TOO BAD men can't be more like women when it comes to Christmas gifts.
The women I know are so easy. Practically every department store has a bauble or sweater that would satisfy one or the other. Sometimes, I'll pick up a bunch of gifts and sort out who gets what later. But when it comes to buying something for the fellas, that can be a whole other challenge - especially if you aren't sure which high-tech goodie they're hankering for this year.
And if you're like me, you may be saving the one closest to your heart, so to speak, for last. That's a nice way of admitting to procrastinating. We last-minute shoppers aren't alone. According to Consumer Reports, a third of Americans haven't even begun their holiday shopping. And 34 percent of shoppers fully expect to be in the malls up until Christmas Eve. With six shopping days left until Christmas Day, the tick, tick, ticking of the clock adds a whole other element of pressure to that of finding just the right present for the most important person on your shopping list - your guy. Not to mention the fact that men are notoriously hard to shop for. Why is that? I took the question to some experts on the male mind.
"The number one reason is, guys are fickle. We know exactly what we want and it's not just that guys want a digital camera; they want a specific digital camera," explained Jared Willig, managing editor of Asylum.com, a lifestyle-oriented Web site geared toward cool, hip, sophisticated guys. "If you don't get them the exact one, then they're not satisfied.
"Number two is, guys are really impulsive. If a guy sees something he wants, he just buys it," he added.
So, unless you're really sure your man is more of a citrus dude instead of a musky-scent type, picking up a bottle of designer fragrance won't necessarily solve your gift-giving dilemma either. It's way too risky.
"Cologne is one of those things guys either love or they hate. If they love it, then they love specific kinds," Willig continued.
The same thing goes when it comes to giving clothing. A sweater or a jacket may go over well, but only if you resist the urge to make him over. Although it's tempting, Christmas isn't the day to splurge on transforming your prepster into a metrosexual. Trust me, he won't appreciate it. Also, many guys aren't that hip about getting clothing at Christmas anyway.
David Gregg, senior editor of Behindthebuy.com, warned: "Unless the guy specifically says, 'I'm looking for a new shirt or a new belt,' guys like things you plug in or that take batteries.
"I think it's just the way we're hardwired," added Gregg, who's also a frequent guest on CBS' "The Early Show."
His top three suggestions for guy gifts this year: digital cameras - preferably one with an optical zoom lens; a global-positioning system, or a flat-screen TV, which can be had for under $1,000 these days. If your guy already is in possession of the aforementioned technology, consider buying him options or accessories for them such as a portable digital photo printer for about $100 or a media card to increase the capacity on his camera. Video games are less pricey choices as are iTune gift cards or DVDs of your man's favorite TV shows or movies.
By the way, if you're thinking of getting creative and coming up with a "unique" gift idea for your guy, you might want to check out Asylum's Web site. It contains a list of sure-fire libido busters - in other words, stuff that may sound way cool to you and your friends but that boyfriends might not want stuffed inside their Christmas stockings.
We're talking some seemingly innocuous choices such as a photo album, a Tiffany money clip, or Derek Jeter cologne, a paperweight or a pricey cashmere sweater from J.Crew.
"Soon enough, you'll crumple it into a ball as a pillow or spill bacon fat on it and be blamed for an inability to take care of a sweater that costs about as much as a car payment," the Web site said about the sweater.
But buying a downscale guy a cashmere sweater is really a rookie mistake. If you've been seeing someone for a decent amount of time, you should have figured out if he'd even be able to tell the difference between cashmere and acrylic.
"When you're buying gifts, it's about having a personal connection with someone, knowing your guy," pointed out Matthew Edelstein of Details magazine, who likes to both give and receive rare, antique books. "It should be somehow personal and relevant to their interests."
And you really shouldn't overthink it.
"If you really know what your man likes, then buying a gift for him shouldn't be hard," said Craig Grant, 35, a man-about-Philly. "I think [women] do use it as a cop-out. They may know him but they don't listen. We're supposed to be the bad listeners."
If a woman's doing her job, "you shouldn't really have to ask him what he wants," continued Grant, a single accountant-turned-schoolteacher. *