots of useful information and I feel good about Christmas, and I've found you a teapot, and now I'm relaxed and happy. I actually think you've been helpful about present choosing well beyond the call of duty; the point of a present is that I should choose something, and you gave me enough direction that I had a chance of getting something you'd like, which is about perfect. (I agree that mothers' maiden names are stupid passwords. Many people make up a pretend maiden name to put in that field on websites.)
I don't understand gender very well, but I have a nice dark blue teapot (china, very standard, I bought it at a shop in the Village, which may either gain or lose masculinity points depending on how the person feels about male-male couples). That's a reasonable basic teapot, and comes in two- and six-cup versions (well, that's what it says, but I can get 2.5 mugs out of the smaller one). I also have a nice silvery-metal one <lj user="hobbitbabe" gave me; neither of these strikes me as femme, if that's useful. I can ask hobbitbabe for the name of the metal one, or its manufacturer, if it seems like a possible choice.
I agree that a basic, roundish teapot in a plain dark colour is reasonably masculine, but I was hoping for something a bit more original than that. Just cos I am sentimental enough to want to give a teapot that will always be a reminder of me and my taste, rather than a generic one. And although metal teapots usually look more masculine than china ones, I think metal is a bad material for a teapot, because it makes the tea taste of metal and conducts heat in unwanted ways. Your mentioning the Village reminds me that our gay district is also the old city, and full of cute little artsy shops, so might well be a good place to look for presents. Thank you!
I have a new teapot, picked up in Chinatown yesterday because I liked the glaze. I told cattitude and he said we might have to get rid of one of our (my?) current teapots, and I agreed; we have finite storage space, but the fact that I can only reasonably have three or four teapots doesn't mean I can't have this teapot. Mottled blue glaze, probably holds enough for two large cups or mugs of tea, about as gendered as you'd expect for something I bought in company with rysmiel and papersky.
I think Bodum are very stylish, for boys or girls. You could get some of their cool coffee glasses, too.
Otherwise, I think a manly teapot would be quite plain - either a plain colour with no design, or a plain colour with a simple design, nothing too florid. Maybe something Deco style? That would be timeless and stylish. Or something Fifties-stye, retro and chic without being floral.
That sounds like a really good description of the kind of thing I'm looking for, plain with a simple design and a bit retro. I'm glad to have some confirmation of my taste from you, cos you always strike me as very stylish.
Mmmmnyeah. I agree that breakable, consciously stylish nonsense isn't what I'm going for. But I definitely prefer china teapots with metallic glazes, over actual metal teapots. Really, a decent cup of tea is far more important to me than silly gender stuff (maybe that should be my slogan!)
Builders make tea in buckets, or directly in the mug (which is what cartesiandaemon has been doing up to now, not having a real teapot), and that offends my sensibilities not on gender or style grounds but because it leads to inferior tea. And I think there are ways of being manly which are also intelligent and tasteful; I don't think masculine should be an insult any more than feminine should.
I would interpret this as a clear request for a teapot in the shape of a car or some other stereotypically male item ;) but then I sent my ex a duck with disco lights in and haven't heard anything since.
Christmas customs generally depend on the family. It would be a good idea to ask him how Christmas Day normally goes - is turkey lunch or dinner, do they go to church, when are presents open, when does everybody normally wake up? On the whole, you can copy everybody else. It is worth warning you to only take on a small amount of Christmas pudding.
i think not having much Christmas experience is fine - you have to just go with the flow when you're at someone else's family's anyway. i feel a bit like that every year, but i'm getting used to how my sister does christmas now...! teapot - i think a classic brown betty is nice. and suitable for all genders.
I love my Bodum teapot! (My mum gave me this one and it doesn't look boring at all - cleaning is a bit of a hassle, though) Or maybe check out etsy? (I agree with the other posters that gendered in this case refers to frills/ruffles/pink/unicorns/kitsch).
Christmas is a family thing for my family and my boyfriend's family, too; and it couldn't be more different - at my parent's it's a very relaxed and laid-back affair, at my boyfriend's house it's a 4-generations-under-one-roof happening. I was pretty nervous the first time around, but I discovered that it's better to bring self-made cookies/snacks/etc. if you take along food and bringing along little somethings for the nieces/nephews instead for all 25 people is generally acceptable ;)
"Brown Betty" (http://www.englishteastore.com/brbete.html for example; the tea shop on King's Street sell them I think) teapots are "non-girly" but also non-ugly. Traditional and functional. The more 'artistic' (car shaped) teapots tend to not make very good teapots I'm afraid; although the Bodum ones look decent (I've not used one). For "non-girly" I'd probably just stay away from flower patterns.
Christmassess vary hugely by family, I'm sure it'll be fine though. Don't start any arguments about the rules to Trivial Pursuit :-) some people would suggest staying away from TGGD and politics (certainly I try to avoid starting my parents on such topics). In our family it's normal for guests to bring something "for everyone" although not always a gift per person (something like a large box of shortbread or chocolates is nice for instance).
I think we should not have given L such a comprehensive list of things not to say; it's just going to tempt her to try TGGD and seeing what happens :) In fact, with my family, so long as we stick to criticising christianity, we'll probably be ok :)
Wow, a teapot with bondage straps! (the third one down on the left, if you are wondering - can you tell I went to a goth clothing shop this afternoon).
As far as 'manly, but not too boring' goes, perhaps something in a bold manly colour, like dark blue or green, might do the trick. That can be really pretty without being particularly girly just by having a fairly simple pattern.