Tuesday, 07/05/05

A Primer on Giving Presents to our Wives

I have a friend who I will not name who I have been meaning to talk with about giving presents to his wife. This is someone who I enjoy and respect, but I believe has not yet grasped the point of giving presents to his wife. So I write this as an open letter to my unnamed friend, because it may be true that there are other men out there who would benefit from such a primer as well.

Receiving a Gift as a Man
To get to the root of the problem, let us spell out what men look for when receiving gifts. Men, the little boy of our childhood that remains within our hearts cares little for anything other than the content of the gift. A good gift is something cool that we have wanted to play with. My wife got me a cool camera lens for my birthday last weekend that I had been pining about for weeks. This was a good gift! For our inner little boy, the presentation is not nearly as important as the gift itself. It is nice to be surprised, but honestly, if we could go to the store and pick it off the shelf ourselves and get exactly what we wanted, we would probably be nearly as happy as having someone else choose it and wrap it and present it in a showy fashion. Succinctly, we care a lot about the content and not so much about the delivery. Success in giving a present to a man is 90% about getting the right gift, 10% about how one gives it.

Be wary, men. It is not so with women. [read more]Successfully giving a gift to your wife is not so much about finding something that she likes as giving it to her in the right way.

How Women Give Gifts
Have you noticed how women give gifts to one another? My unnamed friend's wife hand makes cards for people. Her wrapping is immaculate. When my wife gets a gift from her, she comments repeatedly on how beautiful it is, and how much she enjoys the hand made card. Why does she value this, we men might ask? Get ready for this as it is the central point of this primer. She values it because the time and effort put into the presentation convey how much the giver values and cares for the receiver. Now I know, some of you men are already saying, 'Oh that's just a load of crap,' but hear me out. It is really true.

The point of giving a gift to a woman is to make her feel that you value her.
You don't accomplish this by getting the right gift, unless that gift demonstrates how you attentively listened to something she said 4 months ago, remembered it word for word and have been actively working for weeks to find, purchase it and have it delivered in secret. Now be careful. I am not saying you can go out and buy her a plastic whistle because the gift isn't the important part. You are going to have a hard time conveying that you value her if you went and picked her gift randomly from the toy aisle at Walgreenís ten minutes before closing.

Show her that you care.
If you want to make her happy, if you want her to look at you and melt, if you want her to close her eyes and cuddle up to you as the evening draws nigh, ask this question: How can I make her feel like I value her? The fact is that you really do value her, don't you? You do, and this is a chance to show it. Brainstorm a bit. Use as many of your ideas as you can. Here are the essential elements.
  • Time: If your gift shows her that you have invested time into it, she will feel like you valued her enough to spend your time.

  • Thought: If you were creative or if you write words on a card that show you thought about her - even if it is one simple heartfelt sentence - she will feel that you value her.

  • Effort: Have you noticed how touched women are by a drawing that a four year old makes for her? It is not about perfection or skill. It's about effort. You don't have to be good at wrapping to make her feel loved. Not wrapping the present though, because you aren't good at it or you just don't like doing it is not going to cut it.

  • Delivery: Men, since we care more about the content than the presentation, receiving it before the event is not such a let down for us. If we give it to her early, or let her try it on a few days before because we are not sure if it will fit her, and then when it does fit leave it in the bedroom and don't wrap it for that special day even if she asks us to... okay I am referring to my friendís specific actions here but the rest of you get my point... you make her feel as though you don't care about making that day special for her. It matters when we deliver the gift. If we can raise a little suspense, have her thinking about it throughout her day, and then give it to her at an opportune time, we can make her day special. Then she feels special and we have succeeded.
Well that is it, my unnamed friend, and any other men who needed this primer. Giving gifts to our wives is about making them feel special, valued and loved. Getting something she loves is a great start but it only earns you the first down. If you want to reach the end zone, put in the time, thought, and effort, and donít fumble your delivery.


Tyler wrote:

This is helpful because until now I followed Homer Simpson's example of giving gifts to the wife. I've even considered getting Carey a bowling ball with my name engraved on it.

Sir wrote:

So she'll know who it's from? That makes sense.

Bill wrote:

Tyler, I know someone who got his wife a computer for her birthday. I don't believe she ever used it but he used it every night. He continued to maintain that it was hers.

Jenny wrote:

Great post, Bill! Men and women really do operate differently on this point, and you've offered some excellent guidelines.

Of course, everyone's different. Personally, I never need anything fancy or expensive or even wrapped up all shiny & fabulous. For me, the key is in seeing that the gift-giver just really knows me. And sometimes it's the dumbest things that make the most lasting impression. For example, someone I dated more than a decade ago once gave me a limited-edition box of Crayola Crayons because he knew that my favorite crayon color (green-blue) was being officially retired.

Silly? Absolutely. But I nearly dragged him off to get a blood test and a Justice of the Peace right then & there.

Now let's contrast, shall we? My dad and his best friend once bought their wives handguns -- GUNS! For VALENTINE'S DAY.

Tyler wrote:

Timbo, you listening to this? Go buy some crayons man!

Bill wrote:

Guns... uh, yeah, you know, to let them know how much they cared about them being protected, uh, not because the husbands wanted to uh, shoot them at the range.

I asssume these husbands did not engrave their own names into these guns.

Jenny wrote:

No, I don't think they were engraved (not much confusion as to who they were from)...but I believe they were pearl-handled, which was a nice touch.

Bill wrote:

The engraving your own name line was from Homer getting a bowling ball with his name engraved on it for "his wife", for her birthday. Pearl handles would be a nice touch.

Bonnie wrote:

My husband has a bloodhound that he loves very much, and because they did not have pictures of bloodhounds, I got him calling cards with a picture of a beagle, which looks just like our other dog. It doesn't matter that I spent a lot of time finding these cards. They had a picture of our beagle; not his favorite bloodhound. I should have read Bill's writing about the differences between men and women's gifts.

Nameless wrote:

My former husband made the mistake of purchasing not one but two handguns for Christmas one year. I was not a hunter, nor was he, but he thought he should collect them for himself. So we added to his collection. In addition to the the two handguns, were a set a steak knives, and a set of Japanese throwing stars. They were wrapped though....

UK surfer wrote:

This guy is absolutely right. I don't know how I landed on this page but interesting.
The feminine mind and the masculine do indeed have different priorities and I agree with those quoted. Just don't forget that some occasional women have a more masculine bent and some occasional men have more feminine leanings.

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