Amber Ruffin Says Her Family Has No 'Surprise' Gifts for the Holidays: 'We're All Bad at It'

The comedian partnered with Neiman Marcus for the holiday season and told PEOPLE about her shopping plans

Amber Ruffin Celebrates the Best Holiday Gifts with a Festive Neiman Marcus 'White Elephant' Event
Photo: Mike Vitelli/

Some people are brilliant at finding gifts for their loved ones. And then there's Amber Ruffin.

"We're all bad at it," the host of The Amber Ruffin Show tells PEOPLE exclusively of what holiday gifting is like in her family. "What we do is, you have to say, 'I want this.' We do not do a thoughtful surprise. We're not great at that."

Ruffin, 43, who spoke with PEOPLE at a Neiman Marcus White Elephant event in New York, shares that though her family sometimes finds each other "beautiful" gifts, it's rare. "That doesn't happen a lot. When you're in Neiman Marcus, though, it does."

Amber Ruffin Celebrates the Best Holiday Gifts with a Festive Neiman Marcus 'White Elephant' Event
Mike Vitelli/

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Even though she says her family doesn't do well with gifting, Ruffin at least makes an effort and plans for the holidays throughout the year. She's a planner who will pick gifts up "throughout the year," she says, because it's less stressful than leaving it until the last minute.

"If I see a thing that I think you'll like, I'll do it," she says. "But only because of the desperation of knowing I can't be trusted to figure it out in a short amount of time. I'm not great at giving gifts, but when I see the right thing, no matter what time of year it is, I'll get it."

Ruffin's "closet is full of stuff right now" in anticipation of the upcoming holiday, but she says it'll be empty as soon as Christmas passes. "For now, it's chock-full of goodies.

The The World Record Book of Racist Stories author, who also writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers and fronts her own late-night talk show, The Amber Ruffin Show, doesn't have a go-to gift she gives to friends and family — it's part of her lack of gifting talent — but she says blankets are always a solid choice.

"I wear a blanket. I got a blanket at work in my office. I got a blanket in the house on the couch. I got a blanket in the bed in addition to the bed blankets in case I need an extra blanket," she says, adding that she'll "never be done with blankets."

But when it comes to the best gift she's ever gotten in her whole life, Ruffin throws it way back to her childhood years. "The My Little Pony Dream House," she says excitedly. "I remember seeing it in the store, and it was something like $49.99." Ruffin says that price tag felt so huge as a child, so she didn't think there was any way she'd actually get it as a gift. But sure enough, she did.

Her childhood brain couldn't comprehend how long her parents would "have to work" to make that much money — assuming it would be "years" — which made the gift that much more special to her.

Neiman Marcus is part of Ruffin's holiday shopping rotation, so she was excited to partner with the retailer as part of its Make the Moment holiday campaign. She also participated in the festive game at the event, taking home a prize of her own and sharing her love of the holidays and shopping with everyone in attendance.

"I have been a fan of Neiman Marcus for years," Ruffin shared in a press release. "It is important to have fun with fashion and to not take it too seriously — and I love an opportunity to celebrate the holiday season in a fun, festive, original way."

You can find all of Neiman Marcus' gifting solutions on its website, curated so you can shop for everyone on your list.

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