Tag Archives: advice

Here’s How You Don’t Lose Your Job.


Times are tough all over, we know. So what the hell is a young man to do? Spend the day checking out photos on the site here, or maybe perusing some fine videos? By all means, but hey—what about your day job? Are you relaxed, calm, and secure in the fact that you aren’t at risk of a layoff? Hey, America just lost over half a million jobs in one month.

You’re good? Alright, then, lucky you can move on to ogling the rest of all this site has to offer. But if you’re still here, still hanging around, feeling a slight twinge as you wonder just how close you could get touched by this economic mess, we’ve got something for you.

See, there are a few things you can do, on your own, to increase that elusive thing known as job security. They aren’t even that difficult, so read on and see how to make this possible.

Pre-Emptively Make Your Case


Without being too obvious about this one, try and get some face time with anyone who might be in control of whether or not you stay in your job. Figure out a way to highlight exactly why you’re doing good work for the company without looking like you’re begging. Ask for a job review.

You can acknowledge that you’re doing this because of the atmosphere of uncertainty—any smart manager will have figured that out already, anyway—but don’t be nervous about it. Act as though circumstances have just obliged you and your bosses to take a look at everything you contribute, slightly earlier than usual. And, of course, be ready for this. Don’t blindly exaggerate what you do and what you’re worth, but make your case better than you ever have in the past.

Prepare Yourself Financially


You never know exactly what’s going to happen, and despite your best efforts you could still find yourself on the wrong side of a pink slip. So take the time to figure out a few scenarios that account for different types of situations you might be in if you’re laid off. Ranging from great, so/so, to really bad severance packages.

And, of course, don’t go insane with your spending if job cuts are in the air. If there was ever a time to be smart with your money, this is it. Don’t stuff everything under a mattress, but make sure you won’t be running up your VISA card the moment you’re out on the street, if it does happen. Plan.

Keep a Mini Job Search Going on the Side


While this is something a lot of people suggest all the time, it’s especially useful now. Don’t get discouraged by the amount of people out there looking for jobs too—it’s always tough, and no matter how good the market is, people are still going to tell you it’s hard to find a job.

There are always going to be people who put the work into their CV and keep up with their professional networking, and there are always going to be people who don’t. It doesn’t matter what the financial climate is. Right now, it just means that the normally-lazy are panicking and trying everything. They’re also the kind of types who will take the first offer to come along out of a fear that nothing else will.

If you’re smart, you won’t even have to compete against these people, whatever the market is like. Make sure you’ve always got a fresh CV at the ready and don’t pass on any opportunities.

Move Up


If you were ever unsure about trying to get a promotion, applying for an internal position above your capabilities, or just generally showing some ambition and seeing where it takes you, now is not the time for indecision. Apply for the promotion. Do in the in-house training. Take on more responsibilities. Companies don’t stop growing and promoting their people just because there’s a crisis going on around them, so you shouldn’t stop trying.

Play it Cool

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Sometimes things truly are out of your control, and the only thing you can do is make sure you don’t fall apart as a result. Don’t get paranoid, and if you do start getting nervous about your finances and your life, don’t bring it into work with you.

The people who ask the most paranoid, nervous, and incessant questions about their job security are doing two things wrong: first, they probably aren’t working, or at least not very well, because they’re spending most of their workdays sweating over whether the future will see them in a job. This is a self-fufilling prophecy: the future probably won’t find them in that job, because they aren’t doing it very well in the first place.

Don’t be one of those people. Sure, push for your review, highlight every one of your strengths, strive for that promotion, and keep up your profile on the outside, just in case. But don’t do it with any profound sense of panic or impending doom, or whatever you predict is just going to come and swallow you whole. You’ve got a job, a salary, and a brain in your head—don’t give them up to the winds of speculation.

That’s it—our five pieces of advice we hope keep you in a job, and in the black, for a long time to come. Got any other useful tips about how you can stay relevant and keep your job? Comment!

