A MAN’S GUIDE TO BUYING GIFTS FOR WOMEN
I was listening to my favorite podcast this morning, Girls Gotta Eat, and they were talking about the worst gifts an ex ever gave them. While they had some doozies, I think I have the best story, having been given a folding shot ski from Target and then promptly being dumped all in the same night a couple years ago. It was great. It was the night before Thanksgiving and I’m not a huge drinker. I am a snowboarder though. Maybe one time I recounted to him a story of taking shots off a shotski at Brundage with my guy friends and then he saw it in the store (in the cheap and generic holiday gifts section) after looking for 0.5 seconds and was like “yep, done deal”. Seriously the least thoughtful gift I have ever received in my life. Socks from my mom are more thoughtful than that stupid shotski. At least she wants me to be warm. He wants me to be drunk? To be fair the guy bought his mom a scarf every year for Christmas and her Birthday, so I can’t take it too personally. But I do realize that men have a hard time buying gifts sometimes. I personally prefer experiences over things, so that’s a thought, but what if the person you’re buying for does like things? There are 12 days left for you to sort it all out so if you’re a dude I’ve created a little cheat sheet of some of my favorite local makers, artists and stores (because I’m all about shopping local if you can) to shop from with items the woman in your life is bound to love and appreciate. A little extra thought will go a long way. Also, they are local so since you have waited until the last minute you don’t have to worry about shipping time, you can buy them in a local shop or probably even arrange to meet them for pickup. This gift guide is useful now but it can be used all year long, for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Please note this is a blog post about buying gifts for women, not men, not children, not teenagers (I do highly suggest an exorcism for them though). This is also specific to the Boise, Idaho region. If you live in Chicago or Spokane I have no idea what kind of things you have going on over there!
In addition to providing you with suggestions for gifts, I am also giving you a short list of things to NEVER buy a woman you are in a relationship with. EVER.
Lingerie. Unless she specifically loves it, begs you to buy it for her for every holiday and you know exactly what she likes and what size she is, just don’t do it. There is nothing worse than receiving a box of sexy lingerie that I can only wear once and really only benefits someone else, that also probably doesn’t fit correctly. If you’re going to drop some $$$ at Victoria’s Secret at least buy me something useful like new bras I can wear every day or a freaking gift card so I can pick it out myself.
Shotski. ‘nuff said.
Slippers. Again, unless she specifically asked for them.
A charging accessory for her phone/laptop/ipad. Again, unless she specifically asks for it.
The same thing you got her last year and for her birthday, just in a different color/texture.
Chocolate and wine. While appreciated, this aint Valentine’s Day.
Concert tickets to a show you want to go to but she has no interest in. Use some damn common sense.
A gun, bow, or any outdoor gear that you want her to be interested in but she hasn’t specifically asked for.
Membership to a cheese, wine, jelly or beer of the month club. Too generic.
Membership to a gym unless shes asks for it. Otherwise, don’t go there.
I’ve provided a variety of items ranging from $15 to $300 depending on your budget and the person you’re buying for. I’ve even tossed in some experiences if things aren’t the person’s jam.
Listen guys, you can’t go wrong with jewelry. Unless you buy some ugly junk, in which case, good thing you stumbled upon this blog post because nothing here is ugly or junk. Jewelry is also not good for women who do not like jewelry or have very specific taste and want to pick it out themselves. In that case, move down the list and pick a different item or buy them a gift card. Otherwise, here are my top picks:
Deanna Scherrer Jewelry – River Necklaces $85
For the river rat in your life or even just someone who grew up loving a river somewhere, this is THE gift. Copper offsets gorgeous green patina with sterling silver accents to showcase her favorite river. I got one last year and not only am I absolutely in love with it, I get compliments on it wherever I go. Beautiful, handmade, custom jewelry that is specific to her. Now there’s a thoughtful gift!
Where to get it: www.deannascherrer.com, Idaho Made or Maven in downtown Boise
Jamison Rae Jewelry
I could blather on and on about this stuff but the truth is that I want EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. SHE. MAKES. Delicate meets bold in her hammered metal pieces with precious stones. And her prices are so reasonable for the quality of jewelry you’re buying!
