Most people have their “thing” that they like to do, and the holiday gifts people buy for them often revolve around that hobby or activity. If your husband likes to fish, he may ask for fishing presents during the holidays, or if your wife is a gamer, she may ask for the latest and greatest in gaming technology, for instance. This usually makes significant others a little easier to shop for, but after a while, you may get tired of buying your S.O. the same old types of gifts.
When you’re looking for something a little different, that’s outside of the normal “hunting gear for the hunter” or “art supplies for the artist,” it can be really hard to find the perfect gift for that special someone. Especially when you’re trying to stay on a budget. According to data published on Mint.com, women spent an average of $221 on gifts for their husbands or partners last year, and many gift options — tech gadgets in particular — cost much more than that.
The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) psychology department has performed some compelling research on gift-giving. According to UBC, gift-giving benefits both the giver and the receiver, and people are actually happier when they spend money on someone they care for — like a significant other — rather than on themselves. Additionally, gifts with the greatest impact are not gifts that people ship in the mail, but gifts that the giver can actually see the impact of firsthand.
Based on information from the UBC’s psychology department and other supplemental resources, we’ve created a list of gifts that you should not buy for your significant other.
If you’re looking for suggestions on which gifts to actually buy, check out some of our other gift-giving articles, like 9 Must-Buy Gifts for the Foodie Traveler in Your Life and 7 Homemade Baking Gifts Perfectly Packaged in Jars.
1. A gift that’s really for you
Some people may remember the episode of The Simpsons when Homer gave Marge a bowling ball for her birthday. The bowling ball had the name “Homer” printed on it and was obviously for him — not intended as a gift for her at all. If you are planning on buying your spouse or significant other a gadget that only you will use (say, a new car that only you will drive) or anything else that is designed with you in mind, you may want to rethink your idea.
If you want a gift that you both can enjoy, “consider buying an experience … research shows that people get more happiness from experiential purchases than material things,” according to the UBC publication. Your recipient is much more likely to appreciate a gift the two of you can enjoy together, rather than one that’s not focused on your recipient at all.
2. A thoughtless gift
The term “It’s the thought that counts” is especially important when buying for loved ones. Thoughtless gifts are those you buy because you feel you are supposed to, and you think very little about what your recipient would actually enjoy. For instance, if you pick out a gift for your spouse or partner by typing “gifts for women” in the Amazon.com search bar and choosing the first item that pops up, you may want to think about putting little more thought into your present.
3. A gift that doesn’t match that person’s hobbies or interest
The New York Post recently published an article that indicated some of the worst gifts to buy for men. In it, the publication pegged gifts like “beautiful stationary,” scented gifts (like candles), and “girl books” as some of the worst gifts to buy for a male partner. For women, sporting goods, movies, and music are usually a bad idea, according to a survey conducted by Credit Donkey. This of course, depends on the individual recipient.
Whenever holiday shopping for a significant other — or anyone, really — it’s always a good idea to remain mindful of the individual (gender, interests, and personality). Think about it: You probably wouldn’t buy hunting equipment for a women who’s an animal rights activist.