It may be better to give than to receive, but it sure can be hard to give sometimes when you've been with the same person for years -- and years. What's worse is that most people today -- living in a fast-paced, highly visual world -- have gotten pretty picky about their presents. Buying something special has become so hard, in fact, the National Retail Foundation says the most requested gift over the last five years has been a gift card.
So what do couples say when asked about their favorite gifts? Not surprisingly, people's preferences run the gamut, from fine jewelry to sexy pajamas. The common theme running through all the responses though is that putting thought into a gift still counts -- for a lot.
"As far as the best gift I've ever gotten, I'd say diamond earrings," said Sue Flaherty, a New Jersey mother of three.
For neighbor Emily Wittmann, jewelry is also the perfect present.
"My best gift? My first Tiffany blue box with a sterling bangle bracelet inside ... then a towel warmer for the shower ... and many Tiffany blue boxes thereafter," she said.
Another long-married woman said her favorite present is pretty pajamas because "I will wear them to death." She also thinks a great gift is a pair of tickets to a play or concert. "Long-term married people are at the stage where they want to get rid of stuff and not acquire more stuff," she added.
Another couple agreed that their favorite gifts to each other are great vacations. "We always agree not to give each other presents so that we can go on a big trip," said Bob Whitehead, a retired Texas businessman. But he also likes electronics. "I like anything that I'm not likely to go out and spend money on myself," he said.
New Jersey businesswoman and mother Sarah Stibbe Damaskos said that any pre-arranged evening/day/weekend out during which she doesn't have to do any of the planning is the best gift her husband could give her. "I don't want to have to make reservations or arrange a babysitter ... I just want to appear at the front door and be ready to go," she said.
East Coast real estate agent Tamima Friedman said her husband of 25 years always manages to buy gifts she actually loves. "I am passionate about our dachshunds and one year he got me a dachshund weathervane to put on our roof," she said. "And, of course, you can never go wrong with chocolate or flowers either."
Kelly McDonald said that her favorite Christmas gift was given the year she and her husband bought their first house. "I gave my husband half of the house for Christmas and he gave me half ... that was our agreement," she said. "After that we were essentially broke."
So what are some other great gift ideas for long-time partners? Check out our slideshow for 10 ideas. And please feel free to add your own gift ideas in comments.
A Weekend Getaway!
Escape winter with the gift of a long weekend in the sunshine. Check out <a href="http://www.travelzoo.com/top20/">Travelzoo</a> for last-minute specials. Currently there are great deals for travel go Cancun, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
If you want a gift guaranteed to dazzle, you can't go wrong with anything in a little blue box from <a href="http://www.tiffany.com/shopping/default.aspx?mcat=148204">Tiffany & Co</a>. An added incentive? Free shipping on all orders of $150 or more.
This leather weekender bag is new from<a href="http://gifts.redenvelope.com/gifts/leather-weekender-bag-30080391?ref=REDorganicgglgeneric_&prid=rbseogg&viewpos=4&trackingpgroup=rfmfv"> RedEnvelope. </a>Toss a few items inside and you're ready for a quick getaway. But it's not cheap: the price is $399.95.
These are not your typical studio headphones. Fans say these are perfect for anyone who loves music -- and has style. Check them out at <a href="http://www.skullcandy.com/shop/aviator-white">Skullcandy</a> for $144.95.
Pretty pajamas are for any age. This satin pair sells for $69.50 at <a href="http://www.victoriassecret.com/sleepwear/silk-and-satin">Victoria's Secret.</a> An added bonus is that buyers of PJs get free slippers for a limited period. And there's free shipping for orders of $100 or more.
iPhone Photo Printer
It may not be the most personal of gifts, but the iPhone Photo Printer from <a href="http://www.hammacher.com/Product/79938?source=CMPSHOP&cm_ven=CompShop&cm_cat=Gifts&cm_pla=Gifts&cm_ite=79938&zmam=36352540&zmas=1&zmac=10&zmap=79938">Hammacher Schlemmer</a> is pretty cool. The compact printer produces photo quality pictures directly from a docked iPhone (including iPhone 5) or iPod touch. And it sells for a mere $159.95.
Monogrammed Belt Buckle
Not the flashiest gift in the world, but it's something that's just a little bit different. Just $28 -- the belt is sold separately -- from <a href="http://www.cwonder.com/letter-belt-buckle.html">Cwonder.com.</a> (This company has a lot of other great gift ideas ... check out the website.)
Decorative pillows are just, well, pretty. And a great way to show your wife you've been paying attention to the way the house is decorated! Check out the selection from <a href="http://www.ankasa.com/shop/pillows">Ankasa </a>-- lovely!
Tickets To A Show
Tickets to a show, whether it be "The Jersey Boys" on Broadway or a performance by your local orchestra, is always a good idea. It's something the two of you can share. Go to<a href="www.ticketmaster.com"> Ticketmaster</a> to see what's available.
Stock Car Ride Along
Tired of material things? Get your spouse an "experience" such as a stock car ride along from <a href="http://www.cloud9living.com/stock-car-ride-alongs?utm_source=gifts.com_geo_feed&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=National&utm_campaign=Ride_Shotgun_in_a_NASCAR">Cloud 9 Living</a> for only $119. There are a wide range of gift ideas, categorized by "experience type."