A writer shares the wisdom of over 100 women reflecting on Christmas gifts from the men in their lives.
The following is not a compilation of TV ads, Black Friday specials, or a carefully crafted political message. It’s much better than that. In an attempt to help you get the best gift for the significant lady in your life, I talked to over 100 women. This significant lady may be your girlfriend, wife, sister, daughter, mother. You get the idea. My original plan was to offer a cut and dry “Top 10” list of “do” and “don’t even think about it” gift ideas. But as the ladies shared their stories with me, it became clear that idea wasn’t going to suffice.
What they intimately shared with me was much richer, much more heartfelt. So I hope to convey the spirit in which they shared and help you gentlemen to choose the best gift possible. I’ve kept names out of these stories to protect the guilty and innocent alike. And because I want to end on a positive note, I’ll start with the “worst gift” responses.
Gift That Missed the Mark
I have to give these guys some credit for at least trying. Some of their bad gifts included: ugly shirt, ugly boots, stinky perfume, a tea pitcher, a Finding Nemo bath towel (however, this one gets better), a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret, a CD, and a wall clock.
Before you defend your decision if you’ve ever given one of these items as a gift to your girl, I want to give a little back story to explain why these were considered by their recipients to be bad gifts.
- The ugly shirt and ugly boots because, well, they were ugly. Clearly their men didn’t know their likes and dislikes or their taste in attire.
- The perfume was stinky because the man purchased it when he had a cold, couldn’t smell the perfume, and therefore accidentally bought the wrong one. The lesson to learn here is to find out the brand name of her favorite perfume; don’t guess.
- The tea pitcher might have been nice if it was the right kind, but to his woman it looked like “work wrapped in a bow,” to quote her.
- The Finding Nemo bath towel really needs no explanation, but as I’ve already mentioned, that story does get better.
- A gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret would’ve been okay if that’s what she had wanted. But when it seemed as though it was really a gift for him instead, it was an unwelcome one (so to “fix his wagon” she bought the most matronly article of clothing she could find in the store).
- The CD also fell under this category as a gift that was actually for his enjoyment, and not necessarily hers. Sorry, fellas, but in my book, that’s pretty selfish.
- The wall clock, although now enjoyed by the wife (twenty years after it was purchased), was initially seen as too practical and not at all romantic.
Gifts That Didn’t Even Fire
There didn’t even appear to be any effort expended by these guys. I can’t make this kind of stuff up; these actually happened: farm gloves and an Agri Gold jacket, a box of chocolate-covered cherries, a “cheesy” necklace (her words), and asking her if she even really needed a gift.
You may already be figuring out why these were extra bad gifts, but allow me to fill in some of the details.
- In regard to the outdoor wear, the Agri Gold jacket had been given to the “gift” giver for free. Also the recipient had no need for farm gloves.
- The box of chocolate-covered cherries were given to a diabetic. The clincher? Her husband is an MD.
- The “cheesy” necklace was bad enough, but to add insult to injury, he didn’t even buy it. His mother picked it out, bought it, and wrapped it.
- And then there was the guy who asked his woman if she even really needed a gift.
- Oh, and the one who totally forgot about getting his gal a present at all.
None of those were okay, and here’s why. It’s not necessarily what those gifts were, it’s what they represented. The represented a lack of understanding his woman. Or worse—not even trying to figure out her preferences.
Under other circumstances, any of the above-mentioned gifts could be seen in a completely different light. If she loved Agri Gold and wanted farm gloves, the gift might have been acceptable. If the candy had instead of been a chocolate diamond, I’m pretty sure she’d have been very happy. Or if she wasn’t a diabetic and cordial cherries were her all time favorite, that’d been just fine. If the wife had commented while browsing a jewelry store that she liked the “cheesy” necklace, then by all means, get it.
Not giving your lady a gift is okay as long as the two of you agreed upon that ahead of time because it’s not financially prudent, or you’d rather spend that amount on the kids or grandkids, or you want to start a new Christmas tradition, like taking a trip together or “paying it forward” by helping someone else.
