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Holiday shopping is hard, and harder when it’s for someone you really care about. Worse, with romantic partners – how much is too much? How much do you spend at each stage of your relationship? As a writer for the Heartbeat, I knew this was a piece of investigative journalism I had to tackle head-on for my readers. I FaceTimed my kindergarten cousin Joey, age 6, to get to the bottom of the age-old problem: What to get for your significant other for the holidays? Together, we came up with some very good answers.

Under $10: If you’ve made out at a Pause dance and have since made awkward hallway eye contact.*

Cristiana: Artisan soap or bath bombs, a scarf, nice chocolate, tea, a cute pair of Amazon earrings, a mug, a succulent, or, if you’re crafty, something you’ve made. Maybe a scavenger hunt or surprise stargazing date.

Joey: A blanket, stuffed animal, pillow or “a baby Catty” – which, translated, is a baby caterpillar.

*Please note: if you have not made awkward hallway eye contact, your pause dance partner should, under no circumstances, recieve a present.

$10 – $20: You’ve both told each other that you “like-like” each other.

Cristiana: A funny graphic tee with an inside joke, a board game to play together, a hammock (cuddle opportunities!), your favorite book, a bottle of their favorite non-alcoholic beverage or a framed picture (of you both?).

Joey: An album in which to keep your flattened pennies or souvenir quarters. Joey has one himself, and he said: “I even put one tiny rock in there that I found on vacation!” So it truly is a versatile gift, especially for a traveler.

$20 – $30: You have picked up groceries or other sundry items for them at Target.

Cristiana: Some slightly more expensive non-alcoholic beverage, flowers, cosmetic set, Yeti mug, a homesick candle or a set of nice pens or colored pencils.

Joey: “I think I know what might be $30!” *proceeds to hold up and show me a cow blanket* “Cow Mimi!”

$30 – $40: You have actually been on a date off-campus (running into each other at Froggy’s does not count).

Cristiana: Merch from their favorite band or artist, a new sweater, a leather wallet, a purse or a mixology kit (to make mocktails of course).

Joey: A star night light projector, so you can look at the stars together.

$40 – $50: You have a toothbrush in their room, and they have one in yours.

Cristiana: A cookbook with ingredients to make one of the recipes (cooking date!), perfume or cologne, a customized gift from Etsy or some toothpaste, because you do not want to share.

Joey: “One of those big Lego sets!”

$50 or more: If you’ve successfully attained every Ole’s goal: a “ring by spring.”

Cristiana: Tickets to a show or sporting event, a watch, jewelry, a new pair of shoes, a pair of Bluetooth headphones, buy them a nice dinner or a combination of smaller gifts.

Joey: A live cat, “because [my friend] Annie loves cats and owls.”

Whatever stage of your relationship you’re at, I think Joey and I can both agree that the best gifts are things or experiences that are somehow special to you both. For example, a ticket to a play you both want to see, or a Lego set you want to build together. With a significant other, it really is the thought that counts. (I’d rather a surprise stargazing date, outside or projected inside, than a $30 gift card, you know?)

And with that sage advice, happy holiday shopping!


Cristiana and Joey

Having trouble navigating the St. Olaf dating scene? Need help finding a date? Got more dates than you can handle? Or have a response to this week’s column? E-mail your questions to and maybe one of our love columnists will answer them in next week’s issue. All submitted questions will remain anonymous.

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