Communication

You Said It: The Best Gifts You’ve Ever Received from a Significant Other

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We asked, you answered: Here’s a roundup of some amazing gifts our readers have received from, or given to, their significant others. Check them out and get inspired. (And tell us yours in the comments!)

Plus: 9 Great Gifts for Your Favorite (TV/Movie, Phone, & Gamer) Geek

“I’m an actor and all-around huge theater nerd; I also used to work in a rare books library at my college and love old books like nobody’s business. For Christmas last year, my boyfriend got me the complete works of Shakespeare published by Yale in 1964 — each play is its own individual book, beautifully bound, and I have them all lined up on a shelf. The collection is missing Othello, so we get to look for it together at used bookstores, flea markets, etc.”

“One Sunday, my boyfriend rented a car and took me on a surprise adventure to a winery where we ate, drank, and crushed grapes with our feet – item #17 on my bucket list! Turns out he had noticed my bucket list on my fridge and planned the whole day to help me cross off an item. I take my bucket list very seriously, and was so moved that he gave me a gift that was so personal.”

“When I was in high school (and ‘straight’), I wanted to give my ‘girlfriend’ the best Valentine’s Day ever, so I put a Little Mermaid (her favorite movie!) bubble blower in her locker that surprised her with bubbles, and chocolates, etc. Then I filled her car with red balloons that – when popped — revealed tiny notes of things I liked about her. Then I recorded an album of her favorite love songs – all performed by me on piano.

God, I was so gay.”

“When my husband and I first moved in together, we were kind of poor, so we made a deal to use birthdays and holidays to buy larger, house-related items (think, a mattress, new TV, etc). One year on my birthday, as we were lying on our new birthday mattress, my husband handed me a small box. Inside was a year membership to Barnes and Noble–the kind that entitles you to coupons and discounts. I believe that a membership cost $25, but I was able to treat myself to more books than ever that year! And every time I bought one, he would say “Happy Birthday!” It was such a thoughtful little gesture that lasted me the whole year through.”

“In college, my boyfriend surprised me for my birthday with a day trip. He told my roommate to have me get dressed in comfortable outdoor clothes and then picked me up, without telling me where we were going. He drove me to a nearby creek where there was an overturned canoe on the side.  He had borrowed the canoe from somewhere at the school and had gone earlier in the day to leave a picnic basket under it complete with wine, blanket, snacks, etc.  We just paddled along this creek on a sunny, December day (in North Carolina) and ate and drank.  It was beaaaaaautiful and crazy awesome.”

Plus: 8 Smart, Unexpected Gifts for Your Foodie Boyfriend or Girlfriend

“My ex and I bonded over our love of James Bond books and movies, so he got me a custom-made Algerian love knot necklace like Vesper wears in Casino Royale. (I got him tickets to see Family Guy’s Seth Macfarlane and Alex Borstein perform songs live at a comedy club. It was his favorite tv show.)”

“My boyfriend insisted he didn’t know what to get me for my birthday and needed an extension. (I told him he couldn’t have one, knowing the pressure of a deadline would work.) When we went out for my birthday dinner, he handed me two envelopes: One with concert tickets to see the Freelance Whales, and one with a gift certificate to the art site 20×200. When we got home, there was a big box for me to unwrap; inside was a shiny, double-wide toaster. This was the best combo of gifts I’ve ever gotten. Why? 1) Experiences are always great gifts, and I got to introduce him to one of my favorite bands on our date to the show. 2) I had recently moved into his place, and had gotten rid of all of my wall “art” (posters from college, canvas paintings from Urban Outfitters) in the process. So I got to pick out something to hang on our walls, which he knew was important to me and made this a rare case in which a gift certificate felt truly personal. 3) He insisted the toaster was a joke gift, since it’s an appliance, but I had mentioned I wanted one a month before; living in NYC with limited space and a limited budget, I’m all for practical gifts (unless it’s, say, a mop). And now when he makes cinnamon or peanut butter toast on Saturday mornings, we’re both like, Wow, life pre-toaster was no life at all.

Plus: The Perfect Gifts for Your Cheese-Obsessed Boyfriend or Girlfriend 

“My boyfriend is a coffee snob. So for Christmas last year I got him punch cards with drinks already punched from his favorite coffee shops, like Cafe Grumpy and Everyman Espresso, to give him a head start towards his free coffee. I also got him mugs from the shops, thinking it would help elevate the coffee I made. It didn’t. But he loves the mugs.”

“My ex-wife and I both loved to travel. Our first year together included road trips, weekend getaways, work travel out of state and day trips around the area. She always took a lot of pictures and I never thought much of it. Our first Christmas together she surprised me with a small, very thick picture album that chronologically detailed our relationship to that point. I had already seen all the photos, but it was the effort she put into having them duplicated and then putting it together that really mattered. The first year was our happiest time together. Although we’ve since divorced, that photo album remains the single most treasured gift that I have ever received from anyone.”

“We met in mid-November, so we said pretty clearly that we weren’t going to get any sort of Christmas gifts for each other. At the time I wasn’t drinking wine since the sulfites in it caused migraines for me, so he ignored our no-gifts rule and got me a bottle of sulfite-free wine from Trader Joe’s! It was only $7 but it was incredibly sweet.”