Where to get it: www.jamisonraejewelry.com , Mixed Greens, Idaho Made
Unique Twist Jewelry $16-$35
Is your mom or grandma saucy like mine? Or do you want something fun, inspirational, personal and unique for your sister/girlfriend/best friend? Well then this is the gift for you!
Khristin creates hand-stamped metal jewelry with clever sayings and adorable details that make each piece unique. What’s even better? The price point and her variety. I personally have received two of her necklaces and they were both gifts I was super excited to get. It’s a great way to show someone you have paid attention to a few details about them without breaking the bank. For the $25 dollars that moron spent on the shotski he could have gotten me a cool necklace and then dumped me and at least I would have had the cool necklace to comfort me. Fucking shotski.
Where to find it: www.uniquetwistjewelry.com , Mixed Greens, Idaho Made
Another of my favorites. Her Jewelry is bold, unique, colorful and timeless with a great price point. You’d be hard pressed to not find something someone you know will like.
Where to get it: www.fluffhardware.com , Idahomade, Mixed Greens, Merry Makers Market.
GIFTS FOR THE HOME
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing wrong with getting your mom/aunt/sister/sister-in-law/grandma a nice candle, thoughtful book, piece of art or something for the kitchen or the home.
Lit & Co. Candles. $12-$50
Is there anything better than settling down for the evening on the couch with a book, in the tub with some bubbles or just hanging out with your friends with the beautiful flicker of a candle flame and a delicious scent drifting through the air? I think not. Lit & Co. Candles are small batch, hand-poured soy wax candles manufactured right here in Boise. They typically come in pretty, clear glass containers, but the beauty of shopping local is that you can go into the store on State Street, pick out a special glass container of your choice and have her hand pour the fragrance candle of your choice. Last year I gifted my mom and aunt who both live in San Diego candles poured into cut off wine bottles with the state of California etched into the side of it and a cork stopper lid. They were super cute and both my mom and aunt loved them! The best part is that if you are local and so is your recipient, you can take the candle holder back to the store once you’ve used it up and she’ll pour you another candle for like $8. This is why we shop local folks!
Where to get it: www.litandco.com , Boise Merry Makers Market, Lit & Co. Candles 3019 W. STATE STREET BOISE, ID 83703
Ladybug Press: Tea towels, totes and shirts $16-$45
I’m not going to lie to you, I have a thing for tea towels. Yes, cute towels hanging in my kitchen. I deeply feel like they say something about me and my personality and when other people come over I want them to know that I am cool as is evidenced by my freaking awesome tea towels!!!
Lady Bug Press makes the cutest ones in the valley with Idaho and Boise specific images, cute little saying and illustrations of animals. I may or may not already own two llama hand towels. I got some for my mom too for her new house. She also makes canvas totes and cool ass t-shirts and tank tops. Looking for something to give your sister that says “Sorry, not sorry about all the wedgies”? Get her a t-shirt with the outline of Idaho as a star constellation on it and maybe she’ll tell her hot college roommate you have a crush on that you’re a half-way decent human being.
Where to find it: www.ladybugpress.com Idaho Made, Mixed Greens, Merry Makers Market, Boise Co-Op, Banana Ink, everywhere in town!
We’ll cover more houseware items in the Store Section later in this post.
Ya’ll know I have a lot to say on the subject of art in the Boise area because I myself am an artist. Actually that’s not true. I’m very picky about art and may like a piece or two from an artist but generally not their whole collection. I’ve listed a few below whose collections I really do enjoy.
Idaho Adventures Art (ME!!!!):
But first and foremost, buy my freaking art for the ladies in your life! You’re already here, might as well do some shopping! Get her a Mountain Girl print or sticker to let her know you think she is a bad-ass babe!!! Give your sister a hand-drawn journal so she can make lists of all of the traumatic things you did to her as a kid (like tickling her until she peed her pants) to recount to her therapist. Give your mom an ornament for her tree that has been hand-painted with love. Does your Grandma love cats? I’ve got a card for that! Did she just move to a new place or need art for her dorm? I know where you can find some colorful, Idaho and mountain inspired art! Have that one friend who is a huge Star Wars nerd but also love the mountains? I have a print for that too! And of course, slip a sticker into everyone’s stockings and christmas cards this year.
