It's not possible for Katie Jackson to be any more clear about what she wants for Christmas. It's the same thing she has asked for three years running: a dog.
But not just any dog. A Leonberger, one of those gentle giant breeds that can cost up to $1,500 and would occupy a good chunk of her Long Island City apartment.
The first year she asked, she got a replica fashioned from chicken wire. The next year, Jackson tracked down a Leo breeder in Montana, where she was visiting her parents for the holidays. She printed out the directions, wrapped them in a big box and presented them to her father as a gift: "We went home without one, but it was a fun road trip."
And the year after that? Her mom shipped her a giant stuffed dog to stand in for the real thing.
While her parents have good reasons for not granting her wish (cost, size), other people aren't so sure why their numerous gift hints year after year yield a big fat nothing, even when their sought-after treasures aren't out-of-this-world expensive.
David Bakke, 46, said he's not the greatest at matching his clothes and always asks for new shirt-and-pant combos. It never happens.
"Time and again, I end up with a new GPS or digital camera," he said. "People always tell me that clothes are boring to give as a Christmas gift. I'd take that boring gift any day of the week."
Bakke also hinted for an iPad last year. Didn't get it. "I'm a little more excited about it this year because I'm not even asking for the newest iPad," he said.
Marissa Anwar, 29, in Waterloo, Ont., has been left in the cold. She's an avid snowboarder who wants a season pass to the ski club near her house. The cost? About $700.
"I'm pretty sure that I've wanted that for the last five years or so, but my family has a really hard time getting the hints," she said.
She should swap parents with Bakke.
"I'm not quite sure what the issue is. I have a feeling that it may be the fact that my family really likes giving 'tangible' gifts. Mostly electronics and clothes," Anwar said.
Anwar has been so bold as to suggest a few friends join forces to make her wintry dream come true, "but that suggestion has fallen on deaf ears."
Tiffany is lending a hand in the hint department. The luxury jeweler launched its Drop a Hint program in November, in time for one of those blue boxes to show up under the tree.
Click any item on Tiffany.com and you'll see a "Drop a Hint" link allowing you to email the details to a recipient of choice.
More than 65,000 hints have been dropped so far, said a Tiffany spokesman, Carson Glover. Well played, Tiffany.
Persistence worked for 62year-old Mark Kinders of Edmond, Okla. He once spotted some wonderful neck ties in the gift shop at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison, Wisconsin., during a conference.
"My wife wouldn't let me buy it," he recalled. "Over the banquet later with lots of table buzz, I interrupted with, 'Did you hear that? I can hear that tie calling to me from the gift shop.' My wife could have killed me. Ten minutes later I interrupted with, 'There it is again."'
The result: "I got the tie. Still have my wife."