Solving the Gift Giving Dilemma: A Male’s Perspective

This is crazy… Black Friday is just around the corner! This means that Cyber Monday is creeping up on us as well.

"Thrifty Tuesday" along with “Get Out Your Wallet Wednesday” are right around the corner, too.  Okay, these are fake, but they could be in the making! Who even knows anymore?

What I’m trying to say here, is that it’s that time of year!  That time of year that seems to come earlier and earlier.  It’s holiday season, baby!!!

Personally, the hoopla around the holiday season just gives me anxiety.

Traffic is a pain in the butt.  If you need a quick run to Target for razor blades and deodorant, you might as well plan on it being a couple hours long trip.

The holiday music really seems to get to me too.  I love when it comes out, but I’m over it in about two weeks.  Which puts us at Thanksgiving!!

Most of all, though, the whole gift thing really has me sweating.

I’m grateful for officially having a fiancé because in the past I remember figuring out what to get my girlfriend was a pain in the butt. Now I can just tell her that our honeymoon is right around the corner, and we need to save!

With past girlfriends deciding on a gift was tough.  Do I go with this great, thoughtful, maybe a bit overboard gift?  Or, do I go with the basic roses, chocolate and a card?

How does my decision impact her view of me?  Oh gosh!  If I go overboard, am I being a bit too creepy.  On the other hand, if I underwhelm her, will I be going solo to next year’s tacky sweater party extravaganza?

The stress.  It’s time to put an end to it… right here and right now.

This week, I am guy-proofing the gift buying process for those dating and for those married.  It’s a lifelong blueprint that will simplify buying gifts forever!

For fun here are some ideas on what to get your smooch this year.


Gifts aren’t just for holiday season… it’s all year round

We are in holiday season, but to provide you lifelong value we need to touch briefly on all the expected gift giving occasions.

Roll your eyes, but don’t skip this section.

The occasions you are expected to recognize are:

The Holiday:  This is Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza.

Valentines:  Yeah, I am including this Hallmark holiday

Birthday:  To me, this seems to be the women’s most favorite holiday (at least under a certain age)… just be sure you stress they always look younger than they are!

The Special Occasion:  Here is where I would group graduation, passing a big test, a promotion, etc.

Every category carries a different level of importance and helps to determine the price tag that is necessary for a gift.

Yes, I believe that a gift is expected at each stage.

Now, you may ask, “Great, but how do we determine the price tag?”  Ah, grasshopper that is a great question.

In order to determine how much you need to spend, you need three pieces of information:

1. Number of months you have been dating or married 2. The occasion factor 3. The money factor

Item number one should be easy.  If not, then stop reading and figure that out… then come back.

Let’s skip to the money factor.  This is a single amount that we will use in our equation, but it never changes.  The only difference is based on the stage of your relationship, dating vs. married.

But, each occasion has a different factor to either enhance or water down the gift price tag.

Below is an explanation for the occasion factor and further information follows, trust me:


The Holiday factor = 1.  This is because a holiday is important and we shouldn’t water down the impact of the gift during holiday season.

-  Valentines factor = 0.5.  This is because it is a Hallmark holiday, but the lady friend expects something.  The relative proximity to the holidays makes this a bit lower on the scale as well.

The birthday factor = 1.  Women love their birthday. If we ever diminish this we will be in the doghouse… forever.

The anniversary factor (for dating) = 1.  When dating, the anniversary factor is less than when you are married.  I guess it is just a social norm thing.

The anniversary factor (for married couples) = 2.  They are just more important… sorry!

Special occasion factor = 0.5.  These could happen often, and we don’t want to go broke because of her success. However, we also want to be sure we acknowledge it.


So, what’s the equation?

It’s equal to the months you have been dating times the money factor times the occasion factor.  This equals the necessary gift price tag.


Boyfriend-proofing gift buying

The boyfriend stage is always a bit tricky, and depending on when the relationship started. Holiday time could make for an even bigger stress mess!

I think balancing the emotions of being head over heels for this beauty, and making sure you don’t spoil her too early is the key.

Thus, figuring out that rule of thumb that can be used at any point of the relationship is key—no matter how long you have been dating.

So, we have the blueprint and the only factor that is necessary is the money factor.  This can be changed on an individual-by-individual basis, but I like $5 here.

Remember for the holiday season, our occasion factor is 1.

Let’s say you’ve been dating six months.  Ok, spend about $30 on her this holiday season. The equation looks like this:  $5x6x1 = $30.

The tricky part of this process comes when your anniversary or another occasion falls in November or December.  Because the blueprint calls for two gifts back to back.

Be careful here.  If it’s an anniversary, try to wrap them together.

If it’s a birthday and also early in your relationship, don’t overwhelm her.  You want to be sure to keep this gal!  Choose one of the holidays for the gift, the other one may just be wine, chocolate and a card.


Husband-proofing gift buying

Alright, gentleman.  We are now in this thing for the long haul, and we have to adjust our money factor when it comes to gifts.

This isn’t a fresh relationship. It’s been aged a little and expectations are a bit higher.

In my view, the money factor should move to $8 for gifts while married.

