Holiday Gift Guide for Guys Who are Not Your Boyfriend Yet

It is better to give than to receive. Except, of course, if we’re talking about oral sex.

Oh, and in one other situation: When it’s Christmas and you’re in an undefined relationship.

Two years ago at this time, I had been dating a guy named Jorge on and off for about a year. I had ended it twice because he wasn’t ready for a relationship and I was. No hard feelings, I said. But he kept coming back, saying that he really liked me and wanted to “try.” And I was a sucker.

When Christmas rolled around, I thought it would be appropriate to give him a gift. Nothing extravagant, as we hadn’t declared boyfriend-girlfriend status yet. Just something that said “We’ve been banging for nearly a year and I’ve enjoyed it.”

I braved the parking at Venice Beach on two separate occasions and scoured the boardwalk trying to find the vendor who sold an artifact Jorge admired once when we were there. When I couldn’t find the vendor, I was dejected. Still determined to find the second most perfect gift, I searched the malls and settled on a very cool Armani Exchange shirt I knew he’d like, even though it cost a bit more than I’d wanted to spend.

When Christmas arrived, he told me he didn’t get me anything because he was broke. Funny, because two days earlier he spent $50 on a pair of earbuds he didn’t need.

I felt like an idiot marinated in loser juice.

He felt a little guilty and was touched at my efforts, but I could tell it was the beginning of the end. Because this meant I cared more than he did – and we both knew it. Sure enough, he bailed about a month later.

Many of my girlfriends have similar stories. Around the holidays, many women are overcome with the spirit of giving and tend to go overboard with a new beau.

Fewer things are more awkward than dating someone new around the holidays. If you don’t give something and he does, you feel like a jackass. And if you do give something and he doesn’t, you feel like a dumbass.

The sad reality is, most of us would rather feel like a jackass than a dumbass.

So, my advice to the ladies on holiday gift giving to new dudes is this: less is more. And if you get caught empty-handed when he proffers a present, you can always whip up some last minute blow job coupons, and trust me, he’ll be happy as a clam.

Here are my gift-giving guidelines for guys who are not your boyfriend (yet):

Dating one month or less:

  1. Nada. Unless you’re one of those nutty couples who rush into things at Kardashian speed, nothing is expected if you’ve been dating less than a month.
  2. Baked goods. If you feel oddly compelled to give something, bake him some homemade banana bread or a pie. He’s a guy, he’ll dig it. Unless he’s a pastry chef.

Dating one to three months:

  1. Sexy lingerie. For yourself. Wear it one night and wrap yourself in a big bow. If things don’t work out, you keep the mesh teddy.
  2. DVD or book. Pick a non-romantic genre, like comedy, action or hardcore porn. Don’t spend a lot of money, maybe $20. Remember, you can always add BJ coupons if necessary.

Dating more than three months:

This is tricky. If it’s been more than three months and you’re not exclusive, it’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. A few weeks before, feel it out with a “So, what’s on your Christmas list?” If he blows it off, play it safe and stick with the guidelines above. If he asks about yours and hints that he might get you something, you might be safe to go a little further, like:

  1. Concert tickets. But only if you get them dirt cheap on Goldstar and it’s a band you like, too.
  2. Something related to alcohol. A flask, a beer mug, a respectable bottle of booze.
  3. A brick of cocaine. Kidding. That’s WAY too expensive.

Many women are natural-born givers. Resist this urge. Giving too much to a man who is not your boyfriend can easily freak him out. Remember, you’re a woman. You can easily make up for it with sex.

So, remember the basics:

  • Less is more
  • Steer clear of anything mushy or romantic
  • BJ coupons work great in a pinch

And incidentally, ladies, don’t go apoplectic if he gives you something super lame. Many guys are just naturally clueless when it comes to that stuff. It’s a missing gene or something. I know, life’s not fair.

UPDATE: I have expanded this post and included a gift guide for men – read it here!


Ever had a gift-giving catastrophe with a new relationship? Please share so the rest of us don’t feel so dumb.

27 replies

  1. Last year for Valentine’s Day I made a guy I like a little special gift. I was so nervous I didn’t sign my name, and I couldn’t even give it to him. I am only in middle school so it was nothing to special. I gave him a little three pack of York Peppermint Candy with a note. On Valentines’ Day I was so nervous, I gave it to my friend and she snuck it in his book bag. When she got caught, she told him it was from me. So this is a lesson only give your BEST FRIEND things to secretly give to your crush. I am thinking of giving an anonymous present for Christmas, but I’m in a total loss of what to get. I don’t want to reveal myself, but I want it to be thoughtful. What should I get him?

  2. I really appreciate your post. I have been seeing someone (sexually exclusive but neither of us have been seeing anyone else) for the past 9 months. He’s not a US citizen and doesn’t want to “commit” to a relationship since he isn’t sure he’ll be in my city very long, and he’s not sure he wants to stay here except he enjoys spending time with me. Everything that we do feels like a relationship, but it’s without a label, which I have been fine with maybe b/c I adore this person. I want to do something fun for his birthday, but I find it so difficult to know what is or isn’t appropriate and like you’ve said, less may be more. I do want to overly give! I’m having a hard time resisting. Do you think it makes sense to be direct and say something like, “Hey! I want to do something for your birthday, but I’m not really sure what is or isn’t appropriate. I have lots of fun ideas. What do you think?” That sorta kills the element of surprise though… Any advice would be much appreciated!

