Ask the Readers: What Are the Best Gifts for Women?

By Ashley Jacobs on 9 October 2012 (Updated 16 October 2012) 72 comments

Congratulations to Monique, Marybeth, and Lynda for winning this week's contest!

Editor's Note: For the next few weeks, we will be doing a gift giving series on Ask the Readers and will focus on the best gifts for certain demographics! Ask the Readers: What are the Best Gifts for Women? is part two of our series!

Finding the perfect gift for your mom, sister, or girlfriends can be tough. Inevitably, every time I have to buy my mom a gift, I always end up getting her a Starbucks or Nordstroms gift card. It's easy to fall into the trap of getting the ladies in your life the same thing when you know she will use what you buy her. However, it can be good to change things up and get her something unexpected.

What are the best gifts for women? Men, what are the best gifts you've ever given your mom, sister, wife, or girlfriend? Jewelry? A gift certificate to her favorite restaurant or coffee shop? Ladies, what is the best gift you've ever been given?

Tell us what you think the best gifts for women are and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below. One commenter will win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

For extra entries:

  • You can tweet about our giveaway for an extra entry. Also, our Facebook fans can get an extra entry too! Use our Rafflecopter widget for your chance to win one of the other two Amazon Gift Cards:
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If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, October 15th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after October 15th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Tim

Spa day...I know this is not frugal or original - but my wife loves a day at the spa. Lunch, reading a magazine, no kids, getting her "treatments", etc. I make sure get gets to do that at least once a year, frugal or not.

Guest's picture
Monica Platz

The best gift you can give a woman is something from the heart that you've thought out and know that she likes -- perfume, jewelry, a massage spa day.

Guest's picture
Christie

Whatever SHE wants! Today is my birthday and I love the fact that people shop off my Amazon list, since the things I put on there are really wanted and well thought out. Guessing what you think I'll like doesn't always work.

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

Happy Birthday, Christie! My birthday today also!

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KF

The best gift for women is anything that has thought and effort behind it. Remembering an important event and paying tribute to it is always nice. Something as simple as taking her to dinner at the restaurant you had your first date.

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Sarah

I love it when the boy buys me dresses that are both flattering and versatile (wear to work and out afterwards). This year, he's buying me the Heartbreaker Fashion Super Spy dress for Christmas. We're at that point in our relationship where I send him both a link to what I want for Christmas/birthday and a coupon code. Valentine's and anniversaries are still surprises, generally.

Guest's picture
Patrick

My wife enjoys small luxuries, such as massages, mani/pedicures and fine dining. Gift cards for any of these are always a hit. Also in the experience category, concert tickets are appreciated too.

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Mel

One of my favorite gifts to give is a little gift pack with a new book, their favorite candy, and a gift card to their favorite salon. OR tickets to something we can do together - that's always a great gift.

Guest's picture
caitlin

I know the best gift given to me was my favorite book. A guy I knew saw me reading all the time and caught on to my favorite author. On my birthday he gave me a small wrap package. It turned out to be my favorite book by that author. It showed that this guy was taking time to pick out the details about me.

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Brenda Faulkner

My husband shops as though he has never met me - I sould love to occassionally have him take me to dinner and a movie!

Guest's picture
emily

Nice running or work out clothes/gear. That stuff gets expensive so it's always great to get it as gifts!

Guest's picture
gala

time alone. take the kids & go away for a whole day.

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Bianca

I think about what they're passionate about and find unique gifts related to that. For example, my mom is a big supporter of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I look for rare St. Jude items on eBay that she can add to her display case. I've given her everything from old books about the hospital to Precious Moments figurines designed specifically for St. Jude, and she's loved every item a thousand times more than she'd love a gift card to the mall or new make-up.

Guest's picture
Betty

For me, the best gifts are the ones I get 'just because'; not for a holiday etc. If my husband comes home with a pair of socks he thought I'd like from KMart, it means more than a diamond on my birthday.

Guest's picture
Betty

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

Guest's picture
andi k.

My birthday is in the fall, so I always like getting a new hat/glove set. I knit for a lot of other people, but never get a chance to make anything for myself. Even though the items are store bought I like having something new to wear.

