There will be gifts: The romantic type

What's a 'romantic' gift? Though any gift given from the heart can be romantic, the fact is that women think of some gifts as more infused with romance with others.

Sheila received a license plate bearing the name of her business from her boyfriend. For her, this was romantic.

But then again, most women would sympathize with my friend Diane, whose husband gave her a Swiss Army knife for their 25th wedding anniversary.
She burst into tears. He said, "But I had it engraved with your initials."

Some women enjoy receiving practical gifts as a token of affection. Even I appreciate a good book from Le Duc. But sometimes, a gift needs to say more than "best wishes", to whisper of desire, deep admiration, celebration of a woman's essence.

The classics, lingerie, perfume and flowers, are time-honoured ways to trump the Swiss Army knife. Gifts that adorn beloved's person are most romantic, though art or decorative objects (such as an antique crystal perfume bottle or an etching) are also intensely romantic if well-chosen.

The basic guideline is, "Don't be practical" though many women will add "but don't give me something I'll never use, either". New fencing for the yard is not romantic even though "she really wanted it".

Here are a few ideas, should your sweetie ask for hints. Or don't wait for someone else to provide; celebrate a milestone or just celebrate the moment with a sensuous, memorable gift to yourself!

One approach that works well: pick a favourite feature and celebrate it.

That hair...

Vintage marcasite and tortoise (celluloid) hair comb in excellent condition, $100 from Susannah's Combs.

Those lips...

Yves St. Laurent Roughe Voluptué Silky Sensual Radiant Lipstick, $34 from Sephora.

se eyes...

Chloe Heloise sunglasses, $329 from Eyegoodies.

Those legs...

ing on her taste,
La Canadienne Gavin boot,

Opening Ceremony shearling ankle boot, $430 from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Loved for her mind, as well?

A pair of tickets to the theatre, opera, or lecture series can charm a beloved who delights in these experiences. A bound set of her favourite author can thrill- but be careful, as a cookbook is not usually read as romantic.

Romantic jewels

Jewelry given by a lover is by definition romantic, but some pieces are more so than others.

Love and P
rotection Bracelet by Macolm Appleby

eloquent piece combines the image of the thistle, the ancient Scottish symbol of protection, and the classic Luckenbooth brooch motif of intertwined hearts, exchanged by lovers on betrothal or pinned to a baby's blanket for luck.

In lavish, romantic expression, the exterior of the bracelet features cast thistles and stems with two interlocking hearts, the interior is decorated with engraved ancient spirals, cups and rings, capturing the unknown meaning of the rock carvings at Baluachraig. £340 from Thistle and Broom.

If I were looking
for a special piece of jewelry for a romantic occasion, vintage would be my first choice. So much of today's design, though functional, misses the mark.

A romantic piece has history, mystery, and an emotional tone that speaks of your love.
This Victorian 14k rose gold bracelet, with 24k rose gold overlay is a magnificent example. $1,350 from Carol Lane Antiques.

Nothing like a Dane

Italic Henning Koppel for Georg Jensen sterling modernist heart-design pin, $525 from Carol Lane Antiques.

Perfect choice for a woman who would not wear the typical 'heart' jewelry, but who has a place in yours.

A locket is an especially romantic piece of jewelry, worn near the heart. This exquisite Victorian black enamel locket has a hand-etched design enhanced by tiny seed pearls, and comes on a 20-inch gold chain, $895 from BeladoraII. There's some minor wear to the enamel which to me just makes it a more elegant witness to a past century.

In the language of gems, each stone is associated with an emotion, and motifs carry messages. (See the International Colored Gemstone Association article, "The Language of Love in Gems and Jewels".)

Someone with a
modest budget and big heart could give a knot, symbol of strength in a relationship. Etsy seller thebeside, based in London, England, makes a striking knot ring in silver or gold plate, $240, perfect for the woman who likes bold pieces.

Isn't it romantic...

When someone who loves you gives you someone to love?

Or makes y
ou something delicious with his or her own hands?

Or surprises you with an unforgettable experience? On her birthday
, Sandra's husband gave her a parade!

What about spa visits? Pleasant and restorative they may be– but not romantic.

etaway weekend for two, kids in the kennel? Now you're talking.


mette said…
I just came from the stables to enjoy a cup of coffee and read your post. The puppy was so cute. Now something like that, would really catch me with surprise. I know, I know, we already have 2 dogs, and I surely know how much work that would mean to me, but still..My husband knows that he would not be able to buy me anything `material´ ( I have a strong like and dislike to things ). What really would catch me by surprise, would be, if he could devote entirely the xmas time for our own, small family, and turn his cellphone off.
Duchesse said…
metscan: The gift of one's full presence is essential if an occasion is to be memorable. I too have a strong like/dislike and do not view that as a reason why DH ought not to give me gifts, if he wishes. Occasionally I've requested an exchange but he has learned a lot about my likes over the years.
CompassRose said…
The only gifts any of my lovers have given me that I have loved, and kept, and used for years after the relationship was gone, are the practical ones.

My ex-husband gave me a few pieces of jewellery that were really beautiful and appropriate to my style, through our marriage. But apart from that, every single time I've been given a "romantic" gift, it's been a romantic gift for someone else -- something that I would never wear or enjoy in this lifetime (dainty gold jewellery, lacy negligees, girly frilly clothing items) -- and instead of pleasing me, they gave me a sad feeling that the giving partner would in fact prefer me to be a different kind of person.
Duchesse said…
CompassRose: *Any* gift needs to be given with the receiver's preferences and tastes in mind. Just because the gift is 'girly' does not make it right or romantic. If romance (and the person) depart, some women can wear/live with an item, others cannot. Oddly, I gave away clothing my ex gave me (a vintage silk kimono, cashmere sweater coat etc.) but kept some jewelry.
The puppy is of course my favourite but I don't really want a dog in a not-very-big flat on the top storey of a Montréal triplex, and I don't know how Renzo would react.

