Your husband won't be filling this out until the evening of December 24. (Calsidyrose/Flickr)

I'm not sure exactly when my wife finished her Christmas shopping, but it seems like a long time ago. And ever since, she's been issuing me subtle warnings disguised as questions.

"Well, honey, I'm all done Christmas shopping -- how about you?"

"Isn't it great to be done with Christmas shopping? I sure feel bad for all the people who haven't even started."

"Wouldn't it be incredibly tragic and sad, not to mention potentially marriage-destroying, if it were already December and somebody -- SOMEBODY -- hadn't even started thinking about Christmas yet?"

Now I know I'm not alone in this, because conventional wisdom states that husbands and boyfriends wait until the absolute very last minute to do their holiday shopping. In fact, Google search data suggests there's something to this notion. Consider searches for "gift for husband" and "gift for wife." People typing the former into their search bar are most likely women looking for gifts for their husband, while the latter searches are presumably from husbands looking for gifts for their wives.

Here's how those two searches lined up from January through November of last year, according to Google. A higher y-axis value = more searches.


As you can see, the lines run pretty much in parallel. There's a bump in mid-February for Valentine's Day. Interestingly, for that holiday there are more wives searching for husband gifts than vice-versa. Presumably men are simply defaulting to chocolate and/or flowers as Valentine's gifts, and don't need any help from Google.

But let's see what happens when we extend the trends through December of last year.


Searches for "gift for wife" positively explode in December, peaking the week before Christmas. "Gift for husband" increases too, but not by nearly as much.

Those numbers suggest that in the weeks before Christmas, men are more than twice as likely as women to be frantically Googling gift ideas for their spouse.

We can dig even deeper, looking at the daily search volume in November and December to see which day the searches peak.


Dec. 22 -- the Monday before Christmas -- was peak Holiday Gift Panic last year. You can see that right around the beginning of December is when husbands' gift-searching starts to ramp up relative to wives'.

Also note that some husbands are still searching for "gift for wife" on Christmas Day. Remember these poor souls during your holiday celebrations this year. Say a prayer for them, maybe.

By contrast, according to Google's data, there are approximately zero wives still searching for gifts on Christmas Day.

Here's one final wrinkle, though. The search patterns for "gift for boyfriend" and "gift for girlfriend" are much more similar than the wife and husband searches are. And the numbers on Valentine's Day suggest a huge spike in women experiencing boyfriend-related gift anxiety.


Taken as a whole, the numbers suggest that when a couple is dating, women and men experience difficulty finding Christmas gifts at similar rates. But once they get married, wives get their act together while husbands still leave their holiday shopping to the last minute.

Two weeks until Christmas, everyone.