Archive for the 'gifts' Category

01
Dec
11

what to get your boyfriend this holiday season

Reader A. G. writes:

You wrote a post to let the guys know what their ladyfriends want this Christmas. So what should we ladies be buying our menfriends?

Dear A.G.:

Guys love presents! Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Excellent question.

I conducted a similar bit of scientific research with my menfolk friends as I did with my womenfolk friends to get the ideas below.

A few notes:

While guys and girls both definitely appreciate personal touches (as in, the gift-giver has paid enough attention to go and get a gift for you that you really want), guys are a bit less likely to take it personally if the gift is more generic. Also, gift cards are not out of the question, as long as they’re to the right shop. Furthermore, the element of surprise is not necessarily as important to the gents as it is to the ladies,  so don’t be afraid to ask the guy what he wants, and take notes, because he’s probably going to be very specific.

Like the ladies I talked to, the guys also said that, in their dream worlds, the gifts they get would be something they wouldn’t get for themselves, either because of finances or time or because it’s too whimsical. Gift certificates fit into this mold, because you’re giving him more resources to get stuff he actually wants.

Whatever you get him, it’ll remind him of you whenever he uses it, so keep that in mind. What I mean is: At what point in his day do you want him to be thinking of you? Or: Do you really want to be associated with that?

Finally, here is the one best rule for gift-giving: Know the person you’re giving the gift to. Don’t get sports equipment for the couch potato unless he’s asked for it; don’t buy XBox Live for the PC gamer; don’t buy the Almodovar DVD collector’s set for the guy who only watches Bruce Willis movies. Christmas is not about crafting your mate in the image you want him to be, capisce?

Here, then, are the top things my guy friends want for the holidays this year:

– Sex. Yes, this may sound like it’s coming from a complete stereotype, but a lot of guys said they wanted sex, and even if they were joking (I took answers like “a hooker” and “a threesome” as jokes), I’m not too stupid to get the hint. Sex is important to men (not to say it’s not important to women, too, but we’re talking about guys right now), so it shouldn’t be a surprise they’d like some over the holidays. The key to making sex a “present” is to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe consider getting dolled up in a new set of lingerie, or buy a new kind of lube that you can try together. Some of my guy friends suggested arranging a threesome (again, they dismissed it as a joke, but it was a reflex reaction, so we’re going to assume it’s something they’re thinking about), which is something you can consider if you and your partner are into that sort of thing. (Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless it’s something you’ve both talked about extensively in the past and decided you are both completely comfortable with.) Sometimes, an unexpected BJ can be gift enough (and I just heard about these things [NSFW!], which I haven’t tried, but might be worth it). This is a good time to expand your intimacy repertoire together, so have fun and do something you’re going to really enjoy, too. One guy suggested “Sex Coupons” that a guy can redeem throughout the year, but I think that ruins the fun of it. Best idea is to light some candles, get both of you in the mood, and do something new or really interesting for a change. If the whole idea of having sex this holiday season just freaks you out… you’ve got other things you need to worry about more than what gift you’re getting your BF.

– Technology and toys. The new Transformer Tablet came up several times, as did a camera, phone, and other gadgets. Most guys have a very specific brand, make, and model of what they want, and they won’t mind you asking to double check. If you want to make it a complete surprise, do the research yourself and find the most popular, useful piece of technology that caters to your man’s specific needs. A few of the guys I talked to said “toys” and really meant “toys” — remote-controlled stuff, robots, whatever. This includes video games. If your guy is like any other gamer I have ever known, he’s probably already bought Batman: Arkham City for himself, but if he hasn’t… you know what to do.

– Being taken on a date. Guys dig this as much as ladies do, but this is a particularly idea if he’s always the one taking you out. Get dressed up, pick him up, and take him to a nice dinner and a movie. Or make him his favorite dinner and have the movie he’s been wanting to see queued up on Netflix. Add candles and turn off the phone to make it special. And then you can segue really easily into gift idea #1 above!

