How much do you spend?

Every Christmas, my wallet goes from inordinately fat with banknotes and traveler’s checks (safest way to spend, even if you never leave your home for more than two hours at a time) to flimsy and wilting.Why is this? Because I know the quickest way to a woman’s heart. And it is not, no matter what the liberal media tells you, witty bumper stickers.

It’s money. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: That’s not fair. Women aren’t just interested in pretty flip flops, comically large pencils, glittery briefcases and expensive baby clothes. But they are very, very interested in those four things. As a rule of thumb, include two of the four in your assortment of gifts for your girlfriend. Yes, you need to have an assortment of gifts.
The four items I’ve mentioned are the staples of any holiday girlfriend gift package. You’ll also want to include three or four smaller items, like goofy magnets, press-on nails, gum or bouncy-balls. This is all just to warm her up. You want to seem playful at first, before you give her the flip flops or the baby clothes.

It’s always difficult to know whether you should be playful or serious, juvenile or adult. This is why I am such a big fan of giving an assortment of gifts. You can start out playful, with little toys and trinkets that you know she’ll like, or if she doesn’t, she can give them to her kids or some kids she knows.

Then move to the more serious items: the baby clothes. Baby clothes, especially really gaudy, name-brand onesies, remind a girl that you are both committed to her and very, very wealthy.

Naturally, you don’t actually have to be either of those things. It’s time consuming, but it can be worthwhile to just buy cheap baby clothes. Or better yet, just take baby clothes off of babies you see laying around department stores or behind the veterinary clinic or under your seat in the bus.

That’s free. It’s only a matter of some careful sewing to switch the tags with a more expensive item. This might seem dangerous—but don’t worry. I know my girlfriends have never questioned why the Thomas the Train Engine jumper I got her had a Ralph Lauren Purple Label tag.

Do you have a bedazzler? Any self-respecting man will have a bedazzler hidden somewhere in his car at all times. Anything you buy for your girl, from a purse to a bouncy ball to baby clothes to a real-life baby, can and should be bedazzled until the glare hurts your eyes.

Also, balloons. Balloons are really cheap, really festive and super-symbolic of something. I remember I got a balloon for a girl once, and she said it was really meaningful. I think she cried.

If you make your girlfriend cry because of a gift, you gave her you are definitely doing something right. Last time I presented a freshly-bedazzled baby to my girlfriend, she wept openly and unstoppably for days. And whenever I squeezed it, making it do that adorable spit-bubbling-at-the-lips thing and say “I love you” in its weird baby voice that women for some reason find adorable, she was so excited she was speechless. She just kept crying, but no sound came out.

It feels good to make someone that happy. Especially because if you make a girl cry from happiness—or really just make her cry for any reason at all—she’s more likely to let you have sex with her. That’s a scientific fact.

So no, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on Christmas. I do. I really, really do. I get the nicest baby clothes and the prettiest little press-on nails imaginable. Also, on Christmas, I will allow my girlfriend to take advantage of my 20 percent discount at the pet grooming clinic where I work. Use what you have.

She says

It seems the holidays have become a sort of balancing act between couples nowadays. There is nothing more embarrassing than saving up to buy that special necklace for your special someone and then getting a pack of Mentos. Being the Mentos giver is even worse.

Basically, Christmas is just one giant opportunity to look like a shmuck to your dearly beloved. But don’t worry! You, too, can avoid schmuckhood this season by leaving the cost of gifts on the backburner, and instead focusing on what it is you’re buying. It’s quality over quantity. You can either spend $300 on the iPod Video your dude has been jonesing for (does anybody say jonesing anymore?) or you can go to four different stores trying to find that out-of-production Blind Melon EP that he’s been trying to find for years.

It’s a simple concept, the same one you’ve seen in every Christmas special since the 1940s. It’s not the money you spend on the gift, but the gift itself.

Something that takes a lot of thought is ultimately worth more than its monetary value, and it will be appreciated a lot more. A special, personalized gift shows you’re not only willing to expend time and effort on your special somebody this Christmas, but that you really know them well and you listened all those times he talked about his obscure likes, dislikes and secret desires.

But hey, maybe you’re still in the initial stages of the relationship, and you don’t know his idiosyncratic wants yet. In that case, things get both easier and harder. On the one hand, you don’t know very clearly what he would want, but pricing is easier.

Generally, for relationships up to three months, less than 20 dollars is a good idea. For relationships three to six months, probably $20 to $40 is a good plan, and after six months old, hopefully you’ll be in a place where you won’t feel jilted or embarrassed if you spend more or less than your significant other.

But what happens if there is a price discrepancy?

If you unwrap gifts on Christmas, and he’s gotten something much more thoughtful/expensive for you than you got for him, be gracious and excited. His real gift is how gratified you are by his effort, so show it. Give him a smooch, show off what he did to your friends and family. Brag a little about how sweet your boyfriend was.

If you spend time, thought, and money on him, and he gets you a novelty pen or something, then don’t be afraid to joke about it. Humor shows guys that a little mistake in the relationship isn’t the end, and isn’t something to be terrified about, so a little laugh about the differences between gifts (if he seems comfortable with it) can go a long way.

Above all, though, enjoy the time you get to spend together this holiday. I know some of you will be leaving your college sweethearts to go home, and a lot of you will be going home to see the special someone who has been waiting for you.

This season is all about togetherness, physical or metaphorical, so instead of freaking out about the rules and significance of this or that formal tradition, just have a good time, and appreciate that you have somebody to spend time or money on.

1 Comment on How much do you spend?

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