Men: 10 Shopping Tips for Christmas!

Ah, the Christmas season has begun!  A time for family, great food and gift giving!  One problem:  The thought of Christmas shopping makes most men cringe.  I would guess that most men would do diaper duty instead of hitting the mall!  Yet, we know we have to do it AND it’s coming up pretty quickly here.  When you think of shopping for your wife or special loved one, you can’t help but think of the scars from past failures.  The dress that was three sizes too big (How big do you think I am?).  The new vacuum cleaner (Oh, I guess the place is a mess, huh?).  The earrings that exactly match the set she already has (You idiot, don’t you notice anything?).   You try every year- yet it always ends in failure.  You want to give up- just go all gift certificates.  You know that this isn’t personal.  Doesn’t show you really care.  No, won’t work.  What can you do? Christmas in the post-War United StatesI am writing this based on wisdom gained from pure failure.  I have made just about every stupid mistake possible.  Yet, I am getting better.  Last year, I probably did about 80% not returned.  Not saying that this year will be as good, but I am gaining confidence.  I know I will get a couple gifts right.  And this is the way it should be.  Because it’s important to her.  You want to see genuine joy on her face on Christmas.  Not- “Oh, thanks Honey…” and then it gets returned.  You want it to be really special for her.

OK- so what do we do?  Here is a list of hints that have been helpful for me through the years.  Understand ALL women are different, so I may not have this exactly right for your loved one so adjust as you see fit.

  1. Planning:  Start thinking about gift giving NOW.  Very often she will give you hints about what she wants.  Some will be subtle and others are not.  Be careful with the non-subtle hints.  This is when she is all but TELLING YOU what she wants.  Write it down!  You will forget- trust me.  Make a list of these hints and ideas.  Start now!
  2. Do the Recon:  Before you hit the mall, a reconnaissance mission is required.  When she is out of the house, go through her closet and dresser and write down the sizes for her clothes.  Be careful here.  Her closet can be full of traps.  There are often things in there that she wishes would fit.  Find the clothes that she always wears.  Look at the tags for the brands.  You may be able to get hints on the stores where she shops.  Write down the sizes and the brands.
  3. Right Style:  Really LOOK at what she wears.  You do not want to be a pioneer here.  Even if you don’t really care for the style she likes, buy what she wears.  She’ll tell you that she loves what you bought her- yet she will never wear it.  My daughter tells my wife that she dresses like a hippy while my daughter dresses conservatively.  Don’t generalize.  Buy what she will wear!
  4. Get the List:  Ask her for a list.  Don’t think that you are so good that you don’t need a list.  Get a few slam dunks in along with some more risky items.  Nothing worse than seeing it all go on the return pile.  Quiz her on her list.  She will likely give you more ideas as she describes what she wants.  Get all of the details- stores, sizes, colors, everything.  These are givens- so go get em!
  5. Shop with Her:  Go Christmas shopping with her.  While she is shopping for others she will spot clothes or items that she wants.  She may tell you to get something specifically or she may just be drawn to something.  Typically she will see something that she wants but thinks it’s too expensive.  Jackpot.  This is good target.  Snap your mental picture and return later and make the buy.  Shopping with her is gold.  You will get great hints here.  So do it!
  6. Danger Zone:  There are certain gifts that are very risky.  Stay away from risk- this isn’t Vegas!  Here are a few:
    1. Practical Gifts:  Household items, TV, blender, toaster, washer, new roof.  May be really needed, but not at Christmas.  Unless it’s a list item- stay away!  This is REAL quick sand here.  Stay with personal gifts.  Practical some other time- not Christmas!
    2. Fitness:  Exercise equipment, gym membership, workout clothes, yoga classes, etc.  Risky, very risky.  Realize the message that you are giving.
    3. Cooking  Items:  Careful here.  Unless she is an avid cook, you may be delivering that same bad message.
    4. Victoria Secret:  Stay away- this is also a trap!  The sizes are about impossible to get right.  There is a fine line to trashy.  And, what is the message- not sexy enough?  Too sexy?  Don’t do it!
    5. Jewelry:  This is a typical “go to” for many guys.  Spend a bunch of money in one spot- and be done.  Easy choice.  However- if she is not a jewelry girl- she’ll take it back.  Trust me on this one.  And then because you chose the “nuclear option”- she’ll have no other gifts that were good.  Now you really stepped in it!  Be careful here.
  7. Go it Alone:  Don’t bring your buddy or your daughter with you.  If you bring your buddy you know where you will end up- Ruby Tuesday’s with a cold beer.  Don’t do it!  You will just have to go out again.  If you bring your daughter and you mess up she will be collateral damage.  Ask her what she thinks, but don’t bring her.  Keep her out of it.  Come on…she’s family!
  8. Use the Mannequins:  The mannequins can be your friend!  See how it looks on them.  They generally put some of the best selling styles on the mannequins.  Look at colors and styles.  Stripes, black, paisley, whatever.  You will know what’s in by looking at the mannequins.  You can also see what it looks like on.  Things look way different on a person than on the clothes rack.
  9. Ask for Help:  Ask the sale people for help.  They will help you find sizes and match things up.  I am not suggesting that you take ALL of their advice.  This is also a trap.  I have wrapped suggested outfits that were a total bomb.  Stay with the look that you are sure she will like.  Don’t experiment with someone else’s taste.
  10. Start Early:  Don’t wait for the last minute.  Start now!  Get a few things bought and stored away.  I will admit that I like getting some last minute items.  Getting out a couple days before Christmas with all the other guys is kind of a tradition.  I do love the last minute excitement- but if you wait too long you will be stuck with what’s left.  All of the common sizes to the cool clothes will be gone.  Many of the good gift ideas will be sold out.  There are great last minute sales but try to be nearly wrapped up.  The internet is a great starting point.  Get a few internet purchases done early and start to look for ideas.  Do your research on-line so your time can be concentrated on hunter/gathering (pick-up and pay!).