Those are all great alternatives to exchanging gifts. Just be sure you’re both on the same page to avoid someone having hurt feelings.
Gifts That Were Perfect
It was heart-warming to hear of some of the most wonderful gifts some of the ladies had received. I’ll give the gentleman some credit: it was a much longer list. In an effort to save a little of your time, I’ll condense as much as possible.
Here goes: artisan glass from an art fair; Montana Silversmith stature of a couple and a horse; new vacuum cleaner; saddle for her horse; set of golf clubs; necklace with daughter’s name and birthstone; pajamas, robe and slippers; peppermint taffy; heart-shaped locket; picture frames personalized with family phrases engraved in them; charm bracelet with daughter’s name; vintage Barbie Dream House; Tide laundry detergent; diamond anniversary band; engagement ring.
Before I get started, I know I already need to clarify some of those because you’re thinking, “How are a vacuum cleaner, golf clubs, and sleepwear acceptable gifts when in the past I’ve been in the doghouse for buying those for my woman?” I’ll get to that. Read on.
- The artisan glass was special because the husband noticed the wife admiring it at an art show they attended, but she deemed it too expensive and didn’t buy it. The doting husband secretly got the vendor’s contact info and bought the piece from him later. Needless to say, she was supremely touched by the gesture.
- The silver statue was special because horses are what the couple love, so it was symbolic of them. The new saddle was wonderful, again because of a shared equestrian love.
- The necklace and charm bracelet with the children’s names were significant mostly because of the forethought that went into getting those gifts.
- The peppermint taffy because the man knew his woman really wanted it and undertook some special measures to get a specific kind.
- The heart-shaped locket is a treasure from their first Christmas together.
- The engraved picture frames captured certain phrases of affection their boys said to their mommy when the boys were young; the sentiment here needs no explanation.
- The vintage Barbie Dream House was one she had wanted as a child, but her parents couldn’t afford, and he knew it would make her heart smile.
- The Tide laundry detergent was special because at the time, the couple had limited resources and Tide was too expensive to buy on a regular basis. But he knew that she loved the scent, so it was a special treat. Side note: sometimes he still buys it for her to remind them from whence they came.
- Diamonds don’t always need an explanation, unless they deplete the family savings. Expressions of love forever promised came in the form of engagement rings.
- Remember the Nemo towel? It was a distraction; he proposed to her a week later on New Year’s Day.
You’re still wondering about the vacuum, golf clubs and pajamas. Those were different because they were wanted. She wanted the new vacuum because they had limited resources and everything they had started out married life with was second-hand, so the new vacuum made her life easier. The golf clubs were wanted because they enjoy that hobby together. It helps them to spend time with just one another. The robe, pajamas and slippers were wanted. She liked those warm items of comfort.
The running theme of the “best gifts” is understanding. The guys knew what their women would love and what they’d hate. They observed their gals and what they admired, were interested in, enjoyed doing. They remembered those unsolicited hints, when she mentioned something she wanted or liked but would feel selfish to actually buy it for herself. They knew what stores she and her friends or sisters frequented. And maybe if he didn’t readily know any of this information, he became a Private Eye and found it out.
These gentlemen understood what “love language” spoke the most fluently to their women, be it affection, time spent together, lavish gifts, things that make her life easier, feeding her creative flair, etc.
I would be remiss not to share the “best gifts” mentioned to me that were not tangible items. At least one couple no longer buy for each other; they just enjoy watching the grandkids open gifts. Another helpful hubby made the usually expected food for their family Christmas gatherings because his wife had just delivered their baby. One gentleman made a trip out of taking his lady a long distance for her best friend’s wedding.
One final story will put a pretty bow on it all. A friend stated that she and her husband don’t exchange material gifts, and she’s perfectly happy with that, because he gives of himself every day of the year in the ways of kindness, grace and love.
Whether you’ll be exchanging material items or doing something else in the spirit of Christmas giving, do so with a measure of understanding that significant lady. Then, you can almost never go wrong.
Photo: Flickr/JD Hancock
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