How to Shop for a Lady

A few simple gifting steps to win her heart.

By The Editors
December 12, 2014 9:00 am

Because every man has at least one woman in his life, and sometimes even loves her, we present this informative guide to finding and presenting the right gifts this holiday season. If all else fails, simply refer to our Holiday Gift Guide and Lingerie Gift Guide. Enjoy yourself.

1. Know thy relationship

New relationship? Don’t go overboard.

Buying too much can be a turnoff.

Aim for small, fun and thoughtful.

Candy. Well-written card. A book or album you both like.

A spa day just for her is nice, too. Spafinder can help you here.

We also recommend buying an experience, something you can enjoy together — concert tickets, perhaps.

Serious relationship? Never gift a ring.

Unless it is the ring.

If you already know you want to buy her jewelry, we suggest Stone and Strand.

2. Know thy woman

The true joy in gift-giving is considering your lady’s interests and helping her pursue them.

Sounds hokey, has the virtue of actually being true.

A gift says “I was thinking about you.” Not, “I wasn’t thinking at all.”

So. Does she like to cook? Look for classes or hard-to-find kitchen pieces. For the latter, we recommend QuitoKeeto, Kaufmann Mercantile and Tasting Table’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Raid her wardrobe: What colors does she wear? What size is she? Where does she shop?

Again, experiences are great, especially if you can personalize them.

Says one of our lady staffers: “One time my boyfriend picked me up to drive to Newport for the weekend and had the car stocked with my favorite jamón serrano and manchego, along with my favorite wine and some bubbly for the ride. It was really special.”

3. It’s OK to surprise her. Or not.  

File this under unintuitive, but true: many women don’t mind being consulted. If she’s the type who knows exactly what she wants, your job is that much easier — just ask.

Jewelry, perfume and clothing definitely need a consultation.

If it’s a larger gift, get it together.

If you plan on surprising her, talk to her friends and family. Anything travel-related is a welcome surprise (surreptitiously consult her calendar).

4. But don’t do these things

Stay away from practical gifts (generally speaking).

Stay away from really sexy gifts (generally speaking).

If it’s an item you want, don’t get it for her.

She’ll just end up with a French bowling instructor.

No big-chain gift cards.

No re-gifting.

Don’t get anything she would buy for herself or already has.

Don’t get her more yoga classes at the studio she already attends.

Don’t surprise her with a dog.

Avoid food.

This includes taking her to dinner.

That’s not a gift. That’s Tuesday.

5. Presentation is key

It must be wrapped.

It must have a card.

Otherwise you may as well be saying, “I don’t give a fuck. Merry Christmas.”

Personalize it if you can.

If you don’t have the supplies, time or skill to wrap it, there are plenty of gift-wrapping services around. Papyrus does a great job.

Find the right moment to give her the gift: it needs to be a moment where it can be appreciated. Preferably somewhere quiet. And/or exotic.

6. Know where to go for help

Gift guides are a godsend.

Goop is a good place to start.

Canopy curates Amazon shopping lists.

Spring is a handy smartphone app where you can follow stores — like the ones she likes — and buy in one swipe.

Clare V. is great for clutches, jewelry and personalized gifts.

Editorialist and Lyst have great stuff if you’re looking to spend $$$.

OneKingsLane works for home decor.

The most important thing?

It’s not your money.

It’s how much you actually thought about her before spending it.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!