Where to find it: www.idahoadventuresart.com , Boise Merry Makers Market (Until December 23rd), Mixed Greens
Other honorable mentions you should check out for art:
Lost Little Things
Love her laser cut wood art! Inspired by mountains, cabins and exploring, her art is rustic yet goes with anything. Again, she has something for everyone. Ornaments, puzzles, art, signs, magnets, and stickers. Love it all.
Where to find it: www.lostlittlethings.com, Mixed Greens, Idaho Made, Boise Merry Makers Market
Jennie Kilcup Watercolors
You’ve seen her stuff around, I’m sure of it. Watercolor animals, and iconic Idaho signs on prints, cards, camp mugs and totes. I don’t know a girl around that doesn’t like her stuff.
Where to find it: www.jenniekilcup.com , Mixed Greens, Idaho Made
Julia Moran Watercolors:
Girl after my own heart! She paints pictures of aquatic life, both animal and botanical. Love her stuff! She offers, prints, originals, stickers, notebooks, ornaments, magnets and small framed original art. Great gifts at an affordable price.
Where to find it: etsy, Boise Merry Makers Market
I don’t know about everyone else but I love maps and this guy creates the best maps of Idaho and geographic areas within Idaho and sells them as prints. I love going into Mixed Greens with a coffee and standing around looking at all of his maps for a long time. I’m a freak, I know. But if you know other freaky girls who like maps, geology or science, get them one of these!
Where to find it: www.mitchellegeography.com , Mixed Greens, Idaho Made
Let’s not discount Costco when it comes to art. Is there a picture your mom loves from that one family vacation? Blow that baby up and put it on a canvas for her to hang in her living room and enjoy all year long! What about a picture of your girl when she summitted her first peak or of the two of you and your dog? Would grandma like a calendar with pictures of you every month? Costco is an affordable option for personalized art. And they’re generally super quick with the turn around. I’m thinking of blowing up a picture of my mom’s cat and giving it to her for Christmas, since he’s clearly the child she loves best.
STORES WHERE ANYONE CAN FIND SOMETHING:
If you know me, you know I am a huge fan of this store. It’s an eclectic gift store in Downtown Boise which offers everything your little heart could ask for. I go in there way too often and spend way too much money but omg their stuff is so fun. I said I’d revisit the home goods again in the store section so here we go. Besides offering a great selection of art, jewelry (lots more than the 4 makers I mentioned above) and scarves, they have some really fun home good items that the ladies will like. From fun kitchen bowls and cheese boards to towels and coffee mugs, they have something for every home and every taste. I bought a great fly fishing inspired mug there a couple months ago for a guy I was seeing and then things ended before I gave it to him and now it’s mine! I mean I was probably going to buy myself one eventually anyway. But just a nice variety of things. There are lotions and candles, stationary and nicknacks if that’s your thing. They also have a ton of air plants and decorative pieces to display them in, among other things. I swear, you just have to check it out for yourself, it’s really a fun place.
Big surprise here, all of the stock is made in Idaho and by local makers! There is some crossover with Mixed Greens, but they are both very different stores in their own ways. There are more hand-made items here, more pottery and hand sewn items, such as these really cool hand-stitched trucker hats by Keep Her Wild Designs. It’s a really fun store with good quality products, all produced in Idaho. When you shop here, you’re not just shopping at a local store, you are buying 100% locally made goods.
36th Street Garden Center
Besides the obvious, they sell plants here (really nice plants I might add), they also sell home goods, decorations, jewelry and fun little gifts. Luckily for me it’s off of Hill Road and 36th Street so it’s just a little too far out of my way to hit it up too often. Which is good, because when I do I come home with a serious haul of plants. Let’s not forget that plants make nice gifts too!
