Posted too soon....it's usually accompanied with some value bog roll or petrol station flowers picked up en route as an after--non--thought and just makes you think 'WELL BLOODY WELL THINK NEXT TIME THEN!!'
I think a lot of people use this phrase wrongly. When someone gets you a rubbish gift, they say "it's the thought that counts". As in, at least they thought enough to get you a gift. When really, the saying renders their gift useless because no thought went into it...
Yes 'its the thought that counts' is fair when they ordered you a wonderful present in plenty of time but an avalanche, postal strike, or other unforeseen event has got in the way of them being able to actually deliver on that thought. It doesn't mean 'Hey I managed to remember you actually have a birthday at all, get over it'
When used correctly the phrase is good and true, like when 18 month old DS gave me a chewed and slobbery bit of his toast this morning as a present. I hate it when it's misused as an excuse for something no thought has gone into at all, like the tins of biscuits my sister gives to those she feels obliged to buy for but doesn't give two hoots about (ie me).
MIL likes to give crap presents but says its the thought that counts. One year I was given a 50ml bottle of Evian and DH often gets given a packet of walnuts. The only thinking she has done seems to be to have opened her cupboard and thought what crap can I get rid of this year!