Whether she’s a gardener, a small business owner, a mom extraordinaire, a quilting queen, or all of the above, we’ve got some grand gift ideas for you today:
FOR THE FLOWER LOVER. We used to have flower dilemmas on a regular basis - whether it was when we brought in flowers from the garden or when kind friends gave us a bouquet. We had one go-to vase but, more often than not, it didn’t suit the flowers we put in it. One day we sat down and systematically went about ordering a small collection of affordable vases (all less than $10 when we purchased them) on Amazon in varying heights and shapes. Now? No more floral dilemmas! Pictured above is Syndicate Sales’ rose bowl. We also ordered Syndicate Sales’ 3 1/2” x 10 1/2” cylinder vase, their rose vase, and this 5x5” cylindrical vase by Dashington. We proffer this now as possible gift idea: a versatile group of vases, paired with a gift certificate to your recipient’s favorite local florist. If she likes to entertain, she might use the certificate for a dinner table centerpiece - or, she may choose to use it on a day when she’s feeling a little down and needs a cheer-me-up! Whatever and whenever she decides to visit the florist though, she’ll know she has an appropriate vase waiting at home to display them.
TICKETS. Does your prospective recipient often express a wish to see more ballet performances? Does she love musicals? Dramas? Comedy shows? Is modern dance her thing? Or, has she ever expressed a wish to give the opera a whirl? Have a scout about online, checking out local venues for scheduled performances and/or visiting acts. Lock in a pair of tickets to something she’ll enjoy - and, if there’s time, we suggest booking into a nice restaurant or solid cocktail establishment pre- or post-performance. Make an evening of it and dress nicely. Even if the show in question is not your thing, the fact that you are going enthusiastically (that’s important!) is thoughtfulness personified.
SPA TIME. In unofficial polls we have conducted, polls with absolutely no scientific value, but chock-full of anecdotal evidence, we have concluded that a large portion of the female population (ourselves included) really love a little spa time when it comes to gifts that are truly enjoyed. Massages generally seem to be especially popular, but body treatments and facials also score high marks. If a full scale treatment is too pricey for the budget, may we suggest a pedicure instead? When done well, they are a boon to tired, dry and/or overworked feet. And, if you want to “wow” presentation-wise when you give your gift, a couple of nail polishes - like Opi’s Bubble Bath or The Red by ORIBE - and a pedicure rasp (they look scary but are really quite practical!) are not-too-crazy-expensive tokens that could accompany a treatment gift certificate.
FOR A SOFA LOVER, COUCH POTATO, CUDDLER, SNUGGLER AND/OR CURLING-UP-WITH-BOOKS-ER. If your prospective recipient can be classified as one or more of the above, a high quality wool blanket might be just the thing. We were wowed by Oleana wool blankets when we first came across them on a trip to Finland and splurged on two that have since more than earned their keep in terms of durability, comfort and sheer coziness. Oleana does not make their products directly available online to US-based customers, but you can browse their catalog and call to order from a couple of vendors, including: The Nordic Shop and Chalet in the Woods. We’d also like to add that there are a couple of other wool blanket makers on our radar: Woolrich which has their own online shop and Imperial Wool blankets which are available at places like Old Port Wool and Textile Company or Guideboat. Although we haven’t personally purchased blankets from either maker, they both look like they are doing attractive, high-quality work - and may be worth checking out if a blanket sounds like the perfect gift.
LETTER WRITER OR BUSINESS OWNER. For the lady who enjoys penning handwritten messages, consider a box of fine stationery - personalized if she inclines towards monogramming and the like. Alternately, a brand new (or first!) business card may be just the thing. Stationers to consider might include: Crane & Co., G. Lalo, Sugar Paper and Original Crown Mill. For a splurge, check out Smythson or Dempsey & Carroll - and, if price is no object - Mrs. John L. Strong or Bernard Maisner. Smaller, bespoke printers that have caught our eye include: Ink Meets Paper (Charleston, SC - USA) and Sesame Letterpress & Design (Brooklyn, NY - USA). Final note: if the business card idea appeals, the latter (Sesame Letterpress) does custom cards and it may be worth requesting a quote.
THE GARDENER. Does the lady in your life love spending time in the garden? In the out of doors? If so, a gardening tote or kit is a grand gift. Or, if she already has a tote, perhaps a tool upgrade and a selection of new bulbs? Gardening totes range from the luxurious, to the practical - we purchased one at Target a number of years ago that is practically perfect in terms of durability and the plenitude of pockets and places to tuck seed packets, plant tags and the like. It also included a little kneeling pad which we have used several times when trying to weed over pebbly soil and/or gravel. The only drawback was that the trowel was not of terribly high quality so it eventually snapped in half where the face joined the handle. To be fair, this seems to be a common problem - most cheap trowels are soldered at the join and repeated use weakens the connection. After doing a bit of research though, we discovered the Sneeboer transplanting trowel which is made from one piece of stainless steel, with a selection of wooden handles available. It’s a little bit of an investment which is why it makes an awfully nice gift. Another marvelous gardening tool that is less well known in the States is the hori hori, a Japanese tool that’s genius for weeding, tackling pernicious roots and/or planting bulbs. It performs its role so well in fact that it has, in true Mary Poppins fashion, turned weeding from a chore into a satisfying pleasure. We own (and have given) Mtn Tree’s hori hori and could not be happier with it - it even comes with its own blade sheath, perfect for safe toting. In terms of bulbs or plants, you may have a favorite local source. If not though, we’ve found White Flower Farm, Easy to Grow Bulbs, Schreiner’s Iris Gardens and Garden Crossings do a great job both in terms of quality and service. And, we’ve highlighted them already in the Gift Research section of our Gifting Resources, but think it’s worth reiterating here too - Dave’s Garden is an excellent source of reviews and real talk about online gardening vendors if you want to research a particular vendor not on our list. The reviews are from actual gardeners who have placed orders with the businesses, sometimes multiple times. As for a tote? Well, the one we purchased several years ago is no longer made, but Picnic At Ascot’s green tote is similar in design and dimension (and, that green color looks lovely!). If you’re looking to tuck in a few other gardening bits and bobs, we’d recommend: twine, green Velcro gardening tape, copper garden labels, nitrile gloves, or a Moleskine gardening journal.
FACE TIME. In our day, we’ve tried a goodly number of those little freebie samples given out by make-up and skincare companies when you make a purchase. Our usual reaction is a mental shrug of the shoulders, or “meh.” A rare exception though was when we tried Elemis Skin Buff - we were immediately impressed by the fineness of the granules in the scrub and, most especially, the results - skin that felt super clean and very soft! The scrub is not cheap, but it’s also not so crazy expensive that you wonder if ground up diamonds were the main ingredient - and, a little goes a long way, so a tube can be stretched to last for a while. Moreover, even though we scrubbed thoroughly, there were no adverse effects on our usually-very-sensitive skin - no redness, no scratches, no abrasions - just lovely smooth softness. For gifting purposes, we recommend pairing the Elemis scrub with Glamglow’s Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment. Again, a little goes a long way here. It’s like having on a near-invisible mask on your face - a few little flecks (like looking at vanilla bean flecks in a cake) are the only telltale signs you have a product on - and boy, oh, boy does this thing hydrate. A great pairing indeed with the Skin Buff in terms of treating one’s face, so if your recipient likes a little bit of pampering now and again, this duo might be the way to go! Final note: when we read this article in The New York Times about plastic microbeads, we were concerned we were contributing to the problem, so we reached out to Elemis to inquire as to whether the granules in their scrub were in fact the referenced, polluting microbeads. A customer service representative responded promptly to say that their Skin Buff did not use microbeads, but rather “diatomaceous phytoplankton,” basically fossilized marine algae. Phew!
