Whether you’re quarantine-casual or in it for the long haul, gift giving in a relationship is never an easy feat. But what should you do when your casual hookup happens to coincide with the holiday season? Do you get them a present? More importantly, are they getting you a present? The timeframe in which you have been hooking up can help decipher whether you need to bother buying them a gift or if sending nudes will suffice. I say whether you’ve been getting intimate for one month or for one year, if you’re breaking social distancing for this person and a major holiday is approaching, gifts are kind of expected.
Also, it should go without saying, but absolutely no one should take an agreed upon “no presents” rule seriously. Just buy a damn present. You don’t have to empty out your savings account, but you should put a bow on something. If you’re strapped for ideas, don’t freak out, I got you. Consider this curated cheat sheet my gift to you.
Dating: 1-2 Months
Together for only a month or two? It’s new and you’re both having fun, so there’s no need to overthink it. This early on you can probably get away with a few strategically placed bows on yourself and call it a night. If you want to go in a more tangible direction, then I recommend playing it safe with something edible, like cookies or a seasonal six-pack. You made an effort, it’s on theme, and it doesn’t send any overly serious signals. It’s holiday cheers all around.
Dating: 3-5 Months
You don’t need to feel pressured to define the relationship, but you should probably be exchanging presents. In the early stages of dating, casually or exclusively, it’s the thought that counts. If you’re just hitting the three-month mark, take note of their Spotify roundup and go for a graphic tee of their favorite band. It’s casual and shows that you’re paying attention to their likes. Nearing closer to five months of being together? Then it’s time to start documenting! What better way to capture proof of your relationship than with a Polaroid camera?
Dating: 6-9 Months
Hi. Sorry to break it to you, but this is not just a hookup anymore, you should probably reference an inside joke and hit a store. Another way to ease into the gift exchange is to choose an interactive gift, one that the two of you can enjoy together. Take your hookup playlist to the next level with a Bluetooth compatible record player. If you’re feeling extra splurgy, you can even throw in their first record from their favorite band. If you’re working with a long-distance situation, then go for what I’m dubbing the love lamps. A set of lamps—you keep one, your partner keeps the other—and when you tap your lamp, the matching one lights up. Easiest way to tell someone that they light up your lif—k sorry, I’ll stop.
Dating: 1-2 Years
Alright, this has surpassed the hookup stage. This is full-on monogamy, so congratulations! And with commitment comes a higher level of gift giving. It’s time to give a gift with some longevity. Gift them a duffle to tell them that you fully accept their baggage. For a hidden bonus, you can even slip in a future travel itinerary (pandemic permitting). Or what’s a subtle way of telling your person that you’re sick of them being late to everything? Get them a watch! It’s sleek, thoughtful, and they’ll never be able to tell you that they lost track of time again.
Dating: 3-4+ Years
Safe to say that if it’s gone on this long that this is a fairly serious commitment, which means that it’s time to get thoughtful, and dish out some more dough. Welcome to the big leagues, kids. Handwrite a love letter, or transcribe your favorite DM, and print it on a blanket. It’s a gift to show the grandkids one day. Or, on a not-so-sentimental track, if you can get your hands on a coveted PlayStation 5 Console, then you are guaranteed to be crowned partner of the year. It may not be super original, but I actually think it’s illegal to not include a PS5 in a 2020 gift guide. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. I recommend investing in two controllers, so you can at least both play.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts—and it counts even more when it comes with a gift receipt.
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Ahh, the holidays. Michael Bublé on blast, holiday drinks at Starbucks, and Christmas party hookups (we’re kidding, please stay in). The holidays will look pretty different this year with ‘rona still rampant, but regardless of how you spend it, gift-giving with friends and family is probably still on your mind. Now, we know retail therapy is real, and let’s just say 2020 is giving us even more reasons to want to fix our problems by buying things we don’t need. But before you start maxing out your credit cards and landing in that pool of tears and regret (like you did after you drunk-texted your ex, oops), make sure you’re not falling into one of the following traps this holiday shopping season.