– Equipment he needs for his sport/hobby. If your man is really into working out, get him gym stuff. If he’s into motorcycles, motorcycle stuff. Is he thinking about making beer? Get him the kit to get started. One guy told me his dream gift this holiday season would be a carbon fibre tandem bike (and he sent me this pic to boot). While I’ve mentioned that guys won’t take it as personally if you give them something more generic, you still have to be careful about giving gifts that send the wrong message. Sports equipment can fall under this category if he’s got a weight problem you’re both aware of. Err on the side of stuff he’s already interested in, and not stuff you wish he would be interested in. He’ll probably be happy to tell you exactly what stuff he wants, too.

– Toiletries and skin care products he doesn’t even know about. As ladies, we tend to be more in the know about skin and beauty upkeep products than the guys, but they need pampering, too. Use your knowledge for good! Get him the best tools for skincare, shaving, ingrown toenails, or whatever other things plague him. This is good because he may actually be too embarrassed to buy them for himself, but when he starts using them, he’ll be extremely happy. (As one friend put it, “That apricot scrub stuff? I mean, who knew! Awesome!”) Be careful about solving problems that are too medical, because, again, this is something he’s going to associate with you every time he uses it. Plus, nobody wants Preparation H in his stocking, even if he needs it.

– A watch. This depends on the guy, of course, but watches are “jewelry for dudes”, which guys so rarely get to indulge in. (Cuff links are even more specific, because who wears cuff links anymore?) And they can be extremely personal. This falls under the “when I’m wearing it, I think of her” charm, too. Watches can run the gamut from breaking the bank to pretty inexpensive while still maintaining quality. Find something that matches his personality.

– A new job. This was quite possibly the weirdest response I got, but there were several guys who honestly said this. Obviously, you can’t magically give someone a new job (and there are ethical questions about giving your boyfriend a job even if you could), but I think the fact that this response was so prevalent means a few things. Possibly the most obvious is that we are all a little preoccupied with the economy these days, and not just for monetary reasons. Notice these guys asked for a new job, not a boatload of cash. I think that means they feel that they are stuck in a job that they don’t enjoy or in which they aren’t paid enough because they can’t find another job that’ll take ’em. It’s a mixture of feeling inadequate (“I don’t have enough talent or the right skills to get the job I want”) and trapped (“This organization doesn’t function properly or take care of me but there’s nowhere else for me to go”). While you could spend time finding jobs he could apply to, help him with his resume, and do some networking with him, I think the best gift to give him in this situation is support for when he’s not at work. Make him feel needed, loved, and important. Encourage him to do stuff he enjoys (those aforementioned hobbies and sports) and treat them with the same sort of respect as something that earns him a paycheck. If you know he’s having trouble at work, you’re probably already experiencing some of the backlash in your relationship, so go easy on him as much as you can. Treat him to something that’ll get his mind off of it, and don’t let the holidays make an already stressful situation worse.

That’s basically all the guys I knew said they wanted. Guys can be hard to shop for, because if they don’t have any ideas, they really don’t have any ideas, but as you can see above, they’re pretty easy to please. Remember: You can’t go wrong with a BJ. Mostly.

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22
Nov
11

holiday gift ideas for the hopeful BF

Reader M. B. writes:

The holidays are fast approaching and I am at a complete loss about what to get my girlfriend this year. We’ve been together for a while and I want to really get her something special. I’m not really good at getting gifts, and I really don’t want to mess up. So what do you suggest?

Dear M.B.:

I’m so glad you asked! You might remember this piece once upon a time, wherein I spent several hundred words consoling a lady to be glad her husband got her any gift at all for their anniversary, and telling her that it was her job to let her husband know what to get her if she didn’t like his gifts.

That still goes — it’s your girlfriend’s job to let you know if your gifts are terrible. But the fact that you know you’re a terrible gift-giver to begin with and are asking for advice means maybe you don’t want her to have to have that conversation with you. Good job!

Gift-giving around the holidays can be a pretty stressful event, but there are a few things I can say for sure about what you should look for. It all depends on your girlfriend, of course. You’ve got to know what she likes, However, most of the ladies I know have the following rules for gift giving on “major” occasions (aka anniversaries, winter solstice holidays, and birthdays):

  1. Give me something I wouldn’t just buy for myself (either because it’s too expensive, or it’s impractical, or any other number of reasons).
  2. Give me something that I will actually like or use (i.e. not something you’re getting because you actually want it).
  3. Give me something whimsical and romantic.

