A cyberpal of mine, Nancy W., is diabetic. So what was her husband thinking when he gave her a hot chocolate gift set from Walmart one recent Christmas?
Apparently he wasn’t thinking at all. Just shopping at the last minute, she says, and operating on his usual autopilot: Hot chocolate set, huh? That’s a nice gift.
“My diabetes is not a new diagnosis,” Nancy says, calling the gift “thoughtless.”
That was the only thing he gave her that year, incidentally, whereas she had “put a lot of effort and money into his gifts – and he is a hard person to shop for.”
Here’s a Christmas clue, guys: When you go to the mall or buzz around online stores, don’t think along the lines of “That’s a nice gift.” Try it this way instead: “What would be a nice gift for the woman I love?”
As Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson notes, men can “look like heroes or idiots” each December. Which do you want to be? Learn more in his video, then keep reading for additional better-nots.
Not all women are about perfume and jewelry. Heck, I know a lady who had a cement mixer on her gift list. (She was making hypertufa troughs for her garden.) And not all women are hypercritical harpies who love to berate you about your gift choices: You clueless clod! You can’t take five minutes to think about what I’d really like? Another holiday ruined!
Is it the thought that counts?
It’s impossible to say what “all women” don’t want. Truth be told, some women don’t want gifts at all because they feel the holiday is intended for children or because they already have everything they need. (I made a deal with my partner this year: He could get me a gift only if there was a stirring tale of thrift attached.)
That said, Stacy nailed it regarding appliances. Unless the woman in your life specifically listed a washing machine or coffee maker, forget about giving her a piece of machinery. In effect you’re saying, “Throw in a load of laundry and bring me some coffee, willya?”
One woman told Time magazine that her husband gave her a waffle iron. Apparently he was thinking more about his own needs than any of her potential desires: “He thought if we had a waffle iron, I could make waffles for him.”
Again: Nothing wrong with putting a toaster oven under the tree if that’s what she is hoping to get. But only a dunderhead would expect his sweetheart to be thrilled about receiving a clothes iron when she’d actually expressed a wish for a coffeehouse punch card or a Sandra Dallas novel.
That old saying “It’s the thought that counts” applies to you, not her. As in, take a minute to think about what might make her happy instead of giving her a household appliance. Otherwise you’re sending the message that she is important only insofar as she serves others. (Or serves waffles.)
It’s not (for) you, it’s (for) me
Which brings us to another no-no category: gifts that are actually more for you than for her.
If she’s never expressed an interest in microbrewery, it is not kosher to give her a beer-making kit. You know, the kind of thing that you know she won’t use but which you’ll happily appropriate.
“The worst present I ever received (during my marriage) was a state-of-the-art barbecue grill because it was clearly for him to put out by the pool,” one woman told The Huffington Post.
Flip that one its head for a moment, guys. Suppose your sweetie gave you a quilting frame or some high-end cosmetics for Christmas. Are those gifts based on a typical guy’s wants and needs? Nope. So please don’t inflict this kind of nonsense on the woman you love, either.
As for the framed photograph of yourself that Stacy mentioned? Don’t even. Sure, some women might want a nice picture to put on her desk at work. But they might just as likely think you’re an egotistical jerk.
A much safer bet: Frame a photo of the two of you, especially one taken at a special moment (your wedding reception, that great trip to Hawaii).