In theory, every holiday gift should be received with
gratitude and appreciation. That being said, there are some I would never, ever give a significant other (or want to receive from one!) and the honest truth about why
they’re a bad idea.
Anything. It could be a copy of your favorite movie or a pound of your
favorite local coffee. You may think that sharing one of your favorite things
is a thoughtful way to bring us even closer together, but think again. There is
no way that I, as your significant other, will love your favorite thing as much
as you do. This will annoy you. And the
fact that you’re so obsessed with wanting me to love it will annoy me. Soon
we’ll have a big fight about coffee beans and that will be the beginning of the
A framed picture of
the two of us together (or even worse, a framed picture of just yourself)
matter how much I love you, a picture of your face is not a gift. I
am your partner, not some random fan of you. As your partner, I get
copyright-free permissions to your face 365 days a year, both in person and in
print. Like lingerie (but for different
reasons), framed pictures fall into the category of gifts that only work as “just-because”
presents. Give a framed photo to celebrate our month-aversary, not a major
pet is not a decision that a person should make for someone else, unless that
person is your child. And I’m not your child. Giving a pet as a gift could end your relationship
because pets eat things they aren’t supposed to, pee on things they aren’t
supposed to and are a lot of responsibility for the next 10 to 20 years. The
abundance of homeless pets in the world means that puppies and kittens and
hamsters are often available for very little money — or free. So if I wanted a kitten right now, I would
have one already.
first problem with sexy underwear as a gift is the awkward pressure it puts on me
as the recipient to look right in it. What if I don’t fill it out correctly, and it’s baggy in all the places
that are supposed to be tight? Or what if it’s too tight, and I can’t fit into
it at all? Second: Do you expect me to
let you see me in the lingerie? Yeah? Will you enjoy that? Yes? Okay, so explain
to me how is this not a present for you? This is not to say that you can never buy lingerie as a gift. But, again, buy it
as a “just because” present when no gift is expected and that way we won’t have
to get into all the technicalities of who it’s really for.
A subscription to a something-of-the-month club
This one may seem petty, but I’ve seen more than one
relationship go south after a monthly subscription gift. So take this warning seriously.
The problem with gift-of-the-month clubs for significant others is that the
gratitude obligation just keeps going and going. Every month the gift arrives
and every month I have to express my gratitude anew or risk seeming ungrateful.
But what if the monthly installment arrives on a day that we’re fighting? Or what
if my monthly artisan jams arrive seven months in, and, heaven forbid, I forget to
say thank you? It’s too much. Too much pressure, too much jam, just too much.
couple's massage is never to be gifted when you and your partner have imposed a
gift spending limit. Otherwise the experience goes something like this: A massage, thank you! Oh you’re coming too? Fun!
Wow you are really enjoying this massage. Perhaps even more than I am. So much
groaning. Maybe when I bought you that
nice bottle of whiskey I should have bought some wine for myself as part of
The homemade thing
If you’re in a serious relationship, spending
countless hours knitting a quilt or building a bookcase is a beautiful symbol
of your undying love for your partner. But if you aren’t at the stage in the
relationship, where you both know you’re going to be together forever and openly
talk about it, then a gift that proves your undying love is a little, I don't know, aggressive?
The big, practical purchase
If you’re filthy rich, please feel free to buy extremely expensive gifts for me
on a whim. But if you are a financially normal person, buying a big-ticket
item is risky territory as generous and romantic as it might seem. Let’s say
you blow your entire savings on car with a big bow on it, and we have one of
those car-commercial Christmas moments where you surprise me with it in the
driveway. Awww!! But then what happens if I’m not very good about getting the
oil changed? What if a few years down the road I want to trade it in for an
SUV? There’s too much room for resentment and feelings of lingering ownership.
books or high-quality nonfiction books make great gifts. Novels, however, are a
catch-22. If you give me a novel that
you’ve already read, you’re basically giving me a reading assignment, and it’s
like being in a book club where I’m one book behind everybody else. That’s no
fun. On the other hand, if you give me a
novel that you did not read yourself, you appear to have grabbed a random book
with no thought put into it. Wait, are you hinting that you don’t think I read