Gift Ideas for the Unofficial Relationship (Part 1)

You just started dating someone and suddenly, it’s their birthday. Here are 3 easy ways to handle the situation properly.

Richie Frieman,
December 9, 2013
Episode #168

Everyone has been in this situation: You just started dating someone only to find out their birthday is right around the corner. Awkward, right?  Here you are, with a new relationship and just as you're getting to know the person, their birthday rolls up out of nowhere and leaves you wondering about the gift.

Gift Ideas for the Unofficial Relationship

As if deciding what to wear on dates isn’t hard enough, now you’re stuck deciding what to get them – or even if you should get them anything at all – for their birthday.  Plus, a gift can say a lot about your feelings – whether lukewarm or red hot. The pressure to nail the proper gift that says how you feel without going overboard (or being underwhelming) is more stressful than obsessively checking your phone for a text, an email, or even (gasp) a call back. And yes, guys do wonder if you're going to call them back. 

Today, I present Part 1 of my two-part series on the proper gift for the new or unofficial relationship. Part 1 is for the gentlemen and next week, I’ll offer some ideas for the ladies.

So with that, buck up fellas and get your romance on, ‘cause here are my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips on the right gift for the unofficial relationship:

Tip #1: Things Just Got Started

Relationship time frame: Two weeks or 2-3 dates.

Okay, so you’ve really connected, even on the first date. The person has a great laugh, great hair, they enjoy similar activities, and even claim to want a serious relationship – imagine that!  Then they say, “So my birthday is this Saturday and some friends are getting together. I’d love for you to come out!” At first you think, “Great! I can’t wait!” Then it hits you: you have to get them a present! And the nausea creeps up with the anxiety.

When things are going well, you don’t want anything to rock the boat. You need a gift that says “I like you” but not “I want to meet your parents tomorrow.” Rule number 1: don’t roll out the red carpet. Why? Well, you did just start dating and you want to save a little magic for later, if/when things get more serious. Plus, it may freak them out if you give them a present that most people save for their 10th wedding anniversary.

For this gift, fellas, I’d recommend an elegant romantic dinner out and a little something that you know they will like, to top it off. Pick a restaurant that has a long wait list but you were slick enough to swing by early on and ask the owner for a little help. That says, “It may be early, but I want to see this last longer.” And if you actually say that, well, that’s pretty much music to their ears. As for the present, keep it simple – maybe a book they have talked about reading or a bottle of wine they have been dying to try. This shows you have good taste but won’t make them uncomfortable. Choose something that will not, by any means, put you out financially. After all, the person is not expecting to be blown away… not just yet.

Tip #2: It's Getting Serious…

Relationship time frame: 1 ½ - 2 months, with 2-3 dates a week

Say your relationship is progressing faster and better than you imagined. You've met their friends, you feel okay texting them goofy thoughts that’ll make them laugh, they know your favorite sports team, and they'll even let you argue that "The Goonies" is the best movie of all time, without rolling their eyes (muc

Although you’re not quite ready to change your Facebook profile pic to the two of you sharing a sundae, you do need a gift that lets them know you want this to progress; a gift that won’t make them feel as though you’ve already planned your engagement party.

Start with a nice dinner out to a fancy restaurant that you don’t usually go to. But in this case, turn the romance a level up, boys. Restaurants are key to romance and the better the meal, the better the night. So, call up the restaurant and ask for a great table – maybe in a back room or in a special section.  Don’t be afraid to slip the host a few bucks – they’re used to it and they’ll hook you up. Plus, have flowers with a note from you at the table when you arrive and a nice bottle of wine. If they're not a drinker, then skip that part and stick to the flowers. Be it man or woman, flowers are a great gift as well as a perfect way to set the mood. 

After dinner, forego the dessert and head out to another venue. Now is the time to pull out of your pocket a small present – something that says that you are developing real feelings for them. Again, no bling, no wallet busters, but maybe a nice (non-diamond) bracelet or stylish cuff links. Something they could wear any time you go out, but nothing that will make them think, “Wow, how much did that cost?!”

Tip #3: It’s Not Only Hot in Here – It’s Burning UP!

Relationship time frame: 2 ½ - 3 months, with dates about every few days. Dare I say it – Facebook official!

At this point, you not only love being around them, but you feel comfortable enough to show them your bad high school photos and call them up out of nowhere to ask their advice on something personal. Is their birthday the right time to have “the talk”? Probably not. But giving the right gift can make it so you don’t even need to have it. At this stage of the relationship, you want a gift that is so slick and cool, that when you get up to go use the restroom, they are texting their friends about how awesome you are.

Again, hit up a great dinner, with a nice table, a bottle of vino, but when it comes to dessert, pick a new location. If you're serious, I’d use this evening to let them know where you stand. Use this date to pull the trigger and bring your A-plus game. While at dessert, hand them the present. I’d still advocate against bling, but it’s your call. It depends on how you feel at this time. The key is finding a balance between a present that doesn't overwhelm, but still makes them feel beyond special. Maybe it's something they saw and commented on in a magazine or a store window. Maybe it’s something they’ve wanted to buy themselves. But when you give it to them, say something like, “I was hoping you could wear it when we go away together next weekend.” Then tell them about the trip you’ve planned – if they (and you) are up for it.

This is the time to decide if you're both ready to take the "unofficial" out of your unofficial relationship.

Do you have a great story about how you handled a gift in a new relationship? Post all the details in Comments below or on myModern Manners Guy Facebook page.

As always, if you have another manners question, I look forward to hearing from you at manners@quickanddirtytips.com. Also, follow me on Twitter @MannersQDT, and of course, check back next week for more Modern Manners Guy tips.

Gift image from Shutterstock



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