I’m loath to lump you all into a big pot and suggest none of you have finished your shopping–the most important shopping, the shopping you need to finish in order to do right by your woman this Christmas. And I’m also plenty reluctant to suggest that even the most well-chosen gift can help out your relationship if you haven’t been keeping up your end throughout the year. But you have been keeping up your part, right?
Sure you have. The fact that you don’t have anything good save a cheap scarf and a pair of re-gifted earrings doesn’t mean you aren’t still planning on using these last two days before the holiday to get that undoubtedly perfect, personalized, incredible gift your girl deserves. You’re just doing it late, is all, and there’s nothing wrong with showing a little grace under pressure.
And so, because you’re in control of the situation, thank you very much, this list isn’t necessary. Nevertheless, why don’t we go ahead and throw out a few sure-fire options that could seriously save your ass on Christmas morning, would your proverbial ass somehow be in a position to require said saving. Just for reference’s sake.
5) A Spa Visit.
If this is cliche, then all gifts are cliche. Go all out and get her a deluxe spa treatment that lasts half the day, or get a 2/3 hour treatment for your girl and a friend. Then she’ll have someone to go with, to indulge with, to relax with, and since the idea of heading off to a spa alone just doesn’t seem as fun as doing it with a friend, you’ll seem more thoughtful as a man. And that’s because you are more thoughtful, because you thought of things.
4) Promise a Specific Vacation.
This one is easy. Figure out what you can afford, do some basic research (look at a few Rough Guides in a bookstore for an hour or two), and most importantly, pick a spot. And choose something good. Go spend a week in Brazil or Argentina. Rent a cabin in rural Quebec for a weekend. Find a cheap flight to London and then hop over to Portugal for a week.
All these things will need to be sorted out with you and your significant other later, but the whole point is that you choose something, you get a kick-ass card, and you write something like “You and me. Week in the south of Spain. Great tapas, even better wine, and flamenco until the early morning. This April. All I need from you is a yes.”
It’s a more romantic way to do a vacation than just plain old ‘planning’ one together, and adds a certain special something to the trip. Plus it allows your girl to say “so-and-so’s flying me off to Spain,” like it’s something you, international playboy that you are, would do at the drop of a hat, instead of the more routine “we have planned and are going on a joint trip to Spain at some to-be-determined point in the future.” Nah.
Here’s an easy rule that has served me well: Good food is always good. There are tons of luxury Italian delis and French cheese shops and Parisian Chocolateries in every major city in the world. Go in there with an open mind and the confidence to ask lots of questions.
Start asking about good olive oils or balsamic vinegars or strong, aged cheeses, or amazing truffles. And try some samples–good shops will have them available on demand without a problem.
Put together your own series of 5 or 6 items, but make sure you get the backstory. Then, when you present the gift, you can explain where this or that product is from, why it’s kick-ass, and why she’ll love it. Sure, you’re just repeating what the dude at the shop told you, but use a little charm.
Don’t say “the crazy Italian guy at the deli said this was good” when you can say “this balsamic vinegar was made in Modena, its only true Italian home, and then aged for 4 long years, which gives it a completely different taste and texture that’s like nothing else, which is why your salad tonight will probably be the best you’ve ever had.” See?
2) A Very Specific Card Promise.
Just like the vacation, but for something a little smaller-scale. Get a really beautiful card and write a few drafts of a solid message. Promise your girlfriend a dinner, made by you, 4 days from now. Explain exactly what you’re going to make.
While you’re out rushing around for other gifts on the 24th, take a look at the menu of any good nearby restaurant (you gotta be downtown for this, not wandering around a mall, but you know that already, right?).
Find a few of those descriptions on the menu that make the food sound amazing, and lift them. Do up your own version. A salad, a first course, a second course, and a dessert, and make the card up just like a menu. You’re the serious-but-playful chef for the night, and she’s overjoyed.
1) Stay at Home and Get Creative.
Take 5 hours (yeah, it’ll probably take that long) and write a story for your girlfriend. Write a fake news article a la Onion about how why your girl is ridiculously gorgeous (an ‘Area Girl Melts Several Eyes’ sort of thing).
Spend a few hours putting together a whole bunch of your best photos and find a printer shop on the 24th that’ll do a poster for you. Creativity is key. Put the work in on something cool, not on walking from store to store, wasting your mental energy trying to decide between one arbitrary product and another that you know nothing about, something you’re relying entirely on a salesperson to pitch for you. It’s not worth it.
Do something strange but good: stay at home on what would normally be a big shopping day and try something wholly original. It beats a half-baked purchase any time.
Have any other killer, no-fail, incredible last minute gifts you’ve got in the past or are giving this year, amazing ones you know are going to make your girl’s Christmas? Tell us in the comments!