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Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette by Relationship Stage


Deciding what to get your special someone for a holiday gift is a tricky proposition, as there are many factors to take into account. How long have the two of you been dating? Is the relationship casual, serious, or something in between? Will holiday gifts be exchanged in front of friends and family? What types of holiday gifts are to be avoided at all cost? How much should you spend on a holiday gift? Follow these rules for holiday gift giving, and you'll be sure to please.

Relationship Stage: New or Casual Relationship

Man surprising girlfriend with gift at Christmas
Jamie Grill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Been dating less than three months or casually dating? Then is the holiday gift giving etiquette to follow.

Holiday gifts for newly dating couples should be fun, somewhat frivolous, and cost no more than $15-30. The reasoning? Your relationship is new and fresh, and therefore any holiday gifts given should reflect this. Items that are only practical in nature (such as a can opener), suggest a more serious relationship than what the two of you have forged (like jewelry) or are overly romantic (Romeo and Juliet) should be avoided altogether.

Relationship Stage: New Relationship

Newly committed couples dating each other exclusively (but not living together or engaged) fall into this relationship stage, as are those who have been dating for three to six months and seeing each other on average of two to three times a week.

Holiday gift giving etiquette states that newly committed couples should spend (on average) $30-75 for a gift, depending on your budget. Romantic holiday gifts are encouraged only if the two of you are exclusive. Items that remind the gift receiver of your time together are perfect, as are fun things that you can share with your date.

Relationship Stage: Long Term Relationship

Long term, serious relationships are those where you are either living together, engaged, or have been dating exclusively for six months or more.

By this time, you should know your partner well enough to have a fairly good idea of not only what they want for the holidays, but also what they need. Holiday gifts for long term committed couples are generally more expensive, more meaningful, and preferably have a romantic component to them. Practical items aren't so much of a no-no now, unless they suggest anything with a negative connotation.

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