Duchesse, I'm glad you don't think a spa day or weekend is a romantic gift. Sure I like having my hair done or a deep cleaning of my face etc, but I get antsy in an "institute" for a long time. And it does somehow sound as if the partner is attempting to produce a new improved companion.

I have a friend who was THRILLED when her husband gave her an expensive knife, but one really has to know the person for that choice.

Neither of those boots would suit me (I like the black La Canadienne ones, but they are for someone taller, such as Duchesse) but I'd certainly like another model of boots by that brand - about the only somewhat attractive boots that resist our climate - I've had Pajar, but they are a bit clunky, and too heavy.
Fritinancy said…
Wonderful research, Duchesse--merci beaucoup! FYI, it's (not .com).
Northmoon said…
One of the best Christmas gifts I ever got from a man was a sawzall! I loved that he believed me when I said I wanted power tools. It showed that he saw the real me - a strong capable woman.

That being said, a nice piece of real gold or silver jewelry would also be appreciated!
Kristine said…
Lovely post, Duchess. As with so many things, romantic is in the eyes of the beholder. It all comes down to knowing the person you are buying for, which is often easier said than done. My ex-husband was an awful gift giver, primarily because he would give me items that he liked rather than considering what I like. Romantic gifts to me take into consideration what I like, conveys that I'm meaningful, special, to the gift giver. Such gifts often (but not always) show that the gift giver spent some effort on the gift, hence spent effort trying to please me. So even if I'm not crazy about the gift, it may still feel romantic to me if it were something that I knew the giver spent effort (meaning time & commitment rather than $).
Duchesse said…
Northmoon and Kristine: Yes, it is in the eye of the beholder. I have taught a number of men how to buy gifts and one of my first question is, "How do you want the gift 'read'?" (For example, a book is more impersonal than a piece of jewelry.)

I ask, "If the gift could talk on your behalf, would would you want it to say?" So yes, a sawzall says you are strong and capable.

I also say that if a woman is crazy in love she will see romance in a gift of office supplies.

A GF of mine received an MP3 player from a man with whom she was madly in love. She asked me what I thought; I said, "He is in like." I was not commenting on the value of the gift but the subtext. And he was.
Well Done said…
this should be required reading for every boyfriend, lover, husband.
Tiffany said…
My husband bought me lingerie for my birthday and I didn't think it was romantic at all. Not that it wasn't a nice set, but it was the wrong size, and the thought of having to spend hours in an underwear shop trying things on was enough to make me want to cry. I would rather books any day, even cookbooks. To me, it's most romantic when he buys me a book (usually a novel) just because he is thinking of me. But he did also buy me a pretty Tiffany ring for our anniversary this year, and that was very sweet and romantic ...
Duchesse said…
tiffany: For lingerie to be received with pleasure, it has to be the right size, style and fabric for the recipient. So many men just buy something and think, there, that's romantic! Even an exchange is dispiriting if the brand is wrong.

Well Done: I have a whole series for them, click on There Will Be Gifts in the menu bar at bottom of blog.
Anonymous said…
I have to disagree that receiving a book is unromantic.

I love buying my own jewelry, my own favourite perfume (of which I have several fav's), lingerie and spa visits are part of my regular routine.

However, when my husband tracks down some obscure vintage book that I have coveted for years and spoke of only briefly and presents that to me on Christmas morning (which he has done more than once over the last 30+ years), I find that incredibly romantic!

Although I will say his gift of my precious little Coco Chanel (Chocolate Miniature Poodle)2 years ago does override even that!
Frugal Scholar said…
I've been loving your vintage jewelry finds. Tonight I am going to receive the best gift of all--and on Chanukah, no less! My dear husband is going to sit with me at the computer while I talk through and enter my grades for problem students. It is my most-hated task. And since he doesn't ask the same of me, this is truly a labor of love on his part.
Duchesse said…
cK: I do not consider *all* books unromantic; it depends. One chosen only for it's best-selling ranking is not very romantic. A rare book is in a different class, I would say.

Fugal: A sweet, loving gift! Romantic gifts speak to the appreciation of the recipient as a romantic partner. As I said in the first para, romance is in the eye of the beholder.
Duchesse said…
Everyone, and no one in particular: A number of respondents, and I am not naming names, are not in agreement with post, asserting that various implements, items, and activities *are* romantic.

I assert that if your admirer would give the item to a client, service provider or mother in law, it is not romantic. Some women will read romance into a set of potholders, while others would toss them.
NancyDaQ said…
Good point Duchesse, romance is in the eye of the beholder.

DF did well this year. Ever practical, he bought me a set of luggage that I can pack for our travels. The inaugural trip is Christmas eve!
crunchycon said…
This post reminds me of the Christmas I was engaged, and my then-fiance presented me with a cordless mixer. I had no expectations of a diamond (we were just out of grad school and really too poor to get married), but I was a little less than gracious in my acceptance. To add insult to injury, he forgot my birthday completely a couple of days later. Despite these egregious sins, I kept him and 20 years later, we still joke about "THE mixer." I just have done some educating about what I might like for a gift over the years. He's still definitely a keeper.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Duchesse said…
Valentines day gifts: I deleted your comment because it has no reference to this post, and your link goes directly to a commercial site.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

The posts with the most