This post originally appeared on TBF on December 13, 2006.

My name is Tobias and I’m trying to give better gifts.

For a guy, the first step in better gift giving is to find out where that special person in your life falls on the gift giving bell curve. At one end of the curve is your mom, who is just happy you called, at the other end is your fashion obsessed sister who doesn’t wear anything but Prada. Like all bell curves, the majority of women fall right in the middle, the don’t ask, don’t tell zone. This is where my wife, the Budget Fashionista, lives. She’s just romantic enough to not ask for some she wants and direct enough to realize that even if she does ask, she won’t get it exactly. If you’re like her, developing a list of 6-8 items, with footnotes and comparable alternatives 12-15 days out from any gift giving event, may be the best idea.

This zone is pure heartache for guys like me, who try their best to find the perfect gift.  So what are we to do? Well here’s a list I developed to help me during the gift giving season. If you have a guy who’s trying his best, but just not hitting the mark, send him this list.

Tobias’s Tips
Every time she mentioned something, write it down and save it for later.
Timeliness is essential when it comes to shopping for women, especially in regards to women fashion items. I used to write down everything she liked and by time I finally got the item she’d forgotten she said she liked it or she had moved on to the next thing.

Ask her friends:
I haven’t tried this one yet. Seems like a good idea though. I highly recommend this for newly christened boyfriends or husbands, so when you do mess up, you have the support of her friends.

Get food:
This use to work great for me, especially if it involved chocolate. It was a home run every time. Going out to dinner was always a big hit (especially if it involved dancing). That is ….until Kathryn decided to change her relationship with food. Now food as a gift or a reward is frowned upon.  I’ve yet to recover from the removal of this gift option.

Get Flowers:
Another sure winner that, I did at the beginning of the relationship and now five years out, I don’t do. It’s not that I don’t want to do it and I often think that I should do it, but I just don’t.

Get her something she needs:
This is where the nano falls, she says she works out better with music.  It’s not that I didn’t want to buy her the red Nano, it’s just that the silver one was there when I thought to buy it. I’m a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to computer equipment (on the flip side left when it comes to clothing, I’d own seven of the same outfits so I never have to think about what I wear), s   Kathryn is just the opposite, and she’ll lovingly polish her new leather purse to transparency, and for electronic stuff, well, lets just say to date, Kathryn 4, cellphones 0. I bought her the silver so that she wouldn’t have to wait.

Get her something you want to give her:
Yeah, this never worked for me…

Buy her what you know
I know computer equipment, Kathryn know clothes. I buy her what I know and avoid her area of expertise like Macy’s during a sale. If you know sports, buy her something sports related that she would enjoy (make sure SHE would enjoy it). Don’t get creative- this is where we often get in trouble. I know Star Trek, but I know that a pair of Dr. Spoc ears won’t go over well on Christmas day. I don’t know fashion, so it’s a bad idea to even think about purchasing Kathryn items of clothing. I mean,  I’m married to the Budget Fashionista, the woman who literally wrote the book on budget fashion. Why would I even subject myself to buying an item of clothing for her? Up until a couple of months ago, I thought Proenza Schouler was some sort of nasty venereal disease.

Follow Her Interests:
This is another great way to get the right gift. If your mate has a strong interest in a particular subject, get her items related to that subject. For example, if she’s a big yoga fan, get her yoga certificates. If she loves NASCAR, get her some NASCAR related items. One year Kathryn was going through her “Frida” (as in Frida Kahlo) period, so bought her the soundtrack, the movie, some art supplies, ethnic beads, etc. That was a good Christmas.

Have Her Create an Online Wish List:
This is the best way to get her exactly what she wants. Plus,you don’t have to think- just click and buy. The best way to go

So in summary, guys if you care, (and we do rather we want to admit it or not), just have her pick out what she wants. If all else fails, do what you do when you forget to take out the garbage or don’t make reservation early enough for Valentines Day. Apologize and try to do better next time.