Gift suggestions for women, by women, by type.
As Justin Bieber so eloquently pointed out on last weeks SNL opening monologue, it’s a very special time of year. If you’re in a relationship, this week you’re probably concerned with that one, sometimes pesky day, which falls on the 14th. That’s this Thursday guys. It’s a day that usually requires a gift, action, or at least card of some kind to remind our sweethearts how much we love them. After a few requests from some AAW readers, Dappered tasked us, Beth & Sarah from fullclutch.com with coming up with some gift suggestions for you gents.
We tapped a few of our girlfriends (editor’s note: get yer mind out of the gutter!) for suggestions on what to get a woman for Valentines’s Day. Responses ranged from “Don’t listen to Jim Rome” to “I just want a clean house.” All of our friends are individuals, and we’ve broken the ideas up by type. Plus, if you’ve waited until the last minute, all of these ideas are possible to pull off without much advance planning. Considering, you know, there are only two days left until Valentine’s.
Is she a foodie?
If you have a foodie in your life, your gift giving should be fairly easy, unless you plan on tackling a turducken or baked Alaska. Get the foodie what she loves, food!
If you really want to go out for a meal, strongly consider lunch. This was suggested by our friend Hailie, who loves her annual Valentine’s Lunch Date with her husband. You won’t have to deal with the crowds, limited menus, or high prices that accompany V-Day night. Then you can make a simple dinner together in the evening.
When you tackle that special dinner, know that it’s always best to cook a recipe you know and like for special occasions, but if you do want to try something new, it’s best to go with a tried and true chef or cookbook that you’ve had success with. Two I would recommend; Martha Stewart and Cooks Illustrated. I truly have yet to make a recipe from Martha’s Everyday Food that I haven’t liked. The recipes are fast and simple, with minimal ingredients. Cooks Illustrated can get a little more complicated, and while the first two weeks on the website are free, after that you have to pay. The recipes are tried and true, and guaranteed to please. If you don’t cook often, make sure to plan ahead, and give yourself extra time to prepare the meal. If the recipe says it takes 45 minutes, give yourself an hour and a half.
And as cliché as chocolate can be, most girls love it, and truly fine chocolate can be oh so good. Don’t count it out. You should be able to find an artisanal chocolate shop in your neck of the woods, or at least a gourmet food stuff shop that sells high quality chocolates.
Is she always busy with a hectic schedule?
For a really busy girl, the chance to relax can be one of the best gifts. Our friend Amy, who tends to shirk away from Valentine’s Day (more on those types a bit further down), holds a demanding position with IBM, plus keeps a pretty active social schedule. Her thoughts on what she would like from her Valentine? First, spa time. What girl doesn’t love some quality pampering? Consider getting her a gift certificate to a spa you know she likes, or at a spa that is convenient to get to from work or home.
Second idea would be a romantic dinner cooked at home by her significant other, with a cheese course and good bottle of wine included (yes, she’s also a foodie… see above for tips on how to not botch the big meal).
And finally—a clean house. If you can’t pull this feat off yourself, hire it out. For some people, there is no better gift than the gift of time. You might want to back this gift with tickets to a movie or show, that way it doesn’t feel like you’re giving her a glorified vacuum cleaner (don’t worry, you’re not). You go and do something fun, you come home and the house is spotless.
Is she a Mom-to-be?
Expectant mothers are superheroes. Just growin’ a human in there, no big deal! If your other half is going to have a baby, think about her attitude towards her pregnancy in order to decide what you should get for her. Is she feeling anxious or fearful about the big day? Aromatherapy is a powerful tool for promoting calmness–scents like lavender, chamomile and jasmine are available in essential oils that can be put into a diffuser for scenting a room, or can be applied to her wrists and behind her ears so that she can get wafts of calming scents throughout the day.
Maybe your wife is excited about the baby, but fears losing her independence or identity separate from being a mother. If that’s the case, get her something totally unrelated to the baby–a fabulous new handbag or wallet (Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein are all good brands).
If she runs to the other side of the spectrum and can’t wait to be a mom, and it’s all she can talk about, purchase a photography package for use after the baby is born. She’ll love looking forward to professional photos of your new family.
Is she an avid reader?
For people who voraciously read, keeping a good supply of books in stock can be challenging. If a woman in your life is frequently running out to the bookstore to satisfy her need for words, you might make her life a little easier with an e-reader. The three big e-readers on the market right now are the iPad, The Kindle, and the Nook. I have both an iPad, and an old school Kindle (any readers out there vouch for the Nook?). The iPad is clearly more dazzling–it has color, it has the neat page-turning feature, it can do other things like stream video and surf the interwebs. But it’s so spendy, and most women don’t expect such an extravagant gift. The Kindle is much more affordable–$89 for the cheapest version, and it totally gets the job done (it holds 1,000 books!). You’ll have to pay extra for one day shipping to get it in time for Valentine’s. Another suggestion? If the gift is for your other half, have a sexy book already ordered and ready for her to upload to her Kindle. A gift for you AND the missus.
Is she a fitness fiend?
