Filthy, sexy presents…

You’re a spider. Your girlfriend is the long-limbed she-spider across the lawn. You want sex, so you drop a fly on her web. It’s admittedly a small fly (you were a little lazy), so she finishes eating it before you two finish your crazy spider love. Big mistake. Unsatisfied, she has but one option: to eat you.

“Even in the animal kingdom, males have to offer copulatory gifts,” says Dr Victoria Wilson, author of The 30-Day Sex Solution (R140, kalahari.co.za). “For women, gifts symbolise attention, affection, appreciation – basically, your feelings for her.” Which means if you offer up an undersized fly – that generic perfume, a vacuum cleaner – she’ll feel perfectly entitled to eat you alive.

We sympathise. “Women are intuitive, so they expect men to be able to read their minds, ” Wilson says. But you’re no more a mind reader than a web spinner. For female-kind, gifts symbolise how well you know her, and if you pay any attention to her. But gifting your girlfriend, girl friend or future girlfriend is actually pretty easy if you follow a few simple rules.

Commit these seven rules to memory, obey them and you will survive the Christmas-Anniversary-Birthday-Valentines Day gauntlet.

1. It has to be personal

This doesn’t mean you have to give her a framed photograph of the menu from your first date. We don’t always expect “romantic” gestures, and they often come off as a bit tacky and clichéd. Personal means that the gift you pick shows that you know something about her, and if the girl is gift worthy, you should know something about her.

What we suggest?

Women are sentimental and generally like things to put on walls. A canvas print is slightly less tacky than the framed couple shot, and it’ll last a whole lot longer. All you need to do is find her favourite photo: it could be one of her holiday snaps, your kids, or maybe it’s just of her beloved pooch. Have it printed it on canvas, and voilà – personal; and beautiful, and a huge leg up from chocolates and flowers. Too ambitious or overwhelming? Maybe it’s a subscription to her favourite magazine – it’s a birthday gift that she gets every month.
Check out printcanvas.co.za, it’s R280 for an A3 canvas and womenshealthsa.co.za/subscribe for a year’s subscription to Women’s Health, R290.

2. Obey the hints

Women will hint at what they want, some more subtly than others. I have been known to compile a list, but most of us aren’t as blunt. “Pay attention, and not just the day before her birthday,” says Girl Next Door Amelia Frenkel. Female minds want you to subtly pick up on their hints, and in order to catch these flying orbs of infinite boyfriend/husband points you have a single task – listen.

What we suggest?

If you still haven’t received her well-hidden clues, take her shopping a couple of weeks before her birthday. Not only will you score points for willingly trawling through endless racks of female apparel, while answering questions like, “Don’t you think these jeans will go really well those brown pumps I bought last week?” but you’ll also gather lots of new gift ideas. Like, how much she loves those shoes with the blue stripes, or that necklace that she just can’t justify buying, but will go perfectly with her new blouse. Implement these hints and you will be rewarded.

3. If in doubt, do not enter the sex shop

Mr Men, we like you, hell… maybe we even love you, but listen closely, we do not want furry handcuffs unless we have specified otherwise (see rule 2). We also do not want brightly coloured vibrators that make us blush, or role-playing sex cards. “If you come home with a box of pornos and a huge dildo, most women will be in a state of shock,” says Dr Elna MacIntosh, sexologist, “A pair of shoes will probably make her feel sexier.” This doesn’t mean we never want to participate in these kind of activities, but special occasions are for things we can tell our mothers you bought us. Generally, sex toys and other such wonders are for buying together.

What we suggest?

If your object of desire has hinted (and it should probably be strongly) that she wants a naughty and sexy gift – great! Dr MacIntosh suggests you go on a sexy shopping mission and make an occasion of it. Find a reputable shop (that can give you good advice) and buy something fun for her, not you.
Dr MacIntosh recommends Bella Rouge for their attentive service in store (bellarouge.co.za for your nearest branch). Otherwise browse online at matildas.co.za for a whole host of bedroom goodies.

4. Avoid size drama

Boys, there is one thing that you will never understand about the female mind, no matter how confident and self assured a woman is, somewhere lurks a little patch of body hang ups. We like our bums, but we don’t like our boobs, or we like our boobs but only in a halter neck top, not in a strappy one. We can’t explain it, and you wont understand it. So be wary of the clothing gift because you will inevitably have to pick a size. “The most common mistake men make when buying gifts for their partner is buying lingerie in the wrong size,” says Jenni Osrin of Bella Rouge. Pick a large when she is a medium and she’ll think you think she’s fat (did you get that?). Vice versa and she’ll think she has gotten fat. “Women’s brains will work in reverse if you get the wrong size,” says Dr MacIntosh. Either way, if you get it wrong, you’ll be in trouble.

What we suggest?

Avoid clothes entirely, unless during the post-occasion shopping trip she has tried on an item – and you remember the size. If you still want to get her something for her cupboard, underwear is easy because sizing is pretty standard and shouldn’t vary. Have a little look through her intimates (even if it’s a sneak peak during the pre-sex bra removal) and get her the same size and style. That means: if she doesn’t wear frilly thongs, do not buy her one.
Remember the gift is for her, not you.

5. An experience beats some junk we won’t use

Hannah Simone, star of New Girl told us that every guy should buy his girlfriend at least one getaway. Who doesn’t want to get whisked away without having to hassle with time consuming travel plans? The key to a successful sexcation is to make sure you actually have plans. You can’t arrive in the middle of the Karoo and then have no idea where you are going to eat dinner – not sexy. It’s probably also advisable to give your lady human some warning that you want to take her on a trip. Women like to plan, and practically we might have to make some arrangements: like figure out who is going feed Kitty and get some time off work. In a recent MH online poll, readers voted Bela Bela as their top spot to spend a quiet weekend away.

6. Still clueless?

It’s the day before your wife’s birthday. The pre-birthday shopping trip never happened. Because, well… life happened ¬– you have been grinding away on a huge presentation at work; last Saturday you spent three hours at the bank and then you had to trek your kid to the dentist. We understand, sometimes hours and even days disappear without cognition. It’s okay, there is the fall back gift, but it’s going to cost you. Most guys think that the fall back gift is a bunch of flowers. It’s not. Flowers say this: “I didn’t plan this/I forgot about it/I had to get you something after work and they sell these at the robots”. Not too impressive. The fall back gift has to impress.

What we suggest?

Forgo the bog standard spa voucher and rather book her an appointment with her hairdresser on her birthday. She’ll not only look gorgeous for her birthday dinner, but she’ll be surprised you know who her hairdresser is!
It’s on her phone, under “Hairdresser”.

7. The closers

There are only two more minor rules:

1. Wrap your gift.

If wrapping paper, ribbons and sellotape make you feel like you have two buttery, left thumbs ask the store if they gift wrap, most do. Otherwise buy packaging that doesn’t involve the use of stationery, like a gift packet, or a cute (read: attractive) box.

2. Make sure there is a card.

It doesn’t have to be glittery, or huge, or sing a song; it could even be a couple of words scrawled on a gift tag. Because really it’s the words we treasure the most.
But say something, and hopefully something beyond “Dear Kim, HB”.