Why I won't be buying my husband a Christmas present
"Nothing," is always the answer.
Ah, you're thinking, the man who has everything. Not quite. He would love a Ducati, or maybe a Porsche. But if he really wanted something he'd be sure to find a way of buying it - himself.
He's not fussed about smellies, books I've bought him are still unread, cashmere scarves linger, forgotten, at the back of the wardrobe.
I've toyed with the idea of buying him an "Experience" but wonder if he would get round to experiencing it. I've given up.
He's never swamped me with jewels because he doesn't trust his taste. He went through a stage of trying hard; too hard. One Christmas I was presented with a poetry book; spot-on as I love poetry. The following year he bought me another; what a shame it was exactly the same one as before.
So we've agreed a truce on presents. There will be no handing over of wish-lists or wistful glances at jewellers' windows for us. I might, if really pushed, suggest he buys me some scent, pointing to the ones on my dressing table. But even that isn't a safe bet. I'll undoubtedly be given the perfume when all I use is Eau de Toilette.
What do other couples do? Kate and Andy have been married for over 10 years. Kate says: "We've reached the stage where we are a bit too honest if a present doesn't hit the mark. This can be quite often as we are both very fussy."
This sounds familiar. I have vivid memories of my father making it clear that the picture my mother had bought him was not to his taste; pressed relentlessly for an honest opinion he eventually gave it. And she sulked right through to New Year.
Kate explains: "Most years, I hand over presents to him which I've chosen carefully and cost no more than around the £100 which we've agreed, then I end up taking them straight back to the shop."
So why doesn't she just ask him what he wants? "I can't see the point because if either of us wants something we'll buy it anyway."
And all those gift guides that scream at you from magazines each November: "I look at them," says Kate, "and groan. There is no way he'd want anything there."
Julia loves running. But even she didn't expect an entry to the Vienna marathon as her Christmas present.
"I had no intention of running a marathon, ever. But I felt I couldn't refuse. The only pay-back was that my husband had to look after our four children while I was away."
Anna says: "My husband and I have set a cash limit of £50 and have agreed on surprises, though I think we're both stumped as to what to buy. I did see him looking at a jumper in Debenhams yesterday. But the worst presents have come from my in-laws which has necessitated false smiles and appreciation worthy of an Oscar."
Emily says: "I once asked my husband to get me underwear for Christmas, hoping for something silky and sexy. I got a set of thermal underwear. At the time he was working from home and I was commuting to London. He realised I was disappointed, but explained that it was because he was worried I might be cold waiting for the train. Which I think is really more romantic than buying something red and lacy that doesn't fit.
"Once he bought me a really hideous jumper and, again, when he realised I hated it – I am not a good liar- he said he'd chosen it because he thought it looked like the kind of thing I usually wore. Now I give him a list, and he chooses things from that, so I don't know exactly what I'm getting, but it will be something I like."
Men's detachment from Christmas and presents can't get much worse than Catherine's experiences: "I buy Ben's presents from his Amazon wish list. He told me he didn't know he had one."
Is it really worth the effort? You shop till you drop in December only to have to do it all over again in January – queuing for refunds, and where is that blasted receipt?
I almost hit the jackpot with a former boyfriend who'd whisked me along Kensington High Street a few days before Christmas saying, "Let's buy you a present." But even that had its drawbacks because of the unspoken word: budgets.
My husband will press me as ever: "If I don't buy you something you'll be upset." I won't. Honestly. And I won't buy anything for you.
Do you buy a present for your other half? Do you prefer to choose for yourself?
Tell us your best and worst presents. Go on!
More on Parendish:
What mums really want for Christmas
And what dads really want...