The Dos and Don’ts of Giving Romantic Gifts That Don’t Feel Cheesy


Getting a gift for any romantic partner can be tricky. Do you go bathtub full of rose petals, a dozen red roses, and just dozens of diamonds (a million diamonds!)? Or do you go for a sensible used sedan with under ten thousand miles and only a few stains that really aren’t that noticeable.

“I mean she needs a car!” You might say. And sometimes, that totally is the best gift. We’re here for functionality. Other times though, well… sometimes she just wants the roses and romance, man.

In this guide, we’re going to finally tell you how to get the best of both worlds. Romance and practicality by building a full-sized car completely out of red roses and perfume. Just kidding. But we are going to give a few tips for giving romantic gifts without making her roll her eyes or feel uncomfortable. These are the dos and don’ts of romantic gifts that don’t feel cheesy.

DO make sure you’re on the same relationship page.

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You’re in love! You want to shout it from the rooftops! Or at the very least Oprah’s couch (She doesn’t have her show anymore so you will have to break into O’s home but it’s worth it for love. Probably.).

I love this woman!”

But before you make her a scrapbook of your relationship, you might want to make sure that you guys are absolutely on the exact same feelings level. If you get her an oil painting of the two of you and she gives you wool socks and a candle, both of you are probably going to feel embarrassed.

The key is to make sure you A) have had a serious talk about your relationship status in which you both feel you know what this is and where it’s going, and B) what kind of presents you’re getting this year (low budget but homemade? More expensive? etc.?). That way the romance that flows from your awesome gift will feel totally reciprocated.

DO personalize the gift.

Part of a romantic gift is that it tells your partner you really know her and what would make her swoon. One person may love a ballgown with opera tickets, but if your particular love hates opera, it’s a splashy gift that’s going to fall flat (kind of like that soprano, am I right?).

Romantic gifts are subjective. So, really consider: What’s her favorite activity in the world. What will really make her smile? For some, surprise skydiving would be the most romantic thing they can imagine, while a dozen roses and fancy dinner would feel bland. For others, they want to ice skate in a shutdown arena with petals in the shape of a heart in the center. Just don’t confuse the two, you know? Show that you get her with your romantic gift.

DON’T do anything in public.

Did you write your beloved a poem or song that she’s absolutely going to love? That’s great! But do not, and I repeat, do not stand up in a crowded restaurant or at a sporting event with a cam on you and perform it for her. The whole world does not need to get in on that. And you are seriously risking making your partner very uncomfortable.

Here’s the thing, romance is intimate. And any time you put that cheesy poem on display, you’re opening your relationship up to the whole world to push their way into it. In the harsh light of day, a cute pet name or silly tradition can feel dumb. Keep that shit to yourselves, Mr. Cuddlecheeks. And, more importantly, these public displays force her to have to think about how her reaction and feelings are reading to a bunch of strangers rather than getting to just react authentically, in the moment.

Am I smiling enough? Should I cry? They’re all looking at me while that children’s choir sings behind him. What do I do? Is there spinach in my teeth?

These are not thoughts you want her to have to grapple with while receiving a gift. Now, there are rare cases in which the two of you both are attention hogs and would equally love a big splashy display of love in the middle of Rockefeller Center. But think long and hard about who the gift is for. Does she actually love that much attention? Or are you doing it because you want other people to see how great you are. The latter is pretty unromantic.

DO ask her friends’ advice on jewelry.

If this is the holiday you’re going to invest in a great piece of jewelry, make sure you know her taste. There is nothing worse than getting a beautiful, expensive piece of jewelry as a present….that you immediately hate. Now, she has to wear something every day (or enough days to not hurt your feelings) that she thinks is ugly. Suddenly, a seemingly thoughtful, romantic gift is a burden.

I’m sure you think you know her taste. Or that you have the same taste. “Well, I have good taste,” you say (in a voice that is starting to sound a little defensive). And I’m sure you do, but triple check it. Get her best friend’s opinion on that necklace or bracelet, and her sister’s, and her mom’s, and the woman who sells you donuts, and that lady over there who made eye contact with your girlfriend once at a bus stop. Ask them all to confirm that this is a gift she will actually love.

Lastly, pay attention to what she actually wears. Does she like sleek lines or tons of sparkle? Does she prefer gold or silver? If she never wears earrings, you might think, “Earrings would be nice, she has so few pairs!” But unless she has specifically said she wished she had a nice pair of earrings, she probably doesn’t wear them for a reason. Really pay attention to what she likes rather than just what you think is cute, and you’ll pick out something that will have her throwing her arms around you in joy this year.

DON’T present the gift without a decent speech.

Going full romance this holiday season? Something sentimental that is totally priceless (Read: free)? That’s great…however…this can either blow her away or make her feel like you just didn’t care. So, make this gift a bit presentational. Don’t just shove a scrapbook onto her lap. Have her favorite cupcake there and flowers. Write a card that says every single way her smile lights you up. Have a speech semi-prepared in which you really tell her what she means to you. The thing about romantic gifts is that they should take a little more effort and thought than getting her a new gadget. So put the work in.

DO avoid any sex toys you haven’t talked about before.

If by romantic gifts, you’re thinking, in the bedroom type stuff (or kitchen or bathroom or in a crawl space above your garage, we don’t judge), then back to the first rule: Please make sure you’re on the same page. A sex toy or lingerie or whatever could be the perfect, romantic gift leading to hours of fun, but it’s also a gift that could put her on the spot or make her uncomfortable if it’s not something she’s into. And unlike jewelry — in which the stakes of having to wear it even if you don’t like it are low — that beginning BDSM kit as a gift could lead to her feeling coerced into things she wasn’t into or ready for.

So, triple check. Ask her what kind of things she wants to explore or the toys she’s always wanted. Make sure this is not a tentative, “yeah that might be okay ” deal (in which case go to a store, talk it all through, and pick out things together!) but a hearty and clear, “Boy would I be excited if I opened a box and you had just filled it with ‘insert whatever you’re into here'” situation.

DO put as much time and energy into the present as humanly possible.

This is a gift of the heart, so really, pour your heart into this. If you’re going homemade, put the time in to make it the best or most thoughtful, useful gift she’s ever received. If you’re going experience, put all the time in to make sure this is completely catered to her. Cross your t’s, dot your i’s, and we promise, it will be reflected in your gift. And when you’ve really put the thought into something romantic that reflects what you love about her, we have a feeling she’ll love it too. Because I don’t know if you’ve noticed but she’s kind of into you.