The Season: Gifts for your women friends

If you want to give a beloved woman a holiday (or just-because) treat, a good hopping-off point is to think of what she would like but would be unlikely to buy for herself. In today's window, objects of delight that are not staples already in her drawer.

Note: I have written "women friends", but many of the suggestions would please others, too.

Around her neck

A detachable collar tarts up a crew neck, transforms a dress. This is a quirky accessory you don't see in many shops. 

Clockwise from upper left:

1. Antique handmade Irish lace collar, from Etsy seller banjoface; price, $CDN 60

2. Crochet cotton collar, Arket; sale price, $US 24

3. Ganni brown leather collar; price, $CDN 225 at Ssense

4. Ruth Bader Ginsberg detachable pearl bead collar; price, $CDN 76 from Etsy seller UkrsaCraft. Because, we need her example of forthright clarity more than ever.

On her feet

Sprightly socks are often a bit pricey, so they feel like special-treat gifts.

Left: Luxe legs: cashmere ribbed leg warmers from Brora; as they point out, these add warmth without stretching out boots or shoes, but also, because cashmere socks don't wear well (though are divine as bed socks), these last much longer. Price, $CDN 200. Shown in port, also available in black.

Upper right: Hansl from Basel socks are always covetable; these feature cavorting rabbits. The Autumn Crew is a cotton/nylon/wool blend for  a woman's foot up to size 9.5 US. Price, $US 30. For larger sizes, check the men's selection, which includes whimsical patterns.

Lower right: Good buy: A 5-pack of brightly Nordic socks (shown, three from the "Svea" set), available in two size ranges. Price, $US 35 from

For the friend who receives overnight guests 


Give her a big jar of homemade cinnamon roll mix and packets of ground cinnamon, pecans, and confectioner's sugar, so she can make cinnamon rolls in a flash. When guests rise to the scent of something sweet and yeasty in the oven, the day begins auspiciously. 

She could also use the mix to make bread rolls, which can render diners oblivious to whatever else is on the table.

The site also links to a Cinnabon clone, which takes a few more ingredients (sour cream and cream cheese) for the icing. Cannot even think about assembling that mix (no judgement!)? Order her a bag of Zoe Ford Speedy Cinnamon Rolls, and it looks like you could use one, too.

For the sweater-mender

Darning moth holes is not quite so sorrowful with an Edwardian silver thimble from Etsy seller CuriocityGB; price, $CDN 45. If s/o, borrow the idea; similar thimbles are available on Etsy and on antique dealers' sites. 

Another idea, or an addition to the thimble: Flora Collingwood-Norris' new book, "Visible Creative Mending for Knitwear".

For the traveller or commuter

The Secrid mini-wallet protects up to 8 cards in an RIFD case, safeguarding against electronic theft.  Price, $CDN 98 from Bergo.

For her rough year

Each of us has a friend for whom the year has been a trial. When we cannot offer a hug in person, a comforting body oil can stand in till you get there. A versatile "dry oil" is light enough to be instantly absorbed by the rough-skin areas, especially heels and cuticles.

Yes, she could use good old baby or coconut oil, but this is a little luxury and an excellent product: L'Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil; price, $US 50 for 100ml. Another good choice: Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse.

My gift-giving behaviour has changed with the advent of the pandemic. Women friends and I once exchanged presents—with an emphasis on chocolate and shortbread—but around 2000, decided to give to charities instead. Then came the covid sequestration; without any real discussion most have spontaneously returned to giving a personal gift.

Philanthropy continues, and not solely via organizations. We know those who are financially insecure. Quietly, and at times anonymously, we are including them in our sphere of caring. Recently, I saw a woman step out of a posh bakery with a croissant and a coffee, cross the street, and offer that to a man sitting on church steps, wrapped in a blanket. She then handed him a small carton.

The look on his face was so appreciative that I had to know what this was. She said it was a box of hearing aid batteries. She passed him routinely and noticed he wore them.

Sonya, a retiree, has found an unusual way to give. She has begun "giftie doggie walking" for several households on her street, from now to spring. She met people at the nearby dog park, and heard how busy they are. A naturally early riser, she takes the daybreak shift and considers that she's making three new friends: a boxer, a terrier, and a big mixed-breed. 

Who's a good girl?


The Guardian also has a series on darning, mending and similar repairs. (just one example). I did some on a lovely red pullover my late mother had knit. I'm thrilled that at least some people are valuing such garments.

I admire the handwork in those collars, but they wouldn't suit me - I prefer scarves.

I was heartened by the church step story, as I'm still distressed by a homeless Indigenous woman dying of cold in the city centre...
Jane in London said…
Thoughtful and nifty ideas there, Duchesse. I heartily endorse the suggestion of a bottle of Huile Prodigieuse: I'm currently using the floral- scented one (given to me as a gift) and it is divine. Every woman should have a bottle :) There seems to be nothing you can't use it for - and it's my favourite hair product for beating the damp weather frizz!

Jane in London
Ms. Liz said…
I too endorse the suggestion of a bottle of Huile Prodigieuse as a gift. This product is divine! So useful and the fragrance is heavenly. I am using the floral version at present. I love to mix a couple of squirts with any body moisturizer to help with the "winter itch" of dry skin.
Wendy said…
Thanks for this post. You always have great ideas for lovely, thoughtful gifts that aren’t over-the-top.
I’ve not worn collars since my teens, but I have been eyeing some on, a one-woman shop. They’re made of a wool blend, I think, and in some unusual colors. (Not sure if that’s a good thing or not?) Anyway, they tie on and are reversible, which seems so practical. Their shape is unique and I can’t find the words to describe…

The posts with the most