What Your Wife Really Wants for Christmas

Christmas is coming. You’re spiritually ready. You took the kids to confession and went too. You have been lighting the Advent candles and doing just a bit of spiritual reading (not as much as you originally planned or hoped, but you’re doing OK).  You’ve given food to the poor, and are keeping the season Christ-centered for the family. The nativity set went up last week. And the lights are up outside too. Okay, they’re not up but they’re on their way up as the box in which they are stored has been pulled out and is sitting near the front door. Overall, things have been going pretty well. You even have had the foresight to purchase a few gifts, but now it’s time to think of your spouse. What can you get her? What does she really want?

First, let’s be frank and get some “don’ts” out of the way:

I know you are a helpful guy and want to assist your wife in her job at home, but please do not get her a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. I repeat, do not get her a vacuum for Christmas, nor pots and pans, nor other common household items that plug in and which you think might be useful for her ‘work’. Exceptions to this are items that demonstrate your care and concern for her personal likes and interests – a gourmet coffee machine (if she is a coffee-drinker), a bread or pasta maker (if she has mentioned she wants one). The slight distinction between these electrical appliances is critical. She will see the former as tools for her work (which they are) and the latter as your attention to her comfort and likes (which it is).  You will be perceived as thoughtful and sensitive with the latter choices. With the former, she will politely say “Thank you.” And look off into the distance. If you absolutely feel compelled to purchase a sweeper, then go ahead. But just make sure you address the card to the whole family. That way everyone can join in the excitement on Christmas morning.

Still confused? Here’s another example: A set of practical sturdy white dinner plates is ill-advised. A set of four delicate prettily decorated tea plates (which don’t have to cost much, by the way- I know how you think-) is a better idea. Choose a lovely design that is the same color of her eyes (and don’t forget to tell her this). This gift will garner gratitude and excitement reminiscent of the memories of your early dating. Remember, it’s all nuance.  You know. Like the difference between a basic Verizon cell phone and an Apple 32GB iPhone4 or an Ipod Touch, without the cost concern.

Also, please don’t even glance at the display of “As Seen on TV” merchandise with her in mind. She does not want a Snuggie from you. Not even a pink one. And never, ever entertain the thought of purchasing for her any type of elasticized clothing, even if she just had a baby—especially if she has just had a baby–  even if a salesperson guarantees that she will be thrilled with stretchy-waist, ‘mom’ jeans in a designer style and color. No, no, no!  Those will not be tears of joy you see on Christmas morning.

Other things to avoid: gift certificates to car washes, the grocery store (this should be obvious), and some place that YOU want to go but she may not (ex: pro-football game, unless she is a huge fan.) Nothing for her car please. It’s simply a vehicle to get her from one place to another. If she wants to accessorize it herself, she will. But she probably won’t. And you shouldn’t. Unless it’s not Christmas and you want to do it for no reason, in which case she probably won’t mind. Candy is fine, but not the kind from the check-out lane in the grocery store. She’ll know in an instant that it was an afterthought. If you absolutely have to get her stocking stuffer from the grocery store, at least go down the candy aisle. If you’re in a pinch, red and green foiled, chocolate Hershey kisses will do, but only if you wrap them and only if you get the extra, extra large bag. OK, I take that back. You don’t have to wrap them.

Anyway, the point is, she loves you and wants to know that you thought about her and that she is important enough to you that you took some time in selecting a gift for her. She’s with you on this- it’s the thought, not cost that counts.

Now let’s look at what your wife really wants for Christmas:

1. She wants everyone to get along. Really. She wants no bickering among siblings, no arguing when she reminds children of their kitchen duties. She wants a Christmas full of happy memories. She remembers these as a series of snapshots in her brain: The family in their Christmas best singing carols at Mass on Christmas Eve. The kiss you plant on her neck as prepares a holiday meal. Sitting on the sofa in her robe, first thing Christmas morning, with your toddler snuggling in her lap (which brings me to a point- please do not videotape or photograph her first thing in the morning in her pajamas unless you have her explicit permission. Most likely she wants to remember this in her mind not in the family photo album or on your Facebook page under “Christmas photos.” ) The truth is, much of a mother’s positive identity comes from her family. She wants calm, harmony. Peace. Call a little family meeting. Try to lead this peace in the family. It’s really a gift for everyone.

