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How to avoid buying your spouse a terrible gift

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You've done it. You found the perfect gift for that special someone in your life. It's expertly wrapped, resting under the tree, and on Christmas morning you can barely hide your excitement as your significant other opens the box and exclaims, "Oh ... "

Buying a gift for your spouse feels like an impossible challenge. You want your gift to be spectacular and memorable, not dull and forgettable. But a little thought and effort goes a long way when it comes to gifting, especially with regards to your bae. Here are a few tips to help you this season:

Know who you're shopping for

Common sense, no matter how sensible, always bears repeating. Whether you've just made your relationship Facebook official or you're approaching another milestone wedding anniversary, the first trick to buying a good gift is to know your partner.

"The first thing I always ask is, 'Who are you buying for?' And I don't just mean is it for your wife or girlfriend or whoever. I want to find out what are the interests of the person you're buying for," says Sarah Miller, a manager at the Ju Bee Lee clothing store in Bend.

Does your significant other enjoy the outdoors or staying in? Cooking at home or dining out? Reading a book or watching a movie? Paint a mental picture of your significant other. Is there something she needs? Something she wants?

Take advantage of local shops

Once you know what you want, finding it is no problem in the local area, and the local shops are a great resource for the unsure gift buyer.

"We actually track all of our sales here," says Brianna Bender, store manager at Revolvr Menswear. "So if someone's husband or boyfriend shopped here before, I can look up his name and see what sizes he's purchased previously, which is half the challenge in buying clothing."

Many local shops also host customer appreciation nights or special events throughout the month. A few shops also have wish list programs so you can see exactly what your partner's been eyeing. "It's a really good option to come in person because you can see everything we have to offer," says Miller.

Aim for unique, fall-back-on classics

So how to go beyond buying yet another tie or perfume set? Bender says a common customer "problem" at Revolvr is finding the perfect gift for "the husband or boyfriend who has everything. People come in all the time like, 'What do you get the guy who has everything?'"

She recommends unique, offbeat gifts that your significant other wouldn't purchase for himself. "We have these survival kits for the zombie apocalypse, we have a make your own hot sauce kit. We have these nice grooming products for beards and shaving. It's stuff that no one has."

It's also never a bad idea to fall back on classics. For men, socks and underwear or watches are always a safe bet; for women, candles, scarves and, of course, jewelry are perennial favorites.

A bad gift is a thoughtless gift

"A bad or risky gift choice is something that's too far to one spectrum," says Miller. "Like we have really nice drinking glasses and flasks, but if it's early on and you don't really know the person's habits, those might not be the best idea."

Ultimately, it really is the thought that counts. While some couples hold themselves to high gifting standards, most spouses will love a gift that reflects their personality and shows a bit of effort.

And, according to Bender, something that's not totally useless is helpful, too. "A guy gave me an iTunes gift card once. Worst gift in this day and age. I don't even have an iTunes account!"

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