3 Holiday Ground Rules for Buying Gifts for Your Partner

3 Holiday Ground Rules for Buying Gifts for Your Partner

Family drama and holiday travel plans aren't the only things that can tip our collective stress scales now that December is in full swing.

Turns out that gift shopping for a spouse or partner also has the potential to turn yuletide cheer into seasonal tension. According to a 2016 holiday survey jointly conducted by LearnVest and online retailer zulily, 32% of respondents said their significant other was the most stressful person to shop for, ranking even higher than children or parents.


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It's not too hard to venture a guess as to what's behind this gift-giving panic. It's normal to feel pressure when you're trying to find the perfect present, one that you think will be a big hit with your partner and also accurately reflect your feelings for him or her. After all, if the recipient isn't into it, that can lead to disappointment and even hurt feelings down the road. So we spend hours racking our brains and browsing online, hunting for just the right gift.

But tracking down that something special doesn't have to be so anxiety-inducing. To help you avoid a post-holiday letdown, we've come up with three ground rules that couples should consider following before spending money on each other. They just might help take the emotional—and financial—stress out of shopping for your better half.

Pick Gift Categories to Choose From

Maybe you’ve clicked through a zillion holiday gift slideshows and are still coming up empty in the ideas department. It's time to ask your S.O. for an assist by providing you with a few product categories to choose from—and even some to avoid—while you offer up your own in return.

For example, maybe he's more interested in cool camping gear than adding yet another gadget to the electronics drawer. Jewelry may sound good on paper, but it could be on her "no thanks" list in favor of workout clothes. Don't be shy; now’s the time to drop the hint and giving each other parameters helps minimize the guesswork.

Once you have your options narrowed down, head over to online retailers that can provide a variety of selections; after all, the more one-stop shopping you can do, the more you can potentially save on shipping.

Agree to a Budget Range Before You Shop

One telling takeaway from the 2016 LearnVest/zulily holiday survey: 15% of respondents said they've fought with their S.O. over differences of opinion on how much to spend on each other, turning peace and goodwill into strife and tension.

So before you begin shopping, sit down with your partner and hammer out a price range you can both afford—whether that's $20 or $200—and vow to stick to it. Sure, it'll take away some of the element of surprise. But setting a budget keeps your expectations on the same page and helps ensure you can both be a little friendlier to your wallets during a time when you're already dishing out more money than usual.

Enlist an Ally to Help You Decide

Totally stumped and running out of time? Rely on a third-party secret weapon, like your partner's mom or closest friend, to help you make a final call. Run your gift ideas past them; your ally can provide valuable feedback because he or she likely knows your partner in a way that you don't. They should be able to back you up ... or talk you out of a bad judgment call.

And this needn't be a secret mission: Give each other the phone numbers for the third-party references of your choice (with their permission, of course). That way, all it takes is a quick text to get gift-giving right when you're in the heat of a decision-making moment. Yep, it's more practical than romantic, but if your stress levels remain steady, you'll both be glad you didn't play the gift-guessing game.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Get the Best Deals on Your Holiday Gift Shopping


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