To Renew or Not to Renew?

Some people are especially talented at gift giving. You know the type: She's the one who always has the perfect gift idea at her fingertips for everyone in her universe, without ever repeating a past present. Then there's me. Gift giving gives me anxiety to no end. Even for the people I'm closest to (maybe especially with those people), there's something about the pressure of a looming birthday that causes my otherwise over-stuffed brain to empty out completely.

But one of my favorite gifts to give is a magazine subscription. I like it because it feels a little decadent (I never order a fluffy subscription for myself, but will happily send one to others), but is still affordable, thoughtful, and continues throughout the year until it expires. Which is, of course, when the problem begins.

Either you gave the gift last year and now you're getting that pesky, guilt-tripping reminder in the mail that says, "You don't want Caroline to miss a single issue of People, do you?!?! Renew now!" Or, you've gotten used to receiving your subscription, and then, when you're sent the reminder that it is almost up, you can't help but wonder if your friend Jane is going to renew it again. Suddenly, this seemingly brilliant gift idea just became an albatross.

At first I thought it was smart to check in with the person, asking, "Do you still like receiving that magazine?" But most people will say, "Sure, keep it coming," and then I feel like I'm stuck giving the same gift year after year. Or, I feel compelled to give another gift in addition to the magazine, which just gets expensive.  

So when is it okay to pull the plug on a gift subscription? And if you're not renewing it, do you need to address it with the recipient?