Now, let’s be honest: there are girls out there who don’t care about gifts. These girls are actually angels, and as we all know, angels are sexless, so be careful with them.

If your girl does care about gifts, then you’re going to have to figure out what she likes for yourself and go from there. If she has said over and over again how much she loves X, get it for her. She’s making life easy for you.

Low on money? Services count, too, but not IOUs for services. Don’t give her a promise that you’re going to clean the house; actually clean the house. It’s a much better surprise if you just do it without promising beforehand than if you say you’re going to and then never get around to it.

I decided to conduct one of my highly scientific surveys and ask my girlfriends what they want for Christmas this year. I told the girls to “dream big”. Here’s what I heard:

"Yay! Presents!" Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • A massage and/or spa day (mani, pedi, facial, soak). This was definitely the one all my girlfriends could agree on. These can get expensive, but they’re extremely thoughtful and say “go on, pamper yourself”.
  • The house cleaned (not just “picked up” but seriously scrubbed). The laundry done. The dishes done. Not just now, but forever. In other words — buy her a year’s worth of a cleaning service. Even just one visit from a cleaning service can make everything better for a long time. It doesn’t sound really romantic, but it’s extremely thoughtful.
  • A trip somewhere (with you!). “A vacation” came up more than once (we must be a stressed out group — massages and vacations for all!) Of course, you can take her somewhere that isn’t too far away and isn’t too expensive. Even just cleaning up your apartment, lighting some candles, and turning off the phone for a night can be good. Your time can be your greatest gift.
  • A CSA or Co-op membership. If she’s a foodie, being able to get amazing ingredients at lower prices will matter immensely. Having them delivered to her door every other week? Amazing!
  • A wine club membership. So you can share a bottle or two together every month.
  • Extremely nice lingerie. Nope, not Victoria’s Secret — try La Perla or Aubade. Worth the price upgrade, plus you’re going to have to do a little detective work to get the size right. And, you know, it’s kind of great for you, too.
  • An iPad or Kindle pre-loaded with some of her favorite books or magazines, and a few new ones to boot. Technology + you’re thinking about what she likes to read.
  • All the work done on the car (oil change, tune-up, a fix for “that clicking sound” — this is stuff you can maybe do yourself!)… Followed by a nice little drive to a romantic dinner (food you made yourself counts!).
  • A piece of designer clothing (“boots” was a big response among my friends) that you know would look sexy on her and is maybe a bit out of her price range. Again, you’ve got to know the girl’s taste, and her size. When you get this one right, you get it exactly right. Also: consignment stores and good antique shops are excellent for this. And the women who run those shops will be tickled that you’re looking for your lady.
  • Tickets to a show — her favorite band, opera, or musical. Bonus points if you get them a few months in advance. Extra bonus points if she didn’t even know the show was coming through your town.
  • Jewelry. Girls love sparklies. BUT WATCH OUT. If she’s expecting “the ring” and you get her diamond studs, it’s going to be a really awkward moment. Furthermore, if she’s not sure how serious she wants to be and you get her a really expensive necklace, you’re heading for doom. Just put some thought into it and be smart. If you know a jewelry designer and can have something made for her, that’s pretty awesome.

Here are a few gifts I’d steer clear of:

  • Any pet. Yes, kittens and puppies are cute, but they’re also a huge responsibility. No one should ever be given a pet as a gift unless a lot of discussion has gone into it first. (Don’t even get me started on people giving bunnies as gifts. Oh man.)
  • Any exercise equipment or gym memberships unless she has specifically asked for it. Are you encouraging her new running habit, or inadvertently telling her that you think she’s fat? Careful!
  • Nothing. This is absolutely the worst thing you can get a girl for a holiday, even if she swears she doesn’t want anything. Get her a card, at least.

Now, again, I must stress that every girl is different, and my girlfriends are probably crazier/funnier/awesomer than most, so don’t just trust what I write. Listen to your girlfriend and take some time to think about what she likes. That’s the most important thing about gifts — the thought. If you really, really can’t think of anything, ask her for a list. It’s a bit lame, but you can’t go wrong that way. You already know you’re not great with gifts, and if she’s the right girl for you, she’ll be able to accept that, too.

