The Gifts Women Actually Want, According to 12 Who Know
This year, there's no way you're screwing it up
You wouldn’t ask your barber for an oil change or your mechanic for a haircut.
So why, when it comes time to pick out the perfect gift for a lady, do so many men trust their own misguided instincts?
This year, do better — by going straight to the source.
To help you do just that, we asked 12 of the most creative women we know — writers, designers, at least one “Chief Knicker Officer” — for the gifts they want to see under the tree this year.
Plus: a pro tip from each on how to make the actual gifting part an occasion unto itself.
Vivianne Lapointe is the founder of Live FAST, an online magazine and community of multi-hyphenate movers and shakers. Her latest venture is a brand development agency, pepper, which focuses on talent procuration, digital storytelling and experiential marketing. You can book her studio here.
1. A one year membership to Switch: “The coolest subscription website I just discovered that gives unlimited access to luxury designer jewelry for $29/month (including iconic fashion houses like Hermes and Chanel).”
2. This tank bodysuit: “Else is my absolute favorite everyday lingerie line. Their fits are the most flattering. I’ve been wanting this one since it came out — it’s the perfect layering piece.”
3. This bar setup from West Elm: “Plus a bottle of grey goose and Castelvetrano olives. Keep things dirty.”
4. Tickets to Junior High’s upcoming fundraising gala in Bel Air: “A selfless gift to support a project I am invested in: Tax deductible, too!”
Pro tip: “I always love buying out-of-the-box presents that someone would never (or could never) buy for themselves. For example, find an expensive pair of Gucci stockings in your best friend’s favorite color, commission a visual artist to draw your colleague’s portrait or surprise your sibling who’s never been to Cali with a round-trip ticket. Spend some dollars on a pretty box, fill it with confetti and be sure to take some time to write a clever and heartfelt note in the card.“
Verena von Pfetten is the co-founder of Gossamer, a magazine for people who also smoke weed. Volume Two, the Paradise issue, is available now and would make a very, very good gift.
5. Ormaie: “Picking a perfume for someone is a bold move, but this new line of all-natural fragrances by a mother-son duo out of Paris is a reason to live dangerously. Even if you whiff it on the scent selection, the colorful, hand-carved mid-century modern bottle designs will more than make up for it. (I could genuinely loathe the inside of any one of these and still be thrilled to have them out on my dresser.)”
6. Ananda Hemp – Bliss: “CBD is as ubiquitous as a corner coffee shop, which might make it seem like a relatively uninteresting gift, but this new infused ‘intimate oil’ ups the ante. (Also, I just love a good euphemism.) Women have long been underserved in the cannabis market and this product in particular was formulated by a doctor whose speciality is in cannabinoid science, female bodied-patients and reproductive health. (I know that was a decidedly unsexy sentence for what should be a very sexy gift, but those are some serious bonafides.)”
Pro tip: “I’ve never loved a present more than the first time someone purchased a gift in my name through The Family Giving Tree. That organization is specific to Northern California, but it’s not hard to find one local to you — or just make a donation in your recipient’s name to a charity whose mission you know will resonate with them. It’s an easy way to do something good, and to make even the most practical of gifts feel extra meaningful.”
Mallyce Miller is the creative director of JOLYN, a swimwear brand of aquatic outlaws whose suits are inspired by active women who like to break the mold while breaking records.
7. Jolyn Holden Swimsuit: “I just signed up for Equinox and they have a pool, so I want to get back into swimming. JOLYN suits stay put with their fit and drawcord bottoms, and while I’m at it, I may as well match Equinox’s black-and-white marble branding.”
8. DJI Mavic 2 Drone: “Our photographer on our last surf shoot in Hawaii took some beautiful shots of our models in the ocean from above, and I want to be able to do that on future shoots. I also travel a lot by myself and like to do textile design, so I think it would be cool to take rad shots of the places I go and be able to make them into prints for swim and activewear.”
