Friday 22 September 2017

Listen up, Valentine boys, don't be like the bloke who wrapped up a half-used bottle of his mum's perfume!

Guys, dodge the doghouse this Valentine's Day with our idiot-proof guide to perfect presents.

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

It's that time of year when men are wishing they had the psychic abilities of Mel Gibson in What Women Want.

But if, unlike the movie, electrocuting yourself in the bath doesn't work, there is an easier way to decipher the inner-most desires of your lady and dodge the doghouse this Valentine's Day.

A rap sheet of new research has revealed that Cupid has his work cut out for him where Irish men are concerned this February 14.

While their amorous Italian and French counterparts are busy plotting a night of passion for their partners, nearly half of miserly Irish men won't splash out on a lousy card for their loved one on the international day of love, according to a survey by Eason's.

And just one-in-five fellas here will give their missus a break from making the dinner, says a study by Boots.

But if you're among the 34pc who earned the silent treatment for forgetting to spoil your other half in the past, it's not too late to resuscitate your romance this year.

We've consulted the experts to compile an idiot-proof guide to ratcheting up brownie points this Sunday.

So if you're the kind of guy who thinks Kama Sutra is the name of the Indian restaurant down the road, for pity's sake -- read on.

"Buying gifts doesn't come naturally to most men," says Mary Leahy of Giftguru.ie.

"They're usually so scared of getting it wrong that they put it on the long finger and end up dashing around at the last minute, spending a fortune on over-priced flowers or some beautifully wrapped box of cosmetics that will never be used.

"We've heard some awful examples of gifts that men gave their girlfriends -- the worst was a girl who gave her boyfriend a €200 sound system and received a gift-wrapped packed of crisps in return.

Needless to say she dumped him soon after.

"Maybe he was just trying to be funny," she adds, "but girls want romance at Valentine's -- not jokes. No matter how hard some men try, they do make some awful boo-boos, like thinking it's romantic to produce a spanking new iron. But with lots of hints, I think they can eventually get it right!"

If you're hoping to capitalise on Cupid's celebration this Sunday night, sexy lingerie is one sure-fire hit with the ladies, says bra fitter Sandra Dyke of luxury French brand Chantelle.

Just don't make the same mistake as the third of men who arrived home with the wrong size and style -- the only thing it will arouse is suspicion, she warns.

"So many women come back exchanging sets they're sure weren't meant for them," Sandra jokes.

"Men tend to make more of an effort buying extravagant sets for their mistress rather than their wife."

Think 'cute' not 'crotchless' when picking knickers for the (leading) lady in your life -- 75pc of women quizzed by the brand said they would prefer a pretty pastel set to the porn star-style undies given to them by their clueless Casanovas.

"To avoid buying a boomerang bra set (one that always comes back), plan ahead. Look in her undie drawer for the size and style she goes for -- padded, non-padded, thong, colour and so on.

'Guys will often rush into the store and say 'She's about your size', but you need to know her exact cup and back size.

"Avoid trashy colours like bright red and opt for a subtler shade -- think soft and pretty rather than saucy and sexy. Get it nicely gift wrapped and always ask for a gift receipt so she can exchange it if it's not right.

"If you're still not sure, go for a pretty camisole set rather than a bra. And make sure you give the right set to the right person!"

Perfume is another perennial favourite with the fairer sex on Valentine's Day. But even this seeming no-brainer is fraught with pitfalls for fellas, say Boots fragrance expert Paula Hartnell.

"There are thousands of fragrances out there and perfume is quite a personal thing, so I do feel sorry for guys who are trying to pick one out for that special someone -- especially if they're having been dating for long.

"The typical guy that comes in doesn't even know what perfume their partner wears or likes," she says, "so we have to start from scratch.

"We try to make it as easy as possible by asking them to use descriptive words about the lady in question, so we can narrow it down to something she might like.

"Women are usually thrilled that their man went to the time and effort to pick out a perfume they think she'll love.

"The best advice I can give is to look at her dressing table before you leave the house to see what she's already wearing and we can take it from there. Our most popular fragrances for women at the moment are Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Dolce & Gabbana The One and Marc Jacobs Lola.

"Don't impulse buy or -- worse -- buy a perfume because your ex-girlfriend wore it!"

Having hand-picked the perfect present, don't cock it all up with a crass card. While 43pc of women are expecting sentiments to rival Shakespeare this Sunday, they could be disappointed.

'Sales of Valentine's cards are consistently high each year," says Alan Johnston, Eason Group marketing manager. "They're a cost-effective but personal token of affection. However, there's a fundamental difference in taste between the sexes. Irish women favour romantic cards, whereas 39pc and 34pc of Irish men are more inclined to choose funny or raunchy cards, respectively, for their loved one. Men are also more likely to buy their cards last minute -- about 80pc buy them the day before or on Valentine's Day itself."

Top of the wish-list, however, is a romantic getaway, concludes Giftguru.ie's Mary Leahy. But with even the humble card appearing a bit of stretch for some suitors, she's got some more realistic suggestions for Ireland's pragmatic Romeos.

"The romantic weekend break is a winner," she adds, "as nothing's as good as the present of 'time together'. At the moment, though, not everyone can stretch the budget to that so lots of cheaper yet romantic gifts are proving really popular on our website.

"The Heart Throb Kit (€11.95), which contains everything needed for a seductive dinner-for-two, and Hot Hugs Bear (€15) that you heat up in the microwave for a cozy cuddle are flying out."

So even if that backfires, at least you'll have something warm to snuggle up to in the doghouse!

Irish Independent

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