How to Decide On A Gift For Your Guy/Gal

Hi guys, guess what? Christmas is basically here. And Hanukkah’s already over. So you really, really need to start thinking about presents if you haven’t already. And that's all well and good and predictable...unless you’re in a new relationship, or a nebulous relationship, or one of those, you know, hookup culture situations. (Oops, sorry, forgot that this isn’t an annoying New York Times think piece on how messed up our generation is.)

Shopping for a love interest can be pretty stressful, especially if you’ve got a perfectionist streak. It’s even trickier with someone you’ve never previously swapped gifts with. So, before you sprint out to Nordstrom in a blind panic to purchase all of the horribly expensive watches and socks, take a sec to ask yourself these five important questions.

1. Are we absolutely, positively buying each other gifts?

First things first: have you checked in with your significant other about exchanging presents this holiday season? Because if you’re not ready, you totally don’t have to. If you’re not sure that you’re ready to gift, consider going on an ice skating date or making a gingerbread house or having atypically kinky sex. There are so many ways to celebrate the purportedly most wonderful time of the year.

If you can’t answer this question yourself, you need to pose it to your partner all smooth-like. Maybe try, “Hey, I was thinking, I would love to do something to celebrate the holidays with you. We could exchange gifts, or we could [insert adorable-sounding date here]. What did you have in mind?”

(I guess you could technically just give them a present and not expect or need one in return, but I am an only child and my brain doesn’t work that way.)

2. Can we afford to buy gifts? And, if so, how much money are we each able to spend?

Embarrassing fact: my boyfriend and I do this very unromantic thing where we set price limits on our gifts for each other. (Ah, the lucrative lives of entry-level media employees.) Mock away, but I actually find it really helpful. Like, I’ve never bought him a designer sweater and received a box of Cheez-Its in return.

You don’t need to do anything that extreme, but it’s still worth thinking about what each of you can swing financially. If you think that an evident monetary disparity would make you feel disappointed or uncomfortable, then you should consider suggesting a similar gifting ballpark to your mate, or skip gifting entirely. Again, there are plenty of inexpensive, fun things you can do together to celebrate.

3. What would make my partner happier – one big, luxe present, or a bunch of little things?

Generally, there are people who like to receive one big gift, and people who prefer a few smaller gifts. Something as innocuous as grocery shopping habits could offer insight. I’d wager that a Whole Foods shopper would be more into quality, and a Costco-goer more concerned about bang for buck. Also, listen to their hints about their gifts for you. “I finally found you the perfect thing”? Get him something big. “I’m almost done with shopping for you, I just need to pick up one or two more things”? Go for bits and baubles.

4. What’s really causing my Shopper’s Block?

All right, so you get to the store with the vague intention of purchasing a tie. You look around, and feel like this:

Because, for whatever reason, everything is wrong! There are no ties in the world good enough for your person! Especially not on your budget! Maybe you should forget ties and buy him front-row tickets to a One Direction concert? No, that is a much worse idea, what is happening?!

What’s happening is, you are having a freakout that probably has little to do with the quality of ties in the mall. This is about you and your insecure musings and your desire to please your partner. Pause, take a walk, and identify what you’re feeling anxious about. Do you know what it is yet? Good. Do you need to call someone to talk it over? Do it. Once you've sorted things out inside your head, you’ll be able to find a gift that makes him/her be all: