When it comes to gift-giving, the thought does count – but think twice before you shop for the special lady on your list.
Although we pick presents with good intentions, let’s not forget that good intentions also pave the road to hell. So if you’re a guy without much experience in gifting, or if your special someone has ever found your “perfect gift” perfectly offensive, read on – today we talk about the worst things you can give a girl and why. On Friday, it’s the guys turn.
Guys generally like practical gifts and gadgets – which is why we’re confused that girls don’t. Sometimes they do, but problems pop up when a gift seems too practical, comes with expectations or implies something lacking in your relationship. To flesh out the ideas presented in the video above, here are five categories of gifts the untrained guy might want to avoid.
1. Virtually anything that belongs in a kitchen or is even remotely associated with housework
Dinnerware, utensils, pots and pans, and especially anything that plugs in – these are bad. They might be OK for your mom or grandma, but not for your girlfriend or wife. Why? Let me count the ways. If it’s kitchen-related, the implication is that she should cook for you. Even if your intention is to cut down on the time she spends cooking or to make things easier for her, it’ll come across as the gift of being your personal cook and waitress. Ouch. Likewise things like vacuum cleaners or anything that suggests housework. In fact, to be on the safe side, just avoid electrical cords entirely: there’s nothing that plugs in that she’ll find romantic in any way. And lest you forget, guys, romance is what this entire exchange is about.
Even if you know her size and favorite colors, this is still risky territory. Fashion is personal, and for many guys, a complete and utter mystery. Do you understand the cuts, fits, and fabrics she likes? Do you know if she cares about the latest trends or the popular labels, and what those are? It’s late in the game to start watching Project Runway. If you pick wrong, the best-case scenario is she’ll feel obligated to wear your gift a few times and gradually move it toward the back of the closet. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll buy her something a size too large and she’ll think you’re saying she’s fat – the equivalent of her buying a magnifying hat to accentuate your bald spot. But worse – much worse. And lingerie? That’s a gift for you, not her.
Does that mean you should never choose clothes? I won’t go that far – after all, you have to buy her something that doesn’t plug in. But recognize that you’re entering a minefield. If you insist on stepping into it, there are two ways to go. The first is to take one of her girlfriends shopping with you – then if it blows up in your face, blame the entire outcome – from idea to execution – on her friend: she won’t be there on Christmas morning to defend herself. But the absolute best way to approach to clothes? Make a nice card that promises her a shopping spree on your dime, maybe during after-Christmas sales, with you in attendance. Love is about sacrifice, guys.
3. Restaurant gift certificates
Based on number one, this might seem like a good idea. Get her out of the kitchen – date night and all that, right? Wrong. This is essentially giving her money and asking her to buy you a meal – at a restaurant you picked. It also comes across as a thoughtless gift, because it’s something you could have picked up at the last minute at the local grocery store. Give her a bottle of champagne with a card attached promising her a night on the town taking her wherever she wants, whenever she wants.
4. Anything remotely related to losing weight or becoming a better person
Gym memberships, exercise equipment, scales, self-help books and videos, cookbooks: bad. Seriously bad. Even if she mentions wanting any of these things, that doesn’t mean she wants them from you. You might as well tell her that yes, now that you think about it, her butt does look fat in those jeans after all.
5. Anything related to cars
I know: it’s hard to imagine that a set of new tires isn’t the perfect gift. But for some reason, women seem attracted to accessories for what they wear, not what they drive. There’s really nothing romantic about car repairs, either. There is one notable exception to this rule, however: an actual, brand-new car. I’m not sure why this is an exception, but I think it has something to do with the price.
So what’s left?
Diamonds, obviously. Seriously though, while jewelry can be a good gift, this isn’t about money. The best gifts you can give (or receive, for that matter) are personal. They’re things that show you actually know and care about what she values both physically and emotionally. Anything that involves spending more time with her is a good bet. Instead of giving gift cards or picking the wrong clothes, make a card and write a nice, romantic note promising to take her out, cook her dinner or do some task for her. Take her on a vacation, take her dancing, take her somewhere she’s talked about and thinks you’ve forgotten about. In short, give her a memory – but don’t forget to follow through, and the sooner the better.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy things. But when you do, use your imagination before you use your money. One day a couple of years ago, my girlfriend casually mentioned that she’d always wanted a star tattooed on her ankle. When her birthday rolled around six months later, I gave her a gift certificate for a tattoo. It was completely unexpected, because I rarely remember stuff like that – plus it was adventurous, permanent, and therefore, romantic – definitely not something I’d give my mom.
While a tattoo might not be the perfect gift for the woman who makes your heart skip a beat, the point is to find something that reminds her that she makes your heart skip a beat.
Now ladies, what about you: ever get a really horrible gift? Enter our Worst Gift Ever contest. You’ll laugh at some of the dozens of entries we’ve already gotten – tell us yours and you might win a Flip Mino HD video camera.
Subscribe by email
Like this article? Sign up for our email updates and we’ll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We’ll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson’s ’205 Ways to Save Money’ as soon as you’ve subscribed. It’s full of great tips that’ll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn’t cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.This story is linked to with a thumbnail of 'New pots and pans - DSCN4126' by Flickr user Lars Plougmann.