Advice to Husbands at Christmas, 1933
I used to work in a hippy-ish shop which sold all manner of things and Christmas time was a nightmare. Especially Christmas Eve, when the shop would suddenly have more male customers than we’d maybe had for the previous six months, grabbing anything that looked like a candle off the shelves, buying oil burners (this was the late 90s – they’re not so popular these days, are they?) and essential oils, and then asking as an afterthought, “What exactly is this?”
So, there obviously was always a bit of a market for Christmas shopping advice for men, and in 1933 “a London Store” catered to this by opening a “Husband’s Advisory Bureau” for the purpose, as seen below. That’s assuming they hadn’t adopted the “methodical system” recommended in the article, keeping a notebook updated all year with gift ideas for the whole family, “employing a special secretary for the purpose” if they’re rich, and then buying the cheapest thing in there when Christmas comes round. Of course they haven’t done this, no one ever has.
Advice to Husbands
A London store has just opened a Husband’s Advisory Bureau to help in the buying of Christmas gifts. It should be a welcome institution. If there is one thing which more than another puzzles the average man, it is the selection of a suitable present for Christmas or a birthday, whether the recipient is a woman or a man. In the family, of course, it is easy if done in one way. The methodical system is to start a notebook on the first of January and write down under the names of various members of the household all the things they sigh for in the course of the year. Wealthy heads of families may employ a special secretary for the purpose; they are likely to require one. The in December, assuming that the list has not been tattered by much use in the interval, all that is necessary is to consult it. It may be that the desires of wife and daughters and sons has been so numerous that choice remains difficult, but this can easily be overcome by purchasing the least expensive item in each case, or, in a crisis, losing the list and falling back (as is customary) on the advice of the lady of the house. There might also be an Advisory Bureau for Wives with two stringent mottoes – “Husbands don’t want ties” and “Husbands don’t like your taste in cigars.”
Of course, there’s always Bill Murray’s system in Scrooged – divide your gift list into “towels” and “video recorders”, depending on how much you like/want to impress the recipient: