This post is dedicated to male readers. It’s not necessarily a sexist post, although it does make the primary assumption that most Valentine’s Day, um, boo-boos are made by men. But, we’re here to help! (If you’re a female reader, we encourage you to help, too, by sharing it with your “significant other.”)
So, Valentine’s Day 2012. It’s over. How many of you men out there are breathing a sigh of relief? Show of hands? Yes, I thought so….
As a public service, we’ve decided to post this now instead of waiting until January, 2013, when we normally would post Valentine’s Day advice. This will give you almost an entire year to re-educate yourself. You probably will wish to print this out and to make some notes, so get a pen or pencil….
First, we do understand that you men, you guilty, guilty men, probably are not unromantic. Far from it! You simply never received the proper training in holiday gift-giving. If you’re single, this is the fault of the persons who raised you. If you’re married or in a relationship, then you can lay at least some of the blame on your significant other for not providing you with the essential tools for success.
All blame aside, let’s move on and review your traditional, annual gift-giving opportunities. Gifts, generally, are given for Valentine’s Day, Christmas or Hanukkah, your anniversary (of your first meeting, hook-up, engagement, wedding, what-have-you….), and her birthday. So, in one year you have only FOUR opportunities to get it right!!
(Note: If you fall into the newly-in-love category, you may also find yourself giving gifts for, say, Groundhog Day. But that falls under “special training.” If you’re interested in special training, please post a comment to that effect and we will be happy to sign you up for our Special Training Seminar available until February 29, 2012, for only $49.95.)
Since we’re going to talk specifically about Valentine’s Day, I feel obliged to mention “The Double Standard.” You see, we women, by virtue of being women, are allowed to blather on about how much we detest Valentine’s Day and still expect you to go overboard to celebrate it. You may find this quite unfair, but you’re just going to have to get over it.
Ok, back to our training. Let’s break down those gift opportunities. Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, and her birthday all fall under “romantic gifts.” Christmas, or Hanukkah, are less-specifically romantic and your chances of screwing up can be mitigated by buying multiple gifts.
What is a romantic gift, you ask? Well, we’re here to assure you that the following do NOT fall into that category:
1. Things that plug in: That would include anything with an electrical cord. It is not limited to “masculine” plug-ins. It does include such things as: toasters, blenders, vacuum cleaners, electric floor-scrubbers, and other labor-saving devices that you probably consider “feminine” and that you think would be “helpful.” If she wants help she’ll ask for it or she’ll buy herself a labor-saving device! Trust me on this one.
2. Things that don’t plug in but are meant to be “helpful.” Tools of any kind. That cute, pink tool box. Don’t do it!
3. Things that are meant to be used outdoors whether or not they plug in: Snow-blowers, lawnmowers, hedge-clippers, shovels, rakes, nifty pool-cleaning devices, etc. Even if she does all the outside work at your house. Even if she likes doing it.
4. Anything automotive. Even if it’s for her car. Even if she needs or wants it. Even if it’s pink.
5. Anything for your home gym or work-out area. Even if she once said she wants or needs to work-out. This includes bathroom scales and work-out clothing. If she needs to tone up or to lose weight, she’ll figure that out herself, thank you very much, and she’ll buy her own equipment and clothing. If you really want to stay out of the proverbial doghouse, pay particular attention to this category!
Now that you know what not to buy, let’s discuss what we call “The Danger Zone.” Gifts in The Danger Zone are those where you need to have some specific knowledge of your woman before making your purchase. Pay attention to what you know and listen carefully for little cues and hints.
1. RE-GIFTS (that thing you bought for your sister last year and forgot to give her) are a major no-no. They will trip you up every time. Don’t do it!
2. SALE ITEMS: Another major no-no. This is another double standard that you must understand and accept. Women love sales. No doubt about it. “Sale” is our favorite four-letter word, but only when we are the ones buying on sale. If you buy on sale and it doesn’t fit, isn’t the right color, or she simply detests it and takes it back to the store — guess what?! You’ll be found out.
If you’re on a budget, as many of us are, start your shopping early to avoid the sales. You’ll be able to find just the right gift in your price range and not risk hearing other four-letter words about your sale purchase!
3. FLOWERS: Do the right thing. Order flowers in advance from your favorite neighborhood florist. A last-minute floral purchase from your local super-market is not romantic. Also, make sure you know if she has any allergies. An emergency-room trip on Valentine’s Day due to an allergic reaction is not romantic and could prove to be quite costly, in more ways than one!
4. CHOCOLATE: We love chocolate. But, we’re always on a diet. Don’t you ever listen when we ask you if our butt looks good in our jeans?
If you still insist on buying chocolate, there are some things you must remember. First, generic boxes of chocolate are out. These would be the boxes you find on the aisles of your Super-Walmart with brand names you’ve never heard of. Also not-to-be-bought are boxes of Whitman’s or even Godiva. You’ll probably be in trouble. Reserve your purchases of generic or lesser-brand chocolates for your secretary or for Aunt Tillie in the local assisted-living facility.
If you feel you have to go for chocolate, don’t make it the gift. Go to your local chocolatier and buy a tiny box of their most-special chocolate to include with THE gift. Better yet, have them put THE gift (bling! what else?!) in that tiny box of chocolates.
5. PERFUME: This requires special knowledge. DO know what fragrance your woman wears. If she recently mentioned by name a new fragrance, that puts it into the “safe” category. Do NOT be persuaded by TV commercials, or, worse yet, by the sales woman at the fragrance counter with her zillions of testers. She’s on commission! And never, EVER buy your woman the fragrance your mother wears!
6. BLING (a.k.a. JEWELRY): Exercise caution here! Don’t buy gold if she prefers sterling silver. Don’t buy earrings for pierced ears if hers aren’t. Don’t buy a ring if you don’t know her ring size. (And just why don’t you know her ring size?!) Don’t go for the cubic zirconia if she’s been coveting a diamond.
If you’re unsure about jewelry, a tried-and-true method is to first take your woman for a nice dinner, then to the nearby jeweler where you will have arranged ahead of time for an after-dinner appointment. Have your jeweler present three pieces within your budget to your lady and let her take her choice.
There you have it! We make no guarantees, but we’re almost certain that if you follow this simple advice about Valentine’s Day you’ll be sure to reap the benefits 🙂 And surely, if you reap the benefits, you can forgive us a few, little double standards.