2. She wants to be thought of. She wants to know she is special. Think back to the days you dated. I’m sure you’ll come up with something.

3. She wants you to be a strong, loving spiritual leader. In a tumultuous world, this is a year-round gift.

4. She wants help. She wants you to pitch in. Chances are pretty good that if there are children in the house, then she is sleep-deprived. Offer her a Saturday morning to sleep through the night or sleep in (don’t worry, ‘sleep in’ for moms probably means she will wake up at a leisurely 8:00 am. But that’s heaven to her. Trust me.)

Were you looking for a more physical gift suggestion? Well, I don’t have one. The truth is she simply wants you- your time and your devotion. Do without the “don’ts”, consider the “do’s” and come up with something original. Any thoughtful token of your love and any action that is family-building are sure to be winners. Remember your past. Think of your future. You know what to do. Now go be Santa.

Theresa Thomas’s favorite Christmas present was an engagement ring from her husband, given to her after Midnight Mass, December 25, 1986, in front of a roaring fire and after her future husband had asked her father’s permission. A vacuum cleaner was under her Christmas tree one year, but Santa was smart enough not to put just her name on the tag. She thinks you can’t go wrong if you buy your wife her latest book, “Stories for the Homeschool Heart” here: http://www.bezalelbooks.com/bookstore.html.  And she would love to see your comments below on what you think husbands really want for Christmas.

This article originally appeared in Today’s Catholic News.

We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below.  Please share this article with others in your network.  Thank you!  – The Editors.

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  1. Theresa,

    You have saved me from a lot of grief this Christmas! I have been married 16 years and in typical male fashion, I often gravitate to what I think are very practical gifts for my wife which would have made your list of “no-no’s.” She has the toughest role in our family and I will be more mindful to let her know how much I appreciate and love her this year…thanks to your helpful advice!

    God bless,


  2. No offense intended because I understand the idea and good intent behind what you’re saying here, but this– like most “What women really want” lists– reflects what you and other women with your particular tastes and outlook want, not what “women” want.

    Actually, my wife would be ecstatic to get pots and pans because she likes to cook. A couple of months ago she would have wanted a vacuum cleaner. (I bought it for her then so she wouldn’t have to wait until Christmas.) In fact, practicality is what my wife wants. Pretty tea plates? Not so much.

    As for the 4 numbered items, I’m in complete agreement, but those aren’t Christmas gifts. Those are the minimum a husband needs to do every day.

    On the other hand, a physical gift on Christmas morning is the manifestation of all the intangibles you do for her throughout the year and an incarnational symbol of gratitudes for her presence in your life and all she means to you. A nice well-considered gift with lots of thought behind it are what at least one woman–my wife–wants for Christmas. Even if it’s a pot or pan.

  3. >>On the other hand, a physical gift on Christmas morning is the manifestation of all the intangibles you do for her throughout the year and an incarnational symbol of gratitudes for her presence in your life and all she means to you.<< So very true. However, are you absolutely certain about the pots and pans? 😉

  4. Hi Randy, thanks!
    I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive email response. Eileen wrote that the article “brought tears to her eyes.” (didn’t mean to do that but ok :)) Regina wrote that she just printed the article out and when her husband asked what she wanted for Christmas, she handed it to him. lol One husband “Facebooked” me to say his wife told him “this could have been written by me.”

    Bettnet, I’m glad for your comments too–no offense taken! 🙂 I tried to express the thought which you so eloquently stated,

    A nice well-considered gift with lots of thought behind it !! Amen to that!

