The worst part of Christmas for me is trying to outdo myself from last year.
Every year when it’s time to come up with something thoughtful to gift your loved ones, especially your spouse, it takes a lot of thought. This is my cornerstone of holiday anxiety. It’s not the holidays. It’s not about giving the kids a memorable Christmas. It’s put a smile on my wife’s face, again.
Of the spousal gift giving occasions in my life, Christmas is like the Superbowl. This despite the fact that Valentine’s Day, our anniversary, my wife’s birthday and then Mother’s Day all land within a three month window. Between February and May, I need an app on my phone to remind me of all the times I’m supposed to say I love and appreciate you, wrapped in a $3 roll of paper.
So, with Christmas being mecca for the gift-giving holiday for me, because the expectation is greater at least in my hubby’s mind, I’ve had seven months to think about what I’m going to give my wife. It’s seven months to think about what she can enjoy and find touching.
This kind of self-generated pressure led me to propose a system. Yes, I realize that sounds unloving to some degree, but it keeps me focused on a varied list of Arenas to find meaningful gift options. You husbands reading this are welcome to use it.
I call my system SCABJAT. It stands for Sports, Car, Aroma, Build, Jewelry and Tech. These are the business areas that I focus on every year, and every year I try to outdo myself in every area that I tackled the year before.
Now I understand that some women may not be into sports. I am also aware that not everyone may be technologically savvy. Do not hesitate to replace the “S” by Service and the “T” by Tickets if this applies to your loved one. I will explain myself as I examine the options induced by the SCABJAT system.
Sports. This one is easy or at least should be. It’s simple and doesn’t require much thought. If she has a favorite sports team – professional or college – there are myriad accessories for that team. My wife is a Colorado Avalanche and Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey fan, and comes from a family heritage of being a Denver Broncos fan. You might be surprised at the kind of ridiculous items available online to support your sports team. The other week I found a ceiling fan made from Avalanche hockey sticks. A ceiling fan. Seriously.
Auto. If your wife has a car, there are a ton of gift options out there: sun visors, cup holders, dash cams, new speakers, or Alexa Auto. Even a retail gift card qualifies in the automotive field. Let someone else suck up all the crumbs from the Ritz Cracker in the back seat that the kids have left behind since back to school in August. If you’re really good at it or on a budget, you’ll find a way to combine the sports and automotive arenas into one giveaway.
Aroma. This arena is quite large but I think it is essential to touch it. What woman doesn’t like herself or her home to smell good? Air Wick-like candles and novelty items are an easy buy, but I encourage you to think of other things that qualify in this area. Since the flowers will be dead within a week anyway, a fancy vase may be a better idea and also fits into the “A” of SCABJAT. Plus, you’ve now given her something to put the flowers you give her throughout the year.
If you have to resort to a candle, that’s fine. Just stay away from seasonal scents, like pumpkin pie or anything fall-related. I prefer having scents that can remind her of our favorite vacations: ocean breeze, tropical summer, etc. Also, don’t buy a perfume called Clean Linen. This can remind him that you never do the laundry.
To construct. Make your wife something. It is absolutely crucial. You may not be a carpenter or able to remodel the bathroom for her, but there must be something you have a knack for that you can use to create something for her. If you write well, create a poem for her or write the story of how you met and frame it, maybe with a nice photo. Building does not always mean building something. It means to create something. Maybe even set up a flag pole outside your house to fly the flag of his favorite sports team. Another possible opportunity of two birds, one stone. Even if you’re making her a Christmas card, a simple attempt to draw a flower and a snowman will show how you’ve taken the time to create something special.
Now be careful. Trying to outdo yourself year after year in this area can be costly and time-consuming. The first year we were together, I made a wire sculpture of us. This year I am building her a six foot wishing well for the garden. Next year I may have to build him a boat for one myself.
Jewelry. It’s pretty self-explanatory. My only advice here is that when your wife isn’t looking, take a photo of her jewelry collection for reference before you go looking for something new. I can’t tell you how many times I screwed up and bought him something that I had already bought him years before.
Technology. This should also be simple. Phone or TV accessories, special lighting, home security systems – it all qualifies.
As I mentioned before, if your wife doesn’t like sports, trade the “S” for service. It is an act of service. Do all the laundry on Christmas Eve. Make her a special Christmas Eve dessert. Pour her a glass of wine and let her sit on the patio listening to Christmas music while you play Uno indoors with the kids so she has an hour to herself. These are usually very popular and save you money on wrapping paper.
Finally, if your wife isn’t tech-savvy, get creative by changing the “T” to bills. Tickets can mean a lot of things, but it’s basically paying for an event that the two of you can share. Some suggestions might be a concert, a bit of theater, a trip, a cooking class or even better a ballroom dancing class. If you decide to trade Tech for this arena, here is the secret. If you can find something that she would appreciate but knows you would absolutely dislike, that would be the best possible option. The more you don’t want to do the activity you gave her, the more it will mean to her. It’s only once a year, guys. Suck it up.
The last thing I leave you with is to buy local first. Avoiding economic leakage for regions like the Tri-Lakes region is essential to its growth and prosperity. There are many local businesses that, if they don’t have the item you are looking for, might be willing to manufacture it for you.
I hope you are having a great holiday and I hope the smiles on your family’s faces make it a happy holiday.
Benn Farrell is a freelance writer and playwright based in Monument.