THE WINE LOVER. How’s about a couple of really nice wine glasses and/or a bottle of nice wine - perhaps a bottle that’s a bit of a splurge? Nice wine glasses are usually a treat for any person who regularly drinks wine - and something that will get used again and again. Wine can, of course, be enjoyed in IKEA glasses but there’s something extra nice about drinking something delicious out of something beautiful. Riedel has quite a range of designs and price points and we also like the fact that they sell glasses nicely packaged in pairs - perfect for gifting occasions - like their VINUM Sauvignon Blanc glasses, or their VINUM Bordeaux glasses. As for where to order wine from - if you have a local favorite, definitely go there. If you are looking to order online, there are many great vendors. One we’d highlight specifically for gifting though is Sherry-Lehmann in New York City as they have a wide selection AND offer gift wrapping (many wine vendors don’t seem to do that for some reason). We always opt for their signature Toulouse-Lautrec wrapping paper which is gorgeous, festive and fun!
QUILTER, SEWER OR CRAFTER. If your gal is a fabric fiend, a creative crafter, or a quilting queen, it’s hard to beat the quality and sheer prettiness of Liberty fabrics. For a quilter, a monthly subscription might be just the thing - in which case, you may wish to check out Pink Castle Fabrics’ Liberty Lawn Club. Or, if your recipient is not a big gift-of-the-month fan or would prefer a single, larger piece of fabric, you may wish to place a one-off order with B&J Fabrics in New York. B&J states that they have the, “largest online retail selection of Liberty of London cotton prints and fabrics,” and they’re worth a visit if you happen to be in NYC. In our hometown of Boston, we go to gather here, a marvelous shop that offers all sorts of wonderful classes in addition to top-of-the-line patterns, fabrics and sewing sundries. We should add too that ordering online directly from Liberty is always an option - and, actually, depending on how much you are ordering can actually cost about the same as ordering from a US-based reseller (plus you get the benefit of lovely packaging job). And, of course if you happen to be in London, we recommend going right to the source. Founded in 1875, even if you are not fabric shopping, Liberty is well worth a visit. Side note: if you do visit, be sure to look up! The store’s weathervane is an exact replica of the Mayflower, the ship that took 102 English pilgrims (and roughly 30 crew members) to what is now New England in 1620.
FOR THE ENTERTAINER. Pillivuyt’s simple (but elegant!) round, white serving platter is one of the most versatile that we have ever encountered - use it for hors d’oeuvres, a cake - or, one of our personal favorites, as a cheese platter. Keep it sleek or dress it up. If the latter, maybe use a few flowers or, at the holidays, a few sprigs of holly? Either way, it’s eminently versatile and a workhorse in the roster of dishes used for entertaining, be it just family, or a cocktail party. Pair the platter with a top notch cheese book and you’ll be good to go gift-wise!
DE-STRESS KIT. Has the lady in question just launched her own business? Is she having a stressful time at work? Mothering with nary a free moment to herself? Make her a de-stress or relaxation kit. Step 1: we can have lots of fun. Just kidding… Step 1 (for real): secure yourself a nice basket (check out Peterboro Basket) or bag (e.g. beach bag or tote). Step 2: tuck in a selection of relaxing and fun items. Depending on the lady’s interests and hobbies, items you might consider including are: photos from childhood or college, favorite childhood candies, a Craftsy class, really nice pens, travel magazines, a hammock, a bottle of wine, relaxing CDs, a yoga mat and DVD, and/or bath or shower products (see #16).
COSMETICS CASE. Gifting to a traveler? Someone who is on the road for work a lot? A frequent flyer? Or someone who simply likes to keep things elegantly organized? Consider a cosmetics case. Smythson’s cosmetic cases are a definite splurge but they are also exceptionally beautiful (and exquisitely packaged for easy gift-giving). A more affordable but similarly elegant option is available at Longchamp. And, at a lower price point still, be sure to check out Parateck’s cheery cosmetics case. Side note: just because these are called cosmetics cases, does not mean they need to be used that way by any means - we could well see them as elegant bag organizers for most anything, from electronic device accessories, to First Aid essentials (hello, moms!).
