Buying presents for your girlfriend is always a tricky minefield to navigate. The subtle art of gift giving means you can either be the best person ever or the worst person ever. How do you know what’s a yes, and what’s a major no? Here are the worst Christmas gifts to give to your girlfriend.

Low effort gift-bundles

You’ve seen these in stores. A nice little box with a selection of holiday-sized products. Something like shampoo, conditioner and bath salts. They look cute enough, they’re fairly cheap and of course, they’re made to be given at Christmas. But for a distant relative that you hardly know. Definitely not for your girlfriend.

Your girlfriend is special, so your gift needs to show her that you think she’s special. Anything low-effort that looks like you quickly pulled off a shelf in the “Christmas Gifts!” section of the local drug store isn’t going to cut it. It screams that you didn’t care enough to think of something especially for her.

Tickets to something you like

Actually, any gift that’s about something you like, but that she hasn’t actually shown any interest in. Oh, sure, she might watch a few games of football with you when it’s on TV. But does that mean she actually likes football? These tickets to see Manchester City vs Manchester United may be a huge deal, cost a fortune and be super difficult to get, but that doesn’t make them a good gift. Not if you’re more excited about it than she is.

Always ask yourself, am I buying this for her? Or am I buying it for myself? There’s nothing wrong with trying to like each other’s hobbies and you’re probably excited to get her into more of the stuff you’re into. But when it comes to gift giving, she comes first.

For example, you know she likes fancy wine. You’re more of a beer drinker. However, there’s this special wine tasting course you think she’d love. Getting tickets to that and going together shows that you put her interest first and you’re making an effort to take part in it.

Clothes she hasn’t explicitly said she wants

Clothing is such a difficult one! People spend so much time and energy finding a look that suits them. Everyone knows what sort of styles fit their bodies, what sort of colours they like etc. That’s why if you’re not shopping with her every single time she buys clothing, you probably shouldn’t attempt to find something without any indication that she wants it.

Getting a dress from your partner that you don’t like is terrible. She might think the dress is hideous but wear it anyway to not offend you. Then she’ll secretly resent having to wear it in public and it’ll be banished to the back of the wardrobe never to be seen again and taking up precious space.

Of course, if she’s dropped hints that she really wants this specific item you can get it for her. If you don’t know her size, ask one your mutual friends to go on a recon mission. Or simply take her shopping one day, and surprise her by buying the item when she expresses her delight. Tease her by saying “Of course, you can’t have it until Christmas!”

Anything sexist

This sounds vague, but what we mean by sexist is cliched gifts to give to women, without consideration if it’s something your girlfriend actually likes.

For instance, if your girlfriend likes to cook a lot then getting her kitchen items will work great. However, if she’s never shown an interest in cooking, getting her a cookbook, or a blender or something is really stupid. At best, it comes across that you don’t know her at all. At worst, it comes across as if you’re subtly telling her she should be in the kitchen.

Same goes for other cliched “woman” things. Just keep asking yourself “Is she actually interested in this thing?”

Also be careful of skincare products. Makeup you’ve got more leniency with. But skincare can be a massive faux pas! You don’t want to get her anti-wrinkle cream, brightening face masks or anything that might be saying “You look terrible and you need to take care of your skin more”

Gift Vouchers

Or cash in a Christmas card. Gift vouchers should be strictly given to nieces, nephews, grandchildren or coworkers. Any adult you even vaguely know to a reasonable degree should be getting a real gift.

Vouchers are the cowardly way of giving money. It’s you saying “I don’t know you to any reasonable degree, but at least I put in some effort by picking out a voucher!” And of course, giving normal cash is saying “I couldn’t even be bothered to pretend to care by giving you an interesting gift voucher, so here, let me throw some cash at you like a cheap stripper.”

If you have only $20 and you really don’t know what to buy – go with chocolates. Everyone likes chocolates. And flowers. Classic, cheesy, romantic. Sure, it’s not original but it’s a heck of a lot better than a gift voucher.

Gym Membership

Is your girlfriend overweight? No? Why are you getting her a gym membership then? Ok, she is overweight? Why are you getting her a gym membership you inconsiderate fool! Way to kick a girl when she’s down.

Face it. There is no way you can buy a girlfriend a gym membership without offending them. It could be the coolest gym in the world. A-list celebrities could go there. But you’re still subtly calling your girlfriend a pig if you give her a gym membership. She’s a strong, independent woman, she can get her own gym membership if she wanted to.

Same goes for exercise equipment such as dumbells, yoga mats or fitbits. If your girlfriend already goes to the gym however you can bypass the no-clothes rule and buy her some gym clothes. Fashional gym clothes can be expensive, so they’re a nice treat to get as a gift. The sizing is also easier as most as S/M/L etc so you’re more likely able to get something that fits.