What do the gifts your other half gets you for Christmas really say about your relationship? Welcome paroxysms of angst and doubt into your life with my handy guide to what his presents mean for your romantic future…
A bubble bath/body lotion/face wash gift set The first thing you should do when opening this present is jam your hand into your armpit and then give it a going over to make sure you don’t pong. Is this a hint?
On the whole, “smellies” aren’t a very fascinating present unless you’ve asked for them or have some thought behind them – perhaps your signature scent or an in-joke or something really “luxe” or whatever GQ is calling pricey stuff this year.
Prognosis: You’ll probably make it to next Christmas. Up your hints game though if you want to avoid another box of hand cream in 2015.
A novelty item
He doesn’t have a clue what to buy you, never listens to you and only just stops short of calling you in a rage at 3:59pm on Christmas Eve from Tesco shouting “What the hell do you actually want?! WHAT???”
So instead he buys you a popcorn maker – well hello again 2003, how are you doing – which turns into maracas. Of course he does.
Prognosis: If you have a sense of humour and a distinct lack of homicidal tendencies, you might just go the distance!
A gadget Ooh, a hand warmer. Wow, a garlic press that lasers the cloves into heart shapes! Hey, is that a keychain you can store £20 notes in? Awesome! He will have pilfered this from you by Easter.
“Well, you never use it and I don’t want to see it go to waste.” He planned this all along, of course. A gadget-buyer is only ever buying for themselves.
Prognosis: If he’s as selfish in bed as he is on the gift-buying front, maybe you should find yourself a new bauble to shine.
Socks How nice are the socks? Are they a pack of seven M&S “cotton-rich” odour breeders with days of the week or cartoon characters on? Or are they quirky, or comfortable, or cashmere?
No self-respecting man would want his other half to be wearing rubbish socks, and while socks tend to be a present best left to dads and uncles, there’s a lot to be said for a sexy sock, especially if you haven’t been together that long. They don’t have to be expensive, they just have to be worth flashing your ankles for.
And to receive a present that’s still pretty but not showy or for everyone else’s benefit is the sexiest thing of all. (Yes, I am buying my boyfriend some socks for Christmas.)
Prognosis: Never let go of a man with great taste in socks.
Expensive scarf He’s having an affair and it was for the other guy but he thinks you spotted it in his bag so had to give it to you.
Prognosis: Do not get too attached to the scarf – or the man.
A marriage proposal There’s always one. Open Facebook on Christmas Day and you are almost certain to see either an outstretched finger sporting one of Gerald Ratner’s finest, or a special cupcake with a message in it, or some loveheart balloons, or a fortune cookie or a heart-shaped fried egg or Alpha Bites spelling out “Will you marry me?” or just some other absolute bullshit, LOOK EVERYBODY, faux-mantic gesture.
Getting engaged isn’t a gift. Starting out on a lifelong commitment together isn’t something to be traded under the tree like a maracas-shaped popcorn maker or some really nice socks that a totally great boyfriend like me would buy.
If your boyfriend starts tearing up and reaches into his pocket for something on Christmas morning, you’d better pray he’s just been peeling onions and needs a tissue. Tell him to hold it right there and ask you another day.
You don’t want to ruin Christmas by saying no – maybe wait until his birthday instead – and even saying yes is bound to raise the ire of the rest of your family who just want to sit down to the turkey and not hear about your total bollocks wedding that will probably never happen anyway. Plus, this will kill your sister.
If you do say yes and it all later heads south, your Christmases will be forever tarnished, and you’ll have one sloe gin too many and text “the one that got away” and you’ll be that clichéd person who has sex with an ex in a Harvester car park on Boxing Day while his partner waits patiently at home watching a skin form on the top of the eggnog.
Say no, no, no, no.
Prognosis: *fairy lights fizz and spark before going out for good* That.
No gift Did you fall into the trap of saying “No presents this year!” to each other? Aw, every year, there’s a couple who does it and lives to regret it immediately.
Did he really mean it? Did you?! You have no way of knowing, so you get him something anyway. And then Christmas Day arrives and he looks on in horror and says “You said we weren’t doing presents?”
You’ll then shrug and say that it’s OK and that you don’t mind, all the while silently counting down the seconds until his face cracks and he guffaws and says “Just kidding!” before reaching behind his back and pulling a Lamborghini out of his pocket.
Prognosis: Keep counting.
Note: It really doesn’t matter what your boyfriend buys you as long as he is a nice person and genuinely loves you. But you still need to say no to that proposal.