Ever received a crappy gift?

Today is my husband’s birthday and I have bought him nothing. Because that’s what he asked me to get him.  Nothing. Save our money.

After me complaining that I don’t want him to look back and go, “Oh my thoughtless wife didn’t care enough to buy me a gift…. “ he said I could get him the furniture I was buying anyway.    As his gift.    Right.

 Here honey. Happy Birthday. Here is a bookshelf – even though you don’t actually own any books, and the only thing you read is P&L analysis, contracts, reports and your emails, I thought you’d like this book shelf to store all your… well I saw this strong, tall standing wood, and thought of you???

As his wife, you’d think I’d know what he’d actually like to receive, and I do. He honestly wants nothing. His logic goes that it’s a waste of money to buy something for the sake of buying something. The problem is, I feel terrible because surely… no gift = no love.

So I’ll probably end up giving him the one thing he always wants later on. And it’s free.  Actually…maybe I’ll buy him some lingerie for me.

Of course MY birthday is an entirely different story. My logic goes like this: Spoil away, and if you feel inclined to bestow your amazing gift under a firework lit sky followed by a glamorous affair packed with friends to help celebrate the day I was born ….Giddyup.  Because the gift you give shows me that you care, and how much you care.

DOES IT??????

A friend of mine (who I will refer to as *Lisa) agrees. 

She celebrated her 32nd birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Lisa is a professional girl who’s intelligent, social and independent. She also happens to be one of the most genuine, caring and sweet girls I know.   So the fact that she’s gorgeous looking as well – really makes her one of those few girls you WISH you could hate because they seem to have it all. (Although her hairdresser – and I use the term loosely -is a nasty cow).

So yeah – I think Lisa is great! Lisa happens to be in a relationship, and one that is just under a year old. So of course, when her birthday approached, she wondered what the boyfriend would be getting her for the birthday – the first one she’d shared with him.  She had bought him a pair of designer sunglasses and a shirt. I’d say a perfect gift in this scenario.

When I turned 32 my boyfriend at the time gave me a bunch of death lilies, and a nice seafood dinner. Very nice, but nothing that would bring on a happy dance.  BUT… that boyfriend is now my husband, and he had given me a pretty admirable diamond one month earlier, which had cost him a bit more than the flowers and dinner.

BUT  – I’m trying to go back in time, to my 32nd birthday, and pretend no such diamond or flowers or dinner had been given. Instead, I’m trying to imagine that I have just opened up a beautiful box containing quite expensive, top of the range…. Knives?  

Oh Lisa…. Knives?  Was there anything else to go with it? Like not even a double fudge chocolate mousse cake to use them on?   Please tell me you’ll be using said knives to stab him with!

(Insert BIG SIGH here***  because I’m trying so hard not to implicate those that give kitchen utensils as gifts – as being less caring or less generous individuals).

HOWEVER – I think there are some ground rules to gift giving that go hand in hand with either new relationships, or couples that don’t co-habitate. But I will come back to that.

Actually, gift giving is a tricky subject to dissect, because as per my husband’s request for nothing, we all place different values on the act of giving a gift.

In the BRILLIANT book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages, you discover some insightful stuff.  Like… when your partner upsets you, but they can’t understand why you’re so upset…. it’s simply because you speak different love languages, or – different ways of interpreting and expressing love.

His website explains: After many years of counseling, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern: everyone he counseled had a “love language,” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that, for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own.

Of the countless ways we can show love to one another, five categories, or five love languages, proved to be universal and comprehensive—everyone has a love language, and we all identify primarily with one of the five love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Understanding our love languages helps to explain our reactions to things, including gift giving.

Gift giving is one of my love languages. It may go back to the way my parents placed importance on gift giving for birthdays and Christmas. My mum would always have the presents wrapped perfectly, and displayed for when we awoke, and we couldn’t start opening until all the kids were up to watch (there were 5 of us) and  mum’s camera was at the ready. My dad always spent way more than he should have or needed to on gifts for us, and sometimes still does.  So to me – the act of giving a gift is special, momentous, and of great importance to he who receives.

Unfortunately it also means I AGONISE over what to buy, and I often resort to a voucher instead – for an amount that I probably can’t afford.

I would say gift giving is in the bottom two of my husband’s love languages. I don’t know if that’s based on his own experiences, because his parents are always so thoughtful and generous, but here’s an example… which might further explain his desire for nothing today.

