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Family drama and holiday travel plans aren't the only seasonal stressors.
Turns out that gift shopping for a spouse or partner can also pile on angst. According to a 2016 holiday survey jointly conducted by LearnVest and online retailer zulily, 32% of respondents said their significant other was the most stressful person to shop for, ranking even higher than children or parents.
It's normal to feel pressure when you're trying to find the perfect present, one that you think will be a big hit with your partner and also accurately reflect your feelings.
But tracking down that something special doesn't have to be anxiety-inducing. Follow these three ground rules before spending money on your significant other.
Pick Gift Categories to Choose From
Maybe you’ve clicked through a zillion holiday gift slideshows and still have no ideas. It's time to ask your S.O. for an assist by providing you with a few product categories to choose from — and even some to avoid — while you offer up your own in return.
For example, maybe he's more interested in cool camping gear than adding yet another gadget to the electronics drawer. Jewelry may sound good on paper, but it could be on her "no thanks" list in favor of workout clothes. Don't be shy; now’s the time to stop hinting and give each other parameters.
Once you have your options narrowed down, pick an online retailers that has a variety of selections; the more one-stop shopping you can do, the more you can potentially save on shipping.
Agree to a Budget Range Before You Shop
One telling takeaway from the 2016 LearnVest/zulily holiday survey: 15% of respondents said they've fought with their S.O. over differences of opinion on how much to spend on each other.
So before you begin shopping, sit down with your partner and decide on a price range you can both afford — whether that's $20 or $200 — and promise to stick to it. Setting a budget keeps your expectations on the same page and helps ensure you can both be a little friendlier to your wallets during a time when you're already spending more money than usual.
Enlist an Ally to Help You Decide
Totally stumped and running out of time? Rely on a third-party secret weapon, like your partner's mom or closest friend, to help you make a final call. Run your gift ideas past them; your ally can provide valuable feedback because he or she likely knows your partner in a way that you don't. They should be able to back you up ... or talk you out of a bad call.
And this needn't be a secret mission: Give each other the phone numbers for the third-party references of your choice. That way, all it takes is a text to get it right when you're in the heat of a decision-making moment. Yep, it's more practical than romantic, but if your stress levels remain steady, you'll both be glad you didn't play the gift-guessing game.