What not to buy – and how to get it right
“Oh, you shouldn’t have!” often means exactly that. We’ve all unwrapped unwanted pressies on Christmas Day, and sometimes they’re from the people who should know our tastes better than anyone.
In its latest LoveGeist survey, match.com uncovered that 6 out of 10 Brits have received a gift from their partner that they didn’t want or like, with the most common festive faux pas presents including unsuitable items of clothing and household products.
Duff presents highlighted by the research ranged from the bizarre, to the stingy, to the plain unbelievable, with 21% of those polled complaining that their partner had given them impersonal gifts such as shower gel, a phone charger, a flannel and in one case even a wheelbarrow.
Gifts that were deemed useless and ones that the recipient didn’t need were also common, with 13% of those polled receiving the likes of ironing boards, and electrical and household items. Sadly, also included on the list was no present at all – with 10% of respondents admitting to not having received a present at all from their loved one at Christmas.
It seems that a large proportion of us are missing the mark when it comes to surprising our loved ones at Christmas. So if you’re about to embark on your Christmas shopping, here are a few tips for gifts you might want to avoid and why.
1. A gift card
The pressie that says: “Get it yourself, I’m busy.”
Your 12-year-old nephew won’t mind a gift card. His only complaint will be that you didn’t give him a fistful of folding cash. But your boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse will be justifiably crestfallen that you couldn’t be bothered to think of something to buy them.
The pressie that says: “Happy Christmas to me.”
Men who buy sexy undies for their wives or girlfriends are out to treat themselves rather than you. Then there’s the sizing issue. If you buy lingerie that’s too small, she’ll feel fat and unsexy; if it’s too big, she’ll feel insulted, or even worse, inadequate.
3. A photo of yourself
The pressie that says: “Your face is OK, but it’s not as good as mine.”
Photos can make great presents. Getting a childhood picture of your girlfriend and her beloved dog restored and framed is a brilliant gift idea. But as the survey shows, giving her a photo of your own face is just a short cut to being single again.
4. An ironing board or other household item
The pressie that says: “I love you for your housework skills.”
Everyone likes a nice shiny household product. They are useful… and that’s the problem. It’s a bit like giving your lover their weekly shopping for Christmas. If your partner really does want an ironing board, inject some romance into it. How about decorating the detachable cover with messages of love and lust for example? No? Best think again then.
5. A CD that you love but aren’t sure if they will
The pressie that says: “I wasn’t listening when you told me about your favourite music.”
This kind of present is only OK if they open the CD case to find plane tickets inside, or a beautiful piece of jewellery. Otherwise, you’re chucked. If you don’t know them well enough to know what kind of music they like – should you really be buying them a present at all?
How to make sure that you get it right
1. Think about what they’d love
This seems obvious, but it’s the bit of present giving that often gets forgotten. Don’t just rush out and buy the latest must-have gadget. Think about what your other half actually wants. Browse their bookshelves, DVD collection, music collection and wardrobe for guidance on the kind of stuff they love. This also helps you avoid buying duplicates – unless their favourite book is falling to bits, in which case why not buy them a new copy?
2. Listen for hints
Everyone drops them. For instance, if they express interest in an old TV series that they never saw, that’s your cue to buy the box set. This gift says: “I am such a good listener… so I knew you’d love this.”
3. Feed their obsessions
If your lover has a new hobby and they can’t stop going on about it, you have two options. One, roll your eyes and leave the room each time they mention their new love for golf/photography/yoga etc. Two, feed their obsession with a brilliantly-chosen relevant gift. The latter option will pay greater dividends in the long run.
4. If you’re short of money, spend time instead
A creative, thoughtful present will always outclass an expensive but lazily-chosen one. If your lover can see that you’ve spent days, weeks or even months planning or even making their present, they’ll appreciate it (and you) all the more. Having said that, you should spend some money, even if it’s just raw materials for the fabulous creation you’re planning to make. Meanness is a Grade-A dumpable offence.
5. Don’t leave it too late
It’s all too easy to procrastinate and end up in a panic on Christmas Eve. Buy your partner’s gift before you’re sapped with pressie-buying fatigue, before you’ve run out of cash – and before the shelves are empty. Most online stores take orders up to a few days before Christmas, so get browsing.