Monday, February 13, 2006

Valentine's Gift Ideas

It's my experience that there's almost as much value in knowing what not to do as there is in knowing what one ought to do. So...I present to the world (and by world I mean the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K., France, and Australia, where the holiday is celebrated) the top four gifts men should not to buy for their sweeties on Valentine's Day. These gifts have actually been given to friends of mine to celebrate the day...

There are two caveats to this list:

1) If the object of your affection has explicitly requested one of the items below, by all means, fulfill her wishes. But if she didn't...well, she can't be held responsible for her reaction.

2) This un-guide is for significant others only. If you're a parent, or a friend, or a sibling, some of the items below are just ducky.

Here we go...

1) Exercise equipment and/or a gym membership.
This is tantamount ot saying, "You're looking a little plump, so here's a tool that can help you out with that." She may have expressed her generic desire to join a gym, or go leaping like a Gazelle. However, that doesn't mean she wants you to passively agree with her on this topic during the highest of romantic holy days.

2) Domestic appliances/aprons/cookbooks.
She may love to cook, and to try out new new recipes. But anything with the KitchenAid logo stamped on it should not be given on Valentine's Day. "Here honey," says the man proffering an appliance, "let me help you feed me better." Nice.

3) Gift cards.
I know, I know, it seems like it's a good way to go. But it's so impersonal! Gift cards are an awesome thing for Christmas, or birthdays. Know why? 'Cause these are occasions when an individual is probably receiving multiple gifts, from multiple people, and the gift card allows her to pick up that one special something that she'd had her eye on, but didn't receive. And she gets to shop, which is always a bonus. But a Valentine's Day gift is supposed to reflect how you feel about her. And if you go the gift card route, you're saying, "I know you like this store, but it would've taken me a really long time to pick out something you liked, so I'll just let you go ahead and buy yourself somethin' nice instead." Think about it. Gift cards = money (sure, money you can only spend in one place, but money all the same). Would you give your girlfriend/fiancée/wife cold hard cash to show her that you appreciate her love? Probably not...

4) Nothing.
Listen, even if you both agreed that money is tight, and that you won't get each other anything, you should still give her a card. It doesn't matter if it's crafted out of construction paper and crayons. Tangibility is what counts here, folks.

The truth is, there is no silver bullet for this Valentine's Day gift-giving hoo-ha. (And no, that doesn't mean you should run out and buy a silver bullet.) You just need to know your partner, and the gift needs to show that you were thinking about her when you weren't actually sitting next to her. That you know stuff about her. Does she like theater? Get her tickets to a show. Does she like lazy Sunday mornings? Comfy pajamas and breakfast in bed. Has she been singing a song over and over and over again? Buy the CD. Has her car been acting up? Take it in to have it serviced. Does she despise laundry? Wash it for her. Does she want to go out to dinner? Book the babysitter yourself.

And I'm all about equal opportunity, ladies. Valentine's Day should not be a one-way street. You gotta show him the love, too. Don't visit the Snap-On truck unless he said that's what he wanted. Get the video game he wanted, even if you think it's silly. Go see the movie he wants, even if it's Jerry Bruckheimer explode-o-rama. You could even (and I'm just spitballin' here) watch a sporting event with him, without asking questions.

You don't need to be extravagant...just thoughtful. Think O. Henry, not Donald Trump.

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