A Guy's Guide to Gift Giving
Let's say you've been dating for a couple of weeks, and things are going well. In this situation you should go for something that shows you've been thinking about her, and yet you don't want to overwhelm her with a hugely expensive gift and scare her off. I personally recommend a gift around $20 and a nice card. It's a comfortable, non-offensive amount, somewhat like what you'd spend on an office grab bag gift. Some people may want to do more or less, so it's up to your discretion. As for what to get her, don't just hastily buy some girly looking body wash and call it a day. You have a golden opportunity to earn some brownie points, so don't waste it! On the next few dates before you buy her present, pay very close attention to when she mentions she likes something. She might mention she loves Memoirs of a Geisha, so you could head over to C.O. Bigelow and get her something from that line of cosmetics. That way she'll see that you are paying attention to her likes and dislikes, and that you were thinking of her when she wasn't around. Maybe she'll mention she loves a certain store. A gift card is not a bad option, although not nearly as thoughtful. It will really impress her if, during a date, she casually mentions that she loved the movie Serendipity, and her Chrismas present is ice skating in Bryant Park (free admission!) followed by coffee and dessert at the cafe the movie was named for. That will only work if you live in or near New York, but you get what I'm saying. Get creative. You can be a romantic sweetie on the cheap if you're smart.
If you've been dating for a few months at this point, you can go ahead and spend a little more. Between thirty and fifty dollars is reasonable, and in this situation, a thoughtful gift is always a great idea. By now you must know her fairly well, so you'll know what she likes. If you're going for the brownie points in this scenario, you can knock her socks off with a little attention. Most women have that one purchase that they've wanted for weeks, months or more, and they wouldn't buy it for themselves because it's either embarassing or too extravagant. She's probably mentioned it wistfully a few times, or she might stare longingly at it every time she passes it in the mall. Take notice of this. Maybe there's a piece of jewelry she loves at Free People, but she never buys it because she doesn't "really need another pair of earrings" or they're a little more than she'd usually spend on jewelry. Go ahead and get them for her. That way she can have the bauble she wants without the guilt of having bought it herself. Boyfriends don't let girlfriends have buyers remorse. Of course, don't forget the thoughtful card.
If you've been dating for much longer than a few months, like a year or more, you already know what she likes, and you already know what she's putting on her list for Santa. This is an easy one for you, but if you're again a brown-noser and want to go the extra mile, the key word is once again attention. Think of the thing she loves most, but this time, it's okay to splash out and blow a wad on her. You don't have to, but you can do a lot with $100. A day of beauty at a local spa is a heavenly treat for most women, or maybe there is a luxurious coat or purse she would die for. The bottom line is, it's the season to show her how much you love her, care about her, enjoy her company, or what have you. Dig the romantic side out of the moth balls and give her a gift that will make her smile.