Tis the season to be greedy and bitchy, that’s what I say. Yes, it is that holiday gift-giving season and all I can say is that you had better get it right because I am getting mighty sick and tired of accepting lame presents from people who can’t do a little forward planning to make me happy. I mean, come on! I’d do it for you!
We are, every man Jack of us, delighted by a thoughtful gift and gutted by a crap one. So it is written and so it is done. Women, taught in the ways of sensitivity and consideration to others, keen shoppers with a mean eye for exactly the right thing, tend to be a little better at it than men. Men see gift giving as a duty, something like medicine, to be taken and then done with as soon as possible. And this is why they leave everything to the last minute and you end up with a matching set of oven gloves and a pair of nylon knickers with days of the week printed on them. (A friend of mine was so mortified by her lover’s choice of gift for his wife – yes, I know, but what can I do? She’s my friend! – that she took him shopping herself. Apparently the wife was thrilled, if bemused: her husband finally got her something she wanted. I suspect she may get a divorce for Christmas this year. True story!)
Do not speak to me of gifts gone wrong. Once, the man in my life told me that he had a travel gift to give me. Bbay, he said, bring your passport! We are going somewhere nice! My mind spun. I mean, how great is THAT? A wonderful surprise holiday to… Paris? Berlin? Naples? Sicily? Iceland? New York? Hong Kong? Uh huh. We ended up in Jersey, which to me seemed a middle-class (not even UPPER CLASS) suburb surrounded by water – an island you could drive around in a few hours. I have been traumatised ever since. I can’t even look at the snapshots without feeling snapped off. Do not take me somewhere where the only interesting thing is an underground hospital used during WWII.
But gifting – yes, it is now a noun – is a trick, an art, a craft that must be honed. And buying for men and woman is a very different thing. Women go for quality, glamour, thoughtfulness, romance. Men go for things with batteries, things that explode or things that are better than their friends’ thing. A man likes anything that takes him away from his woman: iPods, Archos, golf clubs, fast cars, boats, sailplanes, motorcycles, large screen TVs, swimming pools, parachutes. Women like anything that makes them look fantastic, that they can’t afford themselves or that makes it look as if they are well-loved: large diamonds, spa holidays, a new car, Louboutin shoes, shopping sprees, plastic surgery, fur coats, earrings, a complete beauty overhaul, a personal trainer and dietitian for a whole year and a lock for the fridge. See? It really is not that hard after all.
Men, do not partake of the cheap gift. Better to get no gift at all. BUT you can work on a woman’s sentiment (provided she does not know you well). Bring her some crappy flowers and a stuffed dog and make up a story about how this reminds you of your mother and that one Christmas your father brought a similar gift to her. Say any old thing: if it is sentimental, your woman will probably buy it. Next year, however, you had better get your tail in gear for a proper present. I suggest you start shopping for it in October. A bad present gives off bad vibes. Trust me.
Women, do not give men socks, sweaters, aftershave, or anything that you’d given your brothers. Think of what would make him smile, what he’s always talked about, what he pointed out at a shop (hopefully not the shop girl). Be sensitive and let him be a mannish boy, playful and masculine. And no get-fit items or nosehair trimmers. I mean, really.
Truthfully, the trick to really good gifting is to listen throughout the year and made a list of what your beloved longed for in an offhand way when he thought you weren’t listening. You must gain a sensitivity to what they really want – which is why my husband got it all wrong last year. I no longer listen to THAT band anymore (geez!) and I already HAVE an iPod, geez. But trust him to remember that my sat nav had been stolen over the summer. Guys, pay attention here. He didn’t merely replace the device, he upgraded it to one better than his. Now that, my friends, is true style. And he hasn’t even borrowed it. Yet. As for me? I brought him breakfast in bed this morning. Get the picture?
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