Hint, hint: How to drop hints about your holiday wish list

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It’s finally the winter holidays. But as you’re sitting with your family, surrounded by festive wrapping paper, you find yourself plastering a smile on your face and thanking your grandmother for a heinous sweater that you will never, ever, ever wear — making your favorite holiday just a little more stressful. We’ve all been there. Hopefully, this guide to telling people what you want for the holidays will help you avoid yet another round of awkwardly thanking someone for what will eventually become fireplace kindling.

Casually hint

This method is the most socially acceptable but the least direct. It’s pretty simple, and you probably already do it. When you’re with your friend, parent or significant other, just point out the item you want every time you see it or something that reminds you of it. For instance, if you want a specific T-shirt, make sure to point out the shirt — as well as shirts with similar designs — every time you see it or think of places to wear it. There’s still only a 50 percent chance, however, that the person will pick up on it. It’s a gamble.

Amazon Wish List

Probably one of the better ways to indicate what you want for the holidays, a clearly labeled “Things I Would Like for Holidays” wish list on Amazon is efficient and organized. Casually mention it to your friends and family. You could even ask your friends and family to make ones as well so that you make sure to get them something they like. One drawback of this method is that you’ll know exactly how much each person spent on you, so this might not work for everyone.

Ask to do a traditional wish list

Ask a group of people if you can each handwrite a wish list and give it to the others. This old-fashioned alternative to Amazon has a few perks: You can put something vague, such as “new shoes for walking around hilly campus” or “rain jacket.” Your loved ones still get to do the fun part of holiday shopping — figuring out the perfect gift — without stressing about what exactly you want. It also feels a little more personal than an online list. This approach is best in a familial setting, whether with your actual family or with your group of friends who are basically family.  

Secret Santa/gift exchange

Perfect for college-student budgets and friend groups — have your friends do a gift exchange where they all write their name on a piece of paper along with a list of three or four items they want. Set a price limit, then draw names from a hat. Not only will your “Santa” know exactly what you want, but you’ll also be exchanging gifts with your whole friend group without spending too much money.

Send them links to all the items you want

Use and abuse Facebook messenger. Every time you see something you want or think is cool online, open Facebook in another tab and message people a link to the item. If one thing strikes your fancy a little more than the rest, just add, “Wow this is my absolute favorite,” or follow up with an excited GIF. It’s not subtle by any means, but it’s not ridiculously annoying.

Say it every other word

Say you want a necklace. Walk up to the person in question and say, “Hey necklace I necklace was necklace wondering necklace what necklace you necklace want necklace for necklace the necklace holidays necklace.” It’ll be a complete pain, but the person will either think the stress from midterms and finals has finally gotten to you or they’ll get it. Or the person will be so fed up with you that he or she won’t get you a gift and will stop speaking to you. It’s up to you if you want to risk it.

Flyer them on Sproul

If your loved ones go to school here, you could take a very UC Berkeley approach. Create a flyer with your wish list on it and as many graphics as you prefer, then hand it out to them as they walk to class. A good flyering spot is right by Sather Gate — make sure you don’t let anyone who cares about you get by without knowing what to buy. A definitively unsubtle approach, it may lead to extreme annoyance on your friends’ parts.  


Hire someone to skywrite, “Hey, (loved one’s name), (your name) wants (item) for the holidays!” As long as your loved ones see it, they’ll get it. Then again, if you have enough money to hire a skywriter, you should probably just buy the item for yourself.

Contact Taylor Follett at [email protected].

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