The 5 Worst Things You Could Possibly Do For Valentine’s Day.


The endless media coverage surrounding the otherwise useless day of February the 14th is designed solely for news shows to fill air-time with pointless questionnaires, asking every passing dope what romantic piece of crap he’s planning on getting his sadly undeserving girlfriend. Cue the anchor making a few jokes about chocolates and candle-lit dinners and bewildered, bumbling guys screwing up, and there you have it: Valentine’s Day.

Nah, it’s not just an invented holiday designed to sell greeting cards or fill restaurants, although it is all of those things and more; no, Valentine’s Day is something ubiquitous, annoying, and unavoidable—a kick in the ass if you’ve been slacking off in the romance department, a reminder to every sadly-single person that other people sleep in beds, together, day in and day out, and so on. But it doesn’t have to be any of these things if you’re careful, which is where we come in.

Just in case you find yourself falling into those familiar Valentine’s Day traps—feeling guilty and obligated to do things, or acting fake-romantic and confused as you over-do it—we’re here with a guide of the Top Five Worst Things you Could Possibly Do for Valentine’s Day. Some are silly, some are depressingly familiar, but all are important and avoidable, unless you want to screw stuff up. Read on, fellow men, and go towards the 14th of this month with confidence. Or wanton disregard for your own well-being. Either way.

#5:Get Blind While She Doesn’t


What This Involves: Heading out for a romantic evening with a secret plan to get wasted hidden in your back pocket. Working on a light buzz during appetizers but trying to keep things level, steady, smooth. It’s hard when the wine goes down so good with the food. When your second course comes around, you’ve failed any known sobriety test, and the waiter’s question about dessert sharing is met with a slurred “I ain’t splittin’ shit” from you.

Once you and your lovely girlfriend hit a bar “for drinks” after dinner (a course of action that took 20 minutes—and you walking off in the direction of the nearest bar—to enact) you’re having mild vision problems and big couple problems. The night ends (for you) when you spend 15 minutes sleeping in a public bathroom and your girlfriend, after much struggling, puts you in a cab alone. Bravo!

Why This is Worth Avoiding: They just don’t fit together, Valentine’s Day and drunkenness. Rather than saving this kind of behaviour for an obvious choice like St. Patrick’s Day, why not bust it out when it’s both unique and strangely fitting—the Summer Solstice, for example. That way, when someone asks you why the hell you’re celebrating so hard, you can drool out a sentence like “the pagans took my god damn sun” and everyone’ll be happier.

#4: Celebrate the ‘Holiday’ Only out of a Sense of Romantic Obligation


What This Involves: You ironically mentioning that it’s close to Valentine’s Day, an ambiguous response from your girlfriend, followed by a half-panicked attempt to do something, anything to cover your ass. You buy some chocolates at a drug store and some flowers at a cheap supermarket, two actions driven entirely by resentment and barely concealed contempt. Confused about how to present these sub-par gifts, you strive for a sense of uncaring lightness combined with an undercurrent of legitimate romance nestled somewhere in there, if you could only find it. Despite your best (worst) efforts, you come off looking insecure and insincere. Congratulations! What is left of your relationship ends days later.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: Although the embarassing inadequacy of being romantic only when called upon by greeting-card makers and cheap chocolate factories should be obvious to everyone, it’s always helpful to re-state it. If this is the only time you can be a man, well, it’s been nice knowing you, friend. Your report card on those 364 other days of the year in which you did nothing will be arriving shortly, in the form of an SMS from your girlfriend saying, simply, “f**k this i’m out“.

