It’s that time of year again: this wonderful season of holiday gift giving is full of people you know you need to buy gifts for. If you’re anything like me, you probably have no clue what to give most of those people. Things get even more complicated when you’re buying a gift for guys…
The first thing you need to do is decide if this gift is for a friend, a crush, or a boyfriend. Hopefully you already have that figured out (if not, you may want to review this handy dandy guide to the way us guys think about these things). When it comes to gift giving, you definitely do not want to send mixed signals.
Unfortunately, there is no single “go-to guide” for gift giving. I don’t know you, or the guy you’re buying these things for: what might convey, “I like you” to you and your special someone may mean something completely different for another couple. This means that you have to focus not only on the gift, but also the meaning behind it. Anybody can buy a person concert tickets, DVDs, or any other tangible present. However, what really matters here is the meaning behind it. If my mother buys me spring break tickets to Cabo, that’s one thing. If my girlfriend buys them, that’s something completely different.
If he’s actually in the friend zone, either he’s talked to you about his girl problems or you’ve talked to him about your guy problems. Needless to say, you’ve probably annoyed him at some point in time by going on and on about how “so-and-so is just being a complete loser and needs to get over himself” or how “my roommate is just so annoying like all the time. She just doesn’t get that there’s another person in the room!”
What You Should Be Trying to Say: Thanks for being there and putting up with me. Bro.
What to Give Him: You can get creative here, since he probably already knows about your super weird side. You can also stay super cheap, which is a good thing. Try hitting up a thrift store such as Goodwill: you’re basically guaranteed to find something quirky or inside-joke-worthy there. Personally, I think it would be hilarious if some of my friends gave me coupons entitling me to things like: “one day of no complaining about anything,” “an hour’s worth of sarcasm free advice about girls,” or anything of that nature. If you actually want to buy him something, inside joke items are good. Or, if you know he likes something real girly, buy him that and hope he opens it in front of his family.
Warning: It is crucial that you both know you’re in each other’s friend zone. You don’t want to mess with his mind and then have to awkwardly say “no” when he asks you out on a date in January because he misread your gift for romantic feelings.
Arguably the toughest spot to be in when it comes to gift giving. You want to give something that lets him know you see some potential between the two of you without taking too much risk of killing the spark or sending him running.
What You Should Be Trying to Say: Let’s hang out/Buy me dinner.
What to Give Him: People remember experiences much better than objects. Coordinate something with your mutual friends so there’s less pressure than doing something between just the two of you. Try to come up with something that will show off the best side of you. If you’re a world-class surfer, get his ass to the beach and show off. Guys really like it when a cute, cool girl likes them, so don’t be afraid to push the envelope a little bit.
Warning: You can’t be a creep. Don’t make this one too personal. Stay away from pictures, quotes, romantic movies, and anything else too extreme. If you or one of your girlfriends thinks it’s over the top, it probably is.
This is where it gets fun. You like him and he likes you, which means you can easily mess with him. Pretty much all ideas in the “Friend” and “Crush” sections above would work here, but you also have many more options.
What You Should Be Trying to Say: Whatever you want to. You’re the one dating him, not me.
What to Give Him: Basically, anything you want. Depending on the length of the relationship, you can either go expensive if you would like to or stay on the cheap side if that’s how you two prefer it. Take the experience idea I mentioned up a notch: a vacation, a road trip, a nice dinner, or tickets to a sporting event he loves. If that doesn’t work for you, give him something that will remind him of an experience you’ve shared: first date, first kiss, etc. Think back and get creative.
Warning: Don’t give him anything too sexual to open at home. The last thing any of us need is to give Grandma a heart attack and have our little cousins asking way too many questions when we open your box of glow in the dark condoms and fuzzy handcuffs.
In conclusion, experiences are the best gifts to give, period. You probably don’t remember too many presents you’ve received or given over the years, but you do remember family vacations and things of that nature. For example, concert tickets are more expensive than CDs, but which will be remembered best? Most likely, the concert tickets. If you’re buying a gift for a person, hopefully you know them pretty well. Guys enjoy actual surprises, so try and keep what you’re getting him a mystery (Caution: his friends may help or hurt you here depending how chatty they get under the influence). Know your target and buy him something that will help you get to where you want to be. Happy holidays!