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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tips on Gifts for Father's Day

Much has already been said, written and expounded upon about buying a woman a gift for a woman, whether it be for Mother's Day, her birthday, Christmas or some other event that a man will often even with the best of intentions buy the wrong gift. Now I do not question the wisdom of helping spread this knowledge far and wide, because giving the wrong gift to a woman, besides being wrong, can have a severe impact on their relationship for years to come. Men, even when faced with a gift so painfully wrong as to offend (which is usually not the case in all fairness), will get annoyed, then move on.

This is NOT to say that men are better in any way shape or form on this matter, it is just one of those "Mars/Venus" things. However, it does leave one misperception that I would like to point out and at the same time try and help correct. That misperception is that women alway know just the right gift to purchase for their spouse/mate/significant other. This myth is perpetuated by a few factors. Which one is applicable is based on the type on man in question. Please note that these factors may also be in play with some gifts for women as well, I will be happy to concede, but that is not our topic today.

The first is the man that does not wish to upset his wife or cause a fight. Since most people that read my site, and the people I read are relatively intelligent individuals, I would like to assume that most fit into this category. These wrong gifts appear "right" because in an effort to "keep the peace" the man smiles, and goes on about how nice the gift is, and will usually use adjectives to describe it such as "thoughtful" or "needed." The second group of include the stereotypical male (which may in fact include some of those in the first group), who while absolutely hating the gift is too lazy to make the "effort" to return the item, and instead throw it on a shelf to collect dust, until the next garage sale when somebody (usually the wife) says, "You never use this" and off it goes.

Well, in an effort to help improve relations, and save some greif (as well as reduce the number of new items as your next yard sale), I have decided to compile a short list of tips for purchasing a Father's Day gift. It should be noted that despite being done in time for Father's Day, this can be easily applied to any gift giving situation. And as always, these are guidelines, and as such are very general and broad in their application, so every rule may not fit "him" exactly, but is a good starting point.

And now without further adeui:

1. Put down that tie. I shouldn't even need to say this one, it is so cliche and should be (but apparently isn't) obvious. Unless he has made specific mention of a specific tie that he would like, don't do it. First of all, he probably has more ties than he will ever need. Second, even if he "really needs" a tie, you remove the one opportunity a "Suit" has to accessorize. Men who wear suits (in general) do not have the options women have in selecting a wardrobe. Solid Shirt, either white,blue, or cream. Suit that is either Black, Gray or Navy Blue and black shoes, either ties or loafer. The only chance he has to play with some color is the tie. The other problem with a tie is, if you pick something he hates. Either it will sit on the tie rack, and it will be a painful reminder everytime he looks at it, or an even more painful reminder when you ask, "Why don't you ever wear the tie I bought you?" He will automatically hate you each and every time he wears the tie.

2. Leave him alone with the cologne. The second most cliche of Father's Day gifts after "The Tie" is cologne/after shave. Now if you know what he likes, and he actually needs some (not as likely as you may think) this may very well be a nice gift. But only in those circumstances, and never buy the "Gift Set" with the matching items unless he actually already uses those products. Because, while he may like Drakkar Noir cologne, unless he is already using the skin conditioner, body wash, etc. they will only wind up taking up space in the medicine cabinet.

3. Don't buy a gift that will 'help.' This is nothing but a thinly veiled attack wrapped with a bow. While you may not "mean it" that way, giving a gift that will, "Help you get organized," or "Help you keep your papers (CDs/DVDs/Video Games/whatever) together" and so on, clearly fits into the category of gifts given to another but really meant as a "gift" to the giver. You know you hate it when he gives you a gift that is more for him than for you, so then why would you do it to him?

4. Don't give him a gift he 'needs.' He may very well need new underwear, or t-shirts or socks. Women's complaints about men that wear these items until they are barely recognizable, are legendary (and true). The solution, replace those items in his drawer. DO NOT give them to him as a gift. First it conjures up the disappointments at holiday time, when he opened a brightly wrapped present, only to find "practical" gifts. Second, they are telling him emphatically that you just don't care enough about him to get him something that is not already on the shopping list. To help drive the point home, this sort of a gift would be like him giving you a package of vacuum cleaner bags for Mother's Day.

OK, so the with the basic "Don'ts" out of the way, beware a few other pitfalls that may not be obvious.

5. Yes, sometimes brand does matter to him. All too often because when it is something he does not care about, men have a tendency to scoff at "brand names" it is assumed that they NEVER care about it. This is actually really not true. One thing advertisers know about men, is WHEN they eventually do decide a brand is "it" that they will very often become fiercely loyal to it, and due to men's inherit lack of communication skills expect you to KNOW what they are loyal to. So if he hints at, let's say a Makita Drill, do not go and buy a Craftsman. If he is a "Webber Man" when it comes to "his" grill, then Char-broil is not a satisfactory replacement. Because everything being equal, it is wrong because he is loyal to Makita, or Webber, or whatever that particular brand is.

6. Be very careful around, "The Grill." I don't know why this is, but men love to bar-b-que. But just as the indoor cook (whether it be male or female) have their preferences, such as Calaphon, or Kitchen-Aid, the man that is the "Grillmaster" (and go ahead and snicker, I do realize that there are far more "outdoor cooks" that regardless of what they think should probably never do any sort of cooking) wants things set up the way he wants, and to use the tools that he wants. So going and buying him that cute little set of Grill utensils that comes in the neat little organizing box (see above about organizing) is not going to make him give up "his tools of the grill" (even if they are "ugly" or "mismatched"). This is a territorial issue. Leave him be with what he wants to use. (And just keep the fire extinguisher near by).

7. Gift Cards ARE appreciated. Not sure where this little ditty got started, but men do like getting gift cards. It gives him the opportunity to shop for him without guilt. But don't buy into the silliness offered by some women in gift guides that you need to "spruce up" a gift card to make it a more "personal" gift. He could not care less about the "dressing" and to be honest won't even notice it (OK, this may not be true if he is a colorful gay man, or even a metrosexual, who MAY at least notice that you decorated it. But is still not important.)

and finally...

8. Listen to men when it comes to gifts for men. While looking for articles on this subject, I came across an article, Frugal Gifts for Men from I am not knocking this article for it's frugal theme. I think it is quite useless, because while Pat Veretto certainly has some good tips for Frugal living, her gift ideas for men work their way don't the list from bad ideas to just outrageously stupid.

So there you have it, a starting point (I never claimed it to be all encompassing now did I). Feel free to let me know what I missed, what you think I have wrong, or to ask my opinion on any sort of a gift.

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