Many men don't like to buy gifts, thinking of it only when certain occasions arise, like realizing their anniversary was last month. I was in a ground school class at a civilian training center with a bunch of Marines and some other fellows going over the systems of the T-39 when one of the admin people brought in a large bouquet of flowers to the room. For me. It was February 14th. There was a collective "oh shit" whereupon about a dozen strapping young men ran for the break room to get on the phone.
I work with nothing but men, and they often come to me with "what should I get my wife for our anniversary/birthday/etc?
Some women do like lingerie. But lingerie is a minefield. Buy it too small and she'll think she's fat. Buy it too big, she'll think YOU think she's fat.
Gentlemen, not an area you wish to go, either way.
Avoid flannel. Sure it's warm, and great if the power is out. But it's not romantic unless you live in an igloo.
Fragrance? That's a deeply personal gift.
I wear something called Elixir of Love No. 1, which is from a very old American toiletries company, or an Irish perfume called Inis which has a subtle scent of Muguet with a subtle underscore of fresh lemon that I love the smell of. Either that or Hoppe's No. 9. Many women want much more sophisticated scents. Do you remember what fragrance she was wearing when you met her? I guarantee if she loves you, she remembers. Find out. Again, don't just grab something because you are at the drugstore and it's cheap, like this one which appears to come with a free cat toy.
Then there's chocolate.
It's hard to go wrong with chocolate. But the huge red block of chocolates that's as big as an AK47 for $5 may be great little surprise for a road trip snack or a door stop but it doesn't say "romantic gift". Quality and elegant presentation is the key here.
AppliancesBet the carpet in the living room was the only thing that saw any action that Christmas.
Books can be good, but pick a book that is similar to the type of books she has on her shelf. If she's into Bodice Rippers involving pirates and lusty maidens, this probably wouldn't be the book for her
Not just medium ships, or large ships, but HUGE ships. Who knew they were such a menace as you go out and about each day.
Now remember, avoid tools unless your spouse or lover loves to build things as a hobby. Myself, some great gifts I have received involved tools or gadgets but I am not the norm. Avoid buying anything like these things pictured below. Even the most practical woman does not want an extension cord, duct tape or a paintbrush for Christmas or her anniversary.
Men often make the mistake thinking they have to buy a gift that "does something". Blend, dice, chop, (bad) reduce cellulite (really bad). Do not fall for this. Think of something that signals your undying passion. This is NOT a toaster (adding a note, I think you're HOT, doesn't make up for it). If you don't know the hobbies of the woman you are attempting to impress, your safest bet is to buy something that doesn't do anything. If it just lies there in a small box in a coma and sparkles or smells good most women will be happy.
Avoid things you see on TV. If it says thighbuster, thighsmasher or thighrehabilitator, RUN, do not walk away from your TV now (see rule about lingerie). Even if it comes with a free Cap Snaffler. Dad wasn't immune to the TV gift thing. I once got a Car Duster® from him. That might be fine in the city but I lived on a cattle ranch. I promptly took my truck out four wheeling, got it completely covered with two inches of mud then posed, covered with mud myself, holding the Car Duster® in my hand next to it. He got the point. Still, he bought my Mom an ashtray shaped like Mt. St. Helens where the smoke would come out of the top of the little ceramic volcano. NOT a big hit.
Cupid shoots and misses.
Another female blog friend got a shovel for her birthday (wonder if they've found the body yet). And there's my friend from college, whose husband of 15 years bought her brake fluid for Christmas.
Another woman had her husband give her a chain saw. He was lucky it wasn't operational at the time.
You can only guess the reaction to those gifts.
Bad gifts aren't just from men. We ladies can be just as deadly in the art of bad gift giving and here are some real delights that both sexes have bestowed upon their loved ones.
The Maniki Butt Bra for Men.
It lifts, it separates.
It gets you laughed out of the locker room.
The Better Marriage Anti-Flatulence Blanket. Using the latest in chemical warfare technology.
The Banana Guard - there are good places to stick your banana. This is not one of them.
The electric butter warmer - bored watching paint dry?
Camouflage Toilet Seat.
Throw in the cammo Snuggee and you're guaranteed to be sleeping alone.
At last - a gift that sends that message of undying love - "From the back, with your shirt off, you look like a wookie."
The War Hammer is a plastic handle designed to hold a razor so you can shave hard to reach areas. This product comes in various sizes and colors with detailed instructions for use, as well as this safety note: "Wear thick pants, shorts, or a thick towel and eye protection when using this product."
I do NOT want to know why you would need thick pants.
Tired of boring yard gnomes.? How about the Zombie of Montclaire Moors, climbing out of your mulch to munch you. This sort of lawn ornament tells your neighbor you're either a really fun person or are under psychiatric care.
The best part? It's portable. Think of the fun you can have with it, take to a playground, a salad bar, your best friends wedding reception.
Why give a hug when you can give the Hug Me pillow. Shaped like a human arm, complete with hand, and attached to half a chest this looks like something left after a nasty accident with a wood chipper or the Razorba war hammer.
It's just like sleeping with a real loving and caring companion, except it has no head and is missing numerous key body parts.
The fringe visor. Don't hide in the shadows, every day is a risk when at any given moment a bobcat may attack your head.
Seriously though, Pay attention to the things your loved one likes to do to relax (and no, that is not house cleaning). Books, crafts, gardening, computers, photography, shooting, etc., and surprise them with something that would allow them to do more of that. But remember, despite the ads, despite the hype, it's not what you give that matters, it's that you took time to think of something to make them smile.
Don't fall prey to the ads, and don't feel guilty if your budget doesn't support an expensive jewelry store or a new computer. It's not what you buy but what you are the rest of the year. Love is not a lover, it is not a gift or a holiday. It's not not what you buy or what you say, it's what you demonstrate every day. What is important is the friends and family around you; the patient, trusting support of a life. It is those who wait quietly in the wings while you flounder and fall, being there to gently pick you up, not with unrealistic expectations, but with unconditional love and support for just being you.
Look at the photos of those you hold dear in your home. Look to your friends. Whether you have a significant other or not, love is all around you. It is a certain special way of being alive. It is an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness that seeps into the empty places and makes you whole. That is something no one can buy for you.
Savor it, even with your Mt. St. Helens ashtray.