OUTDOOR STORES FOR YOUR OUTDOOR WOMAN
The Board Room
I love to support small, local sporting good shops. If you’re a boarder, like me, you already know that the majority of local shops pander to the skiers and that it’s hard to find snowboard gear that is not online. Seriously Boise, can we do something about this?! The Board Room is the exception. Not only do they have good quality gear but the guys that work there are super friendly and knowledgeable and they seem to always have equal amount of women’s specific gear as mens, which sorry REI, you’re failing there. But anyway, it’s a good place to shop for women’s gear if that’s what you’re doing.
Idaho Mountain Touring
I can walk into that store not needing anything and walk out needing everything. From the Sorel boots to the Kavu bags, the mountain bikes to the entire clothing section. Ski gear, goggles, buffs, jet boils, ice climbing picks, crampons, you name it, they got it and I want it all. Much smaller than REI and focusing primarily on bikes, they are friendly, knowledgeable and best of all, local.
OUTDOOR SPECIFIC GIFTS
Listen, I know I’m not like most girls but I would be more than happy receiving a gift card to REI, Idaho Mountain Touring, McU’s or Idaho River Sports. In fact it would be preferable to anything else because I’m about to drop a butt load of dough on back country and kayaking gear this year and some extra money would help to soften the blow. If you know a girl like me who lives for the mountains and rivers and has enough makeup, tea towels and candles already, then a gift card to an outdoor gear shop is a great idea. Hell, I mean if you’re buying one for her you might as well buy one for me too 😉
I think the important thing here is to know your audience. Don’t just buy random outdoor crap she might not need. If she’s been complaining about her gloves or is talking about the new bike helmet she wants, bingo! Otherwise stick with something safe like the candles or a gift card.
Last year a friend of mine’s husband gave her a pair of heated socks (that run around $200 a pair) for Christmas and I’ve never seen anyone more happy about anything in my life. She raved about them all ski season. But there again, he knew she desperately wanted a pair.
Something most people overlook is books. I love books. My friends love books. Why not get her a hiking guide to help her plan her summer backpacking trips? Or an inspirational book about badass outdoor women! Let her know you support her hobbies and her passions and help her invest in herself.
The older I get the more I have moved away from wanting things as gifts. I’d rather have experiences, except of course in the case of the above statement regarding outdoor gear. I’ve noticed more and more people are feeling this way too. So, if the woman you are buying for doesn’t really like gifts or doesn’t want things, here are some ideas of things to do for her:
Figure out what hobby she’s been wanting to try and buy her the stuff she’ll need to get started. Has your mom been talking about how she’d love to learn how to do origami? Has your girlfriend been wanting to learn how to cook better (and honestly you want her to too)? Honey there is a class for everything these days. Find one and get it for her! Here are some other options based on their prices:
Gift card to favorite restaurant
Date night coupon for your mom where you take her out for dinner and a movie just the two of you
Gift certificate for a massage, manicure/pedicure or facial
Concert tickets (to her favorite band, not yours)
Make reservation for two at the Springs for a private hot tub, dinner, drinks, massage, the whole nine yards
Dance lessons for the two of you
Paint and Sip night for you and your mom or sister to bond over alcohol and making idiots of yourselves.
Sleigh ride in the snow (McCall and Cascade)
Powder Pass at Bogus Basin
Passport Pass at Bogus Basin for ski/snowboard lessons, season pass and equipment for entire season
Rent a cabin for a weekend in the mountains
Additional activities on upcoming vacation such as surf lessons, swimming with dolphins, visiting remote island for picnic, etc.
Most Expensive (usually for significant other or me):
Vacation to tropical island
Back country set up
Kayaking set up
Mountain Collective Pass
Season Pass to favorite Resort
Ski trip to Mammoth or Tahoe
Golden Retriever Puppy
Well, I feel like that’s a very comprehensive list for you. If you can’t find a gift after reading that then there is no hope for you and you might as well just buy the damn scarf again and go have a beer. Your mom probably isn’t expecting much else from you, truth be told.