There’s nothing better than enjoying the holiday season with the people you love most — and if you’ve got a wedding ring on your finger, that probably means you’re looking forward to celebrating this special time of year with your spouse. We’re willing to bet that you have romantic seasonal visions dancing in your head — cozying up by the fire, hanging decorations, sipping a little spiked cider, and sharing a meaningful gift or two. But what happens when the gifting process goes from sweet to stressful? As fun as it can be to shop for your special someone, when you share a budget and a home with your partner, there are plenty of potential landmines that can also make it extra challenging. We’ve compiled a few tips from relationship and lifestyle experts to help ensure a smooth gifting season with the love of your life. Keep scrolling for all the festive (yet practical) details.

A couple sits on their porch

1. Get clear about expectations. Certified professional coach Amy M. Gardner offers a prime example of a couple that wasn’t clear about expectations — and while they might be fictional, the awkwardness of their interaction feels painfully real. When Emma Thompson’s character in Love Actually receives a CD instead of the beautiful necklace she expected, it’s a cringe-worthy moment for all. To avoid a similar situation with your own spouse, communicate early on about the expectations you each have for the season’s round of gifting. Gardner suggests setting guidelines about budget, handmade versus store-bought, and whether the items gifted should be things you want or things you need.

2. Gift a date night. Surprising your spouse with a planned date night addresses several of the gifting challenges that are specific to married couples. “Date nights typically do not require anything to be pre-paid and instead involve making reservations and researching,” says Kali Rogers, CEO and founder of Blush Online Life Coaching. “You don’t have to pull from joint finances ahead of time or try to find the best hiding place in your house!”

3. Avoid leaving a digital trail. We’ve all reaped the benefits of the extent to which online shopping has made the holidays significantly easier on all of us, but researching and buying all of your gifts from a family computer (or a phone that you often casually hand to your partner) can backfire! Natasha-Rachel Smith, consumer affairs expert at TopCashback, suggests using incognito mode in your browser when searching for any gifts. “Make sure to clear your history and cookies, and double-check that you aren’t logged in to any accounts that might give your gift away,” Smith says.

A couple drinks coffee together in their living room

4. Consider love languages. It feels great to physically unwrap a present, but there’s more than one way to express your love to your spouse this holiday season — and if your partner isn’t especially driven by gifts, you might want to go a different route. “Gifts [are] a love language, so that someone whose love language is gifts will demonstrate their love by giving gifts or will feel love by receiving gifts,” explains licensed clinical professional counselor Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin. “Even if their partner demonstrates love in other ways, if gifts aren’t part of the picture, there could be a feeling of lack in an otherwise good relationship.” That being said, you or your S.O. might lean toward physical touch or quality time as a love language! Check in with your spouse prior to the holiday season about what kinds of gifts — literal or not — will really make them tick.

5. Turn every conversation into a sleuthing operation. If you and your S.O. have been together for many years, it may be getting harder and harder to come up with fresh gift ideas every year — especially if you’re looking for something that will be low-risk (who wants to be asked for a gift receipt?) but still unexpected. Look at every conversation as an opportunity to get the info you need to find the perfect present! “Leading up to the holidays, listen carefully for clues about something your partner would love to have but hasn’t pulled the trigger on,” says Linday Sakraida, director of content marketing for shopping comparison website DealNews. “If you sleuth around for gift ideas, it’s a great way to surprise your partner without having to predict what they’d like.”

Tweet us how you and your spouse keep gifting-related stress to a minimum during the holiday season @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)