Americans like to spend money on Christmas and holiday gifts. The amount we spend per year has been rising steadily since 2008. In 2019, we’re expected to fork over $920 per person. That means it takes nearly $1,000 on average for each person to complete their holiday shopping list. While some of those gifts are expected, many of them are surprises. It makes sense that we want to present a special gift in a special way, especially when we’re spending that kind of dough. Here are five tips for revealing a surprise gift to someone you care about.
Avoid Too Obvious Timing
December is a big month for engagements. Yet that doesn’t mean you have to propose to your partner on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. In fact, you may not want to do that at all—especially if they don’t want a proposal to happen in front of other family members. A private proposal at another time can be even more special, because you’re focused on each other rather than the reactions of Mom, Dad, and Aunt Jenny.
Head to Jewelers Row in Chicago before the holiday rush and pick out a ring that your partner will love. Then present it to them on a quiet Saturday morning, or during a Sunday brunch, or any other time during the holidays when it seems like they won’t be expecting it. The element of surprise will make the moment that much more memorable.
Hide It Somewhere
The standard gift-giving procedure involves wrapping a present and maybe putting it under a tree. But even if there’s no tree, there are clear signals that there’s a present. But you don’t have to get wrapping paper or a gift bag. You can hide it in the kitchen pantry, for instance. That way, when your partner goes to pop some popcorn for movie night, they’ll instead see the gift you got them. But if you hide it somewhere around the house, make sure no one else can find it, and make sure it won’t get lost somehow.
Involve Other People (or Pets)
Plenty of people have involved dogs in gift-giving, especially when the gift is an engagement ring. That’s a cute idea, assuming you have a dog who will behave and play along. If you don’t, it might be best to leave the dog out of this one.
But you can still involve other people in the proposal. This works especially well for big-ticket items. Let’s say all those holiday car ads have inspired you to buy a vehicle for someone you love. Car shippers will deliver the vehicle a week before Christmas, but you can’t have them show up to your house. However, your friend Steve from college has room in his garage, and he’d love to help you out. That’s a perfect way to involve others without making a huge public spectacle of things.
Don’t Play a Mean Prank
If you remember nothing else, remember this: the recipient should not trust you less after the gift reveal. A Russian man faked his own death in a motorcycle accident, reportedly because he wanted his girlfriend “to realize how empty life would be without him.” Then he proposed to his girlfriend, and she somehow said yes. This is an objectively terrible idea. You should not do it.
If your gift recipient cries, it should be because they’re moved by the moment, not because they’re scared or confused. This is not the time for cruel, elaborate pranks that you record and upload to YouTube. Don’t toy with their feelings just because you can. A small fake-out that lasts a few seconds is one thing. As far as jokes go, there’s a big difference between “Sorry I didn’t get you anything this year” and “Hey, I’m cheating on you with your sister.” The latter is never funny.