9. Vans for Opening Ceremony: “You can’t hate the classic checkered Vans. And you can’t hate Opening Ceremony’s edgy style. I love this collab specifically because it takes the ‘80s throwback checks and marries it with ditsy florals, making them slightly obnoxious, which is often my style.”
Pro tip: “The best wrapping I have ever received was from my ex who also shared a love for Virgil Abloh and Off-White’s branding. On the brown craft paper, he wrote ‘WRAPPING PAPER’ and had ‘ENVELOPE,’ ‘BOW’ where a bow should be and ‘GREETING’ as well. That kind of unexpected creative thought gave him more points than any gift he could have given.”
Peyton Ladt Sterns is the co-founder and CEO of Bashed, the millennial woman’s guide for all things entertaining.
10. Sleepy Jones x David Lynch Foundation Pajama Set: “I can never have enough pajama sets and no one does pajamas like Sleepy Jones. This holiday season, they’ve teamed up with one of my favorite organizations, The David Lynch Foundation, whose mission is to bring Transcendental Meditation to the world, in particular at-risk populations like our veterans who suffer from PTSD. 20% of the proceeds from the DLF capsule will go to the organization and their efforts.”
11. Cuyana Tall Structured Leather Tote (in blush): “Cuyana consistently delivers on effortlessly chic functionality. This tote is perfect for being on the go (which I am a lot!), and I’ll always think of my gift-giver when I use it. I also love that it can be personalized with a monogram.”
12. Guitar Lessons: “I’m a big fan of experiences. I’ve dabbled in teaching myself how to play the guitar for years but I’ve never been formally taught! Guitar lessons, or any type of activity that shows that you encourage your loved one’s creative side is like a two-for-one gift.”
Pro tip: “Gift opening can be a chaotic experience — especially if you have little ones in the room! For the really special gifts, I think it’s nice to take a private moment to exchange them. Also, a handwritten card to accompany it is always appreciated.”
Jersey Banks is the co-founder of Urban Cowboy B&B, a boutique hotel and lifestyle brand that offers a different kind of luxury located in Brooklyn, NY and in Nashville, TN, as well as The Dive Motel (coming this winter to Nashville).
13. Kin Travel Trip: “Kin Travel curates journeys at the forefront of sustainable travel for a tribe of like-minded adventurers, with no loss in luxury or hospitality. While most tourism is extractive, Kin works to provide travel experiences that are as rejuvenating for communities and ecosystems as they are for us travelers. Experiential travel in its highest form.”
14. Claire West Custom Hat: “Claire is an angel on earth and her talents don’t disappoint. She is based in Nashville,TN, so this can double down as a lil vacay. Rock-star-status styling.”
15. William Wilde Latex Lingerie: “William wild is a latex designer out of London. He does everything from couture dresses to garter belts. Even if you opt for the bedroom-only numbers (which I would still try to wear out), it’s gonna be hot! Don’t forget the dressing lube to get in and out of these numbers.”
Pro tip: “Avoid the exchange, so you aren’t comparing one another’s gifts side by side. Also avoid public surprises or any scenario where a big reaction is expected. Be nonchalant and let a vacation pop-up in her iCal, or have the item arrive with her prime now groceries. And breakfast/gifting in bed wins every time.”
Kinga Philipps is an award winning journalist, adventurer, member of the Explorers Club and television host, having worked for National Geographic, Travel Channel, Syfy, Food Network and more. She is a scuba diver, free diver, shark conservationist and storyteller. She is currently part of a team exploring shipwrecks for the six-part documentary series voiced by Samuel Jackson, Enslaved.
16. DBPOWER Portable Car Jump Starter and Battery Charger: “A friend got this for me as a thank you for taking him camping. It’s a game changer. This little device will power your cell phone or most any other device, keep your music going when you’re camping off the grid, and make you want to dance under the moon and also jump-start a vehicle. At under a hundred bucks, it’s a winner.”
17. Cage diving with great white sharks off Mexico’s Isla Guadalupe: “Face-to-face encounters with the world’s most magnificent and misunderstood apex predators. No scuba certification necessary … you’re in a cage with air pumped from the boat. I’ve been five times and I can’t get enough.”
