This holiday season you happily find yourself not single, or maybe not exactly single. You’re stoked about the person you’re dating. Christmas is fast approaching...suddenly just a few days away. But don’t chastise yourself for procrastinating on gifts again this year. There’s no time! You just need to take action, and quickly.
You want to give them something cool to celebrate the holiday, but what do you give?
The gift giving process can feel daunting and excruciating, and it’s certainly time-consuming. You’re so busy, and then there’s the pressure of a gift.
While a kind, understanding, reasonable person is generally not going to stop dating you if you give them the wrong gift, it certainly sets a tone of how you feel about them and where the relationship is going.
So to steer you in the right direction (and set the stage for romance that night), DateSpot is here to the rescue with some tips.
These suggestions aren’t based on a chronological timeline of how long you’ve been together, because relationships progress at different paces. The variance is even greater in a pandemic, when distance and temporary restrictions of how, when, and where you can be often either delay or accelerate the courting process.
Here are the guidelines:
- The most important thing to remember in gift giving is that the best gift is a thoughtful, personalized one. It shows someone that you were listening, and are a thoughtful person. Like the white elephant gift in “The Office” TV show that Jim gave to Pam - small \ personalized gifts that made her smile and realize what a considerate person he is.
- Taking this last tip to the next level is connecting to a past shared experience. It’s something you’re highlighting as a positive memory that you want to relive - often something fun or funny.
- If you have time to brave the holiday rush, you can get inspired by what’s on the store shelves. Since the big box stores like Target can be overcrowded and overwhelming, check out Cost Plus World Market instead. They have a wide selection of fun and affordable gifts.
- If you’re REALLY last minute - meaning day of or before - you might only have the option of a gift card. If you must go this route, you can salvage it by customizing the store based on their interests and pairing it with a greeting card that calls it out. For example, if they’re a big tennis player, you could go with Sports Authority, and attach a card saying they can get something new for the court and you look forward to many more games together.
For a newer relationship:
- These days, and especially in a pandemic, dates are more loosely defined - they can certainly be a video call, and some might even say a long enough phone call. If you’ve only had a few dates, there’s no need for a gift. If you get one, though, it should be really small and light-hearted.
- Talk about whether you’re exchanging gifts at all so expectations are clear. And don’t set a max dollar amount - that’s tacky.
- Make sure you know whether they even want to celebrate Christmas! If they’re an atheist they might not want to celebrate the birth of Christ. If they’re Jewish, well you had multiple days to get them something but now that window has closed. WIsh them a belated happy Hanukkah and move on -- and do better next year. If you don’t know if someone would even want to celebrate Christmas, get hints from their home - if there are any festive lights, a Christmas tree, or decorations, you’re on the hook. If not, just ask.
- If they’ve expressed pride in their heritage or recently moved from somewhere else, a thoughtful, small gift is some food that would remind them of that origin location. World Market (coming to the rescue yet again!) has a ton of international food. If your partner loves their big Italian family, or misses their sister there, try a few types Italian pastas. If they recently moved from Memphis, there’s BBQ meat cooking spices. You get the picture.
- Avoid anything heart-shaped in a new relationship as they may read into it and freak out if they’re not at the love stage just yet. As a rule of thumb, only get something heart-shaped if you’ve said “I love you” and it’s been reciprocated.
For an exclusive relationship:
- A membership to something specific can be fun and different. This is especially great for the dreaded Person Who Has Everything. If their music playlists are constantly playing annoying ads, you could get them a Spotify Premium membership. A big reader may really appreciate an Audible membership. A cool experiential gift for almost anyone is MasterClass, which teaches video courses from celebrity experts in their field - across business, sports, cooking, etc.. The possibilities are endless.
- Acknowledging that intimacy is a big part of a relationship, sexy gifts are great only if you’ve already had sex with the person. An example is massage oil with a homemade coupon (you can do it on a greeting card) for a half hour massage from you. Lingerie is fun and flirty if you’re a man giving it to a special woman...but we know that you really aren’t going to see it on for long! And if you’re thinking about sex toys...well, why are you thinking about sex toys? That’s a larger discussion between you two!
- If it’s a physical present, don’t forget to wrap it in something that says you thought of that too. No matter the price of a gift, it should be wrapped properly. Bags with tissue paper are certainly the easiest. Or if you want it in a box, use Christmas appropriate paper (no birthday candles or kids cartoons) and ideally finish it with a bow.
Gifts for a Man:
- Men like practical gifts more than women. They appreciate something useful and ingenious. Like a wallet - that’s a nice gift for a man, but a little strange and practical for a woman.
- For a small gift when you haven’t been dating the person for too long, you can’t go wrong with a book about something you know he’s interested in. Make sure it’s not just something you would enjoy reading. Sign the inside with a personal inscription to make it more special.
- Baseball cap / jersey for his fave sports team.
- A cool travel coffee mug that closes securely with some imported coffee is a safe bet as long as you know they drink coffee.
- A nice watch is a beautiful gift if you’ve been together a long time. For low priced stylish options, check out Fossil. For high priced, no need to go into Rolex territory - there’s Omega. Make sure he doesn’t already have one that looks exactly the same - type of metal and also band color.
Gifts for a Woman:
- Wine (if she drinks) or flowers or wine are lovely to surprise someone with, but they should never replace a main gift.
- Candles are a great present that helps set a romantic mood when you’re together.
- A cool teapot and a few types of nice tea make a cute set for a woman of any age.
- Clothing is a tough one to get right because of the tricky dimensions of taste and exact fit, so should be avoided. The exception is winter hats,scarves, and gloves, which are a nice holiday present that generally fits well. If you do hear them say they could use some clothing in particular, try to get a better sense of what they like by showing them an example online and asking them. Ask, “What do you think of this? Would you wear this?” Better to ruin a surprise and get it right than have her hate it or have to go through the time of returning/exchanging it.
- Jewelry is always a welcome addition and a woman would generally say she can’t have enough! Expensive jewelry should be reserved for a very serious relationship.
Parting words...think about it, but don’t stress too much. It’s most important that if you’re exchanging gifts, you get something, and it’s on time. Give it with a smile and an open heart. Worst case, there’s always Valentine’s Day to redeem yourself.