Relationship Experts Tell Us How Long You Should Be Dating Someone Before Buying Them A Christmas Gift

The beginning of a relationship can be a total minefield. From trying to guess if it's time to go in for that kiss, to knowing if it's the right moment to discuss exclusivity, the dating world is full of guessing games. And that doesn't stop when the holidays roll around. The festive season brings its own uncertainties when you've been dating someone for just a short while, such as when is the right time to get your date a gift. If there even is one.


Of course, everyone and every relationship is different, so this can be a tough one to work out. That's why we went to Amber Kelleher-Andrews, co-CEO of matchmaking service Kelleher International, and relationship expert Nicole Moore for some answers. Both Kelleher-Andrews and Moore told exclusively that there's no specific timeframe for when it's considered okay to buy someone a Christmas gift. As everyone's relationships move at different paces, it's more important that you make a gift-giving decision based on how things are going with your love interest— whether you've been dating be six weeks, six months, or beyond. "The time you've been dating doesn't matter as much as the level of commitment between the two of you," Moore told Kelleher-Andrews agreed, sharing with us, "It depends on the individual dynamics of your relationship and how well you know each other." But there are a few things to consider before parting with your hard-earned cash.


Consider how the other person feels about you first

According to Nicole Moore, it's best to hold off on buying a present until you're sure the person you're buying for is interested in sticking around (if that's what you want, of course). "One should wait to buy a Christmas present for the person they're dating until a solid declaration of interest has been formed," Moore told us. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to be 100% official, but, as Moore pointed out, "You do want to be certain that the person you're dating is very interested in you and plans to continue dating you." She added, "In general, it's a bad idea to buy a Christmas present when you haven't defined the relationship if you're certain your love interest is still seeing other people."


Moore also suggested those in undefined relationships should consider the level of effort that's been put into the relationship so far and how the person might respond to getting a gift. "Ask yourself if the person you're dating exhibits fears of commitment ... Most people respond well to receiving a gift, but those who fear commitment or those who open up to others more slowly might receive a gift and feel ill at ease rather than happy about it," she said. "If you trust that your love interest has a secure attachment style and isn't love-avoidant or afraid of commitment, go ahead and get them a small, thoughtful gift if you really want to."

Choose a gift that matches your relationship stage

If you've decided you want to give a gift, think carefully about what you buy. As Nicole Moore told us, "Gift giving is a much bigger commitment than meeting someone for a date because it implies you're really thinking about the other person and using your free time to get them a gift." That means you might want to get something small for someone you've not really committed to fully yet. "In general, the higher the level of commitment, the bigger and more sentimental the gift can be," she shared. And Amber Kelleher-Andrews agreed. "The gift ... must be on par with the relationship status. If you haven't yet defined the relationship status and are unsure about the other person's expectations, it's best to hold off on an extravagant gift or personal/romantic gift and find a meaningful one instead that's more understated," she shared.


If you'd like to use Christmas as a way to show someone your feelings for them, then Kelleher-Andrews suggested basing your gift on how you think they feel for you rather than what you feel for them. "If you have strong feelings for someone and are unsure about their feelings, keep it simple and buy them a thoughtful gift that has meaning but isn't overly expensive," she said. "Get them a gift that's commensurate with how much I feel they care about me right now, not get them a gift with how much I like them," Moore concurred.

But there are a few Christmas gifts to avoid in the early dating stages

As Amber Kelleher-Andrews told us, if you're in the early stages of dating and have decided to give a gift, be really careful not to get anything that's super gushy and romantic. As much as you might want to. "[These gifts] might send the wrong message or make the other person uncomfortable," she said. "Avoid lingerie or expensive jewelry and lean into meaningful gestures like a book they might enjoy, a nice bottle of wine, or tickets to an event they would appreciate."


Nicole Moore also explained there are things to consider before booking anything for the two of you as a present, such as a concert or adventure day, too far in advance. It's probably best to keep any tickets or experience presents scheduled for the next few weeks rather than several months down the line. "You want your gift to show that you care about them and would love to keep seeing them, but not that you're staking a claim on their future as being yours months or years from now," Moore said. Trips away may also only be a good idea after you've defined the relationship and know the person is serious about being in your life for the long haul.

Talk to your date about Christmas presents (because communication is so important!)

We know it's said all the time, but that's because it's true. The most important thing in any relationship, no matter what stage it's at, is communication. So no matter where you stand with someone when the holidays roll around, it may be a good idea to just be open and discuss with them if you think you're in a place where you should be giving each other gifts or not. "Ultimately, communication is key," Amber Kelleher-Andrews said. "If you have strong feelings for the person and want to show them you care, consider having an open conversation about gift-giving and their expectations. This can help ensure that both parties are on the same page and avoid any misunderstandings." After all, there's little more awkward than someone giving you a gift when you have nothing to give back or aren't really sure if you're even in that space.


Having an open conversation like this may even help progress your relationship. Showing your potential partner you're able to come to them with any questions or reservations you might have, and discussing them rationally is rarely a bad thing. Not to mention, having the discussion will also help you to better understand where the person thinks your relationship currently stands and where it may be heading in the future.

Wait until a few days before Christmas to make a decision

One of the best things you can do when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy a love interest a gift is to wait as close as possible to the big day as you can. "Gift giving really isn't appropriate until a few weeks before the big day — especially if you are just 'dating'. Giving a Christmas gift in November or even early December implies you think you will be together during the Holiday itself, and this could bring on unnecessary pressure," Amber Kelleher-Andrews said. "I suggest you wait 10 days before Christmas and see how things are going." By waiting as long as you can to decide on a gift, you'll be able to get something appropriate based on how your relationship is at that exact time, not how you think it might be in a few weeks.


If you're worried about not being able to get a gift in time, then remember you don't have to give the person something tangible — especially if you're still uncertain about whether giving presents is a good idea or not. "[An] alternative at the 'it's not yet a fully committed relationship but we know we want to keep seeing each other stage' is to do an acts of service gift. If your partner's house needs an update and you're handy, you could fix something up in their house as a gift, for instance," Moore suggested.