Photo by Plush Design Studio
If you have the same relationship outlook as Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David—it’s technically George Costanza, but who’s counting—you think gifts are relationship killers. But, it’s Valentine’s Day, so unless you have already made a no-gift agreement (in which case you should probably still get a card), there is really no getting out of it. Don’t sweat it though, we’ve got you. Our simple, no-fail strategy is going to help you win the day.
Step 1: Budget
First, relax, it’s not about how much you spend. (Editor’s note: If it is, drop her quick, she’s ain’t it pal). Don’t strain on the price, just don’t, it sets a really bad precedent for the future, and you don’t want to be that guy in the car commercials. He’s likely in crazy debt and they probably broke up anyway. Instead, use this handy comparison as your guide to setting your budget. Think about what you would spend on an average dinner date for two, even if you always go Dutch. Use that figure as a place to shoot for. If you have a standing reservation at a swank spot every Saturday night, your gift budget is going to be—and she is going to expect it to be— larger than if you are sticking to Postmates and Netflix on the regular. Also, depending on where you are in the relationship, consider having a frank but low-key discussion about it. Being honest is always a good move.
Step 2: The Gift
Maybe you might think this is the most difficult part, and you’re probably right, which in and of itself is a huge gain. That said, there’s a good solid strategy to take a lot of the guesswork out of it. Ask yourself this: Is she a “things” person or a “experiences” person? Or to break it down more directly, does she want something new or does she want to go out and do something new.
This is really is just about being observant, which (hopefully) you are. Just look at what she likes, and then pick a category. At that point, you can buy anything in that category. See? Easy. Once you pick a category, say jewelry, candles, electronics, or books for the “things” woman, or, concert tickets, cooking classes, art exhibits, or weekend trips for the “experiences” gal, then put it in your price range. That might mean exploring Etsy jewelry options if you’re in the Netflix group or picking up a fancy-ass candle if you’re in a higher budget group. (Seriously though, literally every woman will love a fancy candle. Just strap up, get one from Jo Malone and thank us later.) The great news is, you can totally fit anything into a smaller or larger budget, it just takes a little planning.
Step 3: The Sentiment
Now, let’s seal the deal. The difference between a good gift and a great gift, or “the perfect gift,” is sentiment. Sentiment shows that you just didn’t just go to Macy’s and ask the 55-year-old woman at the jewelry counter for a pair of earrings or swing by See’s candy on your way home from work (don’t do that, by the way). Don’t you want her to brag to all her friends that you got her the best gift? We think that’s pretty decent motivation.
How do you add a sentiment? For the “things” woman, find out her favorite style or designer, and look for similar designers online or find out if the designer has any new collections. Feel free to enlist the help of her friends too. You may not know the name of that cool new jewelry company but they probably do. For the “experiences” woman, it’s all about creating a memory (remember we’re being sentimental here). Find something that matches her hobbies or interests, and it will all fall into place. Her favorite band, a cooking class that features her favorite cuisine, a show she’s been talking about for awhile, you get the idea. Overall, make sure that you are tailoring the gift to her taste, not yours (See: Homer buying Marge a bowling ball, not good), and you’ll have a relationship that is very much alive in the end.
At the end of the day, you want to get her something she wants, even if she doesn’t know exactly what that is, not something she needs. It seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised. So, no calendars for work or new pots and pans to replace her old ones. Practicality doesn’t win hearts and it definitely doesn’t get you laid.