#3: Eat at a Hellishly-Decorated Restaurant and Will Yourself into Feeling Sexy


What This Involves: There’s a scene in the Sex and the City Movie (yeah.) where two of the characters have a Valentine’s Day dinner in what has to be the worst-decorated, most oppressive restaurant environment of all time. If we could find a picture, it’d be here, but a description will suffice: picture sickening streamers of every colour suspended from the ceiling and an already-cold interior made even worse by the ugly shininess of everything. What does this have to do with you? Well, that’s easy: you got lazy, and through your last-minute reservations ended up at a restaurant that is willing to decorate itself like the aforementioned monstrosity.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: There are plenty of good restaurants that are already romantic, and if you’ve taken the leap and decided that yes, indeed, a romantic dinner for two is going to be your Valentine’s Day celebration, the least you can do is seek out one of these places and take advantage of its natural charm. Any restaurant that puts up a bunch of red stuff all over the walls and hangs silver things from the ceiling in a vain attempt to convey sexiness is going to leave you—and more importantly, your girlfriend—feeling anything but.

#2: Acknowledge the Holiday in Any Way, Shape, or Form if You Are Single


What This Involves: Three basic activities here. If you find yourself doing any of these, please stop, take a deep breath, and move on. It’s not worth it. In order of depressing obnoxiousness:

  1. Using the holiday to embark on a long meditation about your own singlehood, observing every other couple around you and immediately inscribing romantic bliss onto their relationships, and barren, desolate loneliness onto your future.
  2. Taking way too much time to explain to others—especially those in relationships—why Valentine’s Day is overly commercial and a waste of time (hmmm, kinda like this article).
  3. Perversely celebrating Valentine’s Day on your own by regaling yourself with chocolates or other indulgences you’d otherwise avoid.

Why These are Worth Avoiding: Because there are 400 other, better things you could be out doing as a single guy (or girl) on Valentine’s Day. Wait until you’re actually down or depressed to agonize over your relationship or lack thereof; don’t do it just because society is apparently ‘shoving it in your face’ for one day a year. It’s not society’s fault. Watch an enticing video and feel better.

#1: Over-Celebrate the Damn Thing.


What This Involves: Full-on immersion in every bad cliche this propped-up ‘holiday’ has to offer. Chocolates, roses, chocolates made out of old roses, puppies, overly expensive dinners no one really enjoys, vomit-inducing greeting cards: it’s all out there, if you’re willing to embrace it.

Why This is Worth Avoiding: Have you seen some of the stuff young, creative people do these days, just for fun? It blows any tired old red-coloured, love-themed holiday celebration out of the water. So here’s what you do instead: choose 5 random days of the year. Mark them on your calendar with some sort of symbol known only to you, and setup a little reminder system so you know when they’re coming (Google Calendar is great for this). On each of those days, do something romantic yet creative (the two are the exact opposite of mutually exclusive), get your girlfriend something sexy, take her out for an amazing dinner, whatever. Any or all of these are equivalent to a large missile being launched at the empty spectacle that is Valentine’s Day, and any or all of these will make you a better man.

So: this February 14th, re-read this article and choose wisely. We’re behind you all the way.

The Ten Rules All Men Should Be Following.


The brazen thrills found in wonderful videos and photos of luscious women are just fine, but they aren’t everything. There are—unfortunately—times when we have to head out into that broader world out there, and with such an obligation comes that eternal question: must a man have his own code?

The long answer is that every man is unique, that one person’s moral code is never instantly, immediately, or easily applicable to another person, and that each sees and experiences the world through his own lens, and thus must find his own path, his own way of being in the realm of experience.

The short answer is hell yes. Every man needs a code.

Here are ten rules you should be following in your quest to be the best man you can be. When you’re done checking out everything else this site has to offer, brush up on these admonitions—some universal and timeless, some contemporary and strangely specific—and go out into the larger world with verve, my son.

#10: Be Chivalrous.

Don’t worry about defending, explaining, or justifying yourself here. Just remember these two things: do not condescend (chivalry to the point of ridiculousness) and do not over-think (don’t worry if you forgot to walk closest to the curb last time you were on a date. It’s ok).

#9: Pay Attention to Your Shoes.


