It’s that time of the year again: You’re prepping to spend way too much time with the kin, maybe traveling across country to see them, and stressing the hell out about getting non-repulsive gifts for your loved ones. And if you have a special lady friend in your life, you may also be doubting every swipe of your credit card (or cricket sound coming from your bank account).
The supreme principle of gift giving is finding something specific to your relationship that makes your loved one feel happy and loved. Because there’s already way too much pressure on you, here are some tips on gifts to definitely avoid, along with some gift ideas that will surely induce hugs and, “You’re so sweet(s)!”
Any kitchen-esque gear
I know the Dyson vacuum is a sexy machine, and steam cleaners are very nice to have around the house. But this isn’t a Christmas present. This is a “middle-of-March-just-because-I-want-your-life-to-be-easier” present. We really don’t like having to clean the house in the first place – neither do you, probably. So please don’t remind us of boring, decidedly un-fun activities on one of the few days of the year that we actually don’t have to clean.
This category includes not only waffle makers and Day-Glo colored mixers, but also Fruit of the Month Clubs and bottles of liquor. (Unless you’re 16, a pint of liquor is not too thrilling, sorry.) Even if she’s a total foodie, anything falling into this realm is the opposite of personal. We may also interpret it as you telling us that you want cupcakes and quiches and we should be enthusiastic about making said snacks because the As Seen On TV-cupcake/quiche-making contraption is pink.
Exception 1: When she specifically asks for one. But we recommend buying a back-up gift that reeks of romance to balance out the utter boredom of gifts to assist in cleaning.
Exception 2: A couples cooking class or out-of-the-ordinary fancy-schmancy dinner. We’ll also eat our faces off and get liquored up, it’ll just be not douche-y.
Christmas foliage is only appropriate as a gift for your mother or mother in law, and then only as an add-on gift. Take it as a general rule of thumb that anything you can find in the front of a grocery store or a hardware store is probably not something that oozes ‘romance’ when we receive it.
We do like flowers, so we give you credit for being on the right track with poinsettias. But we ask that you be a little more creative than the standard red, poisonous flowers that might make our pets sick.
Exceptions: No exceptions.
This one’s kind of a duh, as it’s an annual sitcom-husband screw up during every Christmas special. She’ll take it as a hint she’s fat, blah blah blah. No matter how much she talks about wanting those Shape Up shoes, don’t give in (they’re garbage, anyway).
Buying us anything that implies we need to lose weight is a serious situation. Even if we don’t have to lose weight, if we get even a hint that you think we do, it could be a couch-sleeping night for you. To put it in perspective, it would be like us buying you Rogaine for a present. Or Viagra. Or Hair Club for Men.
Bringing up anything in regards to how much we weigh is a sure-fire way to defeminize how we feel about ourselves. The fact that you make us feel beautiful no matter how we look on the outside is why we love you so much. Please don’t jeopardize that wonderful feeling!
Exception 1: She may ask for this. Proceed at your own peril. You should under no circumstances buy a scale, diet pills, or a Weight Watchers membership.
Exception 2: A super cute yoga mat if she’s a Pilates or yoga enthusiast. The ones at the gym are gross.
Lotion gift sets
These are the most annoying gifts of all. We are picky about what we put on our skin. And the cheap crap that goes into these packages makes us smell like a cheap date. Plus, we are probably still trying to use up the gift set you gave us 3 years ago.
Yet, we feel this weird obligation to not throw away perfectly good lotion. They are kind of like the gift that keeps on giving and never goes away. But we never really use these things. So even if you see old sets lying around, it really just means we didn’t have the heart to let you know we don’t like lotion sets, and probably never will.
Exceptions: Can’t think of any.
There is a reason why January is a prime-time for overpopulated shelters. Animals are not gifts. They are like mini, furry family members who we can’t necessarily return for store credit when we figure out we don’t have the time for ‘em.
Exception: An awesome plant coupled with a personalized gift like a book we’ve been thinking about getting. Perhaps we’re just hippies around these parts. We’re not familiar with a girl that doesn’t like a green thing, though. Hey, they’re alive, they brighten a room, and we won’t feel like we’re going to off ourselves when we accidentally kill them.