18. Donate to a cause you know they care about: “Waves for Water provides clean drinking water to communities in need around the world. They are small, nimble and let you do the work yourself if you choose with their clean water couriers program. You can buy the filters and deliver them to people who need them on your next trip. Excellent way to add value to your vacation. Doing good together is also quite the bonding experience. I also love sharks, so any guy who donates to an organization like Shark Allies in my name is a keeper.”
Pro tip: “I honestly think less is more when it comes to gifting. Jumbotron moments are so very ‘90s. Intimate gestures are almost always more meaningful. On my birthday, I pulled back the bedsheets to reveal a new free-diving wetsuit … it really doesn’t get better than that.”
Thelma Adams is a film critic and the bestselling author of The Last Woman Standing, turning the Western on its head by foregrounding gunslinger Wyatt Earp’s true love, Josephine Marcus. Just in time for Christmas, Adams recently published Bittersweet Brooklyn, available now.
19. A good bottle of whisky: “The gift of good whisky is one size fits all — and something that can be shared together. I’d suggest a sweet Macallan of any vintage or shoot the moon with a smooth and peaty 32-year old single malt Bruichladdich from Scotland’s Isle of Islay.”
20. A good book: “For the reader in your life, grab my gritty noir family saga Bittersweet Brooklyn, which bestselling author Susan Henderson called ‘sizzling and unforgettable.’”
21. A good sweater: “Let it be cashmere. Lovely for her to wear … and for you to touch. Try the cozy, sexy cardigans at Boden in her favorite color. When in doubt, choose red.”
Pro tip: “Wrap it yourself. Nothing says you care like funky wrapping paper taped with love and a lob-sided bow.”
Roxanna Dunlop is the co-founder of Light Layer Productions, a full-service LA-based production company that focuses on telling female stories and hiring women behind the lens. She also produces and directs film, television and commercial work.
22. Anything from Everlane: Something timeless and classic that won’t break the bank = anything from Everlane ($100 cashmere, hello!)
23. Experiences: If you feel like splurging, a spa day at the Ritz Carlton would be a dream, and something I would never get for myself. I would love any type of experiential gift, like horseback riding lessons, or a cooking class.”
24. Any gift that supports my (or her) career: “Like a filmmaking workshop or a membership to Film Independent.”
Pro tip: “Most importantly, take time to write a thoughtful card. Even if you don’t have money to buy a gift, a well-thought-out, handwritten note will mean the world to the one you love.”
Isabella Farrell is an actress and model who resides in Brooklyn. She can be seen on The Good Fight (CBS) and starring in the forthcoming feature Fluidity, among others.
25. A spa day: “Send your person of interest to the spa for the day solo with a massage booked. Because you know what’s better than going to the spa with your partner? Going to the spa alone 🙂 .”
26. A show: “Think of any comedians, musicians or a big show that your partner would love to see (and you can tolerate) and see if they are touring to a place near you. Even if it’s not until the start of the new year, it’ll give them something to look forward to. And get good seats — nobody is excited for the nose bleeds!
27. A plant from The Sill: “For long term appreciation, I would recommend getting them a plant. A bouquet of flowers will die, and quickly (which is not such a beautiful process might I add). I enjoy the ritual of caring for my plants. Not to mention studies show that plants in a home can help reduce stress, filter the air and generate more oxygen, which will help you breathe easier. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving. If your loved one has a black thumb, get them a succulent.”
Pro tip: “When giving your gift, be sure to include a somewhat heartfelt card. Tell them how amazing you think they are, and why. For the unconventional gifts I suggested, print the vouchers/tickets and put them in the card.”
Shari Gab does all things Membership and Marketing for the Classic Car Club, a one-of-a-kind private member’s club on the Westside of Manhattan for those who believe in a life best lived … and lived loudly. Check it out.