These are a few tips that I have learned through the years that I think are most valuable.  Most men would say it’s only Christmas and what does this have to do with leadership?  I can assure you that Christmas gifts are very likely much more important to her, than they are to you!  I also know that being a bonehead and doing a crummy job sends a really poor message to your kids and others about how much you care about her and the importance of completing a task with excellence.  So suck it up and get it done!  It’s not that difficult and when you get it right- it is truly magic!

Merry Christmas!

Can you share some stories of mistakes or victories in Christmas gift selection?

Ladies:  Any ideas to share with the guys?

 Click on comments and tell us your story!     

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What your husband wants for Father’s Day!

Tis the season for new barbeque grills, golf balls and fishing poles!  So what do you have planned for Father’s Day?  Some men are kind of tough to buy for, but most guys are pretty open about what they like.  Although this celebration is really about the kids getting their Dad something special, what do you think husbands would like from their wives for Father’s Day?

They want their wife back!

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In the midst of all of the diapers, laundry, and motherly duties, husbands can be neglected and forgotten.  Now I am not making light the duties or the value of being a great Mom, however, the normal day to day activities can leave your man in the dust. 

Women tend to pour themselves completely into motherhood.  They want the very best for their children.  They will literally do anything to be the very best mother.  There is nothing wrong with this in concept.  Husbands would tend to agree- they want their wives to be committed to nurturing and raising the very best children possible.  Somewhere in all the good intentions things get warped out of place.  The current societal expectation of mothering places an extreme amount of pressure on Moms.  They try so hard to keep up.  But how can you?  You have to have your kid’s in multiple activities, buy them all the newest clothes and gadgets, take them to all the new movies and places, keep your house clean, cook customized dinners for each child, be a constant taxi cab driver, have all the answers to the tough questions, be a money tree, and be a cool parent all at the same time.  Is it possible?  Really?

Somewhere in this struggle is your husband.  Now you may be thinking- well, there is the problem– but really is he the problem?  Regardless of his participation in the family duties- you’re still exhausted.  He is probably getting the leftovers- whatever you have left after the kids.  Is that the way it should be?  Maybe it’s time to review things and slow down a bit.  Your kids will be OK if they are not in every activity.  It will be OK if the house is not perfect.  They will be OK staying home bored.  They will not explode.  Really.

Your husband wants you back.  The girl that he married.  I know you are thinking that things are different now- but they aren’t as different as you think.  He still loves you for who you are.  He still loves the things about you that are uniquely you!  Maybe tension and bickering has strained things a bit, however, it’s still there.  You just have to find it.  So what specifically does he want?  Here are some items.  Now this may vary wildly- this is just some common items- so don’t scream too loud if I get your situation entirely wrong:

  1. Have Fun!  Inside every man is a boy.  I’m sure that some of you are thinking right now that you would say that you are still looking for the man!  But truly- men like to have fun and this is often involves activities and getting out of the house.  Think back to your courtship. What did you used to do to have fun back when you were dating?  It may involve doing some outdoor activities that you really don’t like anymore.  Just remember your husband waiting outside the dressing room while you shop!  Get him outside or where you can have fun together.
  2. Initiate!  Don’t wait for him to come up with all the ideas to spend time together.  Surprise him with a weekend away or a night out on the town.  He may be a bit shocked and caught off guard the first time this happens but he won’t be the next time.  Listen to him for things that he wants to do and see.  Write them down and do your planning and make it happen.  Yes, he should be doing this too, however, don’t be afraid to take the lead sometimes.  You should both be seeking time alone together.
  3. Get Intimate!  OK- I know you are tired, but this is important.  By withholding yourself you are asking for trouble.  Men are different than women.  They value things differently.  Don’t withhold yourself as a prize for good behavior.  A healthy physical relationship will strengthen your overall relationship.  You are still very attractive to your husband.  Don’t make excuses.  It’s only a few minutes of your life.  You can do it.
  4. Encourage Him!  Tell him how much you appreciate what he does for you and your family.  Don’t do this once a year on Father’s Day.   Brag on him a bit to your friends.  He needs respect and approval.  He is not an idiot.  Don’t treat him like one of your children.  Yes- he is different- way different than you.  Celebrate what he is good at.  Be specific and tell him what you love about him.  He needs to hear it from you!      

 Another problem with trying to be Super Mom is that your entire identity gets wrapped up in being a Mom.  This is fine until your kids are grown and gone.  What do you do now?  Continue to hover?  If you lose your identity as a wife and woman, this transition back will be extremely difficult.  Your focus will naturally have to shift back to your husband, your activities, and possibly your career.  Will you be ready when your nest is empty?

I am sure that some of you are saying that I am truly full of it and that I don’t know your particular situation.  You are right.  I don’t know your situation but I think there is a nugget or two in here for everyone.      

I do know this.  You have to fight for your marriage.  You have to fight against the dysfunctional societal expectations.  You must fight to make your relationship with your husband a top priority or the two of you will likely fail. 

So, get in your way-back-machine and remember the things that you used to do as a couple that was really special.  Reconnect with the girl that is still in you.  Lighten up and have a little fun.  I guarantee your marriage will be strengthened and your kids will be fine.  Are you ready?  

Tell me what you think!  Don’t be a stealth reader!  Click on comments below!