If you’ve ever worked in a mall, you probably are really tuned in to the gift-giving part of the holiday season. I know I am. I spent two years working in a mall. And look, most of the year is low key — filled with wandering around the store folding sweaters, being yelled at by managers to “go back to my zone” (and stop flirting with coworkers), and counting down to my breaks so I could meet a friend at the hot pretzel stand to gossip. But then come the holidays.
When you work retail during the jolliest season of the year, everything gets intense. The whole mall hums with anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. No one is looking to browse. They’re looking for the absolutely perfect gift — the one thing that tells the people they love everything they mean to them (I mean, talk about pressure). And when boyfriends come in, they are always looking for the same thing: THE perfect piece of jewelry that their girlfriends will love.
Suddenly, I — a person who, at the time, was in her longest personal relationship (with the guy at the hot pretzel shop who had only ever asked whether I wanted buttered or dry) — was tasked with helping men remind their girlfriends and wives why they fell in love. They’d look at me with these panicked, desperate eyes.
“This has to be the gift, right? She’ll like it, right? WILL SHE?”
Clearly, we all want to give the person we love the best present we possibly can during the holiday season. Sometimes that’s a piece of jewelry that screams out at you from the showcase but sometimes you need a little help. That’s why we teamed with Pandora Jewelry (where you can find said jewelry screaming from a showcase to be bought) and why I reached out to some of my colleagues at UPROXX to get some tips on how they navigate the holiday gift-giving season.
Here’s our best advice to help you find the perfect gift for her.
1. Show her that you know her.
Look, the first advice is the easiest: Listen to her.
“Okay, cool,” you say, “but I have this idea that — “
“Stop. Listen to her.”
“Fine, but I could rent a helicopter and — “
“Nope. Listen to her.”
Right, right but if I get her a — hear me out — an exercise bike where she can —
“L-I-S-T-E-N. To. Her.”
That’s my sage gift-giving advice. It comes from years of having girlfriends plant clues and then, mostly, missing them. Only to realize on Christmas that I’d blown it. Don’t be like me. Listen, observe, ask questions.
Not to be too corny, but my best gifts have always proven two certainties: 1) shopping is easier when you have listened to the person you’re shopping for, and 2) being listened to is often a gift all its own.
Everyone wants to be heard and understood this holiday.
2. Be surprising, magical, and tuned in to their interests.
Romance is much like a Rorschach test. Place the same gift in front of two people, and you likely won’t get the same response.
The first time I ever exchanged gifts with a partner, I blanked. It felt like so much more than a simple thing. After cycling through generic ideas, I started to panic. Oh, god, I thought. I’m just going to call in sick to life for the next three weeks. But then it hit me: I wanted, more than anything, to bring out that spark in their eyes that they got only when doing something they loved. It wasn’t about me.
There’s nothing more romantic than receiving a gift that tells you your partner really knows and appreciates you.
Expert Tip: Check out this wonderfully nerdy Harry Potter jewelry collab from Pandora. It’s perfect for the book lover in your life.
3. Think about the unforgettable, charmed moments of your life. Both from the past, and the ones you can create in the future.
Our first year dating, I noticed my girlfriend had a collection of polaroid pictures on her wall, but no camera. I knew she loved to travel (but didn’t get to as much as she’d like), preferred cold weather, and had a tendency to point out cute buildings, so I wrapped all of that into a gift experience. I gave her an instant camera, a warm coat, and informed her that we’d be heading out on a road trip in a few weeks to San Francisco (a city she had never been, full of amazing architecture).
She was able to document with the camera and add to her wall. Now, I spend every Christmas stressed out trying to figure out how to top that first gift!
4. Find the sneaky gift that gives your love a new part of your story together.
The most romantic gifts show that you pay attention to your partner’s needs and desires. It’s all about being a bit sneaky. For my boyfriend, I once gifted him a Micro Puff Jacket because I heard him tell a friend that he really needed something warm and how much he liked that one. He was thrilled. He wasn’t expecting it (since he never told me directly), and he was happy he received a gift he would actually get a ton of use out of.
The moral of the story? The way to success is through eavesdropping.
Expert Tip: Every new story has a starting point. A charm bracelet can be a jumping-off point for gifts that celebrate all your favorite memories.
Whether you’re buying a bracelet connected to her favorite book series, a charm to help her connect to shared memories, or some other gift, your purchase will make a bigger splash if it aligns with who she is and why you fell in love with her in the first place. Because gifts are important but the feeling behind them is what will make the biggest impact of all this season.