It’s Christmas week and the stores will be packed with people picking up last minute gifts.
As a dating expert and coach, I know that for singles and those in new relationships, the holidays are filled with both joy and anxiety. It’s also peak time for online dating, so don’t be surprised if your inbox starts to fill up with new suitors.
It’s also a time for where couples breakup, as the stress of being with someone you know you can’t go the distance with makes it difficult to be together for the holidays, especially if you’ll be with his or her family. We wrote about the famous Facebook Breakup Chart a few years back, where David McClandess showed that the period between December 12-24th was one of the peak seasons for breaking up.
So what should you do about buying him or her a gift for the holidays?
Let’s talk about holiday gift giving.
Could it be that your date doesn’t want to splurge on a fancy holiday gift if you’re in a new relationship, or if times are tough on his or her wallet? What should he or she do?
If you’ve just started to date someone you’ve met online and have only had a few dates, you may wonder if should you buy him or her a lavish gift, or any gift at all. What if you’re dating multiple people? Do you need to buy everyone a gift?
While the easiest solution would be to leave town for the holidays, or even put your head under the covers, know that you’re not alone with the gift giving dilemma.
Jenna wrote to me that that she’s been dating someone for four weeks, but both of them still have active online dating profiles. Although she believes they’re exclusive, they haven’t had the talk, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s an “implied exclusive” relationship and they might not be on the same page.
Jenna would like to give her new beau a holiday gift during one of their holiday dates. However, the subject of exchanging gifts has never come up in conversation. She’s hinted about things she’d like in her stocking, but her new guy hasn’t asked her what she’d like for the holidays or made specific plans for Christmas or Christmas Eve just yet.
Jenna wonders if it’s too soon to be exchanging gifts and what she should do.
My take on the situation, is that you should always give a gift, without expecting one in return. If she sees that he loves filling in the blanks in the New York Times crossword puzzles, why not go to a bookstore or order a large puzzle book from Amazon? The cost is less than $20 and it will show the person you’re dating that you’re paying attention to things that interest him. It the thought that matters.
My boyfriend is a winemaker. He grew and nurtured his own grapes and bottled his own wine, complete with designing the wine labels. It’s something he enjoys and is proud of. For Father’s Day and his birthday, I gave him a wine stopper, one with a globe of the world on it to memorialize the trips we’ve gone on, and another with a golf ball on it, as he loves to play golf. These cherished pieces showed him that I noticed what his passions were. Wine and golf. Simple, but perfect.
Some new couples will take charge and ask each other what they’d like for the holidays. If this happens, then know that you’ll be gift shopping. For a new relationship, there’s nothing wrong with putting a budget on holiday gift giving, or suggesting going to a sporting event or concert together to celebrate an event together as a couple.
The worst thing you can do is to lavish your date with an expensive gift early on in the relationship. It may make him or her run the other way, or feel guilty that they haven’t reciprocated.
So just how appropriate would it be to give her a diamond watch or a new puppy?
Unless you’re in a serious relationship, where you have a history of buying each other a birthday present or other special gifts, don’t assume you’ll be receiving a gift, nor should you ever feel obligated to buy your date a gift. It’s impossible to ignore the holidays while listening to the Christmas songs on the radio and in the stores, but it’s the thought that counts.
Some of my favorite thoughtful gifts, which won’t break the bank include:
- iTunes song of your date’s favorite band
- Gift certificate for a movie and dinner
- Gift certificate for a massage
- A golf lesson
- An accessory or charger for his or her iPhone/iPad
- A gift certificate for a handyman for the day (for her)
- A framed photo of the two of you
- An animated card starring you! Shop JibJab!The worst thing you can do when you give your date a gift, is to ask him or her what they were planning on getting you, if it appears they aren’t reciprocating. You’ll make him or her feel uncomfortable about not taking the time to buy you a present, or they’ll feel obligated to pick up a gift and resentment could build up. It’s just too much pressure for a new relationship.
Remember, the best gift you can give each other is time spent together creating new memories. A hug and a kiss under the mistletoe is priceless. Add a card and you have a recipe for a wonderful time together this holiday season.
Julie Spira is an online dating and mobile dating expert. She’s the founder of Cyber-Dating Expert and the bestselling author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online. For more dating advice, visit to sign up for the Weekly Flirt and follow @JulieSpira on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.