In every family, there’s a certain role that everyone plays to ensure things run smoothly and that no one, you know, gets murdered. Growing up, my part in keeping the peace was critical: It was my job to help my dad pick out presents for my mom every time a gift-giving occasion arose.
I remember one particular Christmas shopping quest: I’d been dragged into Chico’s (Chico’s, Dad? Seriously?), and my father, in all seriousness, proposed a pair of hideous peach-colored pants. After witnessing my incredulous, horrified expression, he simply responded, “What?! These are nice pants!”
It was this defining moment when I realized something: Guys, while you may be amazing husbands, boyfriends and fiancés, when it comes to giving gifts, some of you are pretty terrible.
Though I am single, and the only present I’m planning on receiving come Saturday is the bottle of Champagne I’ll be gifting myself (oh, I shouldn’t have!), I’d like to do you gents — and, more importantly, your significant others — a favor and present you with five effective rules for Valentine’s Day gift-giving.
Because, while they say it’s the thought that counts, I think we all know better than that.
1. Make it public
So here’s the thing, much like everything else in these social media-centric times, Valentine’s Day is all about appearances. This carries over to gift giving, and her satisfaction will skyrocket when she’s not only showered with material affirmation of your affection, but showered in front of dozens of other people. That said, to earn a million boyfriend bonus points, be sure to have that bouquet or Edible Arrangement delivered to her office in the most obnoxious, public way possible. Not only will her Instagram followers know what a doting dreamboat you are (#luckygirl #valentinesday), but her coworkers will too.
Because the one thing better than being in a happy relationship? That would be rubbing it in everyone’s face. (Plus, I want in on those Tiff’s Treats.)
2. Just say no to pets in bows
There’s no denying the appeal of a puppy, and yes, if you present your lover with a bow-adorned Labradoodle, you’re probably going to get laid. However, a pet isn’t just a fun present; in the end, what you’re really giving is the gift of enormous responsibility. Unless said canine comes with a carpet warranty, a lifetime supply of food and veterinary care (and a promise you’ll take it out to use the bathroom at 7 am every morning for the rest of its life), the inconvenience and expense outweighs the adorable surprise.
Take it from me. Someone once gave me hermit crabs for my birthday (“See, it’s funny! You have crabs!”). One died within 24 hours and, upon realizing I didn’t have the maternal instinct that even crustaceans apparently require, I returned the other to the pet store. It was disgusting and traumatic and terrible.
So though, yes, there’s a distinct difference between a hermit crab and a yellow lab, the message is that pets do not a perfect gift make. Don’t inflict that pain on another person.
3. Walk the cliché line
Flowers and candy are classic Valentine’s Day gifts for a reason — namely, because most women enjoy flowers and candy. The key to making this cliché work is adding a personal touch that demonstrates that you actually care. You don’t have to think outside the (heart-shaped) box; you just have to make sure that said box is customized to suit your valentine.
Instead of going out and grabbing a dozen roses and a Whitman’s Sampler, do five minutes of research (read: text one of her friends) and pair her personal favorite flowers and candy. It might not be fancy, but it’s personal, and hell — there’s nothing wrong with daisies and a dozen Almond Joys. To each her own!
4. Stay away from buying clothes
If you’re a stylist by trade, I might make an exception, but otherwise, trust me. Buying a woman clothes is destined to be a full-blown failure.
For one, you probably don’t know what she considers stylish. (Allow me to refer you back to the tale of the peach pants.) And as for her size? Well, you have an approximate 10 percent chance of getting that right, and guessing wrong will 100 percent result in a disastrous end to the evening. Buy her something in a size that’s too big, and she’ll be insulted. Buy her something too small, and her self-esteem is likely to disintegrate at the sight of the muffin top that’s materialized as a result of those too-tight designer jeans.
Just remember this simple rule: If you want to see a woman naked, don’t buy her clothes. (But note, this does not apply to lingerie. Find out her size, go to Victoria’s Secret, and everyone wins.)
5. Don’t stress about buying something expensive
Sure, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But all holiday propaganda aside, guys, there isn’t a specific karat requirement for earning everlasting adoration.
Valentine's Day may put on the pressure to prove you’re a provider, but most reasonable women aren’t expecting you to clean out your bank account to buy them something big and sparkly. Assuming you aren’t gifting a piece of jewelry you paid for with Chuck E. Cheese tickets, Valentine’s Day is less about the amount of zeros after the dollar sign and more about demonstrating that you care.
Though if you really care and you can afford Cartier, hey, so be it. And, yeah ... call me?