December is the peak month for wedding proposals and women across the country will be undoubtedly shaking any jewellery-shaped presents under the tree for a clue. But it is a fine tightrope to tread between being a hopeless romantic and being overly pushy. So how to you secure that proposal without scaring your man out into the cold?
Sophie McCorry Day, editor of The Secret Quintessentially Weddings Guide, says women can be proactive but smart to secure a proposal before New Year's Eve.
Body language accounts for 55% of persuasive communication (often misquoted, this is when it comes the likeability of what you're trying to communicate), so it makes sense to dress up and use your most cracking bits to their best advantage. Remind them on a daily basis with a game of conceal and reveal how gorgeous you are; finish up by appearing on Christmas morning dressed only in a red silk satin bow and stockings. Even if they don't propose, they might start thinking seriously about it...
Dr Cecilia d'Felice, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, says that cool, calm and collected wins through everytime - keep your eyes on the prize.
"If you need to persuade someone to propose there are basic commitment issues that need to be addressed," she said. "This should be a spontaneous act of free will based on a really strong relationship where you both know each other well enough to have got past the infatuation stage of a relationship where you have idealised each other to the stage where you see that neither of you are perfect but you still love each other whatever."
In a straw poll of 10 married men in the Quintessentially offices, not one mentioned beauty, ability to cook, saucy behaviour or any of the usual suspects as being their reasoning behind their proposals. Rather, a shared sense of humour - "I knew when said she liked Alan Partridge that I should marry her" said one very senior member of the team - the easiness of their company and sense of their being a kindred spirit made for the most voiced catalysts of a visit to the nearest jeweller.
As Cecilia says, "This is an intuitive moment in a man's life. Rationality rarely plays a part, although there will be tick box effects such as age, background, common interests and values that will create the foundations of a successful union. ust as when we 'know' we have fallen in love with someone, we 'know' when the time is right to make this special commitment."
Take matters into your own hands and cunningly makes him think it's his idea, as you've just taken away all of the fear factor and pressure.
When it comes to dropping hints without actively mentioning the words 'ring', 'marry' or 'propose', you could take the route of a discussion about your future and give it a spin.
"Prior to making the big ask, conversations will have been had concerning future desires, goals and aspirations," said Cecilla. "Marriage, children, career goals, homes, education of children will all have been discussed previously either overtly or subtly. Gauging whether your potential spouse is ready to commit to you is a piece of detective work that is best done over a series of conversations over a number of months once the relationship is properly established and has lasted a significant amount of time."
Build up to Christmas Day as a grand finale by doing something unexpected each day that makes them feel treasured but isn't directly related to a proposal. Make their favourite cake and pop a slab in their work bag before they leave for work on Monday, take them to the cinema on the to see the Hobbit or whichever film they've currently been raving about but leaves you cold, wear the dress they always compliment you on, don't nag nor whinge about work at all.
There is some truism to the old adage that if you treat someone mean, it keeps them keen: if marriage or engagements come up in conversation over the next few days, simply adopt a tongue-in-cheek approach. "Get married?! The only meringues I'm interested in right now are edible and laced with brandy cream" - but do always finish with a "but if you ever asked..."
We do not condone feigning pregnancy, illness or you telling them about other men who've expressed interest in you to incite jealousy and elicit a proposal to get you off the market: but a few well-timed comments from someone else such as granny won't go amiss.
But avoid unkind game-playing. "Having integrity, honest and a genuine love for your man will always be the most effective way of consolidating your relationship to the point of a marriage proposal," says Cecilia.
One member of the Quintessentially Weddings team gently insinuated she wanted to marry her now husband by tipsily sort-of-proposing a few months before her husband actually did. It means that he was going into a no-lose situation, but as he says, he'd always been going to propose as it was "inevitable" - it was just a matter of timing.
As Dr Cecilia puts it, "if you are forcing the issue then you are not building a relationship based on integrity but one based on manipulation. For a relationship to thrive compassionate awareness, a deep and abiding respect, a harmonious and gentle environment, a passionate and sexy bedroom and an adventurous approach to cooking, eating and socialising are all wonderful marriage material calling cards." All of which take time to develop and appreciate - but if the foundations have been laid, this could be the Christmas that ends in a ring.