In general, I think it is a mistake for single women to give attractive single men gifts. However, I have concluded that it okay to send stuff to servicemen--and servicewomen, for that matter. It is traditional and patriotic. During the World Wars, young ladies sent care packages to servicemen they didn't even know. My American grandmother kept up a correspondence with a young soldier after the Americans entered the First World War, when she was 13 or so. (The poor doughboy was under the impression that Grandma was much older and wrote her telling that when he came home they'd paint the town red. But I digress.)
Gift-giving is a big deal. One of the problems of our age is saying stuff is "no big deal" when it fact it is and always has been. Hostess presents aside, if a man offers a single, unrelated woman a gift, it is often a sign that he finds her attractive. It's a nice clue to watch out for. Of course, women should turn down overly expensive or personal gifts from men-not-our-husbands unless we want to end up the subject of some misogynist rap song. A good line is, "Oh, no! Thank you--that's so kind of you!--but my parents would be distressed if I accepted such a personal/expensive gift." (Inevitable reply.) "I don't keep secrets from my parents."*
But it strikes me that a more pressing problem is the issue of the female desire to give. I wrote about this on Friday, when I was musing about what Germaine Greer gets right. Germaine Greer writes in The Whole Woman about women constantly giving giving GIVING to somehow relieve their brimming hearts of their burden of love. She describes elderly ladies knitting unwanted woollens for young male relations; I think of women thinking in June about what to give their crush objects for Christmas.
Various advice-givers I respect warn that men resent overly personal or expensive gifts, for they make them feel a woman is trying to buy them. (This makes me draw conclusions about what men think they are doing when THEY give women overly personal or expensive gifts.) One could throw a hissy fit at such uncharitable ingratitude, or one could ponder if that is in fact what the besotted women are trying to do.
Too many young girls have conversations with themselves that begin "He'll love me if I..." It comes as a big shock to discover that boys and men either love you or they don't, and it has very little to do with anything that you do. If you are a good person, who doesn't embarrass them, and are respected and thought well of by people they respect and think well of, then that's good. But whether or not they fall for you is completely up to their mysterious psyches.
Looking like the first girl/movie star/teacher they ever had a crush on is a good bet, but this is not exactly something you can control. You can't buy love with homemade cookies or--God forbid--a free housecleaning service or woolly jumpers or stuffed toys or silver cigarette cases or your body or anything else, really.
Thus, it is best to proceed with caution before buying a gift for a man who is not a family member unless he is a serviceman abroad. I was going to type "--or a priest" but I think you should be cautious there, too.
Eventually some nice woman is going to get mad at my constant devaluation of the female love of giving. And I would counter by saying that I have no problem with women giving, I have a problem with women giving TOO MUCH and to the WRONG PEOPLE.
It's funny how slang works. When I was 14 I went to a teenage party that featured boys I didn't know. It was very thrilling to be invited to a party in a far away neighbourhood given by a schoolmate who knew boys I didn't. (I spent my adolescence enamored of the concept "Cute New Boys", which strikes me now as very silly and pointless, but I don't suppose I, at 14, would have listened to me, aged 40.) Although new, these boys weren't cute. They seemed rather rough, and they used bad language, for which they were censured by the young hostess.
Apart from a vague feeling of disappointment and alarm, I remember only one more thing about this dreary party. One of the boys, in tones of mingled excitement and contempt, said of an absent girl whose reputation had been presented for dissection, "I hear she gives, man. She gives."
*Men look for cues from other men as to how to treat women. If decent men think you are valued by your father and brothers, then they will subconsciously value you, too. Also, giving the impression that you come from a good (by which I mean a caring) family, makes you more marriage than mistress material, if you see what I mean.