On that note: stuffed animals
Yack! Leave the Teddy Bears and cushy otters for your six year-old niece. Sure, we were jealous of that chick who got that Build-a-Bear donning a stupid felt Santa hat (but was made with so much adolescent love) when we were in eighth grade. Now? They just confuse us. They collect dust.
Exception: The Best Pillow Ever. Seriously. A big, down pillow. She will cuddle with that damn thing every night. It’s like a stuffed animal, minus the creepiness.
Should you buy her a Christmas sweater? Well, what do you think of when you think of Christmas sweaters? Old women? Weird aunts? Crazy cat ladies? That’s what I think of. And if we think that our main man views us as one of these kinds of women, how do you think we feel? Old? Weird? Crazy? Yes.
No matter how confident we are in our age, please don’t give us anything that makes us FEEL our age. Aim lower – like, 10 years lower!
Also, you’ll risk picking the wrong size, which could be detrimental in so many ways. If it’s not her style it’ll just be awkward for her to wear it. (Remember, some of us are wary of picking out frocks for our friends of ten years, that’s how fickle we can be about fashion). Plus, that is all our mom gets us.
Exception: Awesome lingerie, after checking our bra and panties drawer for sizes. That — our mom will not be getting us.
Yes, we will probably use them. Gift certificates are the ultimate sign you gave up completely. Not swoon-worthy.
Exception: A spa certificate for a massage. Most likely something we wouldn’t get ourselves but that we totally, totally want. It says, “I care about you feeling good,” rather than, “I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing.”
Anything from a drug store chain
I know they are convenient. There’s a Walgreen’s or CVS on nearly every street corner in the suburbs. But that doesn’t make it a gift-shopping destination. Gifts bought at your local pharmacy say the same thing as food gift baskets – that you picked up our present at the very last minute. That means we were low on your priority list. And we don’t like being there!
Exception: They have some decent fragrances, if your significant other is into that stuff.
Bedroom or bathroom linens
Towels, sheets, bed pillows, and shower curtains are just plain not allowed to be on your list. We can get excited about a lot of really dorky domestic things. Things that you will never, ever care about. But towels are just not exciting no matter what. And bed sheets? Who cares? If you’re going to go the domestic route, get us a beautiful vase, something unique to hang on the wall, or something decorative to put on our shelves. Something that suits our personality and shows us that you care about who we are on the inside.
Exceptions: If your girlfriend or wife has just moved and doesn’t have any at all and she has asked for them. But see warning on #1.
And maybe satin bedsheets. Maybe.
You may think we like pink seat covers or handy cell phone holders. We don’t. This gift screams “I bought you what I wanted, not what you wanted.” It’s not that we don’t appreciate these things, we just think of car accessories the way you think of pet food. Boring! There is no pleasure in fuzzy dangling things from our rear-view mirrors. There is no excitement in a new steering wheel cover. *Yawn*. This is the kind of gift we would expect from our over-protective fathers, not from our boyfriends or husbands.
Exception: When they are add-on gifts for a new car, too. 😉
Food gift baskets
We know these are the first thing you see when you walk into the store. That’s because the stores know that lazy gift givers will buy the first thing they see.
As irrational as it may seem, if we think that you were lazy about buying gifts for us, we take that to mean that you care less about us. I know. In your world that is ridiculous. We get that. But it doesn’t change the way we feel about it. We’d like to, because it would make life easier for all of us. But we can’t. So work with us on this one, will you please?
Exception: These are a safe bet for business gifts. Unless, of course, you are dating a co-worker. But if you are, you might have way more trouble on your hands than what gifts to buy for the holidays.
You, naked, with a bow on your package (or a dick in the box)
Har, har. We get it. You’re broke. You want to do it, per usual, but with a red-and-glitter-clad twist. This will just not cut it. It is very obvious you scrambled around clueless and just stuck a ribbon on your dong at midnight on December 24th.
Exception: An “experience date,” like a concert ticket. The gift is still spending time and creating a memory with you (aww).
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