We are rapidly approaching the holiday season. Oh…what the heck. It’s already here. Many retailers have had Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items on display for a couple of months, all at the same time. Retailers start early since these holidays are often responsible for generating the majority of their yearly revenues. A great deal of money is spent on gifts for these holidays. Money spent on candy, food, decorations and gift giving.

Gift giving is also a part of other approaching holidays, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. However, neither of these holidays are given the retail attention Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas receive.

I would mention Festivus here but, as loyal Seinfeld fans are aware, it is a holiday that originated in opposition to the commercialism that has become associated with some of the holidays mentioned above. Instead, Festivus features activities like Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances.

I would contend that the Airing of Grievances can occur during any holiday where family contact lasts more than two days.

This brings me to my topic this month, advice for holiday gift giving. The advice is primarily for men and is this: For crying out loud, buy your wife or girlfriend a nice gift. Something you can afford and has significance and meaning.

Over the years, I have asked thousands of patients what gifts they received for the holidays. Unfortunately, the answers I received from wives and girlfriends have often been atrocious.

For example, one wife received a pink toilet seat. Her husband thought this was appropriate as they had just remodeled a bathroom in pink. Another wife received a ceiling fan. It was also associated with a remodeling project.

Other gifts described to me over the years have included cordless drills, various other tools, vacuum cleaners, hubcaps, chainsaws, lawn mowers, shrubs, buckets of paint, car mats, carpeting, gift cards, clothing that is two sizes too big and four thousand pairs of house slippers etc. There seems to be an ongoing remodeling/lawn care theme.

Both of my parents grew up very poor and neither of them ever received much of anything for Christmas. They responded to this in completely different ways as adults.

My mother could never have enough gifts under the tree. She wanted more gifts than we could afford. To compensate she would wrap small gifts in large packages or wrap boxes of everyone's favorite snack cakes as gifts.

My father did not participate in Christmas any more than was absolutely necessary. When it came to selecting something for my mother, my father waited until Christmas Eve when everything was on clearance and bought the first thing he saw. She was always disappointed.

When my sister was older, she took charge of my father’s gift giving. She would say to him, “Get your coat and your checkbook and let’s go.” Then she would grab her coat and something to beat him about the head with and off they went.

This tradition began after a Christmas that became the last straw. It was the first time I took my wife (then my fiancé) home for the holidays. My mother opened my father’s gift to her. It was a large diamond necklace and we were all excited. It seemed like the Ole Boy had stepped up his game. Ten minutes later it became obvious the stone was glass. This event also served as the origin of the saying, “If mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.''

This leads me to a list of rules I want to suggest to men for holiday shopping. Rules to assure joy for the holiday season.


Start early. Pay attention during the year to things she pays attention to. If she comments on a certain commercial, lingers while looking at an item in a store or mentions something a friend received with enthusiasm, make note.
In general, lingerie is not a gift for her.
Know her birthstone.
If another special day falls near a holiday, her birthday, an anniversary, do not combine the gifts. Buy individual gifts for each event.
Get her something she collects.
If your lady is a foodie and wants an appliance, a large mixer for example, then get it. Otherwise, no appliances or other items that have an electrical cord — crockpot, blender, hairdryer etc.
Never give her something you want more than she does.
Never get her something she has to share unless she would want to share it.
Help her do the buying for the kids/relatives.
Never give her anything that creates work. Something that reduces the efforts required for work she is already doing maybe, but nothing that creates additional work.
If she says, “You don’t have to get me anything,” it is a trap. Get something. Anything!
When buying clothes, you must know her sizes. Then, you must buy items that are one or two sizes smaller. The opposite applies for jewelry/precious stones. You buy one size/karat larger.
Some men form war parties before Christmas and go shopping en masse. Please do not participate in this activity. Go by yourself. Men, remember none of us is as dumb individually as several of us are in a group. Bad things can happen.

Happy Holidays!

Dr. K. Jeffrey Miller is a chiropractor at Missouri Orthopedic Institute and the author of “The Road to Happiness Is Always Under Construction: 50 Activities for Creating a Positive Outlook.” His column publishes the first Friday of each month.