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December 1st means 25 days of straight consumerism until it caps with a glorious celebration of greed and sloth of the whole year on Christmas. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, you cannot avoid the darkest of necessities created by modern capitalist culture: the need to shop.
Face facts, someone in your life is expecting a gift from you and at some point you will need to stay sober long enough to create a list, plan what you’ll be buying, actually purchase said gifts, wrap them (or be a lazy sack like me who just goes with gift bags for everything always), and pray to God they don’t give you the fake “oh wow! So nice!” when they open it.
For myself this year, in addition to buying gifts for my family and friends, I have the added wrinkle of dating a new girl. We’ve been going out for around two months at this point, which means it will be three by the time Christmas rolls around. We’re definitely more than casually dating, but not exclusive to the point that I’m comfortable saying we’ll absolutely still be together a month from now. The question, therefore, is what are my gift-giving obligations?
As always, I overanalyzed the shit out of this problem so the wonderful readers can share the talent that is my hyperactive brain. So heed my words to make sure you don’t give a terrible gift and turn surefire holiday sex into cold looks across the table while eating Christmas ham. And yes, this advice counts as my present, meaning I don’t have to get you all anything else this holiday season. Suckers.
Married, Engaged, or Dating for Over a Year
Yes, dummy, you have to buy your wife a gift. You should already know this. If I know this and you don’t, life is gonna be really rough for you. This is basic, automatic. Your husband, wife, fiancee, or long-term significant other gets a gift. Case closed, do not pass GO do not collect $200.
Moreover, not only do they get a gift, they also get the best gift. In case the dummy who didn’t think he needed to get his wife something for Hanukkah didn’t understand that, let me shout it again at you through cupped hands: THEY GET THE BEST GIFT.
I don’t care if you bought your father a $200,000 car as a retirement gift for Christmas, your wife better get a month-long trip or expensive jewelry. You do not want to be the schmuck whose wife is standing there holding a gift card while his buddy Rob is swooning about the tickets for two to the Super Bowl you managed to score. Get them a gift, make sure it’s not something too domestic like a new kitchen appliance or set of tools. Spoil your partner a little and take advantage of the holiday season to liven up your boring lives with some mistletoe action.
Dating for Over a Year (Long-Distance)
This is something of a caveat to the above rule. If you’ve been going out for a long time, but you aren’t living together or have spent a significant amount of time apart, you can adjust your expectations a bit. Yes, you’re still required to get a gift, but you don’t necessarily have to break the bank since there isn’t quite the level, say, of intimacy where they will be celebrating with your family and comparing their gift to what you got your little sister. This is also, likely, your first real, legitimate Christmas together as a couple. You want to make a good impression on how Christmas is going to be going forward, but you don’t want to blow your load and set expectations sky high.
Great suggestions for those of you in this spot are anything activity-based. Nice dinners, trips, concerts, and the like, are all top notch gift ideas for someone you’re in a steady relationship with, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t have the long-term stamp already on it. Jewelry is a tricky proposition for you dudes, as you haven’t yet given her the one piece of jewelry that we all know she wants. A better idea is to spend the holiday together making lasting memories.
Dating Six Months to One Year
Okay, you’re still in the early stages of the relationship, but you’re also definitely in a relationship. She has probably left some stuff in your apartment for when she sleeps over. You text her goodnight every evening. You’re seeing each other three times a week minimum. You’re in deep here. So yep, you gotta get a present.
Any of the activities for long-term relationships work here but just scaled down a tad. Swap a week trip to France between long-term partners to a weekend trip to the Poconos, for instance. A good rule of thumb here is probably to get them something related to an interest of theirs. It shows you care, and you were paying attention to them whenever they talk about that thing you don’t care about.
As to price, don’t break the bank, but don’t skimp either. Ballpark around $100 on the low end but don’t stress too much if you spend like $75. It’s the thought you put into it that matters most.
Dating Three Months to Six Months
At this point, you’ve probably just become exclusive in your relationship. This is the first big test you’re being put to, so it’s critical not to screw this up. Take the six-month to one-year guidelines as the higher end of the price, but focus more on some inside joke or memory from the time you’ve been together. This early on, it’s truly more about the thought behind it than what you’re buying.
Dating One Month to Three Months
Here’s where we start getting into a gray area, where you can argue either way as to whether a gift is necessary or not. I can’t really give comprehensive advice, as relationships in this timespan range from “she’s that girl I’m seeing” to “we had the DTR talk on the third date.” So here are a few basic guidelines.
– If you’re exclusive, you have to get them a present.
– If you’ve gone out less than 5 times, you definitely don’t have to get them a present
– If you’ve met their siblings or their friends on multiple occasions, you should probably get them a gift
– If you’ve met their boss or parents, you have to get them a present
As to price, I’d say in the $40-50 range is your sweet spot, preferably something that’s unique to them (though not a requirement, as you haven’t gone out long enough to have a lot of material go off). Think of it this way: office Secret Santa has a $25 limit for the gifts. You should spend at least double that one someone you have (presumably) bumped uglies with.
Less than One Month
Don’t get them a gift. I’m not saying you shouldn’t get them a gift, I’m saying you do not get them a gift. You have not been out long enough, this is a massively aggressive move way too early. You are overplaying your hand here.
A Christmas gift to a girl you’ve been dating for 2 weeks creates unnecessary pressure on something that should be completely easy and carefree. It’s going to make her feel bad if she didn’t get you a gift and make her wonder if you’re getting too serious too fast. This is bringing roses and saying “I love you” on the first date level of too soon.
Married (to Someone Else)
I’m sorry, I did misspeak earlier when I said the spouse/fiancee/long-term partner gets the best gift. The mistress (or cuck, I guess, for a dude) gets the best gift. Don’t think of this as a holiday present. Think of it as hush money. Rita from accounting barging into your Christmas dinner because she only got a bracelet when your wife got a mink coat is Defcon One in holiday situations. Make sure your side piece is placated through at least January. Oh and also, stop cheating you piece of scum. .