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Opinion: The intricacies of Christmas gift selection for the significant other

Opinion: The intricacies of Christmas gift selection for the significant other

Opinion

For those uninitiated in the art of Christmas gift buying, the festive season can easily turn into a relationship minefield

Some day, maybe, the two of you will be comfortably settled into a sweatpants-and-shared-soap domesticity - the kind that inspires pronouncements beginning: "Here's what you can get me for Christmas...."

Until that day, the season of giving is a relationship minefield.

"It's terrifying," said Whitney Casey, a relationship expert with Match.com. "It's a determiner of where you are in a relationship."

And if that weren't enough pressure, Casey would like to add: "You better not get it wrong" - especially if it's your first meaningful gift - "because [the recipient] is thinking, ‘This is the kind of gift I'm going to be getting for the rest of my life.'"

So, with that stress-test in mind, we culled the wisdom of Casey and other dating and gift-giving gurus on how to shop for a significant other.

If it's been less than a month. Don't go overboard! (No Journey pendants, please.) But don't just get a card - think how awkward it will be to stand there watching her read it. Try to keep it in the US$25 range and pick something "small, but significant to the conversation that you've been having with this person", Casey said. Think: a book by an author he mentioned, a candle with one of her favourite scents.

If it's casual and not really going anywhere. Well, don't get them a keepsake, for crying out loud. "Some things are hard to part with," said Sherri Athay, a gift consultant. If you're gonna end it after New Year's, "don't give her something for her mantle, 'cause then what's she going to do with it?" Try something likely to have vanished by the time you do: a bouquet, a box of cupcakes.

If it's casual, and you really hope it will go somewhere. Say so with the gift of time together. Pick anything you can do as a pair, Athay suggests, and present it as a done deal. Her favourites: dancing lessons, cooking classes, a weekend adventure.

If you're completely lost (on what's happening and what to get): Make it funny. "Nobody wants to show their cards," said dating coach Patti Feinstein, who once got a new boyfriend a gefilte fish, in reference to an inside joke. "Make it silly, lighthearted - it doesn't say anything except, ‘I'm listening.'"

And relax - unless you screw it up big time, there's always next year.

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