25
Jan
11

how belated is too belated

Reader B.P. writes:

I’m clearly a bit late on the Christmas gift thing this year. Do you think it would be worth it to get my friends gifts anyway, or would it just look tacky?

Dear B.P.:

Once again, my tried and true method with gifts is: if you feel like giving a gift, do it. Regardless of when you get the feeling, or what you get the feeling for.

Most people genuinely enjoy getting gifts. Even if it’s the ugly sweater from Aunt Mildred, there is a certain joy in having something handed to you that is meant specifically for you from someone who claims to love you in some form or another. In fact, getting a gift  when it’s not a gift-specified season (e.g. birthday, anniversary, Christmas) can be twice as exhilarating because it is so unexpected.

ewwww

Belated or not, I would not recommend giving a half-eaten apple. Image: Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what I say is: ditch the Christmas pretense in this case, and give them gifts when (and if) you feel like doing so. You may, if you’d like, say, “This was supposed to be your Christmas present,” upon presenting the present in, say, March. Or you could say “Happy Easter!” or “Happy Passover!” or something for the spring holidays. There’s a Catholic saint for every day of the year, so you could always use that as an excuse to give a gift. That is, if you must have a “holiday” reason for giving a gift.

Or you could be even classier and make up your own holiday, which is what a dear friend and I once did. True, the original goal of our holiday was to be a religious-sounding reason to get the friend out of having to play tennis with a coworker, but it turned into a gift-giving experience, too. We called it “El Día de No Jugar con Pecado” (the day of no playing with sin) and bought each other little gifts and drank a lot.

The absolute best thing to do, though, is just give the gift when the moment is right, probably right after you buy it. If you bought gifts before Christmas and just failed to send them, by all means send them now and allow the belatedness to be part of your charm. I once found a stash of Christmas cards I’d written and forgotten about from a few years previous, and sent them out to the addressees as part of a “blast from the past”. It was like sending out a time capsule.

It certainly is the thought that counts, and not necessarily the timing. If your friends or family care more about when you give than the fact that you’re giving at all, they’re lame, and that’s not going to change whether you give them gifts or not.

23
Dec
10

last minute xmas gifts in ABQ

sales galore!

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know a lot of you are probably going a bit crazy today getting your gift shopping done. At the same time, I was looking over the last-minute gift-buying guide over at the NYTimes and NOTHING on that list was < $150. (Also all of it was only available in NYC.) So I thought I’d make my own list of last-minute Christmas gifts, which then turned more into a guide to where to get stuff in Albuquerque. Luckily, everything on this list is gettable for under $100. (Take that, New York!)

FOR DAD or other male relatives:

– Armagnac. This is really for the fancy dad. Armagnac is basically a type of brandy from a different part of France than Cognac. Bonus: It’s cheaper than Cognac, according to the New York Magazine sommelier. You can get a pretty nice bottle of the stuff for $50 or so (or $1,500 if you want to go all out), leaving you perhaps enough money to grab dad two brandy snifters to go with it. ABQ Place to get it: Jubilation Wine and Spirits off Carlisle & Lomas. If your dad is less fancy than Armagnac might suggest, you can get him a nice bottle of Scotch, too. Or just a six pack of microbrewed beer.

– Anything from Kauffman’s West. You cannot go wrong with finding something for dad at this store. It’s full of extremely interesting manly things, from military or police stock to Oakley sunglasses and Luminox watches or political gag gifts. You can get dad camping gear, too. I really like their hat selection. You’re sure to find something here for under $100, although if you wanna’ splurge, those watches can get pretty pricey pretty fast.

FOR MOM and other female relatives:

– A day at the spa. Moms do a lot of work and often don’t have the time (or money) to pamper themselves. Get your mom a massage, facial, mani-pedi thing for Christmas. Most of the spas around town are doing gift certificate specials, so you don’t have to set up the appointment for mom now — let her pick when she wants to go. Or you can surprise her and go with her. Prices vary from location to location, and for service, but you can probably get mom a good mani-pedi for $25-$50, with packages going up from there.

There are a few places to check out in ABQ, depending on your price point:

Mark Pardo’s — there are several of these around town. Mark’s the juggernaut of Aveda stuff in Albuquerque.