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Mistake #1: Not Setting Your Budget Beforehand
Before you buy anything, be sure to get organized and craft your budget. Start planning out your holiday shopping by making a list of every single person you’re planning on buying a gift for and how much you are willing to spend for each of them. Then remember to include white elephant gifts, potential travel expenses, or (virtual) office parties. And of course, smaller expenses like wrapping paper, shipping fees, and decorations. They’re small, but they add up! Once you’re done making your budget, stick to it! Impulse-buying is real, we get it, but you do not want to end up spending more than you can afford. This especially applies to people who recently entered the workforce and started making money. We know it’s tempting to go all-out and splurge once that paycheck hits, but be sure to slow your roll and think savvy!
Mistake #2: Buying Gifts Last-Minute
Like that presentation you need to work on for tomorrow’s meeting (we see you procrastinating on Betches, girl), you will not be on your A-game if you wait until the last minute. Retailers know that shopping tends to spike closer to the end of the holiday season, and they often raise prices because they know buyers will be willing to drop more. To make matters worse, if you don’t shop ahead, many items may be out of stock or otherwise unavailable, which could lead you to settling with higher-priced alternatives. You don’t want the stress of having to rush to finish up your holiday shopping. Start hunting down deals right now! (Bonus: It gives you an excuse to procrastinate at work, just saying.)
Mistake #3: Overspending On Credit
If you haven’t started saving up for this holiday season, it might be tempting to just swipe your credit card and deal with the expenses later. But patience, young padawan. You do not want to end up drowning in exorbitantly high interest rates and fees or to ultimately take a hit to your credit score. It’s noble and generous to give extravagant gifts, but do not jeopardize your financial health for the sake of it! Remember that handmade gifts and sentimentality (self-care craft night, anyone?) can be just as appreciated as store-bought gifts. If you do take on debt, set strict goals to pay it off by January or February of next year—do not let those interest rates accrue!
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Mistake #4: Splurging On “Great Deals”
So you’re perusing stores looking for gifts, and you see it. 50% off the MOST FETCH handbag you’ve ever seen. Or free shipping if you spend just $10 more. Or even 10% off if you apply for a store credit card. It always feels like an opportunity we just can’t pass up! I get huge FOMO when shopping for deals, and we’ve all been guilty of spending extra when we really thought we were spending less. Retailers know how to take advantage of human psychology, and they push just the right buttons to make us buy things that we don’t really need, or even want. So this holiday season, ask yourself if you would still buy the item if it was full-price, or if your money would be better served elsewhere.
Mistake #5: Impulsive Buys
Now if you’re like me (I have definitely bought a dress because yes, I totally saw myself wearing it while eating a pain au chocolat in a cafe by the Eiffel Tower like Emily), you have also totally shoved that dress in the back of your closet, only to collect dust. Impulse-buying because we think we need the item makes us vulnerable to overspending and maxing out on our holiday budget. Stick to the 7-day rule: if you like something, think about it over the course of the week, and then act on it! You will be surprised to see how much your opinion can change when you’re out of the spending mindset.
Mistake #6: Sh*tty Gift-Giving Strategies
Like any good investment (read more on investing here), the best gifts aren’t necessarily the expensive ones—they’re the ones with high value. Before you buy a gift for someone, ask yourself: is this something they need and will use daily, or will it just end up being re-gifted? Have you taken a look at their Pinterest boards, or any of their wishlists? The best gifts are useful and high-quality; think tickets to an art museum your BFF is dying to go to (after COVID ofc!), or a standing desk extension for WFH. And also, if you are tight on cash this holiday season, consider doing a gift exchange with family, setting maximums for gift exchanges, or just planning a virtual get-together instead. Normalize that money talk!
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Mistake #7: Not Shopping Savvy
As you’re shopping for gifts, don’t take prices at face value; do your research and compare prices across retailers. Now more than ever, it’s easy to automate your deal shopping by adding a couple of browser extensions like Honey or Rakuten. Like any potential cuffing season bf/gf, be sure to shop around and compare prices before you commit! Don’t leave money on the table.
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Mistake #8: Not Planning For Next Year
If you’re like me and are just waiting for 2020 to be f*cking over, start off next year on the right foot by determining how much you will need for gifts the next holiday season. Establish a small fund early on and divide it into months, so it’s easier to manage. It’s also worthwhile to throw that moola into a high-yield savings account or a brokerage account early to earn some bank without breaking a sweat!
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And that’s it! Best of luck with the holidays! We hope it’s not too stressful. If you want more tips like these, comment below, check out our website here, and follow us on Instagram @her.capital!
Images: Ben White / Unsplash; @her.capital / Instagram