As a woman it’s always amazing to me how some men can remember the score of Super Bowl IV but have no insight into the hearts and minds of the women they live with on a daily basis. I’m not going to waste your time helping you find the “perfect” gift for your wife or girlfriend, because that is almost as impossible as the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. Instead, here is a practical guide that will help you avoid the minefield that comes with giving your estrogen-laden better half a thoughtless, insincere or just plain bone-headed gift.
10. Items Suggested by Your Mother or Best Friend
Contrary to what your mother has drilled into your head or what you discussed with your buddies while swilling beers on a Sunday afternoon, your wife/girlfriend will not appreciate any of their suggestions. Mothers generally have their own agenda in mind, and from personal experience I can tell you that agenda isn’t good. Your friends, married or not, are just as clueless as you, so avoid their advice like the plague.
Unless your loved one is an obsessive librarian, bedridden in the final months of her pregnancy or uses reading as an excuse to get away from you and the kids, don’t buy her a book. Let’s face it — books are the secret Santa gift you give a co-worker or a present for the relative you don’t like very much. They’re impersonal, and all women are aware of this fact because they’ve probably done it too.
8. Ridiculous Make-Your-Life-Easier Electronics or Gadgets
This one is pretty simple and straightforward. If you’re up in the middle of the night watching TV and see a gadget or any item described as something you or your significant other “can’t live without,” chances are it’s either ridiculous, cheap or something that will end up in the kitchen junk drawer or box labeled “garage sale” within six months.
7. Coupon Book
When your 6-year-old child hands you a book filled with coupons for free housework, kisses and hugs, it’s adorable. When a grown man hands a grown woman a coupon book filled with kisses, hugs and other salacious acts, it’s juvenile and borderline pervy. Let’s also face facts. The acts that fill any coupon book you’ve made are something you’ll probably enjoy more than she will anyway.
6. Cooking Classes
You present your wife with the prospect of an intriguing, romantic night on the town. She wears your favorite dress. You escort her to the car and head off on a promising adventure. The car stops in front of a non-descript building with equally well-dressed adults trudging through the doors. You take her arm and lead her to a room filled with stainless-steel workstations, mixing bowls and large wooden spoons. You turn to your loved one with the anticipation of a happy, glowing face only to be confronted with a look of disgust you haven’t seen since you left your dirty underwear between the couch cushions. Have you ever seen your significant other wear her best dress and spend an hour on her hair and makeup to warm up condensed soup at home? If you answered “No” to that question, skip the cooking classes.
5. “Trendy” Clothing
Your idea of “trendy” and your loved one’s idea of “trendy” are probably vastly different. Your girlfriend thinks the top Kate Winslet wore in the November issue of Vogue magazine is trendy. Your definition of the word is probably something more along the lines of “sheer top over black bra.”
4. Bras or Panties
This is not to say all lingerie is off-limits. Just sneak into your wife/girlfriend’s lingerie drawer to find her size and gain some insight into her personal style. Stay away from bras and panties because you’ll probably buy her the wrong size, and when you get into a fight because you bought her the wrong size you’ll accidentally blurt out you compared her “measurements” to the sales girl’s “measurements.” Good job! You just admitted you were leering at the sales girl. I just saved you a night on the lumpy couch and years of torment and dirty looks each time you walk by the lingerie section at Target.
3. Household Items of Any Kind
How about a new, state-of-the-art KitchenAid standing mixer? Nope. Maybe she’ll love this adorable three-piece kitchen towel set embroidered with a goose and gander? I can guarantee she’ll be passive-aggressively angry with you for at least two weeks. These items are the antithesis of romantic and must be avoided at all costs.
2. Gifts Centered on Your Interest
Remember the episode of The Simpsons when Homer buys Marge a bowling ball inscribed with his name? Instead of becoming angry and throwing the ball back in Homer’s face, which was of course his plan all along, Marge takes up bowling and meets a handsome instructor, Jacques. Homer suspects an affair, which almost happens. Do you really want this scenario in your life? Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh, that’s ridiculous — I would never get my girlfriend a bowling ball. But I know she’d love some golf balls.” Think again.
No woman has ever found it romantic or thoughtful to receive a shiny new refrigerator or matching washer/dryer as a gift. Anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas or whenever a gift is expected are the times when you can make up for all the other idiotic, sophomoric and just plain dumb things you’ve done in the past year. Think before you act and if the first thought that enters your brain is “induction cooktop,” stop yourself, shake it off and head to the nearest high-end jewelry store.