The Female Perspective on Mens Shopping: I can remember few occasions more disappointing, than when I received 100 assorted cotton reels from my Dad for Christmas, because “you love sewing”. Or more mortifying than unwrapping my 18th birthday present from my cousin James to find a box of facial wax strips and a jar of cellulite cream - “I thought that’s what girls wanted!?”

Why is it that men find it so hard to find decent gifts ideas for women?
I decided to conduct a bit of research. Surely there’s help out there for all those clueless boyfriends, Dads and brothers?

Thirty seconds later and my Google results page was inundated with ‘Best Gift Ideas for Women’ and lists of ‘dos & don’ts’ to guide the baffled male. Pah! Easy. Men are lazier than I thought.

I discovered some really insightful advice, like ‘don’t buy a gift the wrong size’ and ‘don’t buy the same gift as last year’. Hmmmm, I’m starting to appreciate your predicament, boys.

But perhaps we’re being too vague...another thirty seconds later and my screen was awash with ‘Top 50 gifts ideas for women ’and ‘Best Gifts for Women in 2010’. Sorted.

According to one website, the best birthday gift for the lady in your life is the ‘Kitchen Aid Professional Stand Mixer’, which is ‘perfect for the little baker in your life’ – I thought we were shopping girlfriends, not the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Not to worry, other websites offered more inspired gift ideas, with scented candles a clear winner. One astute site referred to the detailed market research that had gone into endorsing its array of perfumed wax products, assuring its male clientele that ‘lots of girls like candles’.

Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? Aren’t these websites just ‘advertising tools’ for the companies that sponsor them? I turned to the broadsheets for inspiration:

Whilst The Guardian recommends a set of padded coat hangers, The Independent puts Tupperware and flowery notebooks at the top of every girl’s wish-list; apparently ‘no girl can have enough notebooks’. Errr, I assure you we can.

Am I being too harsh? Can we really blame generic gift lists for our boyfriends’ lack of competence? Surely even the most neolithic of gentlemen can ascertain that you don’t buy the same gift for your granny as you do for your fiancé?

It seems that if you can many the task of distinguishing between your girlfriend and your Aunty Pam, gifts can be much more accurately suited, and if not, there are plenty of websites that will even categorize them for you.

One promising article I found suggested how to adapt gift choices, according to the different woman you’re buying for. They recommend ‘a new coffee maker’ for your wife, an ‘espresso machine’ for your sister, and for a female co-worker, ‘a coffee shop gift card with a note like, "I'd love to catch up on a coffee break one of these days"’ - Assuming that your wife will be too busy cleaning the steamer on her new anniversary present to notice you dating your secretary.

So, Male species, I owe you an apology. It’s not your faults that you find it impossible to buy anything more inspiring than flowers, chocolates or sexy undies, it’s the misguided information you’re given by the media that’s to blame.

So where do we go from here? How is it that girls can manage the task better than men? Perhaps it’s the time we’re prepared to dedicate to gift shopping that’s the key difference. My advice to men? Put some bloomin’ effort in! You can’t expect to stumble across the perfect gift just before the SPAR closes on Christmas eve. You need to start investing some time and effort.

Failing that, I’m sure she’ll love the scented candles…