If you ask a woman, she will tell you that women are easy to buy for, while men are more difficult. But when it comes to buying for that special woman in your life, don’t kid yourself: she is hoping you will but her the perfect gift just as much as you are. To women, receiving the “perfect” gift is not about greed: it is about proving that you “know” her. So all of the pressure you are feeling to get her the right gift is warranted.
The trick to doing this sounds quite simple: listen to her. She wants you to get her the perfect gift as much as you do so she can feel as though she is not dating an insensitive clod, and so that she can brag to her friends how you got her the perfect present. She will be dropping hints all over the place. You just have to be sharp enough to pick up on even half of her hints.
The problem is that she will be dropping hints all year, expecting you to be filing them away in the “perfect gift” section of your mind. And why does she expect this? Because she does it all year long, not just with you, but also with family members and friends. To girls, gift giving is not as much a material endeavour as it is a way to evaluate who in her life knows her well. Believe me, when her best friend gives her a stinker gift, on some level, she will re-evaluate those friendships as well. The difference is that her friends will know this (since they do the same thing) and therefore are also mentally cataloguing subtle hints all year round.
Since guys are not programmed to think like this, it is understandable that they do not posses the same mental filing skills. Unfortunately, this doesn’t matter. These are the rules that girls play by, and if you want to make her happy, then a-shopping you will go.
Here are some tips to help you along the way:
As stated, women want you to succeed in the gift buying as much as you want to (probably more, actually). To this end, simply asking her what she wants sounds like a logical first step. If your girl is sympathetic to your plight, she will provide you with some ideas. If she really wants you to succeed, she will point out what she means in a catalogue. Get her to give you a few ideas, so it still seems like you are making some decisions based on what you know of her. Don’t ask her for one idea and just stick with that because that shows no thoughtfulness at all. Also, ask a few weeks before the gift-giving event. If you ask within three days of the event, you are already playing at a deficit because you are showing that you haven’t been thinking ahead. This doesn’t mean you have to buy it 6 months ahead of time, but ask at least a month in advance.
Ask Her Best Friend
Because her best friend has been cataloguing ideas throughout the year, it only makes sense to tap into this rich resource. If you can, get her best friend to go shopping with you. Girls love shopping and she will make sure that you not only get the right gift, but also the right colour and the right size—this is imperative if shopping for clothes. (A hint: if you are unsure what size your girlfriend is, always guess low. She would rather return a ridiculously small garment with the idea that you actually think she is that small than have to fix you with an icy glare as she unravels an extra large, staggering at the possibility that you actually think she’s that big.)
Take Care Of Her
While gift certificates are frowned upon, a gift certificate at a spa or her favourite store (especially if she cannot afford it) are great ideas. If you are going to go the gift certificate route, however, you can’t scrimp. Don’t get her a pedicure, get her a spa day. Don’t get her a gift certificate for a store unless she can buy at least two items with it. A low-amount gift certificate just feels like a filler gift. A high-amount gift certificate is an indulgence, and you are saying she is worth the best.
Do Domething She Wants To Do
Girls love gifts that somehow come off as a personal sacrifice. If there is an activity that she loves, and you hate, make your gift sharing that event or activity with her. For instance, if she loves the opera or the ballet, buy her tickets and go with her. If she loves poetry readings or jazz, take her out on an evening. You will get added points if you treat her to a full evening of dinner and the event. Even better, just tell her that on a certain night, she should get dressed up because you are taking her out, then take her to dinner and the event. This is, in many ways, the perfect gift, as it includes several perks: it is thoughtful, it is romantic, it has you doing something “as a couple” and it is self-sacrificing.
If you have to choose between practical and unique, go for unique. While a guy may like getting tools, a woman, unless she is a carpenter or has asked for them, really does not. We don’t like things that are going to make “everyone’s” lives easier, we want something that is special for us. If your dishwasher has broken down, for instance, don’t “buy her a new one” for Christmas, as this implies that dishwashing is her responsibility, and the gift means she won’t have to do them by hand. If you have a big ticket item that you have to “buy” each other, then always, always buy her a little something else as well, no matter what you agreed upon about not buying each other any other gifts.
I know you are feeling a lot of pressure to buy the right thing, and it is warranted. Girls do put a lot of stock in gifts. This is your chance to really show her you care, but more than that, show her that you care enough to actually know her and put the time in. If you do indeed care, then gift-giving is the best way to prove it.