What do you give the man who has everything (including his own yacht) or the crewmember who has no room to store anything?
Buying for the boss can be tricky. Instead of focusing on an extravagant gift, how about an interesting one? For a one-of-a-kind boss gift head to Etsy.com, where artists and craftspeople from all over the world sell handmade goods. Through their alchemy feature, you can even bid out custom handmade gifts with the boat name and logo. Kickstarter.com brings together creatives whose projects and ideas need money with people willing to provide funding. You can give your boss the gift of financing a play in his hometown, funding the production of a CD or having a graphic novel character named after him.
Gifts that give back make everyone feel good. For as little as $20 you can give a flock of chickens to a needy family in your boss’ name through Heifer.org. Beadforlifestore.org carries an array of handmade bead necklaces with 93% of your purchase money going to Ugandan communities. Toms.com will give a free pair of shoes to a child in a developing country for every pair of shoes purchased (they even have nautical styles).
On the other side of the coin, giving gifts to fellow crewmembers can be just as complicated. Whatever your crew gift exchange (Secret Santa, picking names, grab bag) make sure you know the spending limits. Crew gift exchange is supposed to be fun and morale boosting, but can go south quickly if gift values appear unbalanced, for example if the stew buys the captain a watch while the mate gives the engineer a six pack of beer. Lower spending limits inspire fun and creative gifts. A $20 grab bag limit can be diverse as an electric fart machine (fun over the ships loudspeaker system), a singing bird clock, or 20 scratch-off lottery tickets.
The best gifts can be enjoyed by the whole crew (if the receiver is a good sharer): DVD’s, board games or video games. Clothes can be a tricky choice, unless you are one hundred percent sure of the recipients size and style. While it might be tempting to buy “product” (guys, that means anything that a person uses to make themselves clean and pretty), recipients of either gender are pretty specific about what they use.
Good things come in small packages: phone card top-up, iTunes card or gift card for a spa or surfing lesson. Let’s face it, most of us can’t cram anything else into our cabins, but would cherish an experience more than an object.
If you plan on giving a gift to a fellow crewmember outside of the crew gift exchange, keep it on the sly. Don’t do it in front of the whole crew and don’t call attention to it, even if you are openly dating. You are bound to offend or annoy someone else.
Firsthand experience dictates to never ever give a fellow crewmember a gift whose sole purpose is to make noise. They may take it as a personal challenge to create as much noise as possible and you may have to confiscate said gift, hide it and repeatedly have to lie to recipient that you have not seen their lovely musical instrument.