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Nov 22

How to pick a holiday gift for a guy

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 in dating, Kat, Men, Relationships, Women

“Sara, I am not doing Black Friday with you,” I said a little too loudly on my phone as I walked Roxy.

“Oh, c’mon. It will be fun!”

“Getting up at 3 a.m. is not my idea of fun, unless Sean’s poking me and even then …”

“But you love shopping, Kat.”

“I don’t love it, but, yeah, I like me a good shopping ‘experience’ like any other woman, just not with hundreds of crazed shoppers around me. Anyway, I’m going small this year with the gifts.”

“Well, I need to get Todd something, and I have no idea what to get and how much to spend.”

“It will be near impossible to make a rational decision fighting the hordes half-asleep.”

“You’re right. OK, but … what do I get him?”

And isn’t that the million-dollar question on a lot of people’s minds this time of year, especially if they’re in a new relationship — or not sure if they’re even in a relationship? 

I’m a pretty good gift giver — I think. I listen throughout the year for the “I wish” and “I’d love to get,” and if it hasn’t been bought by year’s end that’s likely what Sean, my kids or my parents will find under the tree. Although I still think the best gifts are the ones you give throughout the year “just because,” not just it’s expected of you. The holidays make everybody crazy.

But when you’ve got a new love? I’m just as stumped as Sara is because you’re still learning about him or her. Until you come to an understanding about gift-giving patterns and expectations — is he a big-gift giver or a non-gift guy? Does he have a sense of who you are or did he buy you something some salesperson talked him into? — you have to give something. But, what?

I’ve made CD compilations in the past, but that’s not OK for everyone and might be considered cheap early on in a relationship. Plus, all that’s changed now because of technology. If he’s an iPad/iPhone guy, you can bet the CD and DVD players are long gone.

Lord knows we all have enough stuff, so I’m loathe to buy just anything. How many hat and scarf sets or leather gloves does a guy need? I prefer to give the gift of experience — a concert, a show, a getaway. Can’t do that early on in a relationship, though — it’s a commitment for a future day, and who knows if you’ll still be together or not?

Then there’s the price thing. How much do you spend on someone you’ve known for six months? A year?

And, do you even give a gift to someone who isn’t your boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you’re just seeing? That’s a tricky one.

Now, I’m easy to give for; cook me a dinner, arrange a picnic hike, tickets to a favorite band — I melt like buttah. Just don’t get me something sparkly; as I’ve written before, if a guy buys me jewelry, I know the relationship is doomed.

So, help me help Sara:

  • If you’re a guy, what do you like to get as a gift?
  • What truly matters more, the thought or the gift? (Be honest!)
  • What would be inappropriate to get from someone you’re been dating six months?
  • Does it bother you if someone you’re dating seems clueless about what you’d like?

 Photo © Mosista Pambudi –


Feb 7

What a guy really wants for Valentine’s

Posted on Monday, February 7, 2011 in Kat, love, Men, Relationships, Singles, Women

Sara was leading us purposefully through the mall toward Anthropologie, hopeful she hadn’t waited too long to return a Christmas gift that she finally decided was all wrong for her.

On the way, we literally had to bushwhack the mall’s pink and red landscape.

“Oh yeah” Sara said, noticing the hearts, cupids and roses, “what are you getting
Sean for

“Nothing,” I shrugged. “Maybe a card.”

“Kat, you’re so unromantic!”

“I’m totally romantic! Valentine’s has
nothing with do with romance.”

“I know, but you really have to do something!”

Do you? Because giving a gift because you have to give a gift is, what – a good thing?

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, a silly Hallmark holiday that almost always makes people feel bad. It’s a no-win holiday. Expectations — OK, make that women’s expectations — are so high that no matter what’s given or done, it often seems “wrong,” even if a guy relies on the old standbys — chocolates, lingerie, roses, a store-bought card and reservations at a restaurant with a menu designed for “romance.”

