By Laurel House,

It’s the holiday season and you are dating someone new.

And the stress about what to give begins… now! Yes, it’s always stressful to start dating someone new weeks or even a few months before the holiday season. What’s the gifting protocol? How much do you spend? What do you give? Holidays can be equally stressful for newly minted couples. It’s too soon to spend a lot of money. You likely don’t know each other enough to know what they have always wanted. But you can still get them a gift that they will love, that means something, and that will even give you brownie points for being so awesome.

The #1 holiday gift mistake made is lack of communication.

The #2 holiday gift mistake made is lack of thought.

Lack of Communication: How important are the holidays to your partner? How have they historically spent them? Ask questions and tell stories about what the holidays mean to each other. What your favorite holiday memories are. How do you spend the holidays? Not only are you learning more about your partner, about their family, friends, traditions, and values, but you are also learning their preferences when it comes to gifts – both giving and receiving. Talking about the holidays can be very revealing.

Lack of Thought: More than anything else, your gift should be thoughtful. As you are talking about the holidays, you can even ask what their favorite gifts are that they have received over the years. Again, you are collecting information. Do they value experiential gifts, the gifts of time, or a certain type of present? This doesn’t mean that you need to ask:

“What do you want for the holidays?”But if you listen you will be able to come up with at least a preferred style, and from there you can select something that has the highest chances of them loving. So what do you give? “I Believe In You” If your partner is in the process of building a business, give something that supports their dedication to their career, something that says

“I believe in you”and “I want to help you bring out and present your best self.”Give a pair of beautiful Italian shoes, a “power”tie, an “adult”watch (if he is still wearing something that belongs in college), a beautiful wallet to replace that old Velcro thing, a homemade gift certificate to the building of a website (which you already contracted in advance) or a logo made by a designer.

“I Love When You’re Happy” If your partner couldn’t be happier than when she/he is with her dog, when she/he is on a hike, or when she/he is cooking, give a gift that celebrates and supports that activity or interest. Have a caricature made of your partner and her dog. Find some retractable hiking poles and a new pair of hiking shoes that replace her worn down favorites. Buy her an awesome gift basket of Sur La Table kitchen accessories.

“Because You Won’t Buy It for Yourself” If he always talks about how awesome iPads are, but he won’t buy one for himself. If she envies her best friend’s new stilettos, but feels guilty about spending the money on herself. Get that. It shows your partner that they deserve the little luxuries and that you want to see them smile.

“Let’s Spend More Time Together” The gift of time and shared experiences can be the most cherished gift of all. Buy a couples spa treatment for you and her. Plan a weekend away at a local hotel. Go kite surfing or kayaking. Organize a trip to NY and go skating in Rockefeller Center. Arrange a hike with a picnic at the top. But don’t just give a random experience or one that you really want. Give something that they really want, but you can do together and enjoy.

When you give the gift, write a card that explains the itinerary, why you want to do it together, AND give a little gift that embodies the experience so that they also have a wrapped “present.”Because everyone likes a little something to unwrap. It’s not “just the thought that counts”if you put no thought into it. Want to read more awesome dating advice?

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