Men, listen up. You may not know exactly what the little woman really wants for Christmas this year. In fact, we're pretty sure you have no clue. We don't, either. But we know 10 things she doesn't want. Before you buy anything on this list, use the rating system to assess your risk of sleeping a corresponding number of nights on the sofa.
Trust us. She will not melt into your arms when she opens that gallon-sized decanter of "Minerva" you bought for $8.95 including the miniature stuffed basset hound. Even if it could multiply its value by doubling as either insect repellent or charcoal starter, this one stinks.
The Christmas sweater with snowmen and reindeer and ornaments.
When Grandma gives her this, it's cute. Coming from you, it says "Mrs. Claus." , but add more if there's anything attached to this sweater that lights up or plays music.
A floor-length, down-filled, magenta winter coat.
It was on clearance, and it sure looked warm. My wife never had the heart to tell me she hated it. I started to get a clue on below-zero nights when she'd leave it in the closet in favor of a windbreaker.
Moral: Think twice before giving her something she will be seen wearing in public, day after day. Who'd have guessed that some women don't yearn to look like a pink sleeping bag?
Remote-control house lights
she can control from the car. This one was reported on talkaboutcollegefootball.com. Not a horrible present in itself, but the guy wrapped each component in separate tiny boxes. Imagine the wife's gasps of joy by box number 10.
Never, ever, make her think she's getting jewelry unless she really is.
Whether it's the expensive treadmill with built-in video screen or the electric stomach shocker you bought off a late-night infomercial, this gift says, "I love you, Honey. Now hit the gym and lose that spare tire." Ill-advised companion gift: a scale.
A toilet seat.
You wouldn't think we'd even have to include this. You'd be wrong. According to the Daily Times-Call, a husband in Longmont, Colorado, presented his queen with the ultimate throne to replace one that was cracked.
"Here I thought I was doing good," the poor guy told the newspaper. "It was something she can always use, day after day. It's the gift that keeps on giving."
Yep. Every time she gets a stomach virus.
The cheese-and-sausage sampler pack.
Your wife's ultimate fantasy is not sitting in the Barcalounger on Christmas day, pounding down liverwurst and Gouda attractively packaged in plastic Easter-basket grass. Ill-advised companion gift: a box of cheap chocolates.
A vacuum cleaner.
Not a whole lot better than the exercise equipment in terms of building her self-esteem. Even if she needs a new vacuum, don't. It says, "Merry Christmas, Baby. This place looks like a landfill."
The corset handbag. Nothing says dignity like packing her wallet and car keys into a miniature human torso that's wearing sexy underwear. Confident career woman? Ax murderer? Only she'll know for sure.
Speaking of which …
Generally too risky at Christmas (particularly if paired with the electric stomach shocker). Also more expensive than you think. If she's going to open the French maid getup as the family sits around the tree on Christmas morning, you'll need to factor in therapy costs for the kids and elderly relatives.
Jim Killam, an MP regular contributor, teaches journalism at Northern Illinois University and is co-author of Rescuing the Raggedy Man (Xulon Press). Jim plans to give his wife, Lauren, shopping money for Christmas this year. And possibly a new couch.
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. Click here for reprint information on Marriage Partnership.