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ALPHA MALE: How To Shop For Your Significant Other

Thursday, December 06, 2012


You want to do right by her this season... so don't choke up and follow this counsel for a happy, happy holiday. Photo: kjamani/flickr.

'Tis the season, folks. Shopping season. That period between Thanksgiving and Christmas where everyone starts to feel the maddening rush of gift-giving madness. But it does not have to be that way. I

recently gave an interview and one of the questions asked me what has been my favorite gift to receive in recent years. And I did not even hesitate in my answer because I realized the answer was not so much about the gift, but what the gift represented; Another person's thoughtfulness in picking out something I truly appreciated. With that in mind, the question we need to focus on this season is not so much, "What do I get her," but rather, "What will she appreciate?" This year, fellas, let's aim for quality over quantity in finding that perfect gift.

There is a certain level of style involved here actually. Because sometimes buying her a puppy, while good intentioned, is not the best idea for a holiday gift. Like editing your own personal style, think before you buy. Here are my top ideas for gift giving this season. And who knows, these ideas may even spark her to give you a little something better in your stocking this year.

The Art of Pampering

I believe pampering is definitely an art form. Whether you are newly dating, newlyweds or happily together for 20 years, with each stage comes a level of awareness of your partner's health, well-being and contentment. Simply put, pay attention to your partner! Does she use the same soaps, makeup and lotions all the time? Does she like massages? Is she sensitive to certain scents? What does she do to curb life's aches and pains? I have learned it is best to pay attention always and be ready to respond as best I can to my partner in a way that shows her, yes, I did know she likes baby oil rubbed on her legs even though she never mentions it. Same goes for foot rubs or back massages. Guys, keep a mental log- or better yet- a small note pad handy- and make the effort to know what makes your partner tick. Come holiday time, you won't just be stopping into a local apothecary and hoping she likes that prepackaged mess of bath soaps and scented candles.

The Gift of Receiving

Sometimes the best gift to give is simply your time. There will always be some things your partner likes to do that you do not. It is what makes us individuals and also leads to attraction as we often look for qualities in a partner that we do not ourselves possess. Embrace the differences, especially at the holidays and be receptive to her unique needs and interests. Plan to do something or go somewhere only your girlfriend truly enjoys. If that means sitting on a couch together while she knits, buy here some unique yarn and a new pattern kit. She wants to go see the big city at Christmas time? Buy the train or plane ticket. Going along for the little rides, even the ones you don't want to take, shows you want to enjoy the long ride too.

Jewelry Done Right

Every year my father buys my mother a new piece of jewelry for Christmas. He tries thoughtfully to select the right look, size and type he thinks she will enjoy, and after 40 years, that becomes increasingly difficult I am sure. For my dad, I sense it is as much about the ritual and annual pilgrimage to the same jewelry store and process of completing his mission for the holiday on my mother's behalf. There is a certain romanticism to it. In the case of this couple with 40 years of marriage under the same roof, that moment is special every Christmas. For you or me, maybe a trip to an antique store to find a unique broche that she would love on her favorite sweater hits the mark. Unlike my dad and his yearly exercise, this is one of those ideas that has endless possibilities and is in play all year long. It too is about paying attention to your partner. That means observing and cataloguing all year long. You may find that perfect ring, pendant or pin during your travels together to a small New England town in May more easily than trying to fill a box from the mall 2 weeks before New Year's Eve. And the best part is, it takes the pressure off the guessing at the last minute and truly making it a thoughtful piece.

My advice here is not meant to be a seasonal guide of best brands to buy or a Top 10 list to give you the perfect gift idea. In my opinion, the best gifts are from the heart and are thoughtful. They do not need to be a lot of money, or sometimes, not even cost anything at all. Ironically, I say it often about my store and the items (often given as gifts) that I sell- the intrinsic value of the thing, its meaning to the owner- or in this case the giver/receiver, is more valuable than the thing itself. When your gift is meaningful, the value is perfectly apparent regardless of the size of the box or dollars spent. So give something of yourself to your loved one that shows you pay attention every day of the year and not just the day you give a present.

And if all else fails, don't forget that puppy.

Robert Babigian is owner of WHARF Clothing & Wares, a menswear retail boutique located at 212 Westminster Street in Providence, RI. A native Rhode Islander, Rob started WHARF after 2 decades in marketing and sales to fulfill his desire to combine his loves of consumer branding, small business and style that would fulfill a niche for desirable men's clothing in the Providence market. The apparel and accessories found at WHARF reflect Rob's own personal aesthetic—a combination of traditional New England staples mixed with modern fits, construction and fabrics blended together with a touch of European style. For more tips or to shop the store, stop in and see Rob and his staff or reach them online at shopwharf.com.


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