Here are some helpful hints shared from holiday knowledge gathered during more than six decades of Christmas shopping:
1. Do not believe a loved one when he or she insists, "Let's not exchange gifts this year." At the last minute, this person will turn on you and will surprise you with generosity, and you will be left with nothing to exchange except conversation, such as the words, "I thought you said ..."
2. Never ask that special someone in your life her "blouse size" and then buy her a T-shirt with a funny saying on it. Don't ask me how I know. Avoid athletic jerseys, too.
3. When you buy perfume, know the brand worn by the person to whom you are going to give it. Do not ever rely on going to the fragrance counter and sniffing, then thinking, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure she smells something like this."
4. If you plan to offer as a gift a special night out, it's better to wrap up actual tickets, with a calendar date and seat assignments at a verifiable event, instead of just handing over an envelope containing a vague and scribbled note that serves as a promise of some future evening of enjoyable entertainment, if you get around to it.
5. An appointment at a health club with a personal trainer sends the message that the gift recipient needs an appointment at a health club with a personal trainer.
6. Just because you like reading sports biographies doesn't mean she likes reading sports biographies. The same premise applies to books about military history and mass murderers.
7. When you go shopping together, and you stop to eat dinner, and you buy the food, the meal cannot be written off as a "one gift down," even if you insist when the check comes that "no, no, no, this one's on me."
8. Even if your spouse has worn red for years, buys red clothes whenever you are in a store with her, and raves about the red things that her friends wear to holiday parties, do not under any circumstances assume she will be ecstatic over some red garment you buy her for Christmas because it is highly likely that by then she will have stopped liking all red things. You should have gone with something green. What were you thinking?
9. If you ask her what size she is, and she tells you, buy that size or preferably one size smaller. Do you really thing she's going to be upset about returning it when you explain that "I know what you said, but you honestly don't look that big to me ..." The gift in this case is not the garment.
10. Don't buy kitchen appliances for her just because you would be happy if she gave you some power tool.
Page 2 of 2 - 11. Boxes of candy and bottles of wine are not good gifts if you are planning to share.
12. If you have bought a person scarves, cologne, earrings, purses or any other items that could be considered standard gifts for more than, well, one year in a row, that gift should not be on your list this Christmas. No, not next year, either.
Reach Gary at 330-580-8303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter: @gbrownREP