Holiday gift etiquette for new couples

Even though Christmas is always December 25, does it feel like it came a little early this year, especially when it comes to your brand-new relationship? Gift giving is pretty intimate. And if you’re under six months with your man, holiday gifting can feel really premature. But with Christmas music on the radio, the insane amount of gift commercials and the general seasonal merriment, it’s not like you can avoid the holidays just because your relationship isn’t ready yet. So I’ve noodled up some general rules to make holiday gifting as easy for new couples as possible. Here they are.

Talk about it

Communication is key to relationships, even brand-new ones. When it comes to gift giving, ditch the surprise element of it. He knows his gifts aren’t coming from Santa (at least, I hope), so you can talk about gift giving. If you feel strongly about it, you can sit him down for a real conversation about how you want to handle gifts. Or you could just say something casual in passing, “Oh, I’m spending this afternoon shopping for your gift!” to let him know that you want to exchange gifts. On the other hand, you could go with, “My friend Nancy is so stressed about a gift for her boyfriend. Would you be up for skipping the stress and just doing dinner together one night?” The key to either one of these conversations is to have it early enough in the holiday season that he has time to get you a gift or hasn’t already spent hours looking for the perfect thing for you.

Don’t drop hints

A casual conversation about gift-giving policy is one thing, but dropping subtle hints about presents you want is a totally different thing. And I don’t recommend this if you two aren’t serious yet. Mentioning designers you like, jewelry you wish you had or gifts that your friends have gotten that make you jealous really isn’t going to get you far. Chances are that he won’t pick up on the clues, and you’ll be disappointed come Christmas morning. Plus, it’s a little early in your relationship to think that you’re going to get a dream-come-true-wish-list gift from him.

Don’t overdo it

If you do decide to give him a gift, don’t overdo it. Keep the gift low maintenance, both in terms of price and emotional investment. A scrapbook of receipts from every date you’ve been on in the past six weeks interspersed with clippings from your journal is too much emotionally. And anything over $100 is too much financially. Something thoughtful, but relatively inexpensive is what you should be aiming for. For example, getting him a pair of those smartphone gloves because you notice that he can’t use his phone in the cold weather is just right.

Never underestimate an experience

A really great way to go as a new couple is to plan a special date together and call it your gift to each other. Maybe there’s a play or concert you both want to see, but tickets are a little pricier than you’d spend on yourself. You buy him his ticket and he buys yours and voila! A perfect gift and an entire night of fun together.

On another hand,  your gift could be cooking dinner together. His famous steak tartare can be his gift to you, and your blackout brownie bars can be your gift to him. Easy and fun!

Any newbies out there nervous about gift giving? Tell me what you have in mind!