Some of the hardest gifts are when you have been dating someone for a short duration of time. (i.e. 3 months or less)
It can always be a fine line determining how much should you spend, how many presents are overkill, you don't know what they already have, you don't want to send the wrong message, etc. The worries could go on and on. I think it is important not to focus on the price point but rather the sentiment. A thoughtful gift can be worth so much more than an expensive gift. (If you know what I mean. . . )
Before I get to my suggestions on what to give. I am going to tell you I would resist giving any gift that suggests they need self improvement - a membership to the gym, scales, appliances, gift certificates for haircuts, etc. Even if they are expensive, it might not be exactly the most encouraging message you want to send in the first ninety days.
Here are a few suggestions to hopefully make your attempts at being a Santa imposter a little easier.
1. I always like giving the experience. We have all watched the Mastercard commercials, some memories are priceless. We often don't remember the fleeting sixty second adrenaline rush when the wrapping paper is removed. However, it is hard to forget the day you spent on an adventure.
Maybe this memory book with tickets to something exciting taped into the front page? Your significant other isn't a sports fan, yawns through plays, and doesn't really "get" museums? Think outside the box - a cooking class, pottery painting, a day trip to a different city, etc. 2. Some people don't like shopping, they don't like being creative, and romance is not their forte. If you think you are one of those guys . . . invest in a charm bracelet for your girlfriend early on. My parents gave me a charm bracelet in grade school. For every major life event, I received a charm. It was an easy, predictable gift that I loved. It is literally like wearing my life story on my wrist.
If you think you might be dating this girl for longer than the next four seasons, a charm bracelet will save you lots of hours shopping. No matter what life event, milestone, holiday, etc you are celebrating, you can always just pick up a charm.
Links of London has some great bracelets that start around $160 and each charm is about $35 and higher.
3. Something from back home. Everybody has a sweet spot for where they grew up. Living in DC is the cornucopia of the country. There are some days where I feel like I'm as likely to meet someone from Nebraska as from Maryland (especially if you work on some floors in the House or Senate)
Find out where they grew up, where they went to school, etc. and give them something to remind them of their roots. Some hunting on ebay might lead you to some vintage postcards or posters to frame.
4. And my last suggestion is so mushy, lovey. . . cue the background music. . . If you had a really great first date or you always have the place that turns into your default. I'm talking about walks around the monument, trips to the zoo, dinner at Floriana, even a standard coffee date at Starbuck, etc. Maybe something iconic from there - so a framed menu, a well done painting from Eastern Market of your favorite monument, a stuffed butterfly from the day you spent at the Natural History Museum, a new Starbucks mug, etc.
Just something that shows you pay attention. ;)