As a companion piece to The Manly Valentine, this post will help keep men out of gift-giving Dutch with the women in their lives; specifically, wives and girlfriends (If you have one of each, more power to you). However, these guidelines apply to all gift recipients of the feminine persuasion, so my two lesbian fans might find it useful, too.
I have a long history of making bad decisions at gift giving time. So as a service to all men, here are the top eight categories of things NOT to give the woman in your life as a gift. You may notice it is a longer list than I wrote for women on what to give men. That is because men need more help avoiding danger than women need satisfying us in the gift giving department.
Each gift sends a message to the woman who receives it, and sometimes not the one we intend. I have violated all of these bits of wisdom at one time or another and suffered the consequences for it each time. Gentlemen, please don’t insist on learning the hard way.
Gift Certificate: Nothing says, “This is exactly how little I think you are worth” quite like a redeemable coupon. You will lose points of multiple fronts. We men think they are wonderful. What better way to efficiently allocate resources than handing over a cash equivalent, so the receiver can pick exactly what he wants as a gift? Well, that is not the way women look at the world.
Women hate efficiency. In the Advanced-Placement Calculus formula of how women view the world, one of the variables in a gift’s perceived value is how much effort you put into acquiring the item.
For example, ordering a new mink coat on Amazon to be delivered to the house is cherished less than if you trapped a raccoon in the back yard, processed the pelt yourself, and hand stitched it into a hat for her.
Just remember: The more trouble to you go to, the more she will like it.
Clothing: Just don’t. First, there is the obvious sizing issue. Did you know my wife wears a different size bra for every manufacturer? I didn’t, either. The problem with sizes is that if you go too small, she feels fat. If you go too big, she thinks you think she’s fat. There is no way to win on that one, so I just stay away from it.
Then there is the matter of personal taste. You will be lucky to get off with simply missing the mark because she prefers satin to silk, even though you thought you did right by going with the more expensive item. You might be able to slide by if it’s handmade silk cocoons you personally picked while on a business trip to Asia, but that gets into the “level of effort” aspect of gifting.
The bigger risk is not having noticed her preference. Women don’t notice or remember everything. They just find different things worth remembering.
Remembering your wedding anniversary is a requirement. Remembering the date you first met or when you found out she was pregnant will earn you more street cred than you can imagine.
And by “street cred,” I mean “wild, monkey sex.”
That’s a bonus tip from me to you. No charge.
Another free tip: Google out what day of the week these important events occurred and commit it to memory. The next time she asks if you remember the date, start off the answer with, “It was a Tuesday…” and follow up with the date. Women go gaga over that Forrest Gump shit.
Vacuum: It doesn’t matter how fancy it is or how many attachments that sucker has or that it will drag the cat across the carpet from the next room. A vacuum is a terrible gift idea. You and I would giggle like a school girl leaning up against a water jet in the pool to receive a new Shop Vac, but that’s not how women think.
You just told her the house isn’t clean enough.
The year I gave my wife a vacuum for Christmas, she didn’t talk to me for a week. Or do my laundry. Or make my lunches. The kids had theirs done, but not me. A very hard lesson learned.
Something you might possibly use, too: No big screen plasma TVs. No tickets to Super Bowl. No edible underwear. No Xbox (unless she’s a gamer chick, and that’s still a dangerous proposition).
All she will see is you getting enjoyment out of her gift. Women are generous, giving creatures, but when they get a gift, they want it to be exclusively for them. It probably has something to do with how much of themselves they give to us every day. At least, that’s how my wife explained it to me, and I believe her.
Anything that belongs in the kitchen: Much like the vacuum, gifting a set of pans sends the message that you don’t think she cooks enough. Or worse yet, her cooking needs improvement that will be imparted by new cookware. The only exception I have found is if she specifically requests some super-expensive knife set or china pattern. Even then, you are playing with fire and would be best served to move on.
Anything from Bath and Body Works: I’ve seen the look on a woman’s face when she opens a bag containing a sampling of every bath salt on display in the store. She’s confused until the mingled aroma of jasmine, watermelon, and beaver castor hits her full in the face. Then she gags a little. Clearly, she presumed the little brown paper baggies contained semiprecious gem stones. Oh, how wrong she is. And how wrong you will be to think you can live down sending the message you think she smells bad.
On a side note, the initials of that store spell “BBW.” So you get a two-fer on this one. She will immediately leap to the conclusion that you think she smells bad and is fat. The letters are right on the damn bag.
There will be a lot of cold, icy stares and uncomfortable questions at your house this Valentine’s Day for violating this one. It’s similar to black folk calling each other “nigger.” She can call herself fat all she likes; you can’t. It’s that simple.
Elliptical: Or any sort of exercise equipment, for that matter. I don’t care how much Suzanne Sommers or Richard Simmons says your Honey-kins will love sweating to the oldies or cracking walnuts with her thighs. The best that will happen is she will smile gracefully, make you put it together, use it for a couple of weeks, and then it will sit in the corner unused except by the cat and the occasional guest as a coat rack.
Any exercise equipment you give her will send the worst message possible; that she is fat and you don’t find her attractive. You will not dig yourself out of that hole for a very long time, gentlemen.
Tennis bracelet: All the jewelry store ads tell us that women love jewelry. It fixes all problems in life, and that is true to a point. However, there is one particular piece of jewelry you should steer clear from; the tennis bracelet.
Somewhere in history, the tennis bracelet got a bad wrap as what philandering men give their wives.
I am under exceedingly clear direction to never give my wife a tennis bracelet. The connection between “tennis bracelet” and “affair” is that strong in her mind.
Even the most trustworthy and faithful man will be placing himself under suspicion when his woman opens that little velvet box to find the dreaded tennis bracelet. You might as well hand her the business card for a divorce lawyer.
On a side note: An unmarried man should never, ever, under any circumstances give any gift in a ring-sized box to his woman. It sets up instant expectations when she sees it. Even if there is an engagement ring in that little blue velvet box, you’re kind of cheaping out anyway.
That shit might fly on Valentine’s Day, but I still wouldn’t recommend trying to double-dip in the gift department.
Pony up the cash and keep to the theme. If you’re not at the point in life where you are pulling down enough bread to go the “one item for each occasion” route, perhaps you should rethink the wisdom of marriage at this point in your life. Just some advice from a guy who has had to recover financially from those hasty decisions in life.
There you have it. Those are my top gifts never to give your wife or girlfriend. Ignore them if you like. It’s your funeral.