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7 Tips to Make Holiday Shopping For Your SO Less Stressful

I consider myself an excellent gift-giver, partly because I hold several gold medals when it comes to shopping, but mostly because I truly enjoy surprising people with gifts that show how well I know them. Holiday shopping, however, especially for your partner, is a whole other ball game.

It's completely normal to feel pressure to find the perfect present: one that will be a hit, a surprise, and at a good price point, all wrapped up perfectly with a bow. After all, if the recipient isn't that into your gift, it could lead to disappointment or even hurt feelings. Shopping for your significant other should not be an anxiety-ridden task during the already-stressful holiday season, so I've come up with seven tips to help you with the task at hand.

1. Give an experiential gift.

Does she love going to the ballet? Does he love the New York Knicks? Find an experience that your partner would love and get that as a gift. The emotion attached will make the gift a memorable one and as a bonus make you look like a rock star. Planning a great night out goes a long way over walking into a store and purchasing something.

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2. Just ask!

Ask you and you shall receive. People can be so into surprises (and I understand that), but why not get straight to the point and not get it wrong? Why do you think they have wedding registries? So you don't end up with a bunch of stuff you didn't want in the first place. I have learned my lesson by purchasing the wrong gift, thinking it was absolutely perfect and, let's just say, I am now a proud owner of a personalized Montblanc notebook and pen that are not even my initials.

3. Set guidelines.

I have heard too many stories from women being disappointed after they spent more time and money on gifts for their significant others than their SO did for them. It's smart to have a conversation with your partner and get a feel for what range you are both in. This way, there are no unrealistic expectations and unwanted disappointments. And speaking of expectations, it's best to not even set them. Don't assume your partner is proposing and don't snoop around for hidden gifts; just go with the flow. Remember, holiday giving should be about the thought.

4. Don't overthink it.

I have made the mistake of overplanning and overthinking a gift and the only result is disaster. I used to expect a grand reaction to a thoughtfully planned out gift and when that didn't happen, I would question myself and my gift choice and be left feeling defeated. No need to go over the top on every single little detail because at the end of the day, it's the thought that counts (and hey, that's why gift receipts exist).

5. Think about what they need.

People who say the holidays are about getting things you want over things you need have it all wrong. Want or need, a gift is a gift and both are good enough reasons when shopping for your partner. A superbusy doctor who does not get that much sleep because they are always on call could really use something to help them relax on the go. For the friend who has a really stressful job, think about a massage or a yoga membership to help create a bubble of calm in their life.

6. Do a little stalking.

Social media stalking can come in handy when coming up with a plan for holiday gift shopping. Go through Facebook photos and see what activities they really enjoy, scroll through their recent pins on Pinterest, or see if they have an Amazon wish list. Even if you have been married for a few years or have been with your partner for years, you sometimes forget the little things your significant other loved doing in a past life, which could be a great gift to take them down memory lane.

7. Consider his or her love language.

Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages describes the way in which different people feel the emotion of love. Whether it be through acts of service, kind words, quality time, or physically being showered with gifts, knowing how your partner accepts the emotion of love is one of the best ways to begin thinking of a gift idea. For my husband, nine out of 10 times I have tried to disregard that and purchased gifts I think he should like such as a new watch or sporting equipment and was always severely disappointed in his reaction. I would have been better off with a handmade gift certificate stating he is off the hook for dishes for six months.

Image Source: StockSnap / Brigitte Tohm
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