Giving Gifts: Can Money Buy Love?


So you just got in a relationship, and a special occasion is coming up—Christmas, Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or another day traditionally associated with gift giving. You now have to deal with a potentially awkward situation. Should you get a gift? If you do, how do you find the perfect present? Keep reading to find out how to navigate the holiday, and maybe even use it to strengthen your relationship.

To Give or Not to Give?

The hardest gift-giving decisions come when your relationship is still in its undefined stages. Will giving a gift make you look to desperate? Unfortunately there is no easy answer—you have to evaluate the relationship on a case-by-case basis.

Think about your significant other—are they planning on getting you something? Do they enjoy getting gifts from other people? (Some people are uncomfortable with receiving gifts.) In most cases, doing something thoughtful to let your sweetheart know you care is always good idea. The hard part is knowing exactly how to do that.

What to Give?

A good rule of thumb is this: give a gift that reflects the current stage of your relationship.
If you’ve been out on multiple dates, but aren’t necessarily exclusive yet, just a dinner and a nice card will show you care without screaming “commitment.” If you are in an exclusive relationship, but everything is still new, find something inexpensive but meaningful, like a necklace from, or a hat with their favorite football team’s logo. The longer the relationship has been established, the more money you can spend without looking overly-eager.

Even when you are in a committed, long-term relationship, the gift-giving aspect can still be tricky to navigate. Make the process easy by planning early. Pay attention to things your loved one says in passing throughout the year: he or she will indirectly tell you exactly what they want. For example, you are driving through town and you hear “That restaurant looks good, I’d like to try it sometime.” Pick up a gift card from the eatery, and you’re golden. Many people enjoy gifts that are thoughtful and personalized over gifts that are expensive.

Consider keeping a list of important information that you can refer to when shopping. Some important items to note may include:

Clothing sizes
Shoe sizes
Favorite color
Favorite music
Favorite author

Pay attention to your partner’s love languages. If they value words of affirmation, give them a small gift with a sincere, hand-written letter. If they value acts of service, give them redeemable “coupons” for things you will do for them. If they prefer quality time, give them a gift that the two of you can enjoy together. If physical touch is most important to them, give them couples dance lessons or a romantic getaway. Lastly, if their love language is receiving gifts, give them something they are interested in, like a book or a CD.
If you want to avoid guessing games and skip the anxiety, just have a conversation with your significant other. Nothing strengthens a relationship like some honest communication!

Again, if you are unsure, just ask your significant other what kinds of gifts they like, and how they think the two of you should handle the upcoming holiday. Asking questions still allows for the element of surprise, and shows that you are making an effort to get it right. Good luck!