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RIGHT GIFT MAKES HOLIDAYS SPECIAL FOR RIGHT GAL

A new BizRate poll conducted for the comparison shopping Web site Shopzilla found that for 48 percent of men, holiday shopping brings on feelings of inadequacy, confusion and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to buy the right presents for women:

1 Talk to her friends. They know what's on her list. They know in what color. They know in what size. Heck, they may even know when it will be 50 percent off.

2 Look for clues around the house. If a woman keeps a catalog or a magazine, chances are pretty good she likes something inside it. The page may even be dog-eared.

3 Pay attention. We drag you on extended shopping trips as often as you'll allow it and each time we admire at least a few things. If we point out something March, we'll be very impressed if you remember it in December.

4 Write it down. When you get a bright idea, jot it down so you won't forget.

5 Go where she goes. In the early days of Internet shopping, men dominated the marketplaces. Women have since taken over. If your gal is a consistent online shopper, you've got a road map of where she's been most often: Her computer's history.

6 Stick to familiar Web sites and brands, particularly for expensive purchases. The best part of the deal? Almost every online retailer will wrap the jewelry for you. Imagine that time and frustration that will save you.

7 Avoid utility. We may need a kitchen appliance, a microwave, a hand-held blender, a new vacuum. If you bought us one on a rainy Sunday afternoon mall crawl, just because, we'd rave about how unbelievably thoughtful we thought you were. But on the holidays? No thanks.

8 Don't overlook electronics. You may think we'll think they're not romantic or personal enough, but that little MP3 player is pretty sexy (especially if you load it up with special tunes). If we spend a lot of time in our cars, a satellite radio subscription and receiver might be a good idea.

9 No gift cards. Not today. Not ever. That "putting some thought into a present" thing is the reason for my personal ban on gift cards of all sorts. These little pieces of plastic, no matter how much you spend or where they come from, spell cop-out to me.

10 No pouting if we return something. Here's the bottom line: We'd love you to buy us something that we truly love. But if you miss, understand we will do our best to give you ample credit for trying. A guilt trip for a misstep - "I'm never buying you another handbag again!" - takes all the fun out of the scenario for both you and for us. You're better off if you chalk it up to practice makes perfect.

Sources: "Darling, You Shouldn't Have: What Women Really Want and How to Get It Right Every Time" by Janet Davies; Shopzilla.

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