Oh fuck, it’s already early December and you’ve only got a few weeks to figure out what you, a devoted husband, are supposed to get your loving wife. If you haven’t already asked her what she wants, stop what you’re doing and ask her now. Did she have a specific answer? Amazing, open up another tab and buy it immediately. Did she say she doesn’t know, or worse, say she doesn’t want anything? No worries — let these certified Wife Guys be your guide.
Ever committed to being known as men who are married, these guys have spent the past year defining themselves as being attuned to their partner’s desires and interests. It’s a bit late in the year to start doing that yourself, but maybe now you can get a head start on becoming one for 2022. Below is a selection of what Wife Guys of all stripes recommend, ranging in price from free (but priceless) to the cost of a new car.
Something Nice Paired With Something Stupid
“We usually get each other stuff around Christmas and call it ‘The Christmas Gift,’” says Drew Janda, a writer, producer and self-identified Wife Guy. “It’s one useful or fancy thing, and then something dumb. This year, I got her an Apple Watch and a pair of novelty socks.”
This is a nearly foolproof combination. The useful or fancy thing doesn’t need to have a ton of personality to it or be all that clever — it just needs to be something she doesn’t already have. Maybe that’s an Apple Watch, maybe it’s AirPods, a remote car starter, a Polaroid camera or a record player — tech-y stuff over $100 works well here.
Then, it’s much, much easier to find little fun items that speak more to who your partner is, even if it’s just a book they’d like. The smaller, cheaper stuff bears the weight of knowing who your partner is, while the more expensive, less personal items bear the weight of spending the money and showing that you value them in that regard.
A Birkin, If You’ve Got That “Desert Money”
“For Christmas this year, I bought Sarah an Hermès Birkin 25 in Craie Togo leather with gold hardware,” says Wife Guy Robbie Tripp, of “I love this woman and her curvy body” fame. “Highly recommend for anyone looking to treat their chubby, sexy wife to a nice handbag that drips with luxury, prestige, and of course, desert money.”
Desert money, indeed. The Birkin is a notoriously hard bag to acquire, with long waitlists and opaque selling practices. You can’t just walk into a Hermès store and buy one without having an established relationship as a buyer of the brand already, or otherwise just really good luck. They can range in price from $9,000 to over half a million. If you want to buy this specific version used, you can pick it up for $34,500. While that’s obviously a monstrous amount of money, if you can afford to buy your wife a Birkin, you should. It’s safe to assume she’d like it.
A Work Bag and a Robe
While technically the gift a Wife Guy receives from his wife, John Legend’s annual present from Chrissy Teigen works well enough in reverse. Last year, he explained that she gets him the same two gifts every year: A work bag and a robe. Given the gender-neutrality of these things, I thought they’d be good to include here. A work bag and a robe are perfect gifts that will (hopefully) get used throughout the year, reminding you of the person who bought them.
“Work bag” can obviously mean completely different things for different people, so the concept isn’t strict. Presumably for John Legend, a “work bag” is more akin to “travel bag.” So, go for a nice weekender duffle, if that suits your lifestyle. A chic laptop bag or a tote also works.
A Utility for Her Hobbies, and a Poem
Dolly Parton and Carl Dean, her husband of 55 years, have long been quiet about the finer details of their relationship, but she has spoken out about their Christmas traditions. In an interview with Red last year, she said that, despite her usual glitz and glam, they like to exchange rather practical gifts. “He knows I love to cook, so he’ll buy me things like aprons or oven mitts,” she said. “People laugh when they ask, ‘What did your husband buy for you?’ thinking I’ll say, ‘A diamond ring!’ He just buys me what he knows I really want. I also write him songs and he writes me sweet poems. A poem inside a card is my favorite kind of gift.”
Maybe that’s not the easiest advice to apply to your own wife, but the general sentiment is to think of the things she actually enjoys doing and using. More than that, a thoughtfully written poem probably has the power to outshine any material object you could buy. Think of her hobbies — the ones she likes doing, not the things that she considers chores — buy her a few applicable items that improve the overall experience, and include your best attempt at a poem. The poem can be absolute trash, but this is a legit case where it’s the thought that counts.
A Relic of Her Past She Casually Mentioned Months Ago
“Five months ago, she said she missed playing the flute like she did when she was a kid, and that she wanted one,” says Brad Podray, also known as ScumbagDad, an orthodontist and musician who regularly documents his wife-love to his nearly three million TikTok followers. “I immediately bought one and stored it in the closet for five months.”
As with Dolly and Carl, this requires really listening to your partner year round and knowing their interests — something any Wife Guy has perfected. But what’s really nice about the whole flute idea is that it barely even matters if she ends up playing it — the idea is that you were listening, and she’ll value the sentiment of the object regardless. Of course, it’s best if she brings up an object like this in conversation herself. You might know she played flute as a kid, but maybe she fucking hated it, so listen to how she speaks about it before you put it on layaway.
In any case, there are lots of renditions of this formula. If she brought up enjoying ballet previously, you could look into a gift certificate for a local studio that offers casual adult classes, or take her to an actual ballet performance. It doesn’t need to be high stakes.
Alternatively, A Relic of Your Past Together
On the nostalgia front, talking to her family might be a huge boon. “One year, my sister-in-law helped me identify the ABBA record they used to listen to growing up,” says James Dennin, IBM content writer and certified Wife Guy. “Heather, my wife, grew up in the U.K. and was really happy there; I’ve had a lot of luck mining that. She loves Nigella Lawson’s out-of-print Christmas cookbook, so I found a used copy and had it shipped from England. I also often get her something nice from Harrods [a fancy department store in London].”
If that doesn’t work or you’ve already milked that route, dig into your past together. “Secretly snagging a menu from a memorable dinner or program from a fun outing and having it framed is another good one,” Dennin continues. “Or have an artist commission an illustration of a place that’s special to you.”
You can always bulk up one of these sentimental gifts with a variety of littler objects, too. “I think it’s important to lean into someone’s eccentricities,” he says. “I always put bougie tinned fish in Heather’s stocking.”
Finally, Do That Thing You’ve Been Promising To Do
There are plenty of material things you can buy that would improve her life in one way or another, but you probably already have a list of things you’ve been putting off doing that would improve both of your lives, too. “There’s something pretty romantic about a gift that’s unwaveringly practical, like resolving a long-delayed home-improvement project,” says Dennin. “Once, when Heather was doing Christmas with her family, I had reinforced shelving put in the kitchen for her nice cookware. I think that’s the happiest she’s ever been with a present.”
You’ll need to get the timing just right for this to work. The holidays are stressful enough as it is, and so tearing up your kitchen floors on Christmas Eve when she’s trying to bake a pie for your family gathering the next day isn’t the way to go. But perhaps there are some smaller projects, like replacing your fugly bathroom faucet or assembling a new dresser, that you could accomplish on a day when she’s out running errands. If she happens to be out-of-town for a few days, then it might be a good time to do those bigger tasks — just make sure you actually get them done. Alternatively, you can hire someone else to do these things and take her out of the house for a few days/hours yourself.
Whatever you do, just make sure you’re not showing up empty-handed on Christmas. I don’t care if she swore up and down that she didn’t want anything — she’s lying. If there’s not a material object she needs, there is surely something you can do for her. “Wives are pretty easy to shop for, in my opinion,” says Dennin. “It’s trying to think of presents for my in-laws that keeps me awake at night during the holiday season.”
Maybe there are some In-Law Guys who can help you out with that?