Gift-giving from a male perspective

I’ve never been known to be a great gift-giver and I would have to blame girls for that reputation. Asking me to shop for my guy friends, brother or my dad is a simple task, but when it’s for a girl or my mom, it suddenly becomes Mission Impossible. In a world where every girl has their own taste, preferences, and desires, what compliments one girl insults another. What one girl adores, another despises.

When going out to get the gift, you have to juggle the idea of getting the recipient something she would want while keeping in mind that you can’t go and break your bank, especially on a minor friend. Is your gift “appropriate” for that person — would you give a friend that you just met an iPad? On top of that, you also don’t want to come up short with your gift when the gift she gave to you last year was spectacular and sets the bar high for gift-giving. But the worst thing about gift-giving is figuring out, from a guy’s perspective, what a girl would want.

There shouldn’t be any debate, shopping for a guy isn’t hard at all. For younger men, a simple article of clothing would sufficeor, if you’re willing to stretch your wallet: that video game they’ve been looking forward to for a while. Even a gift card wouldn’t seem thoughtless. For Father’s Day, my dad seems genuinely happy to get cologne. Chances are, guys don’t really care too much about what they get and they definitely don’t think too deeply about the gift.

But it’s a whole different story when it comes time to shop for women– sisters, girlfriends, friends, and mothers alike: it’s impossible to buy clothes for a girl because your taste does not equal her taste. You can’t give them money or a gift card because that seems tacky and seems like you didn’t put any effort into it. You can’t spend too little because she will feel like you’re cheap, but if you spend too much she will think you’re going overboard. Spending too little or too much might not necessarily be an obstacle when it comes to buying for family, but in the end,  the real problem is, again, finding a suitable present. Finding the perfect gift for any girl as a guy is just unfair. It’s like trying to find a whopper at McDonalds or a Big Mac at Burger King: virtually impossible.

I’ve heard so many times that you can’t go wrong with jewelry for women (“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”). But when you’re looking at the price-tag, it seems like you’ll be signing your soul over to the devil. Ladies, it’s like us asking you to get us a car! Really, the average engagement ring in the US costs between $3,500 to $4,000, or about three months salary. On a student budget, you can just forget about jewelry. So unless the girl happens to be the guy’s wife or soon-to-be-wife, asking for jewelry just seems unrealistic.

That leaves pretty much nothing else that a guy can get for a girl. Everything seems out of the budget, cheap, or just impossibly hard — you can’t even resort to flowers because I’ve observed flowers as a “hate it or love it” kind of deal for girls; some find it romantic and beautiful while other girls hate flowers and see them as symbolism for death. The only solution I’ve found when it comes to shopping for a girl friend is getting a joint gift, preferably with a girl because doing it with a guy will get you nowhere. Girlfriends typically appreciate more “meaningful” gifts (how ambiguous of an adjective), so look for things related to shared inside jokes and romantic things.

If all else fails, I found that the best way to go is to bluntly ask the receiver what she wants. Unless you already know what the receiver wants, just asking for a wish-list or what she would want from you specifically makes the job unimaginably easier; the only problem after that is actually getting the gift. So you do lose the surprise-factor, but it’s a surefire way to make any girl happy; after all, she got what she wanted.