There are a lot of women out there that are into fitness, or at least try to incorporate it into their everyday lives. But if you don’t know a woman well enough, presenting her with a fitness related gift can be a recipe for disaster (are you saying I’m fat?). It’s usually pretty easy to tell if a girl is into fitness and health though, and there are several thoughtful options out there that are guaranteed not to insult. Take a few suggestions from our friend Kelly; personal trainer, tennis enthusiast, and natural body building competitor.
First on the list is a massage. Lots of training creates lots of lactic acid, and getting it massaged out is a must. Whether done by a professional, or your sweetheart, massage is hard to beat.
Another idea; cozy pajama or lounge pants. Comfortable clothing when your body is at rest can make a huge difference. Perhaps step up your game with this one and buy some pants a level above Old Navy or Target (unless you’re on a budget). Try Victoria’s Secret or GAP Body. Our friend Hailie agrees that comfortable pj’s are the way to go over lingerie. If lingerie is going to happen, let her be the one to buy it and wear it for you.
Also appearing on Kelly’s list? A home cooked dinner and a clean house. Because after a long day of working out the last thing you want to do is cook or clean.
Is she a gardener or flower lover?
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to gift a gardener. March is usually the time to get indoor seeds started, and some seeds can be sown as early as late March/early April if the location is right and the crop is cool weather (think greens). You can easily create a unique basket that includes seeds for an heirloom veggie or herb plant, a small bag of soil, fertilizer, perhaps some high quality gardening gloves, and maybe a small live houseplant or flowers to add some color (check out a local nursery, they’ll have seeds that do well in your area). Make a note that you look forward to using it in meals you’ll have together throughout the summer. When it comes time to harvest, she can look back on when and why she planted it. Make the gift even more romantic by making her dinner utilizing a store bought version of the veggie or herb she’ll be growing. You can even make finding the dinner menu a scavenger hunt by writing clues on seed packets.
And what about flowers? As cliché as they can be, some girls just really appreciate a great flower arrangement, but if you want to make it last, go with a live orchid. I’d recommend finding a small book or printing out instructions on caring for an orchid. They’re easy to care for, but timing is key.
Is she a lover of all things that sparkle?
For a last minute gift of bling, you’ll have to go to a physical store (no fabulous Etsy finds for you). The big chain stores have the benefit of offering last minute deals, but don’t expect to find unique options. Visiting an independent jeweler will probably yield unique pieces, but prepare to spend the big bucks.
First up, before you begin looking, know what kind of metal she likes. You can easily ascertain this by looking at what jewelry she already has, and frequently wears. Sterling silver, white gold, and platinum are classic, safe bets, but some women prefer yellow gold, and it’s good to find that out before shopping.
Next, do NOT buy anything heart-shaped. NO HEARTS. It’s a lovely, romantic gesture that looks terribly cheesy. Consider precious and semi-precious gemstones instead of diamonds–you’ll get more bang for your buck, and it’s a more original gift. Garnets are a beautiful option. Or what about a simple chain necklace with her initials stamped on round metal disc pendants? This is an especially sweet gift if your gal will soon be your bride and is changing her name–you can get her new initials on the necklace.
Is this your first Valentine’s Day with her?
The very first romantic holiday spent together as a couple can be a little intimidating. You’re likely still learning about each other’s likes, not completely aware of each other’s dislikes, and have a higher propensity to NOT want to screw it up. But a romantic gesture is in order. So what’s appropriate? If you’re going to go with any of the traditional stuff; flowers, chocolate, jewelry, keep it simple. Simple is the name of the game.
Jewelry should be a necklace with a simple pendant (no diamonds!). A single red rose, or a smaller flower arrangement will suffice, and if you go with chocolate, buy a smaller batch of high quality stuff. Have you reached the point of staying at each other’s places a lot more? Give her a set of comfortable pajamas to sleep in while she’s at your place. Will the two of you be comfortable sitting in a restaurant eating dinner, or would the conversation flow better with a home cooked meal? If staying in is better, you can even make a pizza romantic with some candles. Keep the date as relaxed as possible so you can just enjoy one another’s company.
Is she just not that into Valentine’s Day?
Now maybe, she just isn’t into Valentine’s (it can be kind of stressful planning something romantic for the one you love). So maybe you’re not going to dinner, not giving her jewelry or roses, not sporting red on your body somewhere in recognition of the day (do only girls do that?). BUT, you can still create a small token of your love for her. As grade school as it is, make her a valentine. All you need is some scrap paper (newspaper, junk mail, paper bags, empty cereal box), scissors, glue, and a romantic inclination. You can even cut a piece of red cardboard paper in half, fold that in half, and glue a queen of hearts playing card to the font of it. Super easy, but heartfelt. If this gets her goat, then you are with an ice queen my friend. Run before she turns you into Mr. Freeze (how does he come up so often?).
Any last minute Valentine’s Day ideas to throw in the mix? Leave it all in the comments. Photo Credits: top photo credit, foodie credit, hectic schedule credit, gardener credit, 1st Valentine’s credit, Anti Valentine’s credit.