The Modern Man’s Guide to Romantic Gift-Giving

I don’t mean to brag, but I am an awesome gift-giver. It’s kind of like, well, a gift.

“How did you know this was what I always wanted?!” and “This is the best gift I’ve ever received in the history of ever!” are regular exclamations from my lucky recipients.

As you can imagine, I’m often beseeched about these gift-giving capabilities. I’m reluctant to share my strategies because I like being the best gift-giver. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing your gift rates highest amongst your loved ones’ hearts—and on their bookshelf. I’m not saying gifts buy love, but they certainly don’t hurt your chances for everlasting bliss. Unlike silly intangible things like a warm embrace, gifts have a remarkable staying power—particularly if they’re good. You might break up or die, but if your Christmas gift caused your girlfriend to sink to her knees, crying, “You’re too good to me! I don’t deserve you!” you can bet your bottom dollar that your gift will remain on her nightstand until she croaks.

Unfortunately, the above scenario doesn’t happen a lot. Around the holiday season, I can’t tell you how many times my girlfriends and female relatives complain to me that the men in their lives never get them what they really want. “Does he even know me?!” They cry. Or, as my mom once said, “Another fucking Soduko puzzle? Really?”

Look, we all know that, as a man, shopping isn’t your strong suit. I mean, the freaking mall is open late on Christmas Eve because you guys can’t get your act together.

But this is where I come in. No matter what stage your relationship is at—whether you’ve just met or you’re long-term residents of Couplehood—I’ll share with you my tips on how to score the perfect gift for your squeeze (because, no matter what you think, she really doesn’t want your dick in a box).

Status: We’re Friends With Benefits

You guys dig each other—and your situation—but you both know it’s not going further than the bedroom.

Well, you certainly don’t want to give her anything too serious to throw her off her game, but if you want to let your hook-up know that you enjoy her company, you might want to give her something fun and frothy—just like your ‘relationship.’ Think something kinky you could use the next time you’re in the boudoir: a vibrator, massage oils or a Kama Sutra handbook are all sexy and fun ideas.

Status: We Just Met!

You just met this really cool woman and it happens to be around the holidays. Now what?

First, do what’s happening outside, and chill. Timing is a tricky little devil that can actually work for you if you let it.

If you’re still hoping a second (or third) date is in your future, then ask her out for a holiday drink. You already know she likes wine, so invite her to that swanky new wine bar. Or maybe splurge on a nice bottle of red and invite her over to your place and yak over a game of Scrabble. It shows that you’re thinking about her, but that you aren’t putting a whole lot of pressure onto your situation. And if you’re both uber-competitive, then things could get rather, uh, heated.

Status: You’ve Just Become Official!

So the Facebook status is changed and you’re about to meet the parents. What do get for your new ‘official’ girlfriend now?

Thoughtfulness is key here. When an old boyfriend and I became exclusive shortly before Christmas, I made a mental note to remember what types of things he really, really liked (this really helps if you’re actually listening to your partner, FYI). Then once the holidays came along, it was pretty easy choosing the perfect gift for him. Also, inside jokes are cute too. If you and your GF shared your first kiss while, say, watching ‘Willow,’ then you might want to give her the Blu-Ray or dress up as Val Kilmer for the night (I’d go for the latter, by the way).

Status: You’ve Been Together For A While . . .

For better or for worse, you’re committed to this woman. Quirks and all.

Long-term coupledom is a beautiful thing, but there aren’t too many surprises left when you’ve been in a relationship for a long time. Even though you know her like the back of your hand, you’re out of ideas as to what to get her this year because chances are, well, you’ve given her everything already: pajamas, your undying love, more pajamas. If you’re in a rut, then maybe you should give something that will ignite that spark again. No, not lingerie. (Just as an aside: women, for the most part, like to pick out their own lingerie. Not only because we enjoy surprising you with it, but we know our real bra size.) Taking a class together can be an awesome way of bonding together while also learning something entirely brand new. A cooking class might be a cool choice for the foodie couple, or try flying lessons for the adventure types (think Brangelina).

Status: You’re Going to Dump Her After Christmas

You left it too long (you dink) and now you have to wait until after the holidays to break up with her.

Well, this is a real pickle, isn’t it? You can’t exactly not get her anything because that’s too passive aggressive, but you can’t get her something too great or that will further complicate the situation. So, opt for something practical. Does she need another pair of air buds because hers just bit the dust? Perfect. Not only is this a pretty unromantic gift, but it will come in handy when she’s listening to sad breakup songs when you find your balls again.

Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto, something of a humorist, and considers herself more Bridget Jones than Samantha Jones. Though she won’t reveal which parts, she will admit to liking emotionally unavailable men and drinking lots of wine.  You can follow her on Twitter  @briannehogan
Photo courtesy of Brandon Christopher Warren.

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