We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Sounds like the guys at my office miserably discussing what they really wanted and what their wives would likely buy them. Yup, sweaters have always been high on my list. I am always flummoxed, as anything he wants, he has already bought himself, and whenever I get any of the things on the list (I have bought most of them over the years) he never likes it, or returns it for the SUPERDUPER MEGA MODEL ULTRA 3000 as opposed to my ignorantly chosen MODERATE 300.
The successful gifts I have given have been a fancy wide screen laptop, various camera lenses, rare books found at second hand sales, assorted electronic gadgets. This year I have high hopes as the present cost more than all the children's put together.
You already know what She Who Must be Obeyed wants:
First the greedy ones (appropriate for those married over 20 years)
1. A trip somewhere exotic without the kids (Turkey, Italy, Texas, Montreal, Nepal would do)
2. Only if you are loaded, still have a job and the prospect of one for a few more months, diamond stud earrrings (if they don't cost as much as 2 month's mortgage, don't bother)
3. A new puppy (will cost more than the Diamond earrings by the end of the first year)
4. A new camera (huge LCD so she can show off her family to friends on it)
5. Season tickets to the ballet and the promise to go with her
Then, the more realistic ones:
6. The promise to go to church with her every week, whether you need it or not
7. A book of vouchers for help with household chores that you will actually honor without complaints or excuses
8. A Tiffany silver heart on a bracelet saying something mushy like I love you. No imitations, her friends will spot a fake at 100 yards.
9. A sweater (cashmere is nice but think flattering in case she is no longer a size 4, when picking color and fit)
10. A beautiful Moroccan leather bible with your initials and the date of you wedding stamped in gold on it. LARGE TYPE if you want her to actually read it.
11. Just about anything from the Metropolitan Museum's store. The nicest gift for a frugal spouse would be cash in an envelope earmarked to be spent there at the after Christmas sale. No gift vouchers make sense in this economy, tho hard to imagine them going broke.
12. (If clean and in good shape) a sheepskin coat from the thrift shop and a hand lettered voucher for a real one (ie: full price one that she gets to pick color and cut) when economic times get better. I saw a gorgeous one for $48 yesterday. Just remember these coats are usually there because their owners outgrew them, so make sure they will fit your inamorata.
DON'T give her vouchers to stores like Talbot's, Ann Taylor, Saks, WIlliams-Sonoma, that she likes stuff from , because nobody know which stores will still be around in the new year.