Yep. Unless you’re doing something really specific style-wise with those skate shoes, it’s time to move on up. Take the three-pair route: street, casual, dress. If you’re good, your street shoes can be something like Converse All-Stars, which you can use in various outfits without looking like a kid. So get good.

#8: Know What Music to Play During Dinner. And After.

If you’re lost in this area, go find your local independent music shop before it shuts down forever, and ask for “dinner music that won’t make anyone sick.” Don’t go with too much lounge or 4 hours of Thievery Corporation. Jazz, especially anything pre-1965, works wonders here. Take advantage of that crazy jazz guy’s knowledge before he gets fired.

After dinner, in more intimate situations, know this: albums by Marvin Gaye and Al Green are cliched and overdone and silly and obvious for about four seconds, whereupon they suddenly become perfect.

#7: Know How to Cook Dinner.


If you’ve announced that you don’t like the act of cooking or live in a wonderful city full of incredible take-out, fine. You’ve made your decision and you’re gonna live with it. But if you’re just coasting along on 2 or 3 plates and a dessert you make “better than anyone else!”, get moving. Before you master carpentry, fishing, hunting, or any kind of expensive off-road habit, you should hear other people refer to you as “a good cook.”

#6: Know What to Bring to a Party.

A few factors come into play here: you need to predict what the party is going to be like, using your knowledge of the host and some plain old intuition. Or just ask, straight-up: “Messy blowout, casual get-together, or nice dinner party?” Bring a bottle of wine to all of these. Ascending price based on classiness of party.

#5: Understand How to Drink.


After a certain point it becomes slightly ridiculous when you’re getting equally drunk at every event featuring copious amounts of alcohol. Pay a little attention. And hey—this is harder than you probably think. It’ll take a while. Don’t worry, we’ll be there for you.

#4: Comprehend the Difference Between a Text and a Phonecall.

Today’s wonderful technology means we’re texting each other at an ever-increasing rate. So—the medium has changed, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass. Texts are for confirmation, little appointments, lots of other things; they aren’t for following up with a woman after a date, telling your significant other something really important, or anything that should still (for the foreseeable future) be done with your voice.

#3: Change a Flat Tire.


Even if you never have to do it, know how it’s done. This is a symbolic piece of knowledge for you and you alone. If you have to change a tire, careful: once you’re finished, act just like you would when you offer your seat to an elderly or pregnant person on the bus. Don’t make excessive eye contact with the other riders and don’t bask in your own goodness. Just get back in the car and get back to being yourself.

#2: Know How to Transcend.

Make sure you go beyond these arbitrary lists of rules for men, occasionally. Sometimes it’s deadly important to think about what it means to be a man, what “manliness” means to you or any number of people in your life, and you’re probably not gonna find all those answers online. When you do something transcendent, or something big happens to you, embrace it—don’t fall back on ceremony when you don’t have to.

#1: Be Your Own Man.


Most of these lists feature something about facial hair, grooming, or some other trend-dependent thing that changes every year. So here: let’s say this rule told you to “cut that facial hair.” Then pretend you’re going to ignore that suggestion, because it’s not set in stone, hardly necessary, and the world is boring when everyone’s got a clean shave. Take this philosophy and expand outwards.

Five Things You Can Start Doing (Today) to Get the Girls, Part 2.


Yesterday we threw out five things you can start doing, today, to slowly-but-surely transform yourself into a fine dude. No tricks, no deceit, just straight up self-improvement in finest Thoreauvian style. The great thing about all these methods is that they work for anyone, at anytime, whatever your level of accomplishment with women is, or with life in general (they also work for females, too, of course). And they’re just plain useful to do in general, so while you scope out gorgeous women on the site, read on for some fine ways on how you can start getting them into your life, if they’re not there already.

These methods, more than any quickly learned game, are the things that will keep your personality going, the things that will make sure that you don’t end up with a wonderful girl at your side and have nothing to offer after some fine pick-up techniques.

