Love in the City: 12 Days of Holiday Gifts


By Jarrod Thalheimer 

The“12 Days of Christmas” song is not what you think it is. Most believe it’s a musically creative reference to the period between Christmas and Epiphany, while the more materially enlightened, PC-embracing folks among us know better. It’s actually a song about a few good gifts and some pretty awful ones.

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Five golden rings? Yes, please! A partridge in a pear tree? Uh, maybe. But what’s with all the birds? And then the various collections of nut jobs milking, leaping, dancing, piping or drumming?

It’s no secret that the holidays are littered with the remains of relationships past. The truth is clear: Bad gifts kill good guys – dead. But not this year. In the spirit of peace on earth and goodwill toward men, you need to hand over, tear out, post, Facebook or Tweet this list of helpful hints to the lads you love. They need all the help you can give!


A six-pack anything – This should be self-evident but if whatever you’ve picked comes in a multi-unit pack of any kind (socks, underwear, food, beer, etc.), immediately put it down and walk away. No one appreciates efficiency in gift-buying. Hitting Costco for a handy pack of six-times-anything means you’ve just wrapped up a great big bag of thoughtlessness that will endure the whole year through. Efficiency is for everyday, not the holidays.

Cash – Everyone knows cash is king. Yes, you can use it anywhere and the receiver quite literally has no limit of choice in what their ultimate gift turns out to be. But when it comes to the lad or lass you’re sleeping beside, handing them a wad of cash has the distinct aroma of being a “pay-for-play” kind of deal …  not the message you want sent around the tree! So unless that special someone is obsessed with recreating the first half of “Pretty Woman,” it may be best to lose the lucre for now.

A gym membership – You have only the best intentions: “I love you, darling, and I want you to be fit and healthy and happy.” Uh huh. Except what she hears is, “He thinks I have a large butt and cottage cheese thighs….” Want a gym membership? Fine, but do it together – in January. December 25 needs to see something way more thoughtful and a lot less unintentionally judgemental.

Lingerie – I blame Victoria’s Secret for this one. Every year, guys buy into the fiction that their ladies want lingerie. Listen up, Mook – lingerie is not for her, it’s for you. And the more trashy, it is, the more for you it actually is! Want proof? There’s more wrapping paper than actual fabric in the gift itself, you tool!

Small appliances – The rule of thumb for gifts from you should be that if it will be used in the construction or preparation of things you usually get to enjoy (snacks, dinner, laundry, beer, etc.), then it’s not technically a gift for her. Yes, she did say she wanted a new kitchen mixer and she really digs that crazy new vacuum, but stop and picture your beloved opening her wonderful gift of work in front of friends. Not looking so good for you now, is it Chief?

Stuff that’s actually for you – OK, she is not actually an idiot, so why are you giving her the complete works of Sylvester Stallone? Or a massive new BBQ? Or a set of air tools? Unless you happen to be married to Danica Patrick, it’s pretty clear what you got “for her” is actually “for you.” Wise up: Buying what you want and pretending it’s for her doesn’t end well. And really, should it?


Shoes – Guys just don’t get it (do we ever?!), but they should. Shoes are really the perfect gift for anyone. Getting the right size is idiot-easy (look in the closet or by the front door), and then choose something fun, interesting or expensive. That’s it! Ladies always love their kicks ‘cause even on a “fat” day, their shoes are trusted friends. Christian Louboutin is not a religion, but it could be.

Gift cards – It seems stupid. In reality, giving a gift card takes so little thought and effort that there’s no way it should ever be considered a good gift – but it is. Small, colorful and sharp, the gift card somehow provides the illusion of the giver having spent far more serious time thinking about someone than they actually did. So why fight it? Follow her to the mall a couple of times and reap the rewards.

Something personal – Nobody’s suggesting you need to take up pottery or scrapbooking, but taking the time to make or find something that has special resonance to both of you sends a message of affection that can’t be beat. And it doesn’t have to be pricey, just thoughtful. A seashell from the beach where you first met or maybe a framed photo of that park bench you once ate lunch on five years earlier would earn you massive points you can redeem year-round –  trust us! Get this gift right and the world is yours, Grasshopper.

A getaway – Giving someone a trip to a special place or exotic locale is always a winner. What better message to send than wanting your beloved to “experience the world.” The key part of this gift, however, is actually being with them on the trip. If all you do is give the gift of travel and then announce they’re on their own, you have clearly missed the point, and apparently the boat, too.

A scarf – How can a simple, elongated piece of fabric ever be considered a “good” gift? Think about it – a scarf is more about what it represents than what it is: a warm embrace, arms around the neck, a hug when you’re away. The scarf sends all the right signals, at least when you buy a nice, fancy one. If you try to give her the freebie you got at the ballgame you might end up getting strangled with it. Giver, beware!

You – The best gift of all is whatever she likes most about you – that shirt you wear, the way you smell (when you’re clean…), how you laugh or even that thing you do when you’re confused. Let her know in some way that you are ready, willing and able to provide that all year long – just for her. It may sound slightly maudlin or even painfully saccharine, but gosh darn, it’s Christmas!

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