Betty’s Bath and Day Spa — this is the favorite local spa spot of everyone I know.

Picaflor Day Spa — a cute little spot in the heights that is a bit less expensive than some of the bigger day spas.

Any of the spas at the major hotels in the casinos will probably be good, too (Sandia, Isleta, Tamaya at Santa Ana, etc).

I also happen to know a few licensed massage therapists who do work around the area, including in-home massages, but I’m not comfortable putting their contact info up on here. Send me a message and I can get you in touch with them if need be.

– A handbag from Tres Boutique. Does their name mean “very” in French, or “three” in Spanish? Oh, who cares. This place has shoes, clothes, jewelry, and accessories, too, and nothing costs too much. Everything in there is pretty darn cute, so you ladies could probably find a thing or two for yourself while you’re in there.

FOR THE BF or close guy friend:

– A shaving kit. I’m talking about a real shaving kit, with a badger fur brush, lathering shave soap, and an old school razor. Boys in our generation have lost the knack for getting a real clean shave, and it’s really a shame. I know I’m trying to keep this local, but for the most part, I recommend the kits from The Art of Shaving, although it’s way too late to have that delivered by Christmas this year. Check out Crabtree & Evelyn in the mall. Sometimes Target has kits like these, but I’m not going to send you there.

– A gift certificate to Astro Zombies or Burning Paradise Video. Yes, I generally recommend against gift certificates, but if you don’t know exactly which strain of XMen comic your BF is following, or which zombie movies he’s already seen, the only surefire bet is to get him a gift certificate. The main thing about this gift is introducing him to these stores. These places are havens for any geek or nerd who’s into movies, comics, or other geek cultural artifacts.

FOR THE GF or close girlfriend:

– If you’re capable of figuring out her size (with or without asking), head to Seventh Goddess for the sexiest lingerie in town. Stockings + garters, nighties, cami sets… whatever you want to see her in, they have it there. And the staff is amazing. They also have toys and accessories in the back, if you’re feeling a bit more, ahem, adventurous.

– If you want to get her a piece of jewelry that’s not overly ambitious (I mean, not a diamond engagement ring or the like), Carolyn Pollack has some very reasonably priced and fun, funky jewelry. Most of it has a very Southwestern feel to it, but there are some very simple pieces you can find in her favorite color.

For the booty call:

I’ve gone over the etiquette of getting your fling a gift, and if you decide you want to but want to keep it “bedroom only”, head to Self Serve. They’re completely woman-owned and they know exactly what you need. Hell, you can probably find something for everyone on your list there, as long as they’re sex-friendly. Massage candles make awesome presents.

For the coffee or tea connoisseur:

My absolute favorite coffee shop in ‘Burque is Moon’s Coffee and Tea. Moon roasts her own coffee and blends her own tea. You absolutely cannot beat her piñon — she uses real piñon nuts! (Be sure to get it ground if you get it as a gift — a lot of coffee grinders can’t handle the nuts.) She also has accouterments galore, from pots for loose tea and French press kits to coffee filters and tea cookies. You can’t go wrong at Moon’s.

For the music buff:

Charley’s Records and Tapes is the place to find the music your beloved wants. Pick up a few CDs or some vinyl, and/or a tee shirt to match. This is another place you can get a gift certificate, just to introduce your friend to the store. Bonus: there’s a chocolate shop next door if you want to spruce up your gift a bit with a truffle or two.

For the heavy reader:

There are a few independent bookstores in Albuquerque, but my favorites fall in the Heights and the Valley:

Page One on Montgomery has basically every book you could think of, and if they don’t, they’ll order it for you. They also stock used books, and you can sell your used books there, too. If your friend is a serious book nut and you know exactly what first edition you want to look for, Page One does antiquarian, too.

Bookworks on Rio Grande (next to the Flying Star) is chock full of books for everyone, and toys for kids, too. They sell autographed copies for that fan you know, too. (Are people really huge fans of writers anymore? Really?)

For the kid in your life:

Out of the Blue has toys for every kid in your life, and many of them are of the educational sort, too. (I love being that aunt.) You won’t find the usual plastic subjects like Barbie here, but there are Legos! And the sales folk there can gift wrap like pros.

