FAIL-SAFE GIRL GIFTS: SENTIMENTAL IDEAS

Fact: Girls are suckers for sentimental gifts. Anything warm and fuzzy, cloaked in feelings or generally high on the sappiness scale is usually a winner. So, if your girl fits this bill, there are dozens of clever gift options to ponder.

And, since I’ve basically become your friendly (or snarky, whatever) holiday advice elf, I’ve boiled it down to three contenders for you. Seriously – even I’m getting sick of talking about this stuff. If you can’t wrap up something stellar after all of my suggestions from this past week, you may very well be beyond help. (I’m kidding, there’s no such thing as a lost cause, boys – keep the faith).

First up we have an addendum to the jewelry list, whereby you buy her a single pearl on a necklace – the idea being that you can add a pearl each year (or each special occasion) to help her complete the strand over time. I’m sure that your local jeweler would be able to help facilitate starting this, or knows of a participating retailer who can.

Or else you can just go the Internet route and hit up a site like Add A Pearl to suit your needs. You can choose from cultured or natural pearls, length of strand, bracelet vs. necklace or opt for the charm bracelet route and add trinkets from the memories you’ve accumulated together.

Perfect for: Any female who likes jewelry or public displays of the emotional kind. Dating timeline appropriateness: This one’s tricky – if you know for 100% certain that she’s The One and you’re going to keep her around (and vice versa, for what it’s worth) then you can start this strand early on. Otherwise keep it for a well-established partnership, lest she feel like you’re jumping the gun.

What it says about you: Listen carefully men, this is the single most important message a woman can hear from you: “I’m going to stick around.” Knowing that you and your affection aren’t going to pull a disappearing act, or that you’re in it for the long haul, are very appealing notions to us. You may score more points from the, “I love you and I’m not changing my mind,” message than from the actual gift itself, it’s that powerful. 

On a less expensive (but equally thoughtful) note, you can also gift her with a recap of your love by giving her the book “All About Us.” Begotten from it’s earlier book ancestor “All About Me,” this simple little journal comes with blank sections for you to fill in about your relationship.

You can sail right past dates and names-type detailed books, which are more of a cold record of your love than a genuinely insightful glimpse into who you are/what you mean to each other, this book is so much more.

With sections like, “If you could change one of your partner’s body parts which would it be?” (btw, play this one cautiously or else!) and other such playful nonsense, this gift is sure to please. Consider it romantic Mad Libs for adults, and consider her smitten once she opens it.

Perfect for: The woman with a sense of humor who wants to know these things but would never ask. Dating timeline appropriateness: So long as she’s been around long enough for you to know these little details (or you’ve spent enough time with her), you’ll be fine. What it says about you: I’m clever and creative – just give her something else along with it, a $10 gift on its own will raise some eyebrows.

Finally, may I suggest recreating a memory with her instead of creating a new one? If you took her to a cozy restaurant on your first date and ordered the risotto, take her back there. Remember the bottle of wine? Order it, too. Did she tell you what her favorite book was? Read her a passage. You get the idea. Whether it’s a composite of a bunch of small memories or just one moment’s accurate recreation, she’ll appreciate that it was meaningful to you, too.

Perfect for: Any woman with a pulse. Dating timeline appropriateness: Considering you need to have dated her long enough to have amassed this kind of nostalgia, you do the math. What it says about you: “I was paying attention all along.”

Have a girl gift idea you’d like to share? Just panicked because we’re getting down to the wire for your present exchange D-day? Email me, misswingman@gmail.com. I’ll do my best, and that’s all anyone can hope to ask. As always keep it right here for more Fail-Safe Girl Gifts for the Holidays, ho ho hope you like them.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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FAIL-SAFE GIRL GIFTS: KITCHEN EDITION

Whoever said you can’t get women domestic gifts is a little too uptight for my liking. Feminism isn’t taking a step backward if you buy your girl a cooking appliance or some other culinary item – so long as she spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

The trick to these types of gifts is that the woman in your life has to have expressed a clear desire or need for them, or you just think it would make her life that much easier to own. Otherwise, you risk looking like a character on Mad Men with your postwar-era mentality. So here are some great options for the Julia Child in your life this holiday season.