One Christmas eve following a busy shift in hospitality, we were locking up and I noticed a small gift with a bright pink bow. I asked him – “Is that for me?” He explained, that no – one of the Christmas functions had been doing Kris Kringle, and that the gift in question had been left behind. He then told me I could open it if I wanted. It was the Best of Robbie Williams CD. “Ooh, I love Robbie – I wanted to get this CD,” I said. He took it out of my hands, then said – as he gave it back to me, “Merry Christmas.” 

I’m not even joking. That was my gift that year.

And I definitely would have preferred a brand new set of good knives, especially if I didn’t have any of my own. 

So I’m starting to think that Lisa’s new knives were purchased by a man who does not speak the love language of Gift giving, while she possibly does. Perhaps he speaks Quality Time, and plans to spend hours using the knives with her. Perhaps he speaks Acts of Service and plans on cooking for her – which means he will require a decent knife. I just hope if he speaks Physical touch then the knives are irrelevant.

The problem is – until you’ve spent long enough with someone to discover if Gift giving is their love language….  OR long enough to know that buying a practical gift won’t offend them; you run the risk of stuffing up some very important days with a crappy gift.

Below is Cyclone Cindy’s guide to giving gifts if you’re a new or separate living couple – and it applies to men and women, because some men have Gift Giving as a love language too. 


  1. Even if it cost you a week’s wage – DO NOT buy a gift that suggests work. This includes housework, yard work, or cooking in any way. I don’t care if they hate going to the Laundromat to do washing, DON’T buy them a washing machine if you’ve only been going out a year, or live separately. 
  2. DO NOT – I repeat DO NOT buy something you’ve mentioned your ex had, or has, or used to love.
  3. DON’T buy a department store gift voucher. The people at work do that, not the person who sees you naked and should therefore know you a little better. (I should stress though, if they love pampering, a day spa voucher is fine, but please.. nothing specific. (Buying a voucher for a Brazilian wax?  Think about it… who is it really for?)
  4. DON’T buy something and then tell your partner how cute the person was that sold it to you. Or how he/she tried it on / sprayed it on – and it really suited him/her…. ESPECIALLY if it’s lingerie (MK – are you reading this?)
  5. DON’T make a mix tape or CD. First of all, it stopped being romantic when we turned 17. Plus most of us already have the songs we like stored under ‘favourites’ on the iPod.  Also, please don’t draw or paint a picture unless you also own an art gallery.
  6. DO buy a card and write in it – nothing too OTT, but just a simple para on why you want the person to have a great day.
  7. If you’re buying clothes KNOW the correct size. Don’t just buy it thinking they can swap it later. You’ll probably offend them. (I actually wouldn’t recommend buying shoes or anything that covers a woman’s bum).
  8. Jewellery including watches is usually safe, but again – you have to know:  Gold or silver? Fine or chunky? With or without bling?
  9. Any plain leather accessory – but make sure they’re not a vegan. Other fail safe items include tech gadgets or sporting equipment.
  10. When in doubt –certain grooming/cosmetic products are usually safe. Perfume is good. Razor blades are bad. Luxury soaps are good. Foot odour cream is bad. Candles are good. Deodorant is bad. Finish it off with a dinner somewhere spesh, and I think you’ll be good for another year.

Hope that helps. Please don’t blame me if you take the above advice and get dumped.

I’ve got to go now. Since my husband’s love languages are Acts of Service and Physical Touch…. I’ve got profiteroles in the oven, a side of beef to prepare, some shirts to iron (ugh!) and yes – a lingerie store to visit.



  1. Shmales · April 20, 2010

    I can totally identify with “Lisa” except we had been married for 2 years already. For Christmas, one of my gifts was Carmen Electra’s Fit to Stip on DVD. Woooooh, bad move Mikey boy!! I’m not at all down with receiving exercise equipment or DVD’s as a gift – it implies that the person who gifted it to you thinks that you’re fat.

    So not only did Mike get the “so you think I’m fat” reaction, he also got the “why not just buy yourself some porn” reaction.

    My rules for gift giving: if you’re buying clothes, ask me what I want first. If you’re buying shoes, let me try them on first. Jewelry is ALWAYS welcome but if I already have a watch, I don’t really need another one. Day Spa vouchers are ALWAYS welcome. Movies / DVDs are good as long as you know I like it before you buy it.

    Anyway, hope Glen had a great birthday!

  2. Dani · April 20, 2010

    Too funny. One of my girlfriends got 2 dust busters!!. One for upstairs the other downstairs.

    How very considerate!

    Another great read babe x

  3. Pingback: Beam me up Scotty – we’re being INVADED!!! « Cyclone Cindy
  4. Pingback: My ON-LINE birthday. « Cyclone Cindy

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