Anyone else got any ideas to share? Go ahead, post ’em in comments!

And have a happy, safe, warm holiday.

22
Dec
10

christmas hints

Reader M. T. writes:

As a woman, I make a study of my awesome man’s needs and get him the most appropriate thing(s) for his birthday or Christmas. He of course loves it, but he skips out on reciprocating and makes up for it with a nice dinner. In the past I’ve talked him into buying me something sexy, so he gets a benefit too, yeah – he likes it… But bottom line, I’m telling him what to get me. Those two times a year I would love to be surprised with something he took time to think about that fits me and my needs to a tee. Since he’s generous, protective, responsible and sensitive to me, should I just let this go? Or is there a way he could learn to gift to me that would boost both of our good feelings about ourselves and our relationship?

Dear M.T.:

It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship, so congrats.

One thing about wonderful relationships is that we forget that they can evolve and change, and that there is always room for improvement. Asking your significant other to try something new is not a sign that your relationship is falling apart, or that you should break up, or anything like that. In fact, introducing new aspects to an old relationship can bring back the spice, if you know what I’m saying. It’s part of intimacy — sharing and growing together.

a surprise

What could it be?? Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I think you should talk to your man about how you’d like to be surprised. Do it gently, of course — assure him that you love the dinners and you love him and you don’t want him to change (just his Christmas process). Tell him that you would just like him to try surprising you, maybe even just this once, for Christmas or your birthday. Tell him he’s known you long enough to take a stab at what you’d like without you having to tell him, and that you’ll like whatever he gets you.

And of course, then you really do have to like whatever he gets you.

Encourage him to go on impulse when he’s out shopping for you. Tell him just to get the first thing that comes to mind and surprise you with it. If you want to be extra nice, you could drop hints the week beforehand, such as: “Wow, those rings at that store are gorgeous.” OR “You know, I still don’t own a red lace bra.” True, you’re technically telling him what you want, although it’s less direct than telling him “Go to Victoria’s Secret and get me the Very Sexy Push Up Bra in a 36C.”

Buying gifts can be a stressful experience. As I’ve said before, we buy gifts for people because we think we know them and want to show this off. He may not be confident in his gift-buying abilities, and you’re going to have to convince him that those abilities are good enough for you, regardless of how he uses them.

Furthermore, if there’s any kind of financial strain going on in his world, you should take great pains to empathize and let him know it’s the thought that counts. He may have been dodging the present-buying bullet because he doesn’t feel he could get you a present worth as much in money as he feels you’re worth in love (or something similarly corny, sorry). If he can’t get you anything more than a ring from a Cracker Jack box, you should take it with a grain of salt. (And FYI – rings from Cracker Jack boxes are extremely romantic, especially if you’ve seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.)

He may have any number of reasons for not getting you surprise presents in the past. But, just like with other relationship things (like sexual preferences), talking about it can only increase your intimacy.

Remember, he may have no clue that this is bothering you. In fact, he will probably be completely and totally surprised that you feel shortchanged by his lack of gift-giving. Make sure you’re not accusatory when you bring it up. Use “I feel” statements, not “you never” statements. This is, technically, you’re problem. If he had a problem with it, he’d be trying to change it.

And you should also keep in mind that he may never learn the skill of gift buying. He might be willing to try it once because you ask him to, but he may never be able to come up with ideas on his own. Some people just aren’t gifters.

Therein lies what is probably my best advice in this matter:

I may have mentioned this before, but there is some theory out there somewhere (told to me and a group of impressionable teenagers by a youth pastor at some point) that human beings show love in one of several ways: spending time, acts of service, physical love, talking, and/or gift-giving. So people who show love by spending time will just show up and hang out with you, or make plans to do so. People who are talkers will call you. People who do service will unload your dishwasher or rake your lawn.

On the flip side, these people will also think you love them if you do their love-show right back.

It’s a nice idea to observe your partner and figure out how he shows his love, because that is how he will understand love from you, too. It sounds to me like he’s a time-spender/service-type (hence the nice dinners). He may also be a physical type. (NB: “sex” is not the same as  “physical love” in this sense — physical affection types are the ones who give and receive hugs openly and love holding hands, etc. Most men like sex. That doesn’t mean they all interpret physical affection as love. And neither do all women.) So keep in mind that while you interpret giving gifts to him as a show that you’ve been paying attention and love him, he may not interpret it in the same way.