The Food Network makes it look so easy to prepare a dish. And it is, when you’ve got a prep chef doing all of the grunt work first! So, if she hates chopping, peeling or dicing, getting her a slicer is a great idea.

Sounds weird, I know, but I love to cook and this type of labor is the biggest impediment to my kitchen wizardry. This Williams-Sonoma Professional Multi-Chopper ($40) is a huge help, or you can help her slice/julienne better with a handy dandy mandoline like this one, albeit a pricier option ($200).

If she enjoys making homemade pizza – my specialty, though my mother holds the title for best pie – consider getting her a baking stone like this one from Crate & Barrel ($45). It’s the perfect way to get the crisp bottom crust she’s been aiming for every time.

Or, if she’s more of a beverage girl, you can opt for some beautiful stemless wine glasses like these monogrammed ones from Williams-Sonoma ($90 for set of 6, also available in stemmed options and white wine versions as well).

They also offer a ton of other standout options, like a stainless-steel monogrammed bar tools set for the woman who likes to drink her dinner instead, as well as personalized carafes and pilsner glasses.

If caffeine is her vice, you can’t go wrong buying her a Keurig coffee maker.

There are two things I’m obsessed with in my apartment, and my Keurig is one of them (my dude-sized TV is the other). If she enjoys coffee at all, or even if she just needs it to prop herself up in the morning, Keurig has pretty much perfected the art of no clean up, ease of use and has a variety of fun coffee flavor options – Hawaiian Hazelnut and Gingerbread are top notch. This personal-sized $100 brewing option is perfect for small spaces, and it comes in three colors. If she doesn’t already own one, trust me – it’s a winner.

Finally, if she likes being in the kitchen but could use some help on her skills, buying her some cooking classes is also a thoughtful option.

DISCLAIMER: Do not, I repeat DO NOT under any circumstances, purchase cooking classes unless she has said she’d like to learn some new techniques, wishes she knew more dishes or generally has expressed an interest in this. Otherwise, you’re indirectly telling her that her cooking is sub par, in which case you better hope you didn’t get her a new set of chopping knives this year, too.

Sur La Table offers both in person and virtual cooking instruction, in areas like knife skills, the Ultimate Bacon Menu (every guy’s ears just perked up), Thai cooking, fast French food, and even pastry making. Seriously, these classes are phenomenal. They’ll run you anywhere from $25 to $215 for multi-part instructional series, but are worth every penny.

All of these options are perfect for: the woman who feels at home in the kitchen. Dating timeline appropriateness: Several months into your relationship, at least. Getting her a domestic gift if you don’t know her really well or she hasn’t cooked you dinner yet is a gamble, FYI. What it says about you: I recognize that cooking is your hobby, and I support it (and want to reap the benefits of it, too).

So there you have it, some ideal tools for whipping up a little extra fun in the kitchen (though you men would prefer she be a wiz in the bedroom instead, but still…) If Santa comes down the chimney wearing an apron this year it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Have ideas for my Fail-Safe Girl Gift Guide? Send to: misswingman@gmail.com. And don’t forget to stay creative – and hungry, boys.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

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FAIL-SAFE GIRL GIFTS: DAY 4 (SPARKLE)

Have you ever met a girl who doesn’t like jewelry? Me neither. But, for some reason men are usually confounded by where to begin when jewelry shopping (it’s not like it’s for that type of ring, jeez). No worries – that’s where I come in. Here’s a list of baubles I’ve come across that any woman would be happy to unwrap. And, because cost can be a factor, these sparkly pieces run the gamut price-wise. Hey, no one said you have to drop Elizabeth Taylor gems to get her to smile.

My favorite jewelry hands down is by designer Ted Muehling. Though hardly a well-kept secret, Muehling’s tiny treasure trove of a store is tucked away in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood (newly located at 52 White Street – blink and you’ll miss it). Known for carrying much more than just jewelry – his candlesticks are beyond – Muehling has cultivated a simple yet elegant jewelry collection. His earrings vary in price, but start around $200 (going way up from there), and are perfect for every day wear or special occasions.