  3. Funny because my one month boyfriend’s name is Jorge.
    We have been together measly one month. There is a chemical between us. Well I am sure on my side. I just love this Man. But Maybe because I’m younger than him (bout 6 years) or because I m inexperienced in relationship ( long term), I am becoming different. I get sad if he don’t text me, waiting for his calls ( even though I’m seriously busy, just getting kissed by him makes butterflies dance inside of me.

    Ok the main thing is my birthday was in 3 days ago. And I exieved a late night call from him ( I was in different city ) just saying how he misses me. But I have been waiting for a birthday wish, with text or call all day, 😒. After I went back from my vacation I met him . But no birthday gift…

    I don’t want a birthday gif because I am materialistic , but I wanted him to do something on my birthday.. Just to show me how he feels ,
    I am sad because my friends keep on asking me what he did on my birthday or should I say belate birthday . 😢

    • One month is nothing, girl. You sound very young. I’d just let this one go. What really matters is if he sticks around and is good to you overall. 🙂

  4. We’re not in a relationship, but he got me a really nice birthday gift, more money than he should have spent with the job he has (my birthday was in October). Now I feel like I should be getting him a Christmas gift, but have no idea what. And we live on different continents, so BJs are out. Help!

    • Well, if he got you a really nice birthday gift, you could probably get something equivalent if he’s still into you like that. Different continents? Sheesh. Maybe a visit?

  5. Is it weird that Canada and I are over the one-n-a-half year mark and we still don’t get each other anything? Not for birthdays either? Does that make us both jackasses, or dumbasses?

    PS I would like to give him a camo beer coozy with a strap so he can hang his beer around his neck and have both hands free. I know he would like it. But I keep forgetting.

    • You know what, whatever works for you guys. But you guys are exclusive. You’ve had the talk and it doesn’t sound like there’s awkwardness there. I love the beer cozy idea. And camo? Boss.

  6. He told me giving him a gift was not “appropriate” when i asked in a facebook message… to which i got really angry and replied angry shit, he just replied with a nonchalant “message when you are actually ready to speak your mind” … well i did. No reply. I think i scared him off when really i had the best intentions in the world to begin with ;_;
    Ps: Loved your article and you have a very witty writing style. I wish i found it before that mess. Love from France !

  7. Good advice. It’s tricky knowing what to give someone when the relationship isn’t quite there yet. You don’t want to come across as cheap. On the same hand, you don’t want to appear as you’re rushing things.

  8. I once gave a cookie jar to a guy as little gift for no special occasion. A friend gave me the cookie jar and thought of giving him as a reminder to him how sweet I was. Duh!! Little that I knew, it was backfire and he never ever contacted me ever after that and oh yeah, we’ve been dating less than a month! I wish I read your guidelines 3 years ago!! I would have given him that one thing, nothing! LOL. Later on he told me, that his ex (whom he referred to as crazy) was also giving him cookies to reconcile just after they got into fight..we all know, it was just an excuse for him to be an ass.

    • This does seem logical, but few people in the early stages of dating actually feel comfortable enough to use this approach.

      But the more I think about it, the more I like it. Timing is everything. Perhaps after copulation, casually say, “So, you getting me a gift or what? If so, I would prefer ______.”

    • You know, celibacy is in some ways a blessing during the holidays. Because then you don’t have to deal with this crap. Having a boyfriend during the holidays is nice, but being in the early stages of dating during the holidays is more stressful than dealing with Uncle Hank’s ass grabs during Christmas dinner.

      So relish your celibacy! And cuddle with your vibe 🙂

      • ditto to the “we’ve been bf/gf for a whole five minutes and it’s Xmas/birthday/V-day already? Why didn’t we wait til AFTER this?!” sentiment.

  9. An ex and I (who had been dating around 4 years at this point) agreed to buy each other iPods for Christmas. I got him the 16gig, he got me the 8gig. And that pretty much sums up our whole relationship.

  10. Great gift guide SG!

    On the flip side is there a similar scale for men to follow? I guess our go to in a pinch gift could be a foot rub, and oral sex!

    Since I’ve been such a good follower of yours, you can mail me a bj. I’ll tell Dart it came from Mrs. Claus.
    Merry Christmas

    • I thought about posting a guide for men, but afraid I won’t have time before Christmas. It will be way more complicated. Because women assign meaning to the gift. Like, if he gives me X it means he thinks Y about me. It’s a tricky business for men, and I’m sure that’s part of the reason they give no or crappy gifts. Oh, and I’d stay away from a gift of oral sex to women. For men, I think it works. Women… errr. Some might not dig it so much. I mean, we dig oral sex for SURE, but not as an “I didn’t get you anything so I’ll eat you out” Christmas gift. That is, not when you’re merely dating.

      As for the BJ. Um, okay, Mrs. Claus sends you one. Kinda weird, Bobby.

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