    As the husband of your wife you’d know her wants better than anyone else, including another woman like me, so if you perceive her as desiring pots and pans, go for it! 🙂

    Seriously, this article was written tongue-in-cheek, for the woman who may have been pining for a small token of true affection from her number one guy, and who hopes he’ll consider her personally, but doesn’t want to come right out and say, “I would enjoy and appreciate these kitchen items that benefit us all, but I’d really love a small tangible gift which reminds me of how special I am to you.”

    One of my very own favorite gifts were three small shells picked up by my husband for me on a beach in North Carolina. “The coral pink reminds me of your skin…” (don’t laugh- I was sunburned at the time), “the white, the pureness of your heart” (wow, he was really touching my soul with gratitude with that one)….”They were “so beautiful, they reminded me of you.” My goodness. That beat anything, hands down; it didn’t cost a cent. And it wasn’t even Christmas! 🙂 I guess the point is, I wanted to encourage husbands to put some thought into the gift. If she’d really like pots and pans, then she’d really like pots and pans. Nothing wrong with that. Just think about her individually, and not just automatically run to the household department with the thought “cooking” and “cleaning”, is what I wanted to encourage. 🙂

    Many wives consider pots and pans and sweepers as the minimum “tools for the job”. It takes a much better woman than me to get excited over a Eureka or Hoover. 🙂 More power to her (and her husband) if she does! A totally practical woman is such a blessing to a husband. I know. My husband wishes he had one. 🙂
    Thank you Randy, Bettnet and Deacon Mike for taking the time to comment. Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas! T.

  5. Hi Theresa,

    I want to thank you for the article. I’m a very practical sort of person, and if my husband wants to spend money on me I’ll usually ask him to buy me some household item we need. BUT, I totally agree with what you said about the do’s and don’ts of gift giving. If your wife ASKS for something specific, then it would behoove you to listen to her.

    At the same time, wives need to be sensitive to their guys’ sometimes lack of sensitivity. I remember one year getting a lovely flannel nightgown for Christmas (which I had asked for). However, the size on the label was many times larger than my normal size, which I found quite offensive. My husband didn’t care about the number on the label, but got one that was extra large, thus extra cozy and warm. To add insult to injury (in my mind), my 5′ 10″ large frame can wear the nightgown just fine! It has now become one of my favorite wintertime nightgowns, despite my initial tears on Christmas morning (or perhaps it was the afternoon by the time I let my true feelings be known).

  6. My dear husband of 21.5 years is an engineer, a very practical man. I’m happy to say that he has given all four of the “really wanteds” in your list and is getting better all the time at doing so. However, he’s given from the “don’t” category as well, but completely from his heart. When he found a used van for me which fit our budget, in addition to the work he did on it himself to make it reliable and functional, he had it completely detailed to make it all nice and pretty and clean for me. The detailing was my birthday gift, and I was thrilled. Another nice gift he gave me was a pretty cool multi-tool to carry in my big ol’ mom purse, because he knows I like to be prepared. The material things he gives me, while they wouldn’t make the average female swoon, are well thought out and given with love. The spiritual things he gives to me, including being a great dad and great friend and provider, are priceless. I love him so.

  7. Hi Debbie,
    Thanks for the comments!
    At the same time, wives need to be sensitive to their guys’ sometimes lack of sensitivity.
    Great point. I loved your flannel nightgown story. I had a similar experience with cute, practical, comfy Wiley Coyote pajamas. I soooo agree with you! Thanks for bringing that up.

  8. Hi Grateful Soul!
    It sounds like you are truly blessed with a wonderful husband. Actually, I think the detailing of the van was a very thoughtful and romantic gift. well thought out and given with love. is the key component in my opinion. Congratulations on 21 years of marriage and a husband who is a gem. Thanks for writing. I love hearing the thoughtful ways husbands remember their wives.

  9. PS. If you want to know the truth, I’m hoping for a “wallpaper-coming-down, paint-going-up-in-the-hall-and-foyer” kind of Christmas gift this year. 🙂

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