28. Chanel Fabric & Lambskin Sneakers: “Because I only wear sneakers … but I’m still a grown-ass woman.”
29. Yayoi Kusama Infinity Nets Skateboard Triptych: “Art + Hype. Win. Win.”
30. Master & Daynamic True Wireless Earphones: “Top-of-the-line subway necessity.”
And a tip on how to give it: “Always put thought into wrapping. I’ll put it to you this way, you can tell at an event if the event is important to someone by how they and their partner or guest are dressed. To wit, if the gift is important, if the person is important, the dressing (wrapping) should reflect as much.”
[ENCLOSED] Founder, CEO and “Chief Knicker Officer” Antonia Townsend
Antonia Townsend is the founder and “Chief Knicker Officer” of [ENCLOSED], the world’s only gift service focused on helping gentlemen find romantic lingerie gifts for the women they love. She has been responsible for approximately 57,479 romantic gifts, almost all from men to women.
31. Mimi Jacket from Erin Snow: “‘Just because I sleep with you doesn’t mean I’ll ski with you’ may or may not apply to your relationship, but if she is at all into snow, sports or frankly, just looking sporty, the Mimi Jacket from Erin Snow is a killer in-the-know gift. It’s super eco (100% recycled polyester fabric!) and fits a woman like Rudolph’s wears his nose (in white please, honey).”
32. Walden Meditation Cushion: “Like everyone these days, I’m trying to be more mindful. I even took (and failed) a meditation class. So, the materialistic zen master in me is craving the Walden cushion. It’s a minimal, beautiful meditation cushion. And if you give it to a woman, it shows you care about her inner peace. And did I mention that meditating together is actually really intense and can be, ahem, a crazy tantric-ish foreplay. But that’s just gravy on this awesome, elegant, shelter-magazine approved gift.”
33. 3, 6 or 12 Months of Lingerie From [ENCLOSED]: “Ultimately, what a woman wants is something that reflects the way you feel about her; she wants the gift to illustrate the unique, romantic connection you two share. Think ultra-personal. Surprise her with not just one, but multiple months hand-selected, ultra-luxe lingerie from [ENCLOSED]. One of the perks of giving it is that every piece is delivered in our iconic deep-purple keepsake box surrounded by real flower petals. The concierge ladies even help you write a note that is included with the gift.”
Pro tip: “Gents, the key here is to focus on making the gift giving an experience that the two of you share. You want her to not just like the ‘thing’ but remember the moment of shared connection. The very best gifts create a moment of shared connection and imply a promise of future shared connections.”
Raakhee Mirchandani is the Editor-in-Chief of Moneyish by Dow Jones and author of Super Satya Saves the Day, her first children’s book, available now. She is also an Elle parenting contributor and fierce pediatric cancer crusader.
34. Out of Print Sweatshirt: “I’m obsessed with Out of Print for a million different reasons. And I try to wear their T-shirts on my book tour as much as possible. (Spoiler alert: I am truly a giant Book Nerd and already have the T-shirt version.) Which is exactly why I want this cozy sweatshirt for my winter story times and appearances. It’s funny, it’s comfy and, well, it’s spot on. As an added bonus, with every purchase, Out of Print donates books and supports literacy programs around the world, something I can always get behind.”
35. Gifts that can be shared together: “This year I’m hoping for Broadway tickets (American Son, if you’re reading). Or a reservation at the new Harry Potter-themed bar or an evening with Michelle Obama at the Barclays Center. The thought that goes in to planning an evening always makes me misty, plus there’s guaranteed great conversation to follow.”
36. Nike Air Force One XX: “Stars are kinda my thing. They remind me to keep reaching, even when the days get long. They remind me of all the wishes I’ve made along the years, so many of which have come true. And they are a comforting blanket that have guided all the women who’ve come before me. So I’m buying this Nike pair for myself, a little reward for a year well lived. Plus, I’m on a mom on the run, hustling in the office, at home and everywhere in between so sneakers are critical!”
Pro tip: “I love gifts that reference something we’ve done, talked about, dreamed about or hoped for. Something that’s beyond a random thing from a store. And, since I’m a hoarder, I save meaningful cards, always a must to complete the perfect gift!”
Main image: Love, Actually (Universal Pictures) via IMDB