“I became instantly obsessed with Sloane Crosley’s book I Was Told There’d Be Cake when it came out a few years ago, and literally told everyone I knew about it. I also bought 6 extra copies as Christmas gifts for friends. So I nearly died of excitement when my boyfriend gave me a signed copy with a personalized note from Sloane. He somehow got in touch with her and went to her office to get a signed copy.”

“On a trip to Alaska, I became irrationally angry when we were unable to do a Sea Lion encounter at the Alaska Sea Life Center. The next year for my birthday, my husband surprised me with a trip to Baltimore and the National Aquarium to do a dolphin encounter! It was so cool – we got to pet the dolphins, feed them, and play with them. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

Plus: What We’re Thankful for This Year When it Comes to Dating & Relationships

“A short poem about how nice my beard was.”

“I was on the phone with my mother and I had just found out that a close family member was seriously mentally ill. My mother started crying on the phone and if Mom cries, well, I cry. When I got off the phone, my girlfriend at the time walked me to the local video store and immediately purchased my favorite movie on DVD which I had recently lost. There are a couple of reasons this was great: 1. The spontaneity of the moment. 2. Knowing what movie to get. I have a large movie collection and no one, NO ONE, ever gets me movies for Christmas or any other time. Which, I never understand because I ALWAYS talk about movies. So, it shouldn’t be hard to remember one I like. She did and she didn’t even ask questions.”

“She played guitar and sang a song, recorded it and sent it to me while I was away after dating a month.  I can’t imagine anything better.”

“Received from my then boyfriend (now husband) a large canvas print of a B&W photo I took in St. Tropez. It hangs above our bed now and meant a lot to me because it was a. the first gift I had ever received from him, and b. it was a total surprise and I’m still confused as to how he knew where to look for that photo. It’s special because photography is a feel-good hobby of mine, and it made me feel so validated and proud to have him find a photo he thought was worthy of putting up on the wall!”

“Collection of Katharine Hepburn movies and framed vintage cigarette cards with a note that said, ‘You’ll always be my ‘Woman of the Year’.’ (Huge Hepburn + Tracy fan…)”

“I get sad and mopey in the winter due to it being, you know, the winter. At the time I was working 3 jobs, most of which were on weird schedules. My boyfriend got me one of those sun lamps for seasonal depression so that I could see the sun and stay happy. Now that we live together, we wake up early some mornings and sit in front of it and talk for 15 minutes — or he sits in front of it and I lie down next to it and continue to sleep.

Plus: 10 Ways to Get Back Into the Dating Scene This Holiday Season

“My boyfriend’s high school friends (who he emails EVERY DAY) are scattered all over. For his 30th birthday I contacted all of them (many of whom I’ve never met before) and organized for them to fly out to NYC for a birthday celebration weekend. I also forwarded him the email chain, which included lots of hilarious memories/musings from his friends. One of his friends said that I changed his morning routine to ‘wake up, drink coffee, read an email from Claire making sure everything is still organized’.”

“When I started dating my old boyfriend we realized we initially had a mix of shared interests. I happened to mention in passing that I really needed to get a subscription to the Economist and kept forgetting to sign up online. A couple weeks before Christmas he forwarded me an email with the confirmation of my subscription. He had bought it for me even though he was pretty broke, so I appreciated the almost $100 gift. But even more appreciated was the thought: He was listening even when I was just commenting on random things. As I get older, I realize practical gifts are sometimes the best, because they are something I will actually use.”

“A past significant other gave me an unexpected gift one day. He had come by my apartment during the work day and slid an envelope under my door. He was pretty smooth about this because I was work from home and didn’t realize it until about an hour later. In that envelope was a handmade card (adorbs! because this dude did some serious arts & crafts!). On construction paper he had a simple note. ‘This certificate is good for: 1: Dinner at any restaurant of your choosing. 2: Movie night. 3: A full body massage followed by an orgasm. [Since we only were in the making out stage of the relationship, this was so hot!] One or all of these can be redeemed at any time.’ This was spontaneous, adorable, assertive, creative, and overall awesome. I was so excited to redeem one (or all!) of them.”

Plus: 7 Creative, Thoughtful Last-Minute Gifts (So You Can Skip the Drugstore Gift Card)

“I got my ex (we were together at the time) a book autographed by one of his favorite authors. How’d I do it? Befriended the author’s assistant on Twitter, then asked for a favor. My ex still loves the book and shows it off to people.”

“I know nothing about art proper, but I find art history and the art market very fascinating and sometimes very inspiring, and have taken to going to museums as a hobby. Recently I read a book about the Damien Hirst piece ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ (the sculpture that is a huge shark floating in formaldehyde). It sold for a reported US $12m in 2004. The sculpture is preposterous and amazing and one of Hirst’s most famous works.

At my birthday dinner, my date was super paranoid about the candles on the table. She tried to blow them out; the waiter would re-light them a minute later. She removed the candles from the table, and then took out a large package carefully wrapped in bubble paper. Inside was a very small baby shark, preserved in formaldehyde, and encased in glass. The formaldehyde is blue and there were no air bubbles inside: a perfect seal. It is very similar in color and design to the Damien Hirst piece, in a miniature adorable DIY kind of way. She must have built it at a science supply store. I am not exactly sure where to mount it or how to light it. But whenever I look at that baby shark sitting in a glass bottle filled with extremely flammable formaldehyde in my apartment, I think it is the most creative, thoughtful, and weird gift I have ever received.”

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