Have you found the perfect gift? Does one exist? Gift giving has increasingly become more stressful and there has been increasing pressure to find the perfect gift. I’ve heard many couples in my office work through a conflict discussion around a seemingly haphazard gift choice. In fact, I have my own story!

George and I were early into our marriage (possibly in our very first year) when he went to Vegas to meet up with some friends. Back then, to me a gift carried a lot of weight when it came to relationship harmony – if he returned with a gift, it meant that he thought of me. I was all smiles the moment he walked in the door and he handed me a gift he got for me. He was all smiles thinking I would feel so special once I saw what he picked out. He said, “I got you a necklace!” I looked at it carefully and my brow furrowed as I pinched the chain and held it up, “This isn’t a necklace; it’s an eyeglass chain…you know, the thing that older people put on their glasses so they can dangle around their neck!”

I have kept that chain and it is neatly laying in my jewelry box. Twenty years later, it brings me such amusement when I think about how proud he was to bring me back a “necklace”…that he picked up at the airport before boarding the plane to come home. Who knows, I’m reaching an age where I might genuinely make use of it! The meaning was not lost on either of us – he did think of me while he was away.

Gift-giving can either be a source of stress or a meaningful way to connect with others. As you are shopping for gifts this season, reflect on the significance that gift-giving holds for you. Consider the message you want your gift to convey.

A thought-provoking podcast episode from Hidden Brain titled “The Secret to Gift-Giving” helped me reconsider my approach to giving gifts. I’ve come to realize that gift-giving doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Rather than focusing on finding the perfect gift, I’ve shifted my perspective to understanding what the person I’m shopping for truly likes. For example, instead of viewing gift cards as impersonal, I now see them as a thoughtful way of acknowledging that the recipient might enjoy selecting something for themselves.

These days, when I give a gift card, I find myself saying, “I know you would find more joy in picking out something you truly want. Enjoy a shopping spree on me.” This shift in mindset has not only made the gift-giving process more enjoyable for me but also emphasizes the importance of the recipient’s preferences and desires.

We’ve come up with a few affordable, unique, and meaningful gift ideas based on our own lived experience. Hope some of these will inspire you!

Magnetic Photo Frames

Price range $

Why therapist H.M. Humphrey recommends this gift
Magnetic photo frames are a lovely way to let your sentimental sweetheart know that you value your relationship. Place them all over the fridge for sweet, daily reminders of what you share. H.M. recommends giving your loved one a stack of meaningful, printed photos so they can choose which ones to display. And a bonus, they’re easy to switch out! 

“Map of our life” print

Price range $$

Why therapist Kelsee White recommends this gift
Whether you’ve recently met and fallen in love or have been married for many years, this is a thoughtful and sentimental gift that is sure to tell your partner how much you care. It’s a visual symbol of your journey as a couple and a meaningful reminder of the special moments you’ve shared together. It’s a great conversation piece as well for guests who visit your home. Who doesn’t love to talk about their love story?! 

Ticket to Ride board game 

Price range $–$$

Why therapist Hanna Rose recommends this gift
Ticket to Ride is a must-buy board game for its captivating blend of strategy and simplicity, offering a perfect balance for novice players and your die-hard competitors. The rules are easy to learn and you get to map out train routes from one fun destination to another – and potentially block someone else! Ticket to Ride can easily be the highlight of your next party fostering friendly competition and strategic thinking. This is Hanna’s favorite board game to play with her husband. They have gotten hours of fun out of playing it with just the two of them, as well as with family and friends. 

Überlube silicone-based lubricant

Price range $–$$

Why therapist Liz Mallers recommends this gift
Give your lover the gift of pleasure! Lube makes everything better. Überlube is our Sexual Wellness Specialist’s top recommended silicone-based lubricant for solo or partner play. It’s long-lasting, clean, and made of body-safe ingredients. Remember: like dissolves like, so don’t use Überlube with silicone toys! Liz recommends the Home & Away Bundle, which includes a gorgeous glass bottle for home and an easy-to-pack, TSA-approved to-go bottle for travel.

Private Photoshoot through the City

Price range $ – $$$

Why therapist Brittany Bolden recommends this gift
Capture this season of your life with a photoshoot! Viator is a fun site full of experiences – so if you are looking for inspiration when planning your next date, you can find experiences ranging from brewery tours, haunted walking tours, scavenger hunts, to professional photoshoots. Plan a fun outing capturing your smiles around town and leave the selfie stick behind! You’ll have lasting memories and unique photos to share on Instagram. 

Date Night Box: Scratch off Card Game for Couples

Price range $

Why therapist Ali Flowers recommends this gift
This is stocking stuffer material! It’s small, but packs the punch when it comes to generating date ideas all year long.  Sometimes the hardest part of going on a date night can be deciding what to do with the time. I often hear partners complain of being the assumed planner or having run out of ideas. This gift is for adventurous couples and couples who enjoy regular date nights. The Date Night Box helps couples be collaborative and spontaneous —  getting out of a rut with some fresh ideas!

The ideas set you up for either a day or evening of fun! Prior to scratching off the idea, it will suggest the amount of time and money needed for the idea, but you’ll need to do the prep work – for instance, one is creating a picnic with a twist…pick a letter of the alphabet and only get items that start with that letter for the picnic. Another idea is creating a blindfold taste test to see if you can tell the difference between expensive or cheap foods like cheese or chocolate!  If you are adventurous and need to get out of a date night rut, add these cards for that creative and playful inspiration! 

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain Nintendo Switch video game

Price range $–$$

Why therapist Faith Drew recommends this gift
Interested in a little bit of friendly competition? This game is a hit at home, and it won’t break the bank. A combination of puzzles, math, and trivia, Brain vs. Brain is a terrific option for couples who need a fun way of entertaining the kids while still having fun connecting as adults.  It’s a multiple player game, and each player plays at their varied skill level. You can choose if you want advanced (for the adults) or beginners (for the kids, and the questions adjust to your individual level).

All of you play in real-time at the same time, and you compete to win. Before you know it, an hour will go by while laughing, doing your best, and cheering on each other. Even when George loses, he still wants to play again. And that’s saying a lot.  Note: You must have a Nintendo Switch console, connect to your tv, and each player must have their own controller. If you want to take it up a notch, hook it up to a projector and find a large blank wall to project it onto! 

What Meaning Do You Wish to Convey with Your Gift?

Gifts are a way to reinforce the meaning you want to convey to your partner or others to help foster connection, create shared experiences, or communicate how you feel. If you love gifts as much as I do, you aren’t materialistic — you like what you like and gifts can be very symbolic for deeper values and represent sentimental memories.

If you are thinking through how you want to spend this holiday season, gift-giving and all, take a look at our guide on how to pull off a stress-free holiday gathering. We hope our ideas spark creativity and connection for you and your partner. We’re here to help when it comes to navigating our differences when it comes to gifts and experiences or setting boundaries in relationships.

Our practice offers in-person appointments in Charlotte, NC, and Carefree, AZ. We also have virtual sessions available for those who live in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas. Contact us to get started.