Listen Up, Fellas: 5 Rules for the Perfect Gift

His Side: Whether it’s the holidays or another occasion, getting a good gift for your lady is a year-round responsibility. Here’s how to be ready at all times.

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To the guy who has decided to read this in hopes of coming up with the perfect gift for that special lady in time for Christmas, it’s too late. This column won’t help you, can’t help you. Depending on when you’re reading this, Dec. 25 is either tomorrow or today, or maybe yesterday. So if you failed to hit your gift out of the park, better luck next year (assuming you did not botch things up so badly that there won’t be a next year).

But that doesn’t mean you should stop reading. Although this advice is holiday-inspired, you should know that getting a woman a gift is a quarterly event. Once Christmas is over, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Then there’s her birthday to remember. If she is also the mother of your children, there’s Mother’s Day. And there’s an anniversary or some other special date that you two celebrate as well. Plus, if you ever care about being the world’s best boyfriend or husband, you’re going to have to get her something for no reason at all.

Don’t be the stereotype of a man who isn’t a good gift giver. And if you are, these are ways to help you do better. I don’t know what to get your woman. She’s yours, not mine, so I have no gift suggestions. But I do know how to get my woman the gift she wants. I also talked to a couple of other guys who shared their own knowledge about how to be a great gift giver, no matter the occasion. Allow us to share our wisdom.

Delivery Is as Important as the Gift

If you’re dating a grown woman, chances are that surprises aren’t what they used to be. She knows Santa doesn’t exist. You’re her Santa. So dress up like you’re old St. Nick himself and spice up the traditional gift exchange. If that sounds like something out of a movie, that’s kind of the point, says Charles Brown, an executive in Washington, D.C.: “In my mind, I am thinking, what would Matthew McConaughey do in some romantic comedy that makes giving a gift better than just giving a gift?”

Wants, Needs and Likes Count

Keith Stone, a civil engineer in Dallas, has a simple rule when it comes to buying gifts for his wife: “You have to get her three gifts,” he says. “A gift she wants, a gift she needs, a gift you would like her to have.” Stone’s example of a gift she needs goes back to when his wife would wear one of his dress shirts around the house, so he got her pajamas. But Stone says the gift isn’t just about function, so to add a personal touch, he had his wife’s initials embroidered on the pajamas.

And don’t ask her to make a list. That’s not personal. Pay attention to something that catches her eye and remember it for a later occasion.

As for the gift a man would like his woman to have, Stone says it’s a two-pronged attack. “Sometimes it’s a gift that benefits you, but also something they may have been hesitant to try on their own,” he says. “Once they experience it, they realize what they’ve missed.”