Outside’s Alignment Chart for Gift-Giving
You are what you give
In the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, players use alignment charts to inform their characters’ backstories and personas. A Lawful, Good character acts benevolently and predictably, playing by the rules and helping other participants. In contrast, a Chaotic, Evil character acts erratically and cruelly, looking for ways to spontaneously harm other players. There are nine variations in total, each differently dictating a character’s intentions.
The alignment chart has grown beyond its Dungeons and Dragons origin, though, mutating into full-blown memes. U.S. presidents are fodder for alignment charts. Reddit is littered with TV characters from every show under the sun divvied up in the alignment-chart format. In this same vein, the chart can be used to gauge what your gift-giving tendencies say about you as a person.
A hand-knit sweater
If you have enough time to make a gift by hand, it’s most likely because you did so many good deeds that you ascended to the level of saint and retired from your day job. That’s both Lawful and Good. How did you even learn to knit? Did you audit a knitting class in heaven? Making a sweater is just another good deed to throw in your already bursting pile of good deeds. Nice work, angel! Just make sure to use fair-trade yarn.
A gym membership
When it comes to the gym membership, there’s a very fine line between Lawful, Neutral and Lawful, Evil. On one hand, gifting a gym membership promotes health and could introduce someone to a new hobby. On the other, it opens up the possibility that the person becomes too ripped for their own good, forcing them to cut the sleeves off all their T-shirts. In short: you could be giving someone a jump-start on a New Year’s resolution or subjecting them to a lifetime of cold arms.
A bar of soap or any hygiene product
Nothing sends a message like a bar of soap. It’s an organic, cruel, and relatively inexpensive way to say, “I want to change the way you smell.”(If that’s your prerogative, we recommend Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap ($16). The soap recipient can’t protest, though, because doesn’t everyone need soap?
A gift card to a gear store
A gift card to a gear store is Neutral, Good in our book. It doesn’t show the initiative of picking out a gift yourself but instead demonstrates acute self-awareness. Seasoned gift-givers know how easy it is to select the wrong size, color, or shape when buying a gift. These errors ultimately cost someone a trip back to the store to exchange the item. Upon arriving to the store, however, they discover that the store went out of business and that they are now stuck with a pair of hot-pink snow pants they have no use for.
A scarf—preferably infinity
No garment is less offensive than the scarf. It’s the perfect gift for that distant relative whose layering preferences are a mystery. It also helps that there isn’t a fixed number of scarves one person should have and that the garment can serve a variety of purposes. For example, a scarf can become a makeshift arm sling or zip tie in a pinch. And we know that there are some naysayers out there who believe that wearing a scarf indoors is a punishable crime. To them we say: “But it matches my outfit.”
Regifting the wool socks that your aunt gave you last year
Picture this: You’re in the living room with your entire family, opening up gifts. Cousin Amanda goes to unwrap the present you got her, as your aunt Judy looks on intently. Amanda notices that it’s eerily familiar. In fact, it’s the exact pair of wool socks that Judy gifted you last year. A single tear slips out of Judy’s eye and onto the price tag that still dangles off the socks. No one says anything, but the damage is done. Good luck sewing this broken family back together, monster.
A $1,500 snowboard and lessons
Gifting something over $1,000 or lessons of any type is asking that someone dedicate hours to a product or pastime because you thought they’d like it. That’s extraordinarily Chaotic. The burden of that $1,500 snowboard gathering dust in the garage might become too much to bear and drive a weaker recipient to shred pow in unreasonable conditions. That’s how this writer ended up skiing the Black Hole in March slush. Don’t get us wrong, it’s still a great gift, which is why you’re also Good. But it’s a gift that requires someone to drastically reorganize their life to make time for your Chaotic energy. It’s not witness-protection-level reorganization, but it’s pretty close.
A flannel thong
As we discussed this fall, flannel is a fraught fabric. A thong—when gifted—radiates Chaos. Despite flannel’s complicated nature, it’s also neutral enough that it restores equilibrium to the gift. The gift of the flannel thong is sure to make the recipient smile, scratch their head, and write you a really, really nice thank-you card.
A gallon of lighter fluid and nothing else
Nothing says big Chaotic, Evil energy like a gallon of lighter fluid and nothing else. What should the recipient think upon receiving this “gift”? Is the giver suggesting that the recipient host a bonfire? Or that the recipient burn their old life to the ground and create a new one from the ashes? We think it’s pretty obvious it’s the latter.