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Shopping for men can be tough. Whether it’s the guy you just started dating or the man you’ve been married to for years, certain items should be no-nos when it comes to holiday gifting.

1. Ties

Nothing screams “man gift” quite like a tie. Dads around the world cringe at the thought of the ties that will be coming on Father’s Day. Don’t buy them one on their birthday, Christmas and Kwanzaa, too.

More to the point, as a 30-something, I think I can count on one hand the number of men I know who actually wear ties. And all those men wear ties for work. Who wants to think of work on a holiday?

Seriously, folks, let’s ditch the tie as the quintessential male gift.

2. Clothes & Shoes

Although not as bad as ties, clothes and shoes should be avoided, too. Why? Take your pick from these reasons:

  • You could buy the wrong style.
  • You could buy the wrong size.
  • You could buy the wrong fit.

If you’re thinking socks and undies are a safe pick, stop right there. Are you shopping for your 3-year-old or a grown man? Because no grown man I know wants a woman buying his undergarments as a gift.

3. Nose Hair Trimmers & Other Personal Care Items

What are we trying to say here? You have a nose hair problem? You have a hygiene problem? You are wonderful … but you could be better?

Personal care items are a land mine of unspoken assumptions and mixed messages. No matter how much the QVC hosts try to convince you otherwise, your man will probably not be tickled to receive a three-in-one shaver.

On the other hand, if you’re trying desperately to offend the recipient, a nose hair trimmer should be your go-to gift.

4. Bath Products

Let’s just rule out all bath products while we’re at it, why don’t we?

Maybe some men like to use specialty soaps that leave them smelling like lavender or lemon or (more manly) cut grass, but I just don’t see a lot of men primping and pampering themselves on a regular basis.

“I’m going to light some candles and soak in the tub” are words rarely spoken by men. Put the bath set down and find something he’ll actually use.

5. Jewelry

It’s not that men can’t wear jewelry. It’s just that most don’t, and when they do, it tends to be a fairly personal decision.

Scroll back up to the “clothes and shoes” section. Every mistake listed there could be repeated for jewelry. Really, the chances of you wasting money on something he doesn’t like or would never wear are high in this category.

6. Cologne

You’ll also want to avoid cologne for the same reasons. Some men don’t wear cologne, and those who do tend to have very specific tastes.

In addition, for many men, cologne is utilitarian. It’s kind of like buying them deodorant or shampoo.

7. Flimsy Tool Sets

This is the gift that plagued my late husband. He worked in construction, so of course everyone thought he liked tools.

And he did like tools, just not the ones our relatives often bought him. The problem was twofold. First, he already had all the tools he needed. Second, the tool sets gifted to him tended to be cheap and poorly made. They might be acceptable for assembling furniture out of a box, but that was about it.

My advice: if you’re going to buy tools and want them to be used, ask your man if there’s a specific tool he wants and then purchase the best one you can afford. Better yet, let him buy his own tools.

8. Romantic Whatever

After nearly 15.5 years of marriage, I feel confident I can say that what women think is sweet and romantic and what men like are two totally different things. Discussions with friends and the Internet back me up on this.

Booking his-and-her massages at the spa or giving your beau a stuffed bear that says “I love you” may seem the perfect way to show how much you care, but the man in your life may prefer some craft beer, a video game or maybe even (gasp!) a tie.

9. Self-Help Books

I know! If only he would read “The Secrets of Happily Married Men“! And I totally agree that he would get the promotion if he would take the lessons in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” to heart.

But the only thing worse than giving a self-help book may be to give a self-help book along with a nose hair trimmer. Seriously. You couldn’t possibly send a stronger message of “you’re not good enough” than by gifting a book that tells someone how to be better.

I’m all for self-improvement and for encouraging self-improvement in others, but wrapping it in paper and ribbon is, in my opinion, the perfect way to ruin the day for your significant other.

10. Gifts That Are Really for You

While we’re at it, let’s scratch all gifts that are really gifts to you. Let’s be real. You want your boyfriend/husband/significant other to read that self-help book because it will ultimately benefit you, right?

So don’t. Just don’t.

Don’t make gifts about you. Don’t buy the personal care kit because you want your guy to look clean and polished. Don’t buy him cologne because you want him to smell good. Don’t buy a bookcase because you want a bookcase. Don’t buy socks because he needs them, and you want to kill two birds with one stone.

Rather than make your gifts a reflection of what you want for your favorite man, make them about what he wants.

The best way to do that? Ask.

Some men might like items on this list, but you need to ask them to find out. Then, with their blessing, feel free to buy the most amazing pair of wingtips ever or whatever else floats their boat.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

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