First, a side project: read this very short and very excellent short story by Tobias Wolff. See the part where he talks about this:

after he’d really messed things up, and been fucked over, and got lost, and kept going anyway—when this little green soul of his had taken some lumps and some weather and bulked up into a man’s soul, so that he could look out of his own eyes and not feel like a kid in a mask.

Besides straight-up experience, these are the kinds of things that need doing if you want to get past the problem Wolff writes about above.


5. Be good.

This doesn’t mean be wishy-washy, soft, overly nice, boring, or dry and earnest. It means find the outlines of a moral framework somewhere (mentors, your own thoughts, philosophers, religion, whatever), know it will change over time but don’t let that stop you, and work towards some kind of goodness. What this really means is being conscious when you do shitty things. If people detect that you have a sense of goodness you’re working from (if it seems innate, hey, you’re lucky) or striving towards (like most of us), they’re apt to trust you, open up to you, and all the rest. Including women you’re chasing after. Don’t abuse the priviledge.


4. Stay Positive.

The most cliched on all the list, and thus the most simple. Girls like positive guys. Not stupid/positive or dopey/happy, but positive. Unless you are a misanthropic artist who uses emotionally-screwed techniques to win beautiful girls to your bed over and over again, you’re not going to pick up, get with, or stay with anyone by constantly being pissed off at life.

Sure, great art sometimes comes out of a fundamental pessimism (check Beckett for a reminder). But chances are you’re not a great artist, so don’t use that as an excuse for anything. If you were to follow every piece of advice on this list, meet dozens of women, love many of them, have years of rich experience, and THEN decide to lapse into negativity, fine. You’d have earned it and you’ll be an interesting guy regardless. But don’t start from there.


3. Play to your strengths.

If, through some strange anomaly of nature. you find yourself naturally unable to try or accomplish any of these suggestions, here’s still one to remember. Take a while to figure out what you’re best at and work on that stuff. Hard. Don’t force your interest in stuff you just don’t give a shit about–there have always been more things in the world to learn about than your mind could ever fit in a lifetime, so you’ve gotta pick them well, which means you’ve gotta know yourself a little bit.

There’s a little exception here, which is that if your strengths fall into the nerdier regions and include playing World of Warcraft, posting on message boards, and generally using computers with some skill, you gotta branch out. Doesn’t mean any of those things are shitty on their own, but don’t let them turn into everything. Ogle beautiful girls online and then go find them in real life. The two can exist hand-in-hand just fine.


2. Don’t complain.

Although this seems just like our previous “stay positive” admonition, it’s not. Sometimes, no matter how hard you’re trying to keep positive, you’ll find yourself whining or complaining about something. This is generally toxic, especially at the beginning of a flirtation or relationship. It’s also the easiest thing to do, sometimes. Which is why it’s brutal.

No, really: it’s far easier to complain about the bullshit your manager just dumped on your desk and how he’s an embarassment to the company and your perspective on how your government office works is pretty unique and even though you try and do a smart job no one gives a shit which just makes the days shitty and there’s never any time anymore and who the hell really wants to…. see? There’s almost nothing easier than complaining, and if you don’t watch it, you’ll do it even with people you’ve just met.

If you’re prone to this, and many are, this is something you’ve got to keep in your mind constantly in order to not fall into its trap. Naturally, endearingly positive people often seem like they’re born that way, but there are plenty who are continuously making the decision not to complain, the conscious choice, over and over, until it becomes natural. Try it, especially if you’re working on your game.


1. Be active.

The only reason this is #1 is because it makes all the other things on this list so much damn easier. If you get half an hour of good exercise in every day, literally every single other thing we’re talking about here becomes magically, incredibly easier to pull off. Nevermind all the other benefits. Spending lots of energy paradoxically gives you even more. It literally makes your days longer.

Got any extra suggestions? Let us know through your comments!

