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Not to Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth or Anything but...

Guys, this one’s for you. It’s that time of year when you have to come up with a gift for the significant other in your life. Maybe you have been married forever, maybe you have been dating for a few months or even a few weeks, or perhaps you are on a tight budget. (Who isn’t this time of year?!) And if that’s not hard enough, what do you gift?

Well this last weekend, a panel of women broke it down a little. Some of these women are in long term relationships, some are single, and some are married. We all remember the awkwardness of only dating for a bit of time and not knowing if gifting is appropriate. So with all of that in mind, here’s what they had to say:

1. “Figure it all out!”

That was the general consensus from the married with kids ladies. “Figure it out, you say... I thought you were going to help me!” Yes. I’m telling you, they want a dinner out. Don’t ask them where they want to go. You’ve been married a while. By now you should know her favorite foods, maybe she’s mentioned that restaurant she’d always like to go to but you gotta drive a distance or maybe it’s out of the budget for every day evenings. Make a reservation if necessary. Remember, if she’s a working lady, give her time to get ready after she gets home, along with driving time. Timing is a good thing. Give her an hour and half to get ready, an hour at the very least. This allows for a shower if desired and whatever else she wants to do. Gentlemen, arrange the sitter- this is not something she should have to do on her own. That means you do whatever necessary, bring those kids wherever they’re going or go pick up the sitter. Whatever needs to happen, please do that, and feed them! She shouldn’t have to worry about what they’re going to eat while she’s trying to relax and get ready for her evening. If you want to surprise her with the location of the night out, that’s great, but tell her how to dress. Fancy, casual, whatever the case may be, and if you don’t know, then call the restaurant and see if there’s a dress code. Above all things, remember that you’re giving a GIFT... see it through to the end. That means if the kids are coming home after, let her relax and you get them in bed. Most of the time, we ladies end up doing all the planning whenever there’s a night out, and although some of us are ok with that, it sure is nice to have the planning done by you guys!

2. On a budget? Ok, we can work with that!

Cook her dinner! Do a thorough clean-up of the kitchen beforehand. Take some time to go get the groceries needed. This is an excellent way to do something for her, or maybe together. The internet is your friend. Look up “romantic meals under $20” and you’ll find a slew of ideas. And if possible, don’t skimp on the garnish. It can really take a plate to the next level. Here’s a good website I found with some delicious looking dishes: . The dollar store has candles and candle holders. Not a bad idea to get some candle pillars and their holders if you’re able. Set the table in advance, it looks nice and gives the idea that you’re prepared, and you care enough to pay attention to the small things. If you are thinking you’ll cook together, make sure you take the lead and don’t leave her doing everything! And my guy friends, dishes are your responsibility on this one. Unless she insists on helping out, make sure she’s relaxed with some coffee, tea or wine or whatever she enjoys while you clean up quick. One of my friends suggested you cook in your apron- and not much else. Hmmm... I’ll leave that right there – you do what you will with that suggestion.

3. You cannot go wrong with a Spa Day. (Unless you give this every Christmas, you might want to switch this up.)

Nothing feels as wonderful as a massage, some aromatherapy or a facial. We always love mani-pedis. All of it. All of the Spa treatment. But don’t just give her the gift certificate in a card. That’s the easy way out. Call and find out what a full or half day of pampering will run. I’m going to be honest here- $100 is not going to cover it, not nearly. Plus, ask how to include enough for the tip. Once you find this out, make the gift certificate amount accordingly. Don’t stop there though. Make the appointment for her, and if it applies, arrange for the care of your little ones. When she is done with her day, arrange for her to come home to a quiet house. If you have kids, park them in front of a movie and make sure they’re fed. She shouldn't have to cook when she walks in the door. Who wants that reality after they’ve just been pampered? No one.

4. Dating only a few weeks?

That’s kind of a toss-up. If you’ve gone on a few dates and you feel like the feelings are there and being reciprocated, chances are, you’ve paid attention to the things she’s said. She’s a coffee drinker? Pick up a gift card to Starbucks, put it in a nice travel mug or a cute ceramic mug, add a pound of good coffee and put it in a Holiday gift bag with tissue paper. $10 is a good amount for the gift card, because if she likes to get a Frou Frou drink, $5 will put her in a situation where she’s paying the tax. Not fun. Maybe she’s a wine lover. This should be pretty obvious what to do here. You can get plenty of good wine around the $15 mark, if you need help with what good, inexpensive wines are out there- again the internet is your friend. Here's a little help: Maybe she enjoys the movies. Get her a gift card to the movies for two, perhaps she has a best friend she’d like to go with, maybe she’ll ask you! If you don’t feel comfortable with any of these suggestions, there is a good reason for that- it’s not time to get her gifts yet, and don’t feel badly. Chances are, she is probably freaking out about whether or not to get you anything. If you feel uncomfortable- that’s a direct message to you from your brain. Listen to it!

5. Watching your pocket book? Here’s another suggestion:

Give her a massage. Guys, can ya do this without thinking of yourself? You know exactly what I’m talking about. Take care of whatever you need to beforehand. (no pun intended). Ok, now that we got that out of the way, go grab some essential oils from Bath and Body Works. Or maybe even your local grocery store carries them. Walgreens has massage oil, and if all else fails, baby oil will do the trick. Make this massage last at least 45 minutes. Dim the lights and get some candles going. Play some soft music. This could end very well for you- as long as you keep in mind that this is about her. I’m serious when I say to watch a YouTube video on giving a good massage, don’t go into this without any knowledge of what feels nice on a tired or stressed or overworked body. There is nothing worse than a bad massage. If you do a little research, pay attention to more than just her shoulders or back, and do this with the intent of her feeling better when you’re all finished, she will be super-duper happy.

6. “I love you, but leave me alone!” Ok ok ok, hang on. Before you get offended, keep reading...

Ever hear the term “silence is bliss” or “silence is golden”? There are reasons people came up with those terms. Now, I love my family dearly. I do. I love my man, I love my daughter, I love our dogs. But you know what? A few hours of quiet is worth it’s time in gold. This gift can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you want it to be. If you have kids, take them to McDonald’s playland for a few hours. Omg please take disinfectant wipes with you. Anyways, take them to go blow off some steam for a bit. If McDonalds isn’t your thing or the kids are a little older, take them sledding somewhere. Take them to a movie if the budget allows. Find an indoor playground and go. I can think of at least 3 all within 15 minutes of here. If you live where these aren’t available, go to the park and run it out with the kids. Or maybe pay a visit to the grandparents. And while you’re gone, please don’t call the wife or girlfriend and ask a bunch of questions. This is supposed to be a few hours of quiet for her, so she shouldn’t have to answer questions about Lily’s shoe or give advice for Caden's tantrum. Also, although she probably loves her children more than life itself, it doesn’t mean she wants to hear from them in this precious time frame of perfect stillness in the home. So the gift of just letting her have an afternoon to herself is probably just what she needs to feel refreshed and ready to deal with you all again. Hahaha... and if you can, bring dinner home or bring her flowers.

Well I could keep going, but you can put your own spin on some of these ideas, and at least now you have a starting point. I think the main thing you see with what many women want for Christmas is this- whatever it is you are able to do, do it 100%. A gift is sort of ruined if she has to help make it happen because you didn’t take the time to tie it up nice and neat from start to finish. She is with you for a reason- chances are, she loves you, or at least likes you a lot! The best thing you can give her for Christmas is you being the best "you" that you can be!

“Getting in the Christmas spirit isn’t you being Scrooge!”

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