The Ten Best Holiday Gifts

by Kimberly Dawn Neumann
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Stumped on what to give your date to celebrate the season? Check out these “most wanted” gift ideas for that special gal or guy on your list.

When it comes time to picking a present for your fave gal or guy, do you know which gifts will garner passionate “I love it!” kisses and which will elicit the dreaded “Um, thanks, you shouldn’t have” hug plus double-back-pat? Well, in order to clear up the confusion over what constitutes a great gift, we’ve compiled a list of the best present ideas you can give this holiday…

Best Gifts for Women:

“Spa treatments are one of those things I almost never get for myself but just love.”
Indulgences she’d love but can rarely splurge on. After paying for clothes, rent, car, phone, medical, and a daily latte habit she can’t seem to shake, most women can rarely find room in their budget for serious pampering. That’s why it seems there is nothing they’d love more (“spa gift certificate” was the number-one answer we got from women about what they really, really wanted). “Spa treatments are just one of those things I almost never get for myself, but I love, love, love them,” says Sarene Leeds, 29. “Last year my guy got me a package that included an aromatherapy massage, paraffin treatment for the feet, and a warm scalp massage… I walked out of the spa thinking, ‘My boyfriend rocks!’” Think facial, mani/pedi, massage, hair blowout, heck, even just a day-pass to use a swanky facility with a steam room/sauna/whirlpool and you’ve got holiday gift gold.

A gift that you do as a duo. Give her something that includes you as her devastatingly handsome escort, and you’ll make her swoon by showing how much you want to spend more time together! Bonus points if it’s something she knows you don’t really want to do but think she’d love. Example? Ballroom lessons. “Most men are afraid they’ll look like idiots on the dance floor,” says Jonathon Roberts, a Dancing with the Stars professional and United States Ballroom Champion. “So when a man makes a romantic gesture like giving his partner ballroom lessons, it shows he’s sensitive and literally hoping to sweep her off her feet.” Still afraid you’re more likely to step on her feet? Then consider something like a cooking class, pottery throwing or perhaps two tickets to the opera. The point is she’ll love that you were willing to step outside of your comfort zone for her.

Little luxuries. When it comes to the finer things, keep in mind that size doesn’t matter! If it feels good, tastes good or even looks good, she’ll probably love it. “Small extravagant gifts are always nice—like a pair of cashmere socks or fur-lined gloves,” says Wren Brown, 35. Or, anything that feels great in bed. Think high thread count sheets/pillowcases, a faux fur throw or down slippers, but skip the racy lingerie. “No woman is really excited about putting on a garter and thigh highs — that’s really more for the man anyway — but a set of gorgeous silk PJs would be awesome,” says Sara Warden, 27, of New York, NY. “Then I could stop sleeping in old ripped-up, stained shirts!” Other thoughts include a really incredible bar of soap, a tiny bottle of a chic perfume, or a few extravagant truffles. Bottom line, a little luxe goes a long way towards making her feel special.

Anything that makes her life easier. Daily life can be exhausting. So giving a gal something that lets her skip the less savory parts of her day is brilliant! “I would love it if a guy hired someone to come clean my apartment,” says Bridget Bianca, 29. “It’d be genius to arrive home to a sparkling toilet and vacuumed floors so all I had to do was put up my feet!” Or consider hiring a chef to come to her place to cook a meal. These options not in your budget? Then give her your own personal cleaning/cooking services in the form of a coupon book she can redeem as needed. Be sure and throw in a “foot rub” voucher to complete the package.

Other options could include something he thinks he wants to do.
A present that took work to plan. Women know that men tend to be big procrastinators in the shopping department (there is a reason the mall is always so crowded on December 24th). Therefore, if you surprise her with something that clearly took effort and advanced planning, chances are she’ll be impressed. One idea? Publish a “book” for her through a site like or “Recently my beau created a real-looking book for me with all these photos and text captions he’d written about our first years together and it’s a gift I treasure because he put so much thought and energy into making it,” says Meg Evers, 29. Other ideas? Send her on a scavenger hunt and have the final clue lead to you at an elegant bar with her favorite drink waiting. Or give her a leather wallet but make an otherwise ho-hum present fabulous by filling a credit card slot with a gift cards to her favorite store or coffee shop. The point is you’ll score points by showing you thought ahead of the last-minute shopping curve.

Best Gifts for Men:

Something that shows you’re fully behind his royal guy-ness. Intrinsically male traits — like the need to veg in front of the TV for at least 30 minutes after work — may never be fully understood by the female set. However, it’s a cool, cool chick who can still give her guy a gift that supports his acutely male tendencies. “DVD sets of the movies or series that he loves and you hate, like The Godfather, Star Wars, or Great Plays in Football make super gifts,” says Warden. “Men love these!” Other couch-potato enabling presents include a Universal remote, membership to a beer-of-the-month club, or tickets to his favorite sports team. The idea here is to show him that even if you are supposedly from Venus, you still “get” him.

Gadgets—the geekier, the better. Ever been stuck on a plane with nothing to read and started flipping through the SkyMall catalog? Most of the items offered are things that make you go “Huh? Who actually needs a gadget that does that?” Well, guess what: Apparently men do… or at least think they do. But they’re probably not going to buy it for themselves; they’re just going to drool over that motorized margarita maker every time they take a flight. Same thing goes for all those crazy inventions in Brookstone or The Sharper Image. So, go ahead, indulge him.

Things that challenge him to try something new. Does your guy keep saying “If I had more time I would…” or “Someday I’d really love to try…”? Well, turn that “someday” into a “now” by giving him a gift that lets him learn or experience something outside his norm. “My guy had a guitar but could only play the same two riffs, so I decided to give him a set of guitar lessons, and he loved it,” says Timika Hoffman-Zoller, 38. Other options could include something he thinks he wants to do, but won’t unless you encourage him. “My beau is always making jokes about how his comedy act would this year I am enrolling him in a stand-up class where you write your act and then perform it at the end of the four weeks,” says Ashlee Fife, 27. Or consider sending him off on a testosterone-ramping adventure like bungee jumping, a ride in a speed boat, or a test drive in a Ferrari. His heart will race at the very thought of it.

A gift he can experience with his male friends. OK, we’re not suggesting you send him off for a night of debauchery without you. But pick out something that allows him to go play with “the boys,” and you are saying “I trust you and I want you to have fun with your friends!” Think about giving him a gift certificate for a game of golf, or perhaps tickets to a Minor League Baseball game for him and his buds (more affordable than the Major League games but still rife with beer, peanuts and hot dogs). The bonus for you? A little freedom can make his heart grow fonder (i.e., he’ll be thinking about how great you are for organizing this even though you’re not there).

Something, well, a little racy. He probably won’t admit this if you ask him (or actually, maybe he will), but most men think the best holiday offering has something to do with you, him, some cute lingerie… you get the picture. So go ahead and play sexy elf. If that’s a little further along than your relationship at this point, however, consider surprising him with innuendo and a pair of silk boxers. Trust us, you’ll never go wrong with a gift that lets him know you want him as much as he wants you.

Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a New York City-based writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Fitness and frequently for Happen.
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