Here is the catch though… we start over in terms of our number of months factor.

What do I mean by this?

Well, because we are now married we go based on the number of months we have been married, not number of months we have been dating and married.

That should be a relief.  But it may cause some tiffs if the holiday or occasion falls close to the wedding.  However, if your sweetheart gives you some push back, here is the rationale.

“We just had the wedding and honeymoon.  The wedding showered us with gifts and the honeymoon diminished our bank accounts!  So, we need to acknowledge the holiday (or occasion) but also be mindful of getting back on the savings train!”

For the holiday season, though, here is how the math works for the married gift blueprint.  Say you have been married for 20 months.  The gift price tag should be about $160… maybe some jewelry. Here is the math:  $8x20x1 = $160.

But with the prior example, we must be careful.  We have a two-year anniversary (24 months versus 20 months) around the corner and that will cost us almost $400 ($8x24x2)!  We must always keep the upcoming occasions in perspective.

And in order to make this useful forever, we must make one adjustment.

Every 10 years, we should start over in regards to the number of months that we have been married.  What does this mean?

Well after your 10-year anniversary, the months married factor starts back at 1.  This keeps things affordable; while also keeping the importance around the decade anniversaries.  And maybe splurge on those anniversaries… because they are important milestones.


Come one come all, gift ideas for your relationship stage

This is fun!  I went around the inter-webs and picked out some gift ideas for us men.

They are categorized based on relationship status to help those in the early stages of their relationship.

Don’t let this deter you if you are a seasoned boyfriend or husband because the ideas can still be used for part of your gifts to your girlfriend or wife.  Just reduce the amount from the expected blueprint-spending amount.


Gifts for the 1-3 month relationship:

Those in a dating relationship ($5-$15 price tag)

o   Sentimental - Thoughtful card and a single rose.  This is a tricky time for your relationship.  But you want to show her your sweet side and that there may be more where the sweetness comes from down the road.

o   Relaxation - A bottle of wine and whip up your favorite dish for the lady!  Every lady loves to see their man cook and they get to relax in the mean time!

Those that are married ($8-$24 price tag)

o   Sentimental - Give her a GrooveBook (  It’s only $2.99/month (but be sure to cancel after receiving the first book, because it’s a recurring charge).  This app allows you to create a coffee table-esqe flipbook utilizing pictures from your phone.  Find those great ones from your wedding and dating years and put them in a book.  Boom!  Sentimental and thoughtful!!

o   Relaxation - Maybe we don’t have any pictures, go the route of this simple mini-massager from Brookstone… give your hands a rest, you just went through a wedding!


Gifts for the 4-7 month relationship:

Those in a dating relationship ($20-$35 price tag)

o   Sentimental – Get her a subscription to her favorite magazine for a year.  This is the gift that keeps giving.  It keeps reminding her of your sweetness for a full year!

o   Relaxation– Not a magazine girl?  Go the route of this awesome neck massager from  Nothing screams relaxation more than a nice neck massager, whenever you want!

Those that are married ($32-$56 price tag)

o   Sentimental – Check out and look at the photo cubes.  Get three of them and still stay within the budget.  But these scream sentimental!  They are wooden cubes and you can put different pictures on each side.  Just upload the pictures from your computer.  And then watch the ball fly out the park, because you hit a home run on this one!

o   Relaxation – This is simple.  Go to and type in “relaxation gifts” in the search bar and pick her out one or two of the items that best suits her personality.  Then sit back, because she is going to be so relaxed you are off duty for a couple of days!


Gifts for the 8-11 month relationship:

(NOTE OF CAUTION:  an anniversary is right around the corner, it may be better to stick towards the lower end of the range here!)

Those in a dating relationship ($40-$55 price tag)

o   Sentimental – It’s getting cold these days!  Reach outside your comfort zone and try to find some of those trending scarfs/beanies.  Maybe take a look at  This provides her with instant gratification and is very thoughtful… well done!

o   Relaxation – Go find her one of those nice baskets of goodies from Bed, Bath & Beyond (relaxation oils, etc.).  Coordinate that box with another box… of chocolates!

Those that are married ($64-$88 price tag)

o   Sentimental – Check out and customize a pillow for the lady.  Or maybe just a wrapped canvas.  Make it sentimental with a quote that fits your relationship or maybe just a sentence that you don’t want her to forget.  And again, you have a winning gift!

o   Relaxation – Get her a massage.  Sounds boring, but you can spice it up.  Make it very special by coordinating around your anniversary.  Yeah, arrange for her to get the massage on the day of the anniversary.  It just helps to make the anniversary day that much better, while providing a gift for the holidays!  Two birds, one hot stone.


It’s an art that comes from the heart

Yeah, life is easier with blueprints.

But what we have to remember is that the blueprint is only one step of the process… the price tag part.

We must still spend money, because nothing says not caring like getting a card and putting cash in it.  We must still make an effort.

And that’s the art.

This holiday season, begin on a new foot and show your lovely lady that you truly do care for her while also understanding the stage of your relationship.

It’s about time to stop worrying about the dollars to spend and more about the gift to give.

Today your gift giving problem is solved… congratulations!