Gift Giving Rules - Advice for Determining the Appropriate Gift and Tips On Giving Gifts In A New Relationship
Dear April Masini,
My girlfriend and I have been together for about four months and her birthday is coming up. I'm at a loss as to what's appropriate for her. We are pretty new in terms of our relationship, so I'm torn between wanting to buy her something big and expensive to impress her and keeping it simple so that she doesn't get freaked out or think I went overboard. Do you have any advice on what way is the best to go when shopping for a gift for my girlfriend?"
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Good Boyfriend,
Giving a gift can be a daunting proposition, especially if your relationship is new. And yes, the wrong gift can end a relationship—especially when you’ve been dating a year or more, and she expects a ring, only you come up with the Hammacher-Schlemmer massage chair instead. Yes, it’s expensive, yes it’s thoughtful, yes you even wrote her a card to go with it, but no—it didn’t fit the bill.
Breaking it Down: The Rules to Good Gift-Giving:
You've likely heard the express "it's the thought that counts." Well, when you first begin dating, put more thought into the gift than money. This is the time to demonstrate you've been paying attention your date's likes (and dislikes) by showing your knowledge and appreciation of the things you have learned and remember about them in very simple terms.
Gifts for Dates You Haven't Met -- Or Have Just Met:
One way to choose a gift is to think back and base it upon the conversations and e-mail chats you’ve had. This is great for dates you’ve met through online dating sites or for dates with whom you’ve been fixed up, but either have not met yet -- or have just met. If you’ve discussed certain books or movies you can bring him/her a book or a DVD of the movie you’ve discussed, recommended, or both agreed is the best ever. If you both love sports or a particular team, a piece of sports paraphernalia is great. Same with food. If he/she is a chocoholic, bring him/her some very special Belgian chocolate or whatever food it is that she loves and craves. If you both love a particular city, give them a Fodor’s guide to that city, along with something small that the city is known for. (In fact, if future dates go well, you can visit that city on your six month or one-year anniversary.) You get the idea here, right?
Gifts for Dates You've Seen a Couple of Times:
Choose a gift by looking back at where you first met – whether it was the local coffee shop or Laundromat, a department store or a party, and think of something you could get that is based on that first meeting. For instance, a pound of coffee from the coffee shop where you first met. Or a box of laundry detergent as the joke part of the Laundromat meeting, and a beautiful pair of cashmere socks to replace the pair she lost in the dryer that day. They don’t have to be cashmere if money is an issue – they can be lovely cotton socks or wool socks – the idea is to be clever, gracious, and thoughtful. If you met at a department store, get her a pair of undies with the store’s logo splayed across the back – or something with the store logo.
Fail-Safe Gifts for New Relationships:
Guys, you can never go wrong with buying pretty fresh flowers, but avoid bouquets of red roses if you've only just met. Ladies, most guys have a favorite sports hobby or team and a related gift is always a pretty safe bet.
Gift-giving Guide -- for Girlfriends and Boyfriends:
When shopping for your girlfriend or boyfriend, remember that age and stage are of the essence. The longer you've been with someone, the more you are likely to have to spend, so the key is to determine where your relationship is, where you want it to go and, most importantly, what’s on your girlfriend’s mind. Tricky? Yes. Impossible? No.
First, decide on a price based on the stage of your relationship:
- $50 and under for less than three months.
- $100 and under for six months and under.
- $250 and under for up to nine months.
- Up to $500 for up to a year.
Price is not the only key. Personality plays a major part. Keep gift giving fun and personal—until you’re ready to make it serious with the ultimate gift. Even then, it helps to take the time to think about the likes and dislikes of the person you’re shopping for.