It's a well-worn cliche that many men put this task off until Christmas Eve - but have you ever wondered why that is? It won't necessarily be because he's lazy or disorganised, no, it's far more likely he just hasn't got a clue and has that "can't do right for doing wrong" mental block.
We're here to help, so all you worried men out there, read on....
Christmas shopping for the woman in your life can be daunting, but knowing a few basics about the noble art of buying gifts for women can help you on the way to a harmonious festive season:
1. It's About Her, Not You!
This has to be the cardinal rule: Do not, under any circumstances, buy her something that's on your own wish list. So, nothing from the DIY shop, no sports DVDs, no gardening implements. Most women will not have "Plasma TV so I can watch my favourite footie team" at the top of their must-haves.
2. No Household Appliances
You might think you're being helpful by getting her a chop-o-matic or one of those nifty new hoovers with a ball instead of wheels, but believe me, go that route and it's highly likely you'll be spending Christmas night in the local casualty department. Christmas is a time for gifts she wants, not stuff she needs.
3. Look and Listen
4. Apply the Mother-in-Law Test
Each idea you have must be put through this rigorous testing procedure. If you think your Mother would like it, forget it. Move on and quickly.
5. Big Pants or Black Lace?
Neither! It's entirely possible that your loved one just might like some new lacey knickers or a nightie that you would like. But, you must strike the right note - half-way between granny pants and your wildest fantasies should be about right. Another hint, satin may look and feel sexy but.....you slide all over the place in bed and the cat's claws play havoc with it!
6. Don't Attempt to "Do" Fashion
Clothing may seem to be an ideal gift, especially if your partner loooooves clothes. However, the point is, if she does love clothes, she probably has a very strong idea of what she does and doesn't like, honed over several thousand hours of window/online/real-life shopping. She knows what makes her bum look big! I bet you're no shopaholic! So how can you hope to compete with that level of experience?
7. Take Care with Perfume
I’ve thrown out or given away lots of very expensive gift sets because I hated the perfume. Everybody's skin reacts differently to perfume and everyone's sense of smell is different. What smells great on one person could smell like cats pee on another. Believe me I've been there.
They produce these amazing gift boxes at Christmas they look absolutely gorgeous and cost the earth. I'm convinced they're made especially for men (mugs) to buy. (Women would just go for the perfume and ignore those other lotions and potions they don't really want or need.) You know the boxes that the wonderfully made up girlies in the shops just love to sell them to men looking a bit lost wandering about in the perfume department.
You feel really guilty chucking these expensive boxes of stuff out which increases the annoyance factor too. Unless you know she loves the perfume, don’t risk it. She can’t take it back!
Take care here. I've received boxes of lovely chocolates at times I've been struggling to keep the weight off and smiled through gritted teeth. So make sure she's not cutting down before you buy.
9. Remember What You Bought Last Year
Always keep a record of what you buy for Christmas and birthdays especially if your memory is bad. There’s nothing worse than getting the same thing two years in a row. I should know, I did for the last two years!
10. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute!
Definitely not the week before Christmas. The shops are just too busy for you to browse and it’s likely that if you see something that’s just the ticket, they won’t have the right, size or colour. I know because my husband used to get my daughter to go with him to Marks and Spencer on Christmas Eve when she was young. There was usually nothing left!
Now for the positive bit!
A far better idea is to figure out her favourite shop (ask around or check the credit card statements). Buy an extravagantly generous voucher and then buy a lovely fancy box. Wrap it up beautifully - layers and layers of silk, pastel tissue paper, ribbon, satin rosebuds, little notes in between each layer, a photograph of you both, a couple of luxury chocolates and maybe cinema or theatre tickets. Anything to disguise the fact that basically you wimped out and got her a voucher!
Remember, Love Conquers All
There's probably very little chance you will ever get it 100% right, because we women are a capricious bunch. But, if she can tell you've at least thought about it, and curbed your urges towards the mundane, the easiest option or the downright lazy, the chances are you will avoid the spectacle of your Christmas dinner ending up on the dining room wall.
Just show her you care enough to follow the above rules, and I'm prepared to bet my Christmas pudding that you'll see her smiling at you over the sprouts this Christmas.