Men and women speak different languages, and no where is that more evident than when it comes to shopping and buying gifts for special occasions. If you do not want your gift to be re-gifted, then it might be wise to consider the differences, before you spend you money only to receive a lame smile and insincere "thanks.". In addition to a humorous look at some ways we differ, you will find a few practical suggestions along the way.
When shopping, women will at times spend extra money on something that looks nicer, while men will be more interested in having something that works, and that gets the job done. Looks (of things at least) are usually the last thing on their mind, unless it has a logo of their favorite team. Just look at men's tools!. If women designed tools they would be sleek and stylish, but then men might have to keep them clean and neatly stored away. How many men do you know who own a hair curler, or who have frosted their hair?
Lame Solutions for Shopping for Presents
Shopping is not the only the sexes differ of course. Just look at the garage. A Woman might see a garage as a place to store the car, or a bicycle. But for the man, the garage is the second (or sometimes first) office, and the place to hang out, have some cold refreshments, and build things that are not needed, while they watch the big game of the week on TV..
As John Gray points out men and women seem to be from different planets. In his book " Men are from Mars, Women Are From Venus" Gray chronicles the many differences between men and women. Particularly relevant to shopping, he notes that men tend to count big items as more meaningful, while women gave the same mount of credit, big or small, and count the number of gifts instead. The practical implication is that women care more about stocking stuffers, then men. If you had $200 to spend on presents, he would prefer that you spend $195 of it on that really cool fishfinder or power tool he wants, while the woman would be more appreciative if you bought her 6 $25 gifts and 4 for $5 each.
Harvard Psychologist Karen Gilligan, in her book "In a Different Voice" she describes other differences. Most men are concerned for example, when seeing something as fair, that it be divided 50/50, while women prefer a "mutual" satisfaction criteria over quantitative solutions. A man buying presents for his 2 sisters might think it is important to purchase exactly the same present, or at least spend the same amount, in order to be fair, while a woman buying presents for men, might well spend different amounts of money on two brothers' gifts, but try to see that they produce the same amount of glee in each. But in the above examples, each got it exactly wrong, at least when it comes to being "fair" to the ones for whom they are gift shopping.
So, given these vast differences, how are you going to shop for presents for men, as a woman who wants to make him happy? Or as a man, other than buying a lot of small gifts for her, what can you do in the way of presents that are appreciated. Here is a tip that often works. Have you ever noticed that when left to their own remotes, men and women select different stations? Well just figure out what stations and shows the person watches, and then notice what hot new product is advertised. Check out the different advertisements on Spike TV and the Hallmark channel, if you want to get a stereotyped script of the differences I have described. You will likely get some ideas of the presents to buy for him, or the jewelry and clothes she hopes you will be getting her as a gift.
When shopping for Christmas or other special occasions, you can only ignore these differences if you are planning on getting it as a re-gift present next year.
"In a Different Voice;" Carol Gilligan; Cambridge; 1982
"Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus;" John Gray; New York;1992
Photo by Chris Millet