HOME COOK. For the lady who loves to cook or bake, we recommend Wüsthof’s Classic 10-inch wide chef knife. Used to an 8-inch chef knife, it at first felt strange when we picked up a 10-inch at the recommendation of a fellow chef. It was heavy and felt a bit unwieldy. It is now, however, the go-to knife in our kitchen. Its additional weight means gravity lends a helping hand when doing the chopping, slicing and dicing. Moreover, a wide blade means that the pieces of what you are cutting have more space to move up and out of the way as you progress with your task. Optional pairing: a knife skills class. Even though we had been cooking for a while, we enjoyed taking a knife skills class where we learned more efficient ways to handle our knife and recommended methods of care.
HEAVENLY HOSIERY. Does the lady in question love to have fun with her stockings? Wear them as part of her work attire? Either way, a pair or two of luxurious hose can turn the everyday, or the humdrum into something a little bit special. If she wears slip-on shoes a lot, footies or liner-socks are what you’ll be looking for. Try knee-highs for the lady who wears trousers on a regular basis, thigh-highs for the lady who often wears skirts but does not enjoy a feeling of constriction around her hips/tummy, or full-on hose if she likes the support and/or control that waist-high stockings offer. We’ve purchased Wolford’s footies as a gift for a lady friend - but would also highlight Falke and Oroblù for their range of designs and high quality. And, if fishnets are her thing, we pinky promise that Jonathan Aston’s micronet tights are durable, elegant and comfortable.
FOR THE JOURNAL-KEEPER. If she loves noting things down, bullet journaling, practicing calligraphy, doodling, may we recommend a large Moleskine journal and a selection of nice pens? We use an extra large Moleskine notebook to keep track of our daily coding progress - it’s so nice to handle, from the thick paper, to the elastic band to keep the journal contained (along with all the little note papers we seem to accumulate). As for pens - you can go super luxurious with a Mont Blanc fountain pen - or, check out our recent blog post about some of our favorite markers and pens for more affordable ideas.
- BATH TIME (OR SHOWER TIME). For many folks, one of life’s little pleasures is bathing, especially when not pressed for time and when you have some luxurious bath products to hand - soaps, shower gels, bubble bath, bath salts, and so forth. Maybe you like lovely smelling things, or maybe it helps you relax, makes you feel pampered, or reminds you of a special place and/or time. Whatever the reason, we believe most bathing enthusiasts like having a selection of products to choose from, matching the fragrance to their mood. But, a word of caution - bathing products are one of those things we only recommend giving to someone who you know quite well for three reasons: 1) scent is a pretty personal thing 2) if you don’t know someone well, they might construe bathing products as an implied criticism of their personal hygiene and 3) you’ll have a sense as to whether your recipient already has enough soaps and such to last a lifetime. If, however, they tend to welcome bath products, you know them well (so there’s no fear of an implied insult), and they tend to enjoy fragranced toiletries, then we have several ideas for you. First up is Lavandula bath oil from Penhaligon’s, a British toiletries purveyor. For any lady who loves the scent of lavender and the occasional (or regular) bath, this is a splendid gift. The oil is marvelously fragrant and a single bottle will last most folks a fair while - and, we should mention, the bottle itself is quite lovely and comes beautifully packaged (presentation for the win!). Truly, a treat of a gift. If showers are more her thing, consider a shower gel from Jo Malone, another British master of fragrance. We were introduced to Jo Malone products by a thoughtful aunt and whether it’s moisturizer or shower gel, number among some of our favorite products with which to self-pamper. We especially recommend the Amber & Lavender (getting the sense we like lavender?), the Orange Blossom (almost a honeysuckle-like scent!), and the Basil & Neroli (a post-workout favorite!) body washes. And, last but not least, if you’re looking for a little something to pair with your gift, check out Earth Therapeutics’ Exfoliating Hydro Gloves - the easiest and most reliable solution we have found for exfoliating in the shower. Or, Bliss Spa’s Lemon + Sage body butter - a thick moisturizing cream that smells lovely and fresh - a great one for slathering on after a post-workout shower. Bonus points: if you are shopping for one or more of these items in person, check with the shop assistant to see if they have small samples of the product you are purchasing. Where possible, we recommend tucking in product samples with scented gifts so your recipient can easily check if the fragrance is up their alley - or if they’d prefer to exchange for a different scent.
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