Suggest to him that you two can learn to show love for each other in different ways. You’re a gift-giver and therefore a gift-receiver, so it means a lot to you to get surprises. He’s a time-spender, so it means a lot to him to plan things together, and you’re willing to do more of that if need be.

If you two can both study each other’s methods of showing affection and try to craft your own skills to match your partner’s, you’ll be in good shape. Better shape, I should say, since you’re already in good shape.

Just make sure it’s not a one-sided attempt at improvement, or one or the other of you is going to get resentful at having to do all the work.

17
Dec
10

new fling gift protocol

Reader L. S. asks:

I am in a very new relationship, and I think I want to get my new fling a gift for Christmas.  I don’t want to be presumptuous that we’re more than we are. But at the same time, I want him to know that I like him. So, what is the protocol on new relationships over the holidays — present or no present?

Dear L.S.:

Here is my hard and fast rule on gift giving: If you feel like getting someone a gift, do it. If you don’t, don’t.

Giving someone a gift is about your feelings for them. It has nothing to do with their feelings for you, or at least it shouldn’t. Giving a gift says “I know you; I know what you like; at least, I think I know you and I think I know what you like, and here’s my best attempt at showing you this”. This is why we get so disappointed when we get ugly sweaters from our mothers-in-law or vacuum cleaners from our boyfriends. It’s because we feel like they just proved they know nothing about us. In these cases, it’s almost better to give nothing than to give something that’s actually not in line with what the person wants.

It’s also why I hate sending people lists of what I want for Christmas. It shouldn’t be compulsory, in my opinion, and if they can’t think of something to get me, then they shouldn’t feel they have to. That need to get someone something without knowing what is the exact compulsion that leads to bad gift giving.

Furthermore, it’s why we get upset when someone tells us they don’t want us to get them anything for Christmas. It’s a let down. When you have the need to give someone a gift, it doesn’t matter whether they have expressed their desire for it or not; it’s you showing that you care.

All I want for Christmas

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So if you want to get your new fling something, and you have an idea of what you want to give him, absolutely do it.

However, you may want to think about how he’s going to take this gift-giving, too. Even though my hard and fast rule says you shouldn’t care. Maybe there can be a difference between caring about what he might think and just being aware that he may have an adverse reaction. Let’s try that on for size, shall we?

I am glad you recognize how your new fling could take the gift-giving (i.e. presumptuous that you’re more as a couple than you actually are).  Or he could react by being ecstatic. I must reiterate that while you should not take any of these reactions into your gift-giving plans (because you may not know how he is actually going to react), you should at least be prepared for a reaction from this new fling of yours. How he responds could speak volumes about the future of your relationship. For instance, here are a few scenarios:

– He says, “Thank you, this is perfect! Now open what I got for you!” And you live happily ever after.

– He says, “Thank you, this is perfect! But I haven’t gotten you anything!” And you’ve taken the relationship up a level he wasn’t expecting, but is happy about.

– He says, “Dammit, now I have to get you something.” And you’ve taken the relationship up a level he wasn’t expecting, and is not happy about.

– He says, “Oh. Thanks.” And hides the present away or never uses it, thinking you don’t know him at all and probably you two shouldn’t be together.

– He says, “Oh, uhm, thanks.” And hands you a present that is as unsuited to you as yours is to him. And you both feel awkward and break up a few weeks later.

– He dumps you because he’s totally uncomfortable and thinks you’re taking things too seriously.

See? So many outcomes! Or he could react in a way I haven’t listed here at all! Be prepared.

Still, I say take the risk. Since you’re sure you like this person and you want to show him this, I say there is nothing wrong with getting him a present without caring how he could react. It’s basically just like telling someone you like them. If they don’t feel the same way, you can deal with that after you’ve told them. But you’ll never know unless you go through with it.

