By Richard Craig
There’s nothing worse than an inappropriate gift exchange. You know, the one where you give a big expensive gift only to be given something unwanted, unexpected, or undeserving. Even in a marriage, gift giving is difficult. Case in point: After dating a woman for a year, I married her on a crisp November day – one month before Christmas. So excited I was to please her, I bought her an expensive painting and had it custom framed. Over Christmas breakfast, she unwrapped it before me. Her mouth dropped, she was speechless, and she loved the painting. Then, in return, my new wife gave me an unwrapped paperback book that had nothing to do with my interests.
The problem isn’t the unbalance of financial investment so much as it is an awkward situation for both the giver and the recipient. If you have ever been caught in this situation, you surely do not want it to happen again.
So I started to ask around, “What is the best gift? What are the Christmas gift giving rules singles should, but don’t, know?” And, here goes the general consensus:
Lesson # 1: Don’t Overreach
Buy a nice gift that does not make the recipient uncomfortable if they didn’t splurge. For example, the universal suggestion is a gift that requires more time together. As the editor of this publication says, ”Experiences are more valuable than any trinket. You can lose everything to one life disaster or another, but you never lose experience.”
- A weekend to Napa. Get the B&B brochure and make it sing with goodies like lingerie, a warm scarf, and sex toys.
- Rent a boat from Newport Beach or Dana Point for the day. Arrange a dinner on board with a small crew.
- Pacific Edge Hotel for the weekend. Add drinks at the Deck and in-room massage services.
-A joint shopping trip to X & Oh on PCH in Laguna Beach to buy some entertainment.
Lesson # 2: Set Expectations
As difficult as this may be, talk about expectations for Christmas gifts. There is nothing wrong with asking someone what they want for Christmas, or what budget they would like to set for gifts. Sometimes when there is a great disparity in income, one or both parties may feel uncomfortable about the budget. Talking about it beforehand will prevent most gift giving disasters.
Lesson # 3: Don’t Shop at the Last Minute
Avert the stress of gift giving by planning early, which includes incorporating Lesson # 1 and # 2.
Gift Suggestions for Dating Singles:
Do not buy him a shirt, tie, or belt. If you want to buy him clothes, get him a scarf and a gift certificate to your favorite store. If he is into sports, buy him a sport shirt (that you can live with) from his favorite teams’ online apparel store.
A weird accessory to his car, an exquisite key chain, or money clip. Avoid jewelry. Men are like women: Unless you know exactly what to get and they approve…
Here is a good one: A sexy piece of lingerie for you. Include a candle and a card inviting him to dinner. This was every guys’ first choice.
All women said, “Don’t buy me clothes,” but we do it anyway. If you ignore my advise, include the gift receipt. Over 50% of the time clothes are returned or exchanged. Women always say, “Buy what you like.” In that case, it would be a cellophane dress, so unless you want to walk around looking like a hooker, forget telling him to buy what he likes.
Lingerie: Always, always, always go classy not cheap. Buy the most expensive. If you venture here, you are in dangerous territory so do not screw up. And, whatever you do, figure the size out before you go shopping. Women hate to return lingerie saying it was too small. Listen to the sales associates, not your buddies: Red crotch-less is not always a hit.
Jewelry: The same rule as lingerie – do not go cheap. Funky is always good, and women always have room for more jewelry, but funky as the main gift does not work. Look at her jewelry. Some women do not like pendants (or drops), others adore pearls, and some women do not even like jewelry. The best option is to shop with a non-chain jeweler who creates his own designs.
The best gift is a long letter reminding your lover how you met, and how you felt when you were first together. A note from your heart will be remembered as the best gift. Even today, with my divorce far behind, I find the occasional note from my ex, and it still touches my heart.