What to Give Your New Flame for Christmas

Tips for finding that perfect ‘in-between’ gift

What is this? I can feel it in the air. Things are… changing. Temperatures, dropping. Prices, dropping. Most single girls’ standards? As low as ever.

Fall and winter are known as “cuffing season,” which refers to how people find their ways into relationships as the weather gets colder and the holidays near. During this time of the year, “Netflix and chill” becomes the preferred date option to “I don’t know.” Most people would rather stay in with someone they don’t mind than go out and meet a bunch of people they hate. It’s like hibernation, but with more hot chocolate and OTPHJs. However you want to describe it, “cuffing season” is in full-swing.

That means Christmas is coming, too, which leaves you with tons of shopping to do for family and friends. Of course, if you’re fortunate enough not to be completely and utterly alone this holiday season, you’ll also have to find a gift for your significant other.

But as you’re shopping for loved ones, what type of gift do you get for someone you just started dating?

You probably don’t want to break the bank on a new relationship, for two reasons: 1. You haven’t been seeing each other long enough to justify spending upwards of $25 (the exact price of a $25 iTunes gift card), and 2. You don’t want to pressure your significant other to spend just as much on you (a.k.a. exchange $25 iTunes gift cards). You also don’t want to scare the person away. If s/he thinks you’re moving too fast, this could be the first and last holiday season you spend with this individual.

But you don’t want to seem too cheap, either. A lackluster Christmas gift could be a sign of things to come in the relationship, which might send your new flame running for the hills. For example, what if you receive a $25 iTunes gift card and only give a $15 iTunes gift card? That’d be embarrassing.

What you want is something in that in-between area. You don’t necessarily love this person yet — it’s too soon to be throwing around the “L-word” like that (seriously, cool it with that shit; people are going to think you’re crazy) — but at the same time, you like this person and don’t want to end the relationship. You want to keep dating him or her and see where things go (statistically, to Valentine’s Day; Memorial Day if you’re both the same amount of desperate).

It’s quite the predicament, really. The in-between.

But take a deep breath. I’ve got your back, with a few tips for how to find the perfect gift for that potentially special someone:

  • Make it an experience. If you want to spend a little more money than you probably should ($25), use your money wisely. Spend it on something you can both enjoy and remember, like a nice night out. Dinner, a show, a concert, a wine tasting — any of these could make great Christmas gifts for a new significant other. They show you’re committed to doing fun things and that you’re creative. If you want the relationship to go somewhere, you should actually go somewhere, right? (Best advice if you’re trying to round 3rd.)
  • Thoughtful doesn’t mean expensive. The number one rule of a relationship is to communicate well. If you listen when your partner talks, you’ll probably come up with a great idea for a present. This can make shopping a lot easier, especially in crunch time. While walking around the mall or scouring the Interwebs, you may see something that reminds you of a conversation you two had. She said she could use a pair of gloves? Get her a pair of gloves. He really likes that indie band? Get him their new album or tickets to their next local show. The gift doesn’t need to be anything groundbreaking — just something to prove that you listen and care. (“Oh, I remember her saying she loves listening to music, watching movies, and reading books on her iPad…”)
  • Expensive doesn’t mean thoughtful. Just because you spend a lot of money on a gift doesn’t mean you’re going above and beyond in the creativity department. Put some thought into it. Will s/he actually use the item? Will it go directly in the trash if you guys break up? Why buy tickets to a play if s/he doesn’t even like theatre? If you spend a lot of money on something your partner doesn’t appreciate, it’s going to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Do it yourself. Want to show off how creative you are? Gather some supplies and make a DIY Christmas gift. This could save you money and put your artistic talents on display. Also, nothing is sweeter than someone taking the time to physically make a gift for a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes, effort is worth more than $25.
  • Literally just buy a $25 iTunes gift card. Can’t go wrong.

Hopefully, with these tips, you can really make the holidays “the most wonderful time of the year.” Merry Christmas (or happy whatever-you-celebrate)!

Don’t fuck this up.

Ryan doesn’t consider himself a relationship “expert,” but he has been documented as understanding women better than most men by a singles life coach. Find more of his writing here and tweet him your romance problems here.