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The Greatest Christmas Gift He Ever Gave Me

Six women share how their husbands made it the best holiday ever

Couple embracing while holding Christmas gift

Your first instinct when considering a holiday gift for your partner (after you’ve ruled out hacking into one of her online shopping wish lists) is probably to just throw money at the problem. Something flashy and expensive will do the trick, right? Maybe. But when we reached out to Gen X women and asked about the best Christmas gift their husbands ever gave them, it was rarely a big-ticket item. The things that mattered were surprising and sentimental — proving that their husbands were listening.

Inspired by what they shared, we’ve compiled six gift ideas for the woman in your life who has everything.

Buy back a memory

“We loved the rocking chairs we sipped wine on during our honeymoon in Costa Rica, so for Christmas that year, he had called the resort we stayed at, asked where he could buy two chairs and had them shipped in time for Christmas.” —Erica, 49

Don’t stress about finding something as perfectly romantic. It’s not the scope that matters but the sentiment. Maybe she loves the wine glasses at a certain bistro. Find out where to buy them, and she’ll swoon that you've been paying attention.

Frame something special

“I’m an author and I had three book cover posters from past book events rolled up in the closet, and I commented casually to my husband, ‘I really should get them framed.’ Fast-forward to Christmas, and he had them professionally framed for me.” —Alison, 52 

You don’t have to be married to a writer for this to work. She’s got something she treasures that’s suitable for framing. A drawing by your kid, a favorite love letter, the first dollar earned from her business. Do some sleuthing and find the mementos that deserve to be professionally mounted.

Make a sacrifice

“I’m a huge Red Sox fan, but my husband is a bigger Yankees fan. He once bought me tickets to sit on ‘The Green Monster’ [which is Fenway Parks’ left wall — the best seats in the stadium] to watch a game even though that was the last place he’d ever want to be.” —Carlene, 48

Think of something your wife loves but you could care less about. It could be tickets to her favorite band that makes your ears bleed or that couples’ pottery class that you’ve been weaseling out of for years. This isn’t a pity date; it’s acknowledging that sometimes her interests should come first.

Solve a problem in style

“My husband saw how long it takes me to dry my long hair, so he researched the ‘fastest drying hair dryer’ online and bought me the $400 Dyson Hair Dryer. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t even know it existed, but now I can’t live without it.” —Priscilla, 44

Be like Winston Wolf, the charismatic fixer played by Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. But not the covering up a crime part. Be the problem solver, even if it’s not a problem she realized she had. Is she always losing her phone? Set up a tracking app on your devices so you can track it. Constantly losing her keys? Buy a tracking tag. 

Restore an heirloom

“I was distraught when I broke my grandmother's vase, and I threw the broken pieces in the trash. My husband gathered the pieces without me knowing and brought them to a friend who makes ceramics and had the pieces of the vase made into mosaic coasters, so I could enjoy a piece of my grandmother every day.” —Traci, 55

You don’t need a ceramics friend to make this happen — because honestly, who has a ceramics friend? There are plenty of dummy-proof mosaic kits to be found online, and your DIY skills will wow her as much as the finished result.

Replace something lost

“I’m a voracious reader, and as a little girl, I had an entire set of Nancy Drew mysteries. They were my pride and joy. My mother, a total clean freak, threw them all out one day when she saw red ants on them. I was devastated. I told this story to my husband years ago, and he surprised me last Christmas with the entire set of Nancy Drew mysteries … with the old covers!” —Tracy, 53

If you’re married to an avid book reader, your gift possibilities are endless. Find a first edition, or signed copy, of her favorite book. If books aren’t her thing, there’s something she treasured from her past that’s now lost. If you can find a replacement, in her eyes you’re basically Indiana Jones, stealing back the lost ark to make Christmas magical again.