Anchors aren’t just for sailors and hipsters anymore. Me&Ro features this maritime-themed Hope ring for $150. Available in sterling silver on their website, this dainty little piece is just divine.

For the optimistic female, this smiley face necklace by St. Kilda is sure to make her, well…smile. Available online or at the mecca of all female I’ll-take-one-of-everything spaces in NYC, ABC Carpet & Home, this delicate pendant retails for $198, and these celestial star stud earrings will cost you a pretty penny more at $264 (but they’re so cuuuuuute). I know, I know, to New Yorkers somehow that sounds reasonable.

If silver’s not her thing, designer Daphne Olive’s nature-inspired pieces are just adorable. This mini pine cone necklace and also this spiky onion pendant are playful and quirky. Contact the designer for pricing, but boutiques like Table Top in Washington D.C.’s swanky Dupont Circle neighborhood carry a large collection of her pieces.

For some slightly more mainstream finds, designer Lulu Frost has been contributing some amazing vintage-inspired pieces to J.Crew stores around the country lately. These earrings retail for a more modest $65, or you can opt for one of Frost’s bangles, like this lovely $45 art deco bracelet. Reminiscent of something she’d rescue from her grandmother’s jewelry box, Lulu (and J. Crew) almost never miss.

For the girl who loves a good chunky cocktail ring, designer Alexis Bittar (despite the name, Alexis is a dude) sure has a knack for giving good hand. This crystal-encrusted sparkler is a fun addition for a night on the town ($225), or else Bittar’s lucite pieces are a favorite of mine, like the ring featured here (available in many colors). He occupies some space in Soho/the West Village/the Upper East Side, but his jewelry is also available at several retailers as well as online.

For the girl who is decidedly less girly, another one of my all-time favorites is anything by Giles & Brother (above bracelet $125) . Their edgy collections are the companion offshoot to the equally badass (yet WAY less affordable) Philip Crangi line. I would pretty much commit murder for several of Crangi’s pieces, but Giles seems to capture the same industrial aesthetic without breaking the bank. By using things like rail road spikes, fish hooks and tiny nails as inspiration, G&B is a solid choice for the girl who isn’t afraid to wear it. *Note, considering my site design, Miss Wingman should probably find these under the tree this year.

And finally, a fun twist on a traditional retailer is brought to you by the collaboration between Frank Gehry (yes, that Frank Gehry) and timeless jeweler Tiffany & Co. Though many of this architectural giant’s pieces are uber-pricey (even more than the above $525 option), I’ve long been a fan of rose gold, so perhaps your lady is, too. Just be careful, when pulling out one of Tiffany’s signature light blue boxes (in ring size, no less) her heart may start racing. You might want to clarify your intentions, first.

All of these choices pretty much say the same thing, “I get it, you like jewelry.” But also, “I carefully considered your taste when choosing this,” (an obvious lie, since this site tipped you off; it’s our little secret, promise).

The dating timeline appropriateness for these is obviously for anyone who has been together long enough to give the gift of jewelry, which is a pretty clear sign that you’re into her. Take into consideration that most of these aren’t cheap, and that also plays into how serious your feelings (and retail intentions) are – or what your budget is, which is an understandable limitation.

Whatever you choose, just remember that jewelry is personal and subjective, so don’t be offended if your choices miss the mark. I’ve always believed that if a man is going to spend the money, you might as well make sure she’s going to like/wear it, even if that requires allowing her to exchange it for something that’s more her style.

That said, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually swapped out anything a boyfriend has bought me, since I didn’t want to diminish the effort he put into carefully choosing the gift, but I can certainly understand the inclination.

Pay attention to what she wears every day, what hints she drops about pieces she’d like (girls do that), but most importantly, just go with your gut. And make sure it’s the girl who shines more than anything.ETIQUETTE WINGMAN

Have any great gift ideas for Miss Wingman? Share the wealth. Email me at misswingman@gmail.com and maybe your idea will be featured in an upcoming 12 Days of Fail-Safe Girl Gifts alongside other standout lists and suggestions. Either way, keep it right here for much more gift giving wisdom.

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