Five Things You Can Start Doing (Today) to Get the Girls


Sometimes you just need a little push. Your game is good, you’re plenty sharp as a guy, but you know there are just certain things you could be doing right now that would not only make your own life a little more shining and rich, but would draw females toward you in that effortless way you’ve always wanted. These aren’t really secrets–successful guys (successful people, for that matter) do these things on a consistent basis, but everyone starts somewhere. So here are 5 things (with another 5 tomorrow) you can start doing today (just pick one of them, don’t over-do it) that will instantly and permenantly up your cachet in a lasting, legitimate way.

And this works for guys who already have girls, too. Improving yourself and becoming more attractive (in the original sense of attractive, ie., that you attract others towards you) is something you should probably be doing your whole damn life, not just in that ferocious period where you’re trying to win a girl (or several). Being ‘effortlessly good’ takes work, but it’s good work, so read on for 5 things you can do, pick one of them, and start.


10. Learn another language but keep it damn interesting with good movies.

Read Tim Ferris’s post on the subject and start small. Pick a language that’s useful to you (something like Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic), and figure out the language books that get recommended the most. Use amazon for that. Pick up one, and then use it as an excuse to watch a ton of movies in that language (obviously subtitled in English, but if you work hard for a few months you might start watching stuff in its original language–always subtitled.) Italian and French are the best candidates for this based solely on cinema alone. Best of all, this ties into #9:


9. Pick a cultural area and get heavily accquainted with it.

Like Italian film. Don’t do this lightly and don’t fake it. Read a couple of books on the subject and watch what you can. You gotta branch out. Here are a few to try, if you’re feeling lost:

  • Any major part of art history
  • Any major literary movement (try reading 3 victorian novels and a light, fun non-fiction book on the period. It’ll do wonders for the next time you have to explain why your moral system isn’t crazy, which is perfect when you’re chasing 2, 3, 4 girls at once…)
  • Music below the surface (pick anything here: early or late reggae, delta blues, balkan brass bands… it’s limitless)

Whatever you choose will lead you to future things. When you’re interested in stuff, it shows. Keep positive, stay curious, and people will want to know more.


8. Travel Alone

Try a couple of weeks entirely alone through a foreign country. I don’t need to explain anything else about why this is good for you becoming a more attractive, desireable guy, but if you want to make a good impression you really should have the capacity to pull this off. It speaks volumes about your capacity elsewhere.

good food by flickr user clspeace

7. Cook, for the love of God

Don’t be intimidated by other dudes who are experts in one cuisine or another, naysayers who call you elitist, or those who hold their enjoyment of food as a kind of snobbery above everyone else. We all gotta eat 3 times a day, so it’s one area you can improve yourself in without putting yourself out too much. Keep it positive and buy something like Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. Maybe throw in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food so you can explain why you’re spending so much more time cooking these days (not that it should really be necessary). Start simple and fresh. Don’t go nuts making 4-course heavy french meals for your friends when all you gotta do is work from simplicity.


6. Work–yeah, actually work on–your own sense of curiosity.

This is hard. This is real hard. But it makes all the difference in how much input you get into your brain from other people, and it does a billion other things for you–it fills you with information, with stories, tales, anecdotes, and emptathy for others, understanding, and experience. When you develop (and you do have to develop it, only a select few are born with it naturally) this ability to be curious in other people, to put the initial unknowingness on hold at the beginning and treat every person you meet like they have a prize-winning novel-worthy story inside of them, you’ll be on a step towards making yourself a great person too.

And not to mention how flat-out attractive this makes you. Again, in the traditional sense of the word. People are attracted towards people like this, for obvious reasons. Read this article about Studs Terkel. Now I doubt any of us could match his insane enthusiasm for other people, but if you can capture just 5% of what he got from his fellow man you will be a lucky dude indeed, in every sense of the word.

Try 5 more tomorrow!

Top 5 Last Minute Classic-Guy Ways to Save Christmas For Your Woman.

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lincolnian/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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/franciscoantunes/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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonmelsa/3) Food.

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?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/giovannijl-s_photohut/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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/newpiano/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!