Recently I had the privilege of shopping with my husband and a guy friend of ours as he tried to buy a present for his lady. I hope he’ll forgive me for saying this, but it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it gave me QUITE the lesson in the differences between genders. I got all kinds of insight into the male psyche. While I shopped with my friend, I noticed several other men who seemed to be having the same dilemma. You’ve seen ’em. Walking slowly through the women’s clothing aisles with a look of perplexed terror in their eyes. Peering closely over the jewelry counter with a befuddled expression. Sitting dejectedly on that one bench outside the store, looking exhausted beyond measure.

Photo via

[Photo originally from Holiday Shopping, at a More Subdued Pace]

Guys, I want you to know that present shopping isn’t THAT bad. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be. Allow me to suggest 5 tips to help you get your holiday shopping done to perfection, now that Christmas is 11 days away.

Tip #1 — PLEASE don’t just roll into a store talkin’ ’bout “I’m gonna buy a present,” and then stand there looking all around not knowing where to go. You gotta have SOME KIND of game plan.Before you head out to buy the present, have at least a basic concept of what your wife/girlfriend/it’s complicated or even mother/sister/daughter are into. Don’t walk into the mall without a clue. An “I’ll know it when I see it” outlook to holiday shopping will just prolong the experience.

Tip #2 – But WHAT TO BUY? Clothes can be tough to choose because there are so many brands and sizes to consider, and it sucks to buy someone a present in the wrong size. My advice – stay away from clothing items until you’ve been asked for a specific item! Here’s an idea if you feel truly clueless. When they’re not around, right before you go shopping, look at their stuff. (Please note I didn’t say GO THROUGH their stuff. Just LOOK at it). Do they have a lot of makeup, or just a little? what’s the most dominant color in their closet? What’s the color they wear the most often (that isn’t like, their uniform for work or something). Do they seem to have a big collection of highly fragranced bath items? Have some kind of idea of what you’ll be looking for when you head out into shopping madness.

Tip #3 — Don’t be afraid to ASK someone what they want for Christmas. Your loved one probably has an idea of what they would like to see under the tree, or a thing they’ve been planning to buy themselves. Yes, it’s romantic to buy someone a total surprise gift, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with being upfront and telling someone, “hey, I want to buy you an amazing present but have no idea what to get you! Is there anything you’d really love, or planned to get yourself?” I guarantee you that’s a good way to get some kind of answer. Worst comes to worst, check to see if they have an Amazon wish list. When in doubt, remember that most women love a glorious gift set, or even better, a set that comes with a gift with purchase. You know how every perfume display has a little purse next to it during the holidays? Those! We LOVE those!

Tip #4 — Now, you’re at the store! You’ve got a general idea of what your lady wants. Do you ask for help, or go it alone? Most men would rather go it alone and find the item themselves. BUT this is what greeters and store associates and sales clerks are for. THIS is why retail stores hire extra staff around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to ask a store employee, “hey where are the body wash gift sets?” “Where’s the perfume?” “Do you know where I could find some jewelry with ***insert birthstone here***?” They are being paid to help, and often they’re earning commission on these sales. Help them earn their paycheck. It’s not giving up on your ability to find stuff. It’s delegating authority for effective time management!

Tip #5 – Make it easy on yourself. Bought the lady in your life some perfume or a piece of jewelry you’re not 100% sure she’ll love? No need to worry! Throw in a gift card as well — that way if she’s only 75% in love with your gift, she can go get herself something later. And don’t sweat about gift wrapping — buy a pretty gift box and a card, or a fancy gift bag and tissue paper, so you can display the present without fretting with a scissors and wrapping paper. Place your present under the tree with pride. You did it!!

PS: these tips also work for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries…any gift giving occasion!

I hope this malecentric PSA helps you get your holiday shopping done.

Did I miss any tips, bellas? What holiday shopping advice would YOU like to give the fellas?


Dee Dee says:
December 14, 2011, 10:05 am
Best.advice.ever. This was great P. I would also add do not get duped by those salespeople at those little carts in malls. They rarely have great "gifts" on those carts. The nail buffing/shine nail kits? Nawl. We don't want that. Don't let them tell you we do either! (And yes this comes from a personal experience lol)
Candiew says:
December 14, 2011, 10:42 am
Great advice but how many guys are going to find this, let alone read it? It's too much information, men aren't detail-oriented like we are (men are NOT women as an old flame used to say) Their best bet is to ask for ideas, or have a secret chat with a good girlfriend or her mother for clues. And if most women are like me, I don't want "stuff", I want cash for my rainy day fund!
Sherry Blossom says:
December 14, 2011, 12:46 pm
Great tips! I'd add. When in doubt anything that has sentimental value and is made with love (literally/figuratively) works well. Like digital photo frame of photos from your past year or entire relationship Personalized frame with a special message engraved Anything personalized with a special message lol Anything that broadcasts your love over the past year and thumbs up to the next! You can't go wrong when sentiment, love and reminiscing goes hand in hand! If all else fails buy her makeup!!!! says:
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