WHAT's the worst kind of Christmas present? One you have to buy yourself - and as many women will sadly testify, that's exactly what they have to do every year.

Somehow, just being handed cash to do your own shopping doesn't quite capture the spirit of the season.

But for some men, it seems the only sensible thing to do. Many blokes would prefer never to go shopping, and feel totally lost when it comes to buying that certain special something to delight their loved ones.

It's not that they don't care - quite the opposite. It's just that they haven't a clue.

So this is the year it's going to be different, lads. We've come up with some great ideas to delight the woman in your life, and make buying her present not only a joy this year, but in all the years to come.

You know it makes sense...

First of all, don't be afraid to be traditional. Perfume, flowers and chocolates may not be the most original ideas in the world, but they are constantly popular because women do actually like them.

Take a peek in her bathroom cabinet (or handbag, if you dare) and see what kind of perfume she uses. Not only will this make you a smart kind of boyfriend/husband who will impress her with your observational skills, it also means you can nip down to the local shop and get her something to match.

You don't have to buy her another bottle of perfume; most scents come in ranges that include luxury body lotions, bubble bath and talcs. Buy her something that goes with what she already has and she'll think you very clever and thoughtful - which, of course, you are!

Flowers are good for any occasion, but you DO have to be careful when buying chocolates. You're bound to know if she's watching her weight (even though - of course - you'd NEVER tell her she needs to), and if she is, she won't want huge, lavish boxes of chocs that she can't resist.

Instead, buy tiny boxes of very lavish Belgian chocolates, beautifully wrapped and presented - a little bit naughty but nice.

Speaking of which, lovely lingerie is always a great gift, but it needs to be done right. You might fancy her in red lace, but is it really what she wants? Take a look in her knicker drawer when the moment is right and see what she buys for herself - and what size it is.

Then, armed with that information, hit a lingerie shop. Don't be afraid to ask for advice - the assistants are well used to dealing with embarrassed blokes and will make you feel comfortable!

For further ideas, you don't have to brave and venture into the shops. Instead, browse through catalogues and the internet - go to Google and put in the name of her favourite stores to see their ranges, but don't forget you need to allow time for delivery.

What if you want to be really different? Look further afield - check out antique shops for necklaces, vintage silk scarfs and beautiful vases, market stalls for hand-made soaps and scented candles, and charity shops such as Oxfam for decorated jewellery boxes, wooden figurines and soapstone animals.

If you're still drawing a blank, go hunting for a bear - a teddy bear, that is. All the ladies love them - and that means she'll love you too!