I have, on several occasions, had my friends’ significant others ask me on the sly, “What is the best gift idea for my girlfriend? You know, something she actually wants.” It’s always cute to see their genuine love and concern manifest itself into a mini panic attack over finding the perfect gift for their girlfriend. “The truth is,” I tell them, “you already know what they want.” And that’s no pseudo-psychobabble — it really is the truth. And the exact same thing goes when you're figuring out what to buy a boyfriend for his birthday, a holiday, or just because.
If you’re in a healthy relationship with someone, you spend enough time with them, listening to them dream about a trip to Paris or hearing them fawn over a new highlighting palette. It’s all about knowing your significant other — all you have to do is listen to what your partner says. (Who knew?) I asked all of my friends who are (or have been) girlfriends about some of the best gifts from significant others they’ve ever gotten, and the answers vary from super-warm Peruvian Alpaca slippers to a set of keys to their partner’s apartment.
If you’re still clueless about what to get your SO, I’ve rounded up a few ideas, plus the best gifts my friends have ever gotten from their partners to help you out.
1. Spell Your Feelings Out For Them
Maybe I'm partial to sweet words as a writer, but most of my friends will agree: Nothing is as heartwarming as a special love note. With this awesome lightbox, you can leave something that'll make your girlfriend smile every time she sees it.
2. Surprise Your Partner With Favorite Memories You've Shared
Both my friends Kellie and Monica agree that the best gift they've ever gotten was a customized trip down memory lane with pictures, tickets stubs, notes, and memorabilia organized into an album. Take the sentimental idea a step further with this photo display, and turn it into a piece of art.
3. Or Make New Memories Together — And Document The Best Moments
Another unanimous great gift idea: vacations. Doing fun things together is always special, and with this instant camera (actually Amazon's best-seller among instant film cameras), you can document everything in a way that feels more romantic and tangible than a quick iPhone snap. It's perfect for an SO who's really into photography, too.
4. For Your Favorite Bibliophile, A One-Of-A-Kind Gift
This gift was a crafty and sentimental one my friend Rowena got; it actually brought her to tears: "My boyfriend knows I'm a bit of a bibliophile," she said. "He bought my favorite book and took the time to fold the pages so that it sat open and displayed my name. It was amazing, I burst into tears when I opened it!"
If you can't craft that yourself, this one is customizable.
5. For The One Whose Feet Are Always Cold
I can't speak for everyone when I say having cold feet is a constant, but my friend Shainna definitely agreed: "My guy got me a pair of authentic Alpaca slippers from Peru," she said. "He knows that my feet get cold during the fall and winter even if I have on socks. It's one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever gotten. My feet are now ultra cozy."
This Alpaca foot warmer may not be from Peru, but it's pretty cute.
6. A Sassy Notebook That Shows How Brilliant You Think She Is
I have a thing for notebooks (hi, I'm a writer), and my boyfriend knew that. I was going through a tough time and doubting whether I could really make a career out of writing. He cheered me up by buying me a badass notebook like this one, and he reminded me that my ideas were effing brilliant.
7. For Your Strobing Queen, A Palette With The Top-Rated Highlighters
Whenever there's a new makeup release, there are the people who mark the date on their calendar like a holiday. This palette included the ICONIC (seriously, look at the reviews) Mary-Lou Manizer highlighter along with two other beauty guru faves, all for $20. If you've got a beauty addict on your hand, getting an entire kit will have way more of an impact than one lonely highlighter.
8. A Sweet Gift For A Girlfriend Who Wants To See The World
My girl Paola said the best gift she ever got "was surprise tickets to Paris for no reason (this was a first for both of us), and I remember exactly where he told me and how I cried in the middle of the street." It was a big-ticket buy, she said, but if you can't whisk your girl away to her favorite destination, get her something that'll make her feel like she still went — like this calendar that doubles as wall art.
9. Treat Her To A Spa Day Without Leaving The Comfort Of Home
Spa days are always reason to get excited, but sometimes you don't want to leave home, or quite honestly, can't afford it. Treat her to an at-home spa day with these delicious luxe bath bombs (they're infused with cocoa butter, and you can throw in a massage) for a thoughtful gift.
10. If You're Both Ready, Give Her The Keys To Your Place (On A Stylish Keychain)
Franceta, one of my favorite people, said one of her all-time favorite gifts were the keys to her SO's house "as an invite to be there whenever," she said. If you're going to make this grand romantic gesture, throw the keys on a cute tassel keychain, and put them in a wrapped box. Done!
11. This Cute Diffuser Is Perfect If Your Girlfriend Is Addicted To Tea
Some people live off of coffee, some people live of off tea — I'm a bit of both. I've seen these cute diffusers everywhere, from Pinterest to Etsy, and I've yet to get one, even though my bedtime tea could use it. Hint, hint to any potential crushes out there!
12. The Craftiest Cool-Girl Gift For A DIY-Crazy Girl
I have so many friends who are craft queens — they can DIY denim with the best of them! If your girlfriend is the same, this fun set of iron-on patches will let her creative side run free. Just don't be surprised if some these end up on your favorite denim jacket.
13. If Your Girlfriend Could Use A Little Help Staying Organized, Get Her This Bag
I'm not going to lie: If my boyfriend ever implied I was messy, I would be a little angry. (Even if it's true and the comment was well-meaning.) Instead of having your partner's odds and ends rolling around, gift her this cute pouch so she has a place to keep to all. It's a gift that works for the both of you, really.
14. Your SO Loves Personalized Everything? Keep It Classic.
Now this is one of the best gifts I've ever gotten, personally: a nameplate necklace à la Carrie Bradshaw. I love the simple look of a personalized necklace, and I had a pretty serious Sex And The City phase, so it showed how much he remembered my mentioning it.
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Images: Amazon (14)