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Gift-Giving Cheat Sheet

It's better to give than receive. Now, finally, you'll know how.

Nothing says "thoughtfulness" during the holidays quite like giving the right gifts to those on your list. Like, you probably don't want to get your girlfriend a Super Bowl Highlights DVD — unless you plan to sleep alone on the couch a lot of evenings, you heel. Figuring you might be a little clueless in the present-buying department, MF designed this gift-giving cheat sheet. Your near and dear will thank you.

FOR YOUR LADY
When it comes to your girl, "keep it precious or personal," says Kristine Dang, general-merchandise manager for redenvelope.com, a gift site. Something like a monogrammed yoga bag if she's an oohhmm-body. For precious, think bling: Gold jewelry's back. Then there's cashmere garb, in such hues as red, plum, and avocado. She'll be very, very thankful.

FOR YOUR BEST BUD
Your pal's easy. Just get him something that he can actually use. "I think $50 gift cards rock," says Robyn Freedman Spizer, author of The Giftionary. Match up his passions with an apt store — say Blockbuster, Home Depot, or Abercrombie & Fitch — and bam, you're suddenly Starsky to your amigo's Hutch.

FOR YOUR MOMS
Forget the new oven mitt. The woman who labored 56 hours to birth you (you ungrateful cur) just wants to know you love her. Pamper her with something frivolous, says Spizer, like a $100 spa certificate. Or, for a cheap option (Mom still buys into that "It's the thought that counts" scam), write a poem and frame — it a guaranteed tear-jerker.

FOR YOUR BOSS
It's improper etiquette to hand the boss a gift worth more than $100, says Dang. Then again, give him anything more than the recycle-bin report and your co-workers will think you're a shameless kiss-ass. (And they'd be right.) The solution: Have the entire office chip in. Get something tasteful but not too personal, like a monogrammed travel wallet or a bonsai tree. Afterward, take him aside and point out some of the gift's finest attributes — a hint that will show the gift was your idea. Hello there, promotion!

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