Guest's picture
Angie

The best gift is one that shows you thought specifically about her. The present doesn't have to cost a dime either. It could be a day of help in the yard, or taking her kids for an afternoon, while she relaxes in a bubble bath. You could bring her favorite lunch, the bubbles, a nice candle, and a new magazine. If you are her partner, how about a massage, cook dinner, do a dreaded household chore, spend a day shopping with her (no complaining!!!!) or anything that help her. Whatever you do, do not get her a tool or appliance, UNLESS she has asked for it. If that's the case, go a step further and get something nice to complement it, such as new plants to go with garden tools.

The most important thing is to LISTEN to her and HEAR what she really wants!

Guest's picture
Sydney

The best gift I ever received probably cost $20, but a lot of thought. One or two weeks into dating a certain fellow, I brought him to our crazy downtown farmer's market. A million items to behold, we stop at a small-time photographers table, where I habitually and instinctively flip through his portfolio book to my favorite shot: a busy street shot in Rome, and in the foreground an itsy bitsy nun, dressed in pale blue, eating an ice cream cone, peaceful amongst the commotion, and indulging. That was that, next table, next goods and fresh fruit to ogle over. The best present I ever received was on my birthday, six months down the road: the photo, framed, from the certain fellow who had stuck around for the long haul. We hadn't looked at that photo since, nor was another peep even spoken about it. We hadn't been to the farmer's market together since then; I didn't even remember I liked the photo! But now, no doubt, I loved that photo. The gift made me cry tears out of my eyeballs! (Which is a good thing, men :) ) So my advice: not to buy a photograph of a nun eating ice cream, but to pay attention to a little something that the female in your life expresses love for, be it your wife or your wonderful coworker. Who knows, it might even cost ya only a buck or two- icing on da cake. So open those eyeballs and ears and get to miniature mental note-taking! Happy frugal shopping everyone!

Guest's picture
Kate

Well, this obviously isn't for everyone, but I LOVE a sephora gift card. Makeup can really feel like a splurge, so it's nice to be able to get something new and fun without having to worry too much about what it costs.

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Rusty

I would say a massage. I think every woman would want that.

Guest's picture
Angela

The best gifts in my opinion, are personalised ones. Think photos of you together on objects, or a photo of a place you went together. I've made photo pictures on mugs, coasters, pack of cards, mouse-mats and jigsaws.
Some of my favourite gifts I have given to the wonderful women in my life are;
A painting I've made for them on canvass
A treasure hunt for my mum around the house with maths puzzles and riddles.
Adopting a cow (this could be done with all animals and also donating to children in someone's name)
A hand written poem in a frame (I've also made a bookmark)
A hand made bird house for the garden
I ''bought a star'' you have it named after someone.
A CD of a relevant playlist.

Other gifts to buy are:-
Herbs and plants(a big deal in my house)
How to make kits (jewellery)
Spa days
Days to the zoo or theme parks
A garden gnome :)
Paying for planting a tree on behalf of someone

Well there are some ideas, I guess it depends on what the person is like!

Happy hunting!

Guest's picture
Paul Moyer

A weekend at a Bed and Breakfast . . . . . . A great gift for the woman in your life is to slow down, get away from the fast pace life we all seem to lead anymore.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

I would second the "thought and effort" criteria that have been mentioned already. The most amazing gift that I ever received from my husband was a necklace and matching earrings that he gave me for my birthday and Christmas.

They were amazing gifts because on our first date, he noticed that when he mentioned that he had a gun, it made me uncomfortable (I didn't say anything about it, he could just see that I was uncomfortable with it). So he sold the gun and used the money to buy the jewelry for me. I'm not a huge fan of jewelry in general, but that jewelry is special to me.

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Lori P

Women love gifts where they feel pampered. So perfume, jewelry, spa day, chocolate, and a good book.

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Therese

The best gift would be one in which you took the time to think of her interests and custom-made or bought it with specifically her in mind.