You can lessen the risk a bit by broaching the subject with your new SO to give him a heads up. Just ask, “Are we planning on doing presents for Christmas this year?” Notice I used “we”, not “you” or “me”. Yes, it implies a lot of intimacy, but it’s also not accusatory. Asking this will let him know that you’ve been thinking about it. He’ll probably say, “I don’t know, are we?” At which point you can confess that you were considering getting him a present, and he can know what to expect.

Surprises are fun, too, though, and the holidays are all about surprises. Maybe you can try being brave this season and expressing yourself without expecting reciprocation, or caring what the other person might think. It’ll be fun.

02
Dec
10

the right gift for the new her

Reader Z. N. writes:

You talked about what to get your new mother-in-law for the holidays, but what about a new girlfriend? If you’ve only been dating a few weeks or months, what’s the expected gift from new boyfriend?

Dear Z.N.:

Expectations vary from girl to girl and from relationship to relationship. I don’t know your GF, so I can’t tell you if she’d prefer a book to a pair of earrings or bath salts.

a present!

Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are other factors that go into what you get a lady for Christmas or Hanukkah beyond how long you’ve been together. For instance, how serious are you two? I know you said she’s your girlfriend, so I’m assuming you two have had the exclusivity talk at least. If you’ve only been “dating”, and aren’t exclusive, a nice card and a flower or special candy or something is probably fine. If you’ve only been hooking up, I don’t even know if I’d advise giving her that much. It depends on how much further you want the relationship to go. Giving someone a gift or card at the holidays means, “I care about you and want to continue getting to know you better.” Giving something to a hook-up could give a signal that you’re interested in more, so be careful with that.

Furthermore, if you guys were friends for a long time before you started dating, you might be more serious with each other than a girl you’ve just met. You probably also know a lot more about her, and buying a present should be that much easier for you.

While I can’t say for certain what your lady friend would like or what’s totally appropriate, I do have a few tips to steer you clear of asshole boyfriend territory:

Get her something. Anything.

I could say that if you’ve only been dating for a few weeks, she probably isn’t expecting anything for the holidays. But that would be a lie. Even if a girl says she doesn’t expect you to get her something for the holidays, and even if you’ve only been dating for a day, GET HER SOMETHING FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I don’t care if it’s a single rose from the gas station down the street or a box of wine, you give her SOMETHING. Same goes for birthdays. Otherwise, you’re that asshole boyfriend who couldn’t be bothered to get creative. Trust me on this one.

Don’t get her something you want.

Apparently guys do this all the time. It’s probably something you won’t have to worry about until later on in the relationship (i.e. when you’re actually living together), but it’s something you should check yourself for anyway. My major advice here: Avoid electronic equipment unless she has specifically asked for it. A pair of nice headphones? Okay, not a bad idea, especially if she’s been complaining that her earbuds are busted. A new Wii controller because you play Wii a lot at her place? Mehhhhh that’s not very personal. Even if you play Wii together, that could be seen as veering more into “I’m a guy and I will use this” territory. The reason we give gifts is to show people that we’re thinking of them, not of ourselves. Keep that in mind.

Don’t spend too much.

If you give her diamond earrings after your first two weeks together, you’re setting the bar pretty high. Diamonds after two weeks? What happens at your first anniversary? A house? If you can find her something nice for under $50, go for it. I’d say $25 is almost steep if you’ve only been together two weeks. There are lots of inexpensive gifts out there. Don’t blow your load early — save a little something for a few months down the road. Expensive gifts are typically gifts that are supposed to last, and should be saved for relationships that have lasted and/or will last.

Show off your knowledge of her.

This is your chance to prove to her that you’ve been listening. Even after two weeks of being with her, you should know at least some of the things she likes (and dislikes). Don’t go out on a limb with something you’re not sure she’ll enjoy. Play it safe. Even if it’s just something small like a bottle of wine or a gift certificate to a place she’s said she likes, you’re sure to win if you show that you know what she likes. It’s probably too early to know her taste in jewelry, too, so unless you’re sure you know her inside and out, I’d advise you to watch out in that arena. Food or a gift certificate are probably your best bets here, too. (And no, I don’t think a gift certificate is a bad idea for a new relationship, as long as you get it for something or somewhere she really likes. Just don’t play this card after you’ve been together longer than two months.)

And my number one advice for you: Don’t stress out about it. Remember that it’s the thought that counts, and a little can go a long way.




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