Gift Guide - Hey Guys, What Does Your Christmas Gift to Her Really Say?
I've gotten into trouble with this in the past so I am looking for advice this year. What gift should I get my girlfriend for Christmas!!
Way to leave it open.
But actually that's good. The gift you give is a very important reflection on the relationship. It will have meaning to her because she will see it as your commentary on the relationship. It's always good to pick gifts that the recipient will appreciate, but it's also very important to think about what you want to say.
1 - Is your relationship new? Are you just a few dates in? Is this just a casual arrangement you're enjoying together? Then keep the gift fairly neutral. Chocolates, wines, a Christmas tree ornament... these are all nice safe gifts. They are thoughtful enough without screaming "girlfriend."
2 - Do not get sexy gifts for a woman you don't want to have sex with. If you've had a couple dates with someone and want to keep the friendship going, stick with a ticket to join you and your buddies at a Rangers game. Same goes for a girlfriend in a relationship on the wane. If your relationship is fizzling out and you're cool with that, then avoid giving any kind of mixed message with your gift. Do not buy her lingerie.
3 - Jewelry is a girlfriend gift. If you're not sure or if you're not ready, that's fine, just don't give a gift that says something you're not ready to say yourself.
4 - Keep the venue in mind. Circumstances may be that you won't be opening gifts alone together. If she's opening gifts in front of her family, don't embarrass her with something too intimate or personal or sexual. If you do feel like giving something very intimate as your gift, make sure you warn her to open it with you, or in private.
5 - Do not break the bank. If your lady isn't happy with something well thought out that you can afford, that says a lot about her.
6 - Pay attention to some details. Pick a nice card, write something thoughtful in it. Wrap the gift. Make sure you took the price tag off.
7 - There is a place for "cute." There are definitely women that would love a teddy bear or a cute coffee mug with a photo of the two of you on it. But be aware that these kinds of gifts represent intimacy and playfulness. These are definitely gifts that go along with a relationship that's getting comfortable and serious. If she's not sure where this is going and you give her a big stuffed puppydog, you've answered her questions whether you meant to or not.
8 - I've talked about this in other Hubs, but it's worth repeating. Household gifts are tricky. People will tell you do not ever give an appliance or a set of cookware to a woman, but I disagree. When my husband and I were still dating, he gave me a dishwasher (amongst some other romantic gifts) for our first Christmas. A dishwasher? That clearly says marriage. You don't give a major appliance to the girl you're just banging. You give a major appliance to the woman you're going to make your home with.
But many women no matter how smart and clear a clue that is as to how you're feeling, just don't want a household item as a personal gift. Even if you're trying to say something about your level of commitment, be sure she is willing to hear it.
9 - Giving a pet is a major commitment. Major. Commitment. Pets are not always the smartest gifts for many reasons, but I'll keep in on track here. Giving a pet to a woman indicates a commitment on your part to raising it with her. It says family, it says responsibility. I once had a guy write to me who was planning to break up with his girlfriend after the holidays so he bought her a puppy. He said it was to keep her company. Of course his signals were completely misread. She had suspected they were in trouble but when she got the pup she figured he was about to propose! Imagine the disaster when he ended things a week later. And of course she didn't want the dog who reminded her of this guy. Don't worry, the dog is fine, he wound up keeping "Jax" and that's worked out great. But the point is, that was a really stupid misleading gift for what he was actually intending. A bottle of wine or a sweater would have been much better.
10 - And speaking of sweaters... giving the gift of clothing is a big bad no-no unless you are positive of the size. Listen up guys and listen closely. If you give her something that's a size or two too big, you have called her "fat." She will think you see her at that size. If you give her something that's a size or two too small, you have also called her "fat." She will think you are saying she should be this size. I swear to god you can't win for losing with this one. No matter how expensive the silk, sought-after the designer or perfect the color is to match her eyes, if it's the wrong size there is no "easy exchange." If you're not sure, don't take a chance. Move along.
11 - Be careful about gifts that can be misinterpreted. I've mentioned this before in other articles and have received a lot of feedback about the concept. Giving a gym membership or piece of exercise equipment, or a gift certificate to a personal trainer may sound healthy and supportive, but can be interpreted as a very harsh critique. Even if you are really comfortable with your partner and you're sure she wants something like this, you could catch her on a bad day when her jeans felt tight or her mood was overly-sensitive.
The same can go for gift certificates for make-overs. Anything that on an emotional day can say "please change your appearance for me," is probably best avoided.
12 - Never give your lady the gift you're giving everyone this year. Whether she's a new GF or an LTR, the gift you give her should be it's own thing. A terrific guy I knew bought a bunch of these expensive and lovely Waterford crystal brandy snifters for a killer-deal at a store close-out. Really they were gorgeous. He gave a pair to everyone that holiday. He'd been dating the same girl for about 3 months, and she was very happy when she opened hers. Then she found out he had given he same gift to his sister, and his mother, and me, and his administrative assistant.
No girl wants to feel like she was one of many with you, even if she is new. As lovely as the gift was, it said, "you're not special."
13 - It should go without saying, don't give your girlfriend something that you gave a previous girlfriend. Ben, this one's for you. I got a sad email from a sweet guy named Ben who wrote me so upset that his girlfriend hated his Christmas gift last year. When I read what the gift was I couldn't figure it out. Why would she hate it? It was the Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Heart Toggle Necklace. He said she wore silver, loved Tiffanys, and squealed with joy when she first saw it. Well, I came to find out he presented her with the little blue box, she opened and loved the gift, and as he was putting it on her he told her how his ex really loved hers, too.
He gave his ex-gf that necklace 8 years ago. Not the exact one, but the same one. In his mind, they had both completely moved on. It was ages ago and why should it matter. It really was a timeless piece of jewelry and he knew his new lady would look lovely in it and would appreciate the piece. Unfortunately, that's not the way his new girl saw the gift. She wondered what he was trying to recreate, or why. She realized he picked a gift that "worked" in the past, not a gift that was special for her, or picked out just for her, or representative of her.
14 - Couples do things like decide to give each other a gift that they both want to share, like tickets to a Broadway show, or a new TV. Whether it's an event or a tangible object, it's still a contract. It's an agreement. Couples make all kinds of agreements like that. It's a great exercise that develops life skills like compromise, budgeting, sharing, planning and communicating.
Just make sure you're at that couple-space in your mind before you agree to engage in couple-arrangements.
15 - I'm leaving you with one last idea. Thinking about proposing? Some people would tell you that you shouldn't "use" the engagement ring as a Christmas gift, that you need to get a different gift for the holiday and give the ring as it's own thing after. There are people that will say you're gypping her out of a gift by giving the engagement ring for Christmas.
I'm here to tell you to forget that, just go ahead and propose. The engagement ring can be the Christmas gift too. No woman has ever written to me and said, Gee, I wish he had gotten me a Christmas gift AND then gave me the ring. If she's waiting on that ring believe me, the gift of relief is what she wants.