Guest's picture
lori

gift cards

Guest's picture
Darren

An apron

Guest's picture

SO glad you switched to Rafflecopter! Best gifts for women are things that she wouldn't buy for herself but pamper her.

Guest's picture
JMc

Here are the gifts that women appear to appreciate most:

Flowers, Chocolate, a gift trip to a Spa, a Romantic weekend getaway, a nice Dinner out, a boyfriend, husband or significant other who regularly vacuums the house, cleans the bathrooms and makes the dinner at least a couple of times a week.

The secret is to do some or all of this without being nagged to do it. Just do it.

Guest's picture
MELISSA HANSSON

My favorite gifts for other women are very luxurious, but small purchases, like an expensive hand cream or soap or stationery item. I love when people buy things for me that I wouldn't splurge on for myself.

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Deb

Candles, Bath and Body works, flowers, gc to places they like, something extra nice for the home, a day off, etc.

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steph

depends on the woman - but something significant and personal

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Andrea

Last birthday my significant other gave me a bread stone for baking bread and pizza. He even remembered the brand and model I wanted. I like useful gifts. I've used this gift every week since I received it! It is possibly the best gift I've ever received since it enables me to further enjoy one of my hobbies and saves me money from buying takeout pizza.

Guest's picture
Lynda

anything to do with massages, the spa/facials, or a day off cooking =)

Guest's picture
Jackson

I always used to agonize over what gift to give my wife. She never really liked the clothes or jewelry I bought her. One day she said to just give her a card with money in it. This way, she can buy what she really wants and I don't have to spend a lot of time trying to find the "right" gift for her.
Yes, I know it's not romantic, but it's practical and works for us. We've been together for 13 years.

Guest's picture
Terri

A great gift to me includes time spent together. It doesn't have to cost anything like simple help in the yard or it could be a day or weekend trip somewhere.

Guest's picture
Guest

I like practical gifts--gift cards for my favorite places like Target, Costco. Nothing exciting or fancy, but I love them.

Guest's picture
Guest

The best gift to give to my Mother or Mother-in-Law is time spent with them. I usually try to personalize it and add a touch of our presence. For example for this past Mother's Day my husband and I took both mothers out on Mother's Day for dinner so they wouldn't have to cook.

In the past I've also taken my Mother-in-Law out to tea - as she's British and we know that's something she enjoys - for no special occasion other than to spend quality time with her. I've also put a lot of photo albums full of 1 year's worth of photos for her, in chronological order. I personalized by finding a nice photo frame that had writings of "Nanna" - as this is what she is known to all her grandchildren. She loves personal gifts.

For my own mother I knew she wanted - more than needed - a new purse. So originally I surprised her by picking a Coach bag... although not to my surprise she didn't like it. So I returned it and took her to a Coach shop with me and she got to choose one she liked. As children, we usually look to see if there's something around the house that may need updating. Or if there's a trip my parents are planning on going, we'll contribute money towards their trip to help out with expenses. We also know she likes to be pampered so we've gotten her gift certificates at spas for massages and facials. My next surprise for my folks is to take them to an overnight out of town trip to a very relaxing B&B. I've already got the gift card, and just need to let them choose the weekend... Hopefully it'll work with our schedule! I think it's best to personally take her there and enjoy time spent so you both get to enjoy!

I think even if you get gift cards, you can make it more personalize by getting it from one of her favorite stores or restaurants. Nowadays I think the parents enjoy time and your company more than the materialistic stuff, after all they usually have everything they need!

Guest's picture
kristina

Cookbooks!

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

Something indulgent that I wouldn't normally buy and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money - scented candles, hand cream, etc.

Guest's picture
KathC

If she likes to travel, that makes a good gift. Even if it's just a day trip to some place not too far away, a day out with a nice lunch is perfect. If she collects specific things, buy something for her collection. I collect Pop-up books, and I love it when someone gives me one that I don't have. I am also at that age where I don't really need "stuff" anymore, so home repairs, painting & landscaping help by my grown children are always welcome gifts for me.

