It’s a known medical fact: most men are not born with the gift-giving gene. This time of year, you can see them stumbling around shopping malls, glassy-eyed and desperate.

With Christmas just a few days away, I’d like to offer a few suggestions to those most in need. Gentlemen, here’s what not to buy your wife or girlfriend.

Gifts You Want Yourself

While you might have your heart set on a beer cooler, power mower or roadside emergency kit: she probably doesn’t. (Here’s a secret: women have the crazy notion your gift should be a symbol of how much you love her, appreciate her and understand her needs.)  A cordless electric drill doesn’t cut it — not even a four-tool, 24-volt, brushless power combo.

Gifts That Can Be Interpreted as Criticism

It goes without saying, that Thigh Masters, nose-hair trimmers and wrinkle cream (even the expensive kind) are out. Gym memberships are also subject to misinterpretation unless specifically requested.

 Gifts That Say You Shopped at the Drug Store on Your Way Home from Work

Chia Pets, Russell Stover chocolates, teddy bears wearing “I Wuv You” t-shirts, and electric heating pads are a dead give-away.

Gifts That Say You Have No Idea Who She Is

This category is a little tricky. A great gift for one woman might be insulting to another i.e.:  sexy lingerie if she’s larger than a size six; a 12-piece standing mixer if she doesn’t cook, or a state-of-the-art smart phone if she’s techno-phobic. (Ladies, you know who you are.)

The best gift is one that she wants but is unwilling to buy herself. Think back, did she linger over the cashmere sweaters the last time you went shopping.  Did she recently admire a friend’s designer bag or clip a catalog page?  Don’t remember?  Call a friend, sister or other relative for a suggestion.

If all else fails, think jewelry. Something classic, in gold. A diamond or two wouldn’t hurt. Earrings are good. Bracelet might be better. Are you paying attention, Jack Schindler?

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