Poor guys.

It’s no better for the unattached who have yet another holiday to “cope” with, according to the mags and dating “experts.” Maybe singles wouldn’t feel so “bad” about being alone on Valentine’s if people stopped acting as if they should feel bad about it!

But, OK — let’s say you think like Sara does and you want to get your sweetie something. But … what? Honestly, I don’t envy guys because a “wrong” Valentine’s Day gift can evidently screw up a pretty good relationship. That’s why so many guys resort to jewelry, flowers and fancy dinners; they’re safe. Still, what do you give a guy on Valentine’s Day? Guys are kind of hard to buy things for in general; otherwise there’s no way to explain why so many of them end up with so many socks and ties. Socks are a gift, people?!?

Yet it has to be better than getting a stuffed teddy bear holding a red heart embroidered with “I love you.” Is there a man alive who wants that? Is there a woman? (um, OK, well, there probably are a few …)

Gadgets, tools, sports apparel, car gear, gag gifts, Scotch — these are the kind of things we tend to give the guys in our life. And, maybe that’s what many guys like.

Ultimately, that’s really what it’s all about — giving the guy you care about something that you know he’ll like, because you’re paying attention to what he likes. Which means this Valentine’s I’ll probably make Sean a very nice dinner and show up naked at the door with a martini in my hand.

Hey, I’ve been paying attention!

  • Do you stress over Valentine’s Day gifts?
  • What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever given?
  • What’s the best Valentine’s Day gift you’ve ever gotten?
  • Guys, what things do you really want?

photo © dimis –

Dec 20

All I want for Christmas

Posted on Monday, December 20, 2010 in Advice, Happiness, Honesty, Kat, Relationships

Sara dragged me to the mall right before Thanksgiving because she needed to get a new cell phone. I was shocked that it had been transformed into a Winter Wonderland — red and green trimmings were everywhere, robotic reindeer “ate” who knows what while bobbing their heads in sparkling “snow,” and “fa la la la las” blasted from the speaker system.

“What’s going on?”

“Uh, it’s almost Christmas, Kat. It’s looked like this since Halloween. Where have you been?”

Obviously, thankfully, not at the mall.      

I’m not a Grinch or a Scrooge; in many ways, this is the “most wonderful time of the year.” I totally get into the decorating, the music, the parties. But I hate that I’m expected to think about my loved ones’ wants and desires — as well as caring about those less fortunate — once a year.

Shouldn’t we think about that all the time?

And it’s even worse that the way I’m supposed to show how much I care is by buying something — “Whatcha get?!?” Sure, The Kid was pretty darn happy when an XBox appeared under the tree one year; I’ll bet he would have been just as happy — maybe even happier — if it appeared one day in his room “just because.”

But he seems just as happy when we take a hike together or sit at our favorite little cafe sipping our lattes, when we’re truly present with each other (or is that a mother deluding herself?)

Everyone knows this crazy buying frenzy’s not what Christmas is really about, but that’s what it’s morphed into (because we’ve allowed it to); that’s kind of sad.

And a lot of what we actually get as gifts — a fake crystal candlestick; a made-in-China knitted glove, scarf and beanie set, etc. — isn’t really what we need or even want. It’s just more stuff, and we are drowning in our “stuff.” All you have to do is move or help someone move, and you’ll see how true that is. How many mugs does a person need?

Plus it’s often given out of obligation, not out of love: in what way does that feel good? Sometimes, the gifts we get make us feel even worse about our loved ones: “After all these years together, he still doesn’t know what I like!!!!”

This year especially, when so many of us are hurting financially, how wonderful would it be if we gave in a different way — like giving of ourselves, our time, our energy, our talents. Or maybe giving of our heart by opening up and being honest and genuine with each other.

You, my readers, have been a constant gift to me; I only hope I’ve added a little tinsel to your lives, too. Merry Christmas!

Photo © Melking –