just like the perfect dissertation, doesn't exist. And I face similar paralysis when it comes to buying a present for really close friends, as I did when I had to turn in my dissertation. It has to pass my own long list of high standards: should be something utilitarian, should be something they will like, should not be cliched, should be this that and the other. The result- the dissertation just doesn't get done- I mean, the gift just doesn't get given. Unlike postponing the submission which is also accompanied by remorse and frustration, I do enjoy dwelling on gift choosing to some extent. But it also gets tedious after a while, not to mention the fact that the job just remains undone.
So my new year resolution (a bit late) is to give these close friends their gifts- even if they are cliched, common and do not fit all my standards (or theirs?) i'm going with the idea that its the thought that counts, and plenty thought has gone with no action here!
Audience question: what was the best birthday/wedding/graduation present you got? Not things which have deeper meaning (like something good for sentimental reasons but cannot be translated to different contexts) but gifts that were good just on their own steam?