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Mother's Day Shopping Tips for Shopping-Impaired Guys
For men, the worst part of Mothers' Day is… shopping for their wives.

Father's Day is easier for women because they almost always know what to get their husbands: either something he wants - which she deduces because men are as subtle and hard to read as sheep dogs - or something he needs. ("Needs" being defined as what she thinks he needs, like a V-neck sweater or a complete makeover.)

But men generally are clueless when buying things for women. If Freud did not know what women want, what chance do the rest of us have? (Whereas Mrs. Freud presumably knew her husband sometimes wanted just a box of cigars.)

Here are some tips for shopping-impaired guys:

  • Make a list of whatever you want: big-screen TV, DVD player, digital camera or MP3 player. Now you know what she doesn't want. Think about her interests and hobbies. Still nothing? Call her friends.
  • Other than a scarf, sweater or gloves, do not get her clothes. (And if you bought her any of those three last year, you can't get 'em this year.) The only man who successfully bought clothes for a woman was Richard Gere, who bought some for Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman." But that was a movie. In real life, men don't take women shopping; women drag men shopping.
  • If you must get her clothing, know her size beforehand. Buying something too small is only marginally less offensive than purchasing something too large. (That's why scarves make great presents - size does not matter.) And avoid the sales rack; those clothes are from last season, which means: she couldn't possibly wear them. (Women's fashions change in Web years, while the last significant change in men's fashions occurred 200 years ago, when guys stopped wearing powdered wigs and brocade pumps.)
  • No matter what, don't buy her a pair of shoes. There are too many variables. Buying the wrong style, the wrong color or the wrong heel-length could cause a major relationship setback. Think about your feelings if she bought you the wrong pair of sneakers.
  • If you're considering jewelry, get earrings. (Even if they knew what a "brooch" is, most men - whose toughest similar decision is what tie to wear - could not select one that his wife might actually wear.) But before you buy, ask yourself: does she wear silver or gold? (Most women stick with one metal.) Pierced or clip-ons? Hoop or dangling or button? Don't know the answers - avoid an argument and just buy something with diamonds.
  • For the sake of argument, let's say you know what to get her. If you go to the store and can't find it, ask a salesperson. I've never done it myself, but my wife claims most salespeople do not bite and could prove helpful by checking "in back" to find the item or by providing suggestions. (But remember: as Mother's Day looms, shoppers aren't the only desperate ones; salespeople start pushing any item that mentions "Mother." Despite the salesperson's word, "Mommie Dearest" is probably not "the perfect Mother's Day book she'll always cherish.")
  • Buying her sports equipment - golf clubs or skis - is fine. But unless you have discussed it several (i.e., 50) times, don't buy her exercise equipment. ("Honey, with the Buttmaster 2000 you'll finally…" is a sentence you should never, ever utter.)
  • It's nice to buy something she wouldn't get for herself, but do not get something too practical. Your wife may want kitchen appliances or cookware, but don't believe the department store circulars claiming they make great gifts. "Ooh, a saucepan," "a new toaster-oven," or even "what an interesting idea - a monogrammed ball-peen hammer" will almost certainly be followed by the phrase, "you really shouldn't have."
  • Do not buy the same gift - particularly perfume or lingerie - for your wife and your mother. If they like the exact same things, there's something you should get: professional help.
  • Our best advice: avoid the hassles; stay at home and buy her something simple from the Internet…like flowers.


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