We were delighted to be asked for our Top Tips on Buying Christmas presents for a partner by Caroline Garner at the Mail Online. Caroline spoke to several relationship experts, including BeLoveCurious Founder, Helen Rice for the FEMAIL article published here.
Read on for BLC’s very own Christmas Lovers Gift Guide to help you keep your loved one happy this festive season.
How much should I spend?
If you’ve only been dating a couple of months, don’t go overboard buying expensive presents. Plan to spend a romantic evening together or have a fun day out and feel free to give the person you’re dating something thoughtful, just don’t spend a lot of money. Buying expensive gifts at the start of a relationship can scare a girl or guy away; depending on their attitudes to money, it might make them feel like you’re trying to buy their affection or it could send out the signal that, at this point in time, the relationship is a lot more serious for you than it is for them.
Should we agree a mutual budget?
At Christmas time, gift giving is a mutual exchange, and so it really does work for some couples, especially early on in a relationship, to agree a spending limit.
If you have a comfortable salary while the person you’re dating is less well off, the excitement and enjoyment you want them to have by giving an expensive gift can fall flat if it’s obvious you’ve spent more than they can afford to spend on you. By contrast, if you’re a thrifty sort, you might actually want to resist spending money on a showy gift, because for you it’s not an authentic way to express your love while to them it might just seem a bit stingy.
As a relationship develops you’ll have a better understanding of what’s acceptable because you can test out their reaction at other times of the year to the kind of gifts you want to give – be it outlandishly expensive or charity-shop chic!
To surprise or not to surprise?
Like most things in relationships, there are no fixed rules. Just the things that work for you and your partner and the things that don’t – and the exciting thing is finding out what they are!
For some people, the only meaningful present is one their partner has taken the time and effort to choose (or create) just for them. A good surprise present says “I understand you so well, I know exactly what you’d like without having to ask”. For others a gift that really matters, is something that’s wanted, doesn’t carry with it the risk of disappointment, and perhaps wouldn’t otherwise be affordable or a guilt-free purchase. While there’s still time – don’t assume, just ask!
Give me some great gift ideas!
A great gift is never just about the gift itself or how much it cost. It is one that says “I care about you. I’m interested in what makes you happy. I wanted you to have this as a way of expressing my love for you”. So the key to great gift giving is simply to make a conscious choice to listen to your partner and find out what will make them happy. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a natural gift giver, taking the time to learn about their interests, giving some serious thought to what floats their boat, and making a list of all those little hints (that are being dropped right about now), can help you to select a gift that will help you to speak their language of love.
What gifts should I avoid?
Putting off the shopping for your beloved until Christmas Eve in the hope of finding a last minute bargain that no one else wants – or worse nipping out to the local petrol station on Christmas Day (as so many people admit to doing!) – for a thought-less present of chocolates or a car wax kit is probably not ever going to be stuff that Christmas dreams are made of. Your total lack of effort may well be justifiable in your own mind, just don’t be surprised if the person you say you care about can’t quite see it that way.
What if I don’t like what they’ve bought me?
There is no rule that says you have to love every gift you receive – whether it’s from a new partner or you’re in a long-established relationship. Of course you might be disappointed or wonder “does he/she even know me?!” when the big reveal leaves you feeling crest fallen, but is it really so bad? Could you perhaps just ‘like it’ or ‘make use of it’ instead?
And if you can see that your partner took time to consider, buy, and wrap a gift for you, don’t they deserve your thanks and appreciation, regardless of what’s inside? You might want to show your upset or disdain, but if you genuinely care about this person, why wouldn’t you treat them as well as they deserve – especially on this most special of days? Take a breath, and show your gratitude by letting them know exactly how much you care about them, with a hug, a kiss and a heartfelt thank you.
If it’s a gift you just can’t live with, or they’re a persistent offender, sooner or later it’ll have to come out. Biding your time over the holiday period is probably the best thing to do, but be prepared for some hurt and frustration from your other half if it’s something you’ve been hiding for a while. Take heart though because if he/she truly loves you and you say it in the right way it will be OK. And maybe then you can plan a January sales shopping trip together to find something that’s more your style!