Gift ideas help those in new, undefined relationships
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
12/05/12 at 1:18 PM
The original version of this story incorrectly stated the title of CNN human behavior expert Wendy Walsh's book. The story has been corrected.
It's gift-giving time, which can be a good thing, a bad thing or something you'd rather avoid altogether.
The latter may be especially true if you're in a new relationship or an undefined one, and you're not sure what message a holiday gift would convey about the relationship.
No wonder some guys avoid relationships around the holidays, said dating specialist Leslie Wardman of Ambiance Matchmaking in Tulsa.
In the event that you didn't finish all your holiday shopping on Black Friday and are still looking for the perfect gift for your significant other, Wardman and another relationship expert offered advice on what to give that someone special - or sort-of-special person - this holiday season.
As overused as it might sound, it is the thought that counts when giving gifts, so ix-nay the gift cards and other presents that don't have a personal touch.
Consider two things when giving gifts, suggested CNN relationship expert Wendy Walsh: the stage of the relationship and the economics of the people involved.
"No matter the stage of the relationship, a gift should be given with the thought to improving the life of the other person," she said.
Next, "think outside of yourself," Walsh said. That could translate to a trip to the spa for a long, relaxing massage and some pampering, or it could be an unusual leather-bound notebook for the writer set on penning the great American novel.
It could even be a gas card for the person who always seems to have a million things to do and places to be but never enough resources to get there.
The best gift for a single mother could be child care, Walsh said. Often, men try to woo women by doing things that take them away from the children. So why not help them by setting up child care for an evening?
Wardman offered other ideas, such as concert tickets and hobby-related items.
In the jewelry department, you can't go wrong with pearls, Wardman said.
But be careful with jewelry. Giving a diamond necklace "right off the bat" could be awkward, Wardman said.
Walsh stresses that the best gifts are ones that not only improve the other person's life but also enable a couple to share and enjoy something together.
That goes for any relationship. Wardman mentioned a reward system she uses with her daughter as an example. Without fail, her daughter's choice for a reward is always something that is experiential, such as watching a movie with Mom rather than doing something on her own.
Other ideas for activities couples can enjoy together include attending a book group together, going to a wine tasting, heading to a sporting event or taking a day trip somewhere new.
Experiential gifts have a second purpose, too, Walsh said. They allow you to showcase yourself and the potential relationship. For example, if you know how to carve wood, and your special someone needs a new coat rack, put those skills to use.
"Anything that takes time and effort is going to be treasured," Walsh said. "When someone invests their time and talent, they're gold."
Significant other gifting tips
Ideally, as a relationship grows more serious, the thoughtfulness in gift giving and reciprocation should increase, Tulsa dating specialist Leslie Wardman said.
Wendy Walsh, a regular relationship expert on CNN and author of "The 30-Day Love Detox," offered gift-giving advice based on the stage of a relationship.
Haven't had the 'what are we' talk yet
"This is not the time to make huge economic investments," Walsh recommends - unless someone has the means to lavish the other with wining, dining, trips and truffles.
Otherwise, "keep it small and thoughtful."
Walsh says gifts given during this period of a relationship should be a tease as to what kind of partner you will be.
Ideas: A CD mix, a book by your significant other's favorite author or a small day-trip.
Had 'the talk'
Change your relationship status on Facebook.
"It's the best gift to give," Walsh said. "You're making a public commitment to the relationship."
The days of wine and fancy courting are over. Pins and varsity jackets that once showed a couple were going steady have run their course.
"Now, it's all technological," she said.
If you and your significant other have had the talk, but the status hasn't changed, Walsh said that person is keeping their options open.
Possibly in it for the long haul or just a year or two in
Give the gifts that show commitment to the unit.
It might be something you buy together, like a down payment on a car, a club membership or a big piece of technology.
"This commitment is now becoming a financial commitment," Walsh says.
Walsh says there is something comforting in companionate love.
You two are really nesting at this point.
"Honor that by buying something for the home that the other person would like," Walsh says.
Original Print Headline: Getting the right gift
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
A homemade gift such as a CD mix is always a great choice and especially appropriate for those in new relationships, when relationship expert Wendy Walsh says to "keep it small and thoughtful." CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
You can't go wrong with pearls, but you do have to be careful when choosing jewelry. Giving a diamond necklace too soon could be awkward, dating specialist Leslie Wardman says. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
His and her spa gift baskets from Ihloff Salon and Day Spa are a surefire way to give the gift of relaxation. Gifts that improve the other person's life in some way are always winners, agree dating specialist and author Leslie Wardman and relationship expert Wendy Walsh. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
Plan a trip that your significant other will enjoy. A week may be a lot for a new relationship, but even a day spent doing something memorable and well-thought-out will allow you to experience your relationship through the activities as well as showcase what type of partner you could be in the relationship. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World