If this holiday season marks the first time that you and your beau have the opportunity to exchange gifts, these tips will help you handle it discreetly and with tact.How long should you be dating before you can expect to give each other gifts? While there is no hard and fast rule, it’s best to err on the side of caution. You might appear desperate or inappropriate if you give an extravagant gift too early in a relationship. On the other hand, not giving a gift may be interpreted as not caring for the other person.

You and the person you’re dating might not assign the same meaning to gift giving. One person might be insulted by an inexpensive gift, while another may feel relieved at the prospect of not feeling obligated to reciprocate. Even though it might seem awkward, I suggest that you and your beau have a discussion about the kinds of gifts that you’re comfortable giving and receiving at this particular point in your relationship.

If you’ve been dating someone for a short time, and you’re not sure if a gift is in the offing, what should you do? Have a wrapped gift ready in the event that your date arrives with one for you. The best gift for a new relationship is one that is edible. Homemade cookies in a festive tin, a bottle of a nice wine, or an assortment of tasty treats are gifts that won’t go to waste. These also won’t serve as a reminder of failure if your relationship doesn’t go anywhere.

You’ve been dating regularly for three to six months, but don’t have a long-term commitment. What gifts are appropriate? Activity presents are great. Think concert tickets for a music aficionado, museum membership for an art lover, Giants tickets for a baseball fan, or technology event tickets for your geek. This is not the time to replace his decrepit toaster with a sleek new one. Keep it fun and light.

You’ve made it past 6 months and you haven’t discussed the future. At this point, a lasting memento won’t seem inappropriate. Keep gifts on the lighter side: such as costume jewelry, electronic gadgets, or books or accessories you know your sweetie would love.

You’ve made it past 6 months and you’re talking about a future together. Take this opportunity to discuss how you plan to handle gift giving as a couple. Will you use those opportunities to upgrade your closet or household, or will it be about special experiences, such as great meals or weekends away? Chat about how your families handled gift giving, what you liked—or didn’t–about it, what you think will work for both of you. Don’t get into situation where one of you gives the other a $500 stereo system and the other returns the gift with a pair of socks!