What their Christmas present really says

Caroline Cassidy

You peer eagerly under the tree, your eyes shiny with the anticipation of what is beneath the sparkly wrapping paper... but how many of us end up disappointed with what's inside? Getting the right gift for that special person in your life is a tricky business - if you're unsure what to make of their gift to you, here are a few hints as to what their present really says.

Couple opening presents
Couple opening presents

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For her...

Household appliances
No, no, no, no, no - if your man buys you a household appliance (that you haven't asked for) it's time to explain the rules. A ribbon on a vacuum cleaner does not a thoughtful present make. Ensure you have some wrapped up Marigolds or a bottle of bathroom cleaner on hand so you can return the favour.

Many women would confess to a little heart flutter when presented with a small and intriguing jewellery box. But that diamond might not be quite what you were expecting - and rumour has it that buying a ring that isn't of the engagement variety is just a cunning ruse to keep the lady interested without the need for any immediate commitment. Of course, if it comes with a proposal, that's a whole different matter!

Done right, lingerie as a gift shows he definitely has eyes for you and can't wait to peel off those outer layers. If, however, he's popped down to Ann Summers for some, shall we say, 'novelty' garments, it's time to educate him on exactly how sexy the real deal can be.

The grand gesture
Grand gestures are all very well but their meaning depends on how new your relationship is. If you've only just got together, an endless showering of gifts or a car tied with a big bow may signal a controlling chap who sees you as a possession. On the other hand, from somebody you've known and loved for many years, it may well be a sign that he feels like showing you just how much he still cares.

For him...

If she's bought you the novelty kind, it shows a distinct lack of imagination and, dare we say it, desperation. Alternatively, if you unwrap to find sensible undies combined with a matching pair of socks, she's probably just waiting to chuck out that favourite pair of lucky pants you hold so dear.

His & hers
Uh-oh - anything his 'n' hers is a sure sign that she's after more commitment. From bathrobes to bicycles, if you're not ready for talk of shared pets, 'the next step in the relationship' and baby names, it's time to make your excuses and bow out gently. If she's the woman of your dreams, on the other hand, embrace the togetherness!

Lucky you - if she's splashed out on a pricey gadget, whether an iPhone or an X Box, the chances are she knows that boys' toys make you tick. Better still, since she's unlikely to benefit it's a gift that really is just for you.

For him or her...

Everybody likes to feel fresh and smell fabulous. With plenty of thought, perfume or aftershave can show your partner really knows you, knows what you like and wants you to feel great. If they've just bought the gift pack of the latest celebrity scent, however, it's a clear sign that they've panicked at the last minute.

Small, thoughtful gifts
Forget the pricey presents and luxurious gifts - if your other half spends time thinking about a book they know you'd love, a romantic little memento of your time together or remembers something you pointed out back in May and then takes the time to find and buy said item, it shows the relationship is strong.

And that will undoubtedly make for a Happy New Year.