If you're like most men, you always wait until the last minute without thinking twice about what to get your girl for Christmas. Picking the perfect present is important, but with a recession still looming over our heads, holiday shopping can seem a bit daunting. So when you're searching for the ideal gift this year, you want to make sure that you get it just right. To help you, we've compiled a list of gift ideas based on the relationship you're in right now.

If you've been laid off and she makes more than you, without a doubt this time of year will be damaging to your wallet and your ego. You may have money stashed away, but don't dig into your nest egg, just cut back for a few weeks. No eating out, movie date nights, taxi rides, or protein shakes—you'll be amazed at how much these things can add up. And who says shopping the day before Christmas is a bad thing?

The stores may be packed, but that's because they've slashed their prices in hopes of getting shoppers to pick up last minute gifts. Depending on the type of relationship you're in, anybody you're seriously seeing will know that the times are tough and won't be expecting something glitzy or glamorous. Pay attention to anything she may have mentioned while you were out or when watching TV. She'll appreciate that you listened to her needs (and wants).

Remember, the meaning of the gift will be more valuable to her than the price. For instance, if youre girlfriend likes to get her hair blown out and her makeup done for special occasions, stop at her local salon and inquire about getting a holiday discount. Surprise her with a day of pampering, and when she comes home have a romantic, candlelight dinner for two prepared.

If you live together (this should be easy). You understand your girlfriend well enough to know what her favorite color is, what type of jewelry she likes, or what she's loving at the moment. If your girlfriend is like me, she's got tons of magazines stashed around her apartment. Finding something she'd want should be a cinch since she probably tags every page! So sneak a peak at what she's reading this month.

But since you've gone all domesticated with your lady, think outside the box this holiday. You already live with her. You may even share bank accounts or split the bills. So you don't want to buy her something that she would buy for herself. Make her feel special.

Pick up a piece of jewelry, a bouquet of flowers, and a stocking stuffed with her favorite knick-knacks (lip gloss, books, movie passes, a cooking gadget, etc). Or you could try a themed gift such as tickets to watch her favorite football team, a new winter jacket to keep warm, and cute boots to match! She'll love how far you thought this through.

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If you're doing the long distance thing, and won't be together for the holidays, getting a personalized gift makes up for your absence. Note: Gift certificates, although perfect for mailing, are as impersonal as it gets. When you're thinking about what type of gift would suits her best, getting as creative—and practical—as you can make it will show how much you care about her.

Depending on how long you've been dating, the amount of money you spend will vary. Dating for over a year? Try sending her the newest iPod. Even if she already has one, Apple updates its gadgets so often that the newest iPod may be something she wouldn't buy for herself. Before you ship this one out, load it up with all her favorite songs, fun playlists for her morning runs, and soundtracks from some of the movies you've seen together.

Hold up—make her a card. Think back to elementary school and get out those markers and crayons, complete with a photo of the two of you so she can show it off on her nightstand. Inside the card, list reasons for each playlist, album, or song on her new iPod. This will bring back feelings of those special times spent together and it'll make the distance seem less of a struggle during the holidays.

If buying an iPod is out of your budget, check out something like Real Dogs Wine or Real Cats Wine (adogslife.net). You can upload photos of her pet onto her favorite bottle of vino! Mention in your card to save this for the next night you're in town.

If you've only been on a few dates, this time of the year can be tricky for you. Although it depends on the seriousness and quality of the time spent together, if you both haven't discussed feelings yet—or you don't know where the relationship stands—getting a gift can make things complicated, or even awkward.

She may like you a lot and you may feel the same way, but getting a pricey gift like a camera, perfume, or even—gasp!—jewelry, could definitely come off all wrong. You wouldn't want to seem like a show off or put too much pressure on money so early in the game-even if you think she's "the one."

If she does mean that much to you (or maybe you just really like her so far) surprise her with an "adventure" date. Mention that for the holidays you thought learning how to rock-climb together would be fun. If she likes to dance, sign up for a salsa class. Or if you share a favorite band, pick up tickets to a concert in the near future.

If you're just getting to know each other, you've certainly had plenty of discussions about your likes and dislikes and what hobbies you share; so picking an activity you both like and giving it as a gift—along with dinner, a card, or flowers perhaps—will be totally thoughtful, and endearing this holiday season.

Maybe you don't plan on being with her forever, but you're liking her at the moment, doing nothing or forgetting to acknowledge the holiday, is sure to kill anything you've got going on with her.