So besides romantic weekends away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, what are some good gifts for women? This is trickier than I at first thought. There are some standards, never to be discounted - a great book, lotion/bath salts, fancy chocolates, and flowers are always winners. But you want to give something thoughtful, something personal, something you didn't give last year. I guarantee nothing, but maybe something here will spark your imagination.
1. Spa - This is kind of a no-brainer. Everyone likes to be pampered, and if they don't, all the more reason they should be. But in talking to some friends I was amazed that not everyone thinks a massage is the end-all be-all of spa treatments, like I do. Some go crazy for facials. Others don't like to be touched so much, and prefer a nice manicure. Which is why, like with newlyweds' linens, you shouldn't pick out other people's spa treatments for them; go with a gift certificate. And if you live far away and don't know what spa to get one from, go with something like SpaFinder.com. That way they can pick where and when to go.
2. Girls' Night Out - Get your friend and a few others together for a night without diapers or testosterone. I'm always a fan of surprises, so tell her when to be ready, and what to wear or bring, but not what you're doing. This could be anything from dinner and a movie to something a little...less traditional. For example:
- Learn to Dance: gather in someone's basement with a DVD (and of course snacks) and learn some hip-hop, belly dancing or Latin moves.
- Poetry Reading: find one at the local coffee shop, university or library, or host one at someone's house.
- Book Swap: everyone bring your 3 favorites, new or used, and leave with 3 new reads.
- Spa Night: stick some washcloths in the slow cooker (on warm), break out all your salt scrubs, pumice stones, and facial products and take turns pampering each other with some new age or disco music in the background.
- Bowling (some alleys do glow-in-the-dark or other theme nights on weekends)
- Live entertainment - research a where a local band will be playing, or go see a play by a local theater group
- Game night: play something fun and mindless so you can chat and eat while you play.
4. Magazine subscription - A great gift that keeps on giving. Everyone's got those magazines they'd like to receive but have never bothered or justifying getting for themselves. My personal favs: Cooking Light, Real Simple, Cook's Country, Cook's Illustrated, Martha Stewart Living. Most subscriptions take 6 to 8 weeks to begin so if you're really on it, plan ahead so the first issue will arrive close to the occasion.
5. Something from Etsy - Oh my gosh, Etsy is the Bermuda triangle of online shopping. Hours on end can be lost browsing all the cool wares! But if you stick to it long enough you are SURE to find the one-and-only perfect one-of-a-kind vintage alabaster owl bookends she's always needed!
6. Class - Did you know that most school districts offer adult education courses? You can take anything from home repair to cooking to writing classes, usually at very reasonable cost. One year my brother gave his wife Michelle two cooking classes for her birthday, and part of the gift was that I was going with her to one of them! It was an awesome evening in a high school home ec kitchen, learning to make and eat Indian tapas - and taking the leftovers home! Another time, when I graduated from grad school, my friend Kat gave me a six-week stained glass course that we took together. Talk about so much fun! There are classes out there for every interest and every budget, and if your school district doesn't offer them, check the county, local art shops, community centers, etc.
7. Do-Something Kit - Sometimes we women like to do projects. It feels good to begin something, end something, and have something to show for it. But sometimes the researching, planning and supply-gathering for these projects is effort-prohibitive. So give your friend the gift of a kit. It could be pre-assembled or you could make one for her. For example, I love this Aromatherapy Garden and Year of Seeds from Red Envelope. Maybe an ice cream sundae or caramel popcorn kit with a great DVD. Or how about insure getting yourself invited to a party by giving a Dinner and a Murder Mystery party kit! I'd love one of those.
I know this barely scratches the surface, so let's hear it - what are the greatest gifts you've ever given to or received as women?