Guest's picture

The best gifts are from the heart. It is always a wonderful feeling knowing that it was unexpected and yet simple. Most women including myself love jewelry. The one important thing would just be to stay within your budget. One of the best gifts I received was a Hello Kitty watch with diamonds all over. It was a complete surprise because it was unexpected. It came all the way from Japan.

Guest's picture
Molly

A perfect gift would be something for just me. My favorite kind of candy, body wash, gift card. As a mom and wife do not usually buy these things for herself!

Guest's picture
Monique

A pretty scarf. It doesn't mess up her hair, will fit and will get a lot of use. If the woman in your life might have skin allergies, stick to cotton or silk. Pick a color that matches her winter coat. It is a thoughtful, useful gift.

Guest's picture
Sandra

One year I got my closest girlfriends personalized stationery through an online printing business like Vistaprint. It was classy and individualized, and it showed them I put a lot of thought and effort into their gifts. They all loved it. Plus it wasn't that expensive -- though you have to make sure to pay a little extra so they don't put tacky Vistaprint logos on the backs of the card. I also ordered more high quality card stock and put it in a pretty box with a bow and a nice pen.

But the BEST gift I ever got was a photo album from my husband that he had put together chronicling our relationship from first attraction to present tense! It was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen. But I know that you can't do something like that every year!

Guest's picture
Shawn

If someone takes the time to search your pinterest for a "wish list" board or amazon wish list, that is awesome.

Some favorite specific ideas are a magazine subscription... you get a little treat every month that way and usually are inexpensive. I'm personally hoping for a subscription to DIY magazine.

I keep a little list on my phone of ideas throughout the year for people as I think of them, and watch for them to be on sale.

Guest's picture
DeeDee

Something you know the person would enjoy and wouldn't purchase for on their own or something that creates a memory.

Guest's picture
cwaltz

I think a lot depends on the woman. I'd love a day at the spa or if my family planned a special activity to do together. However, I know people who would probably balk at someone spending their money to give them a day at the salon. And I know people who would want alone time as a gift.

Guest's picture
Raina

When asked by family what I'd like, I've always told them that they can't go wrong with jewelry. I guess a gift card to a clothing store would be nice as well. "Traditional gifts" that I DON'T like to receive are: perfume (I have my own perfumes which are my taste and last for several months a bottle), makeup or bath items (you have your favorite products and brands and don't like to switch from those, especially if you have sensitive skin), and candles (similar to perfume, I have so many which are my own taste and will last me forever).

Guest's picture
momkeywest

The best gift would be a personal care treat - facial or manicure, massage or pedicure. And if money is tight, well, a home made card promising Grandma a back rub or a foot massage would be heavenly. Many women are in the caregiver role - taking care of spouse, grandchildren and helping their adult children. They put others first so a little self nurturing is apprciated.

Guest's picture
Elena

I think every woman is different, but I personally like flowers and something romantic like personalized photo frame.

Guest's picture
Elena

I like you on facebook

Guest's picture

I usually look for things that my wife will usually not do for herself, like a massage or spa treatment. Gift cards for things like coffee are always good too.

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Lisa Under the Redwoods

Personally, I like earrings. They don't have to be expensive, but I like to have a variety to choose from. Plus, they don't take up much space in my small house.

Guest's picture
Natalie

I tend to give my lady friends and my mom gifts that they wouldn't give themselves: spa days, new makeup brushes, a fancy wine. It doesn't have to be pricy- just something that seems like a treat & with lots of thought.

Guest's picture
anita

best gift is something handmade (dinner, a card drawn in markers/crayons/etc, etc) it comes from the heart and it takes time to make

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Mami2jcn

I love just getting a break from cooking, cleaning, etc. That's the greatest gift! And a massage would be nice, too.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

Most women just want something that they will like and use, and know that the person put some effort into trying to get them something just for them.

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Liisa Rettedal

My favorite gifts are usually something I saw out and mentioned that I loved, but didn't buy for whatever reason. When a loved one remembers and goes back to get it, it is such a treat and a pleasant surprise! For a woman I don't know as well, flowers never fail to delight. Or gift cards! :)

Guest's picture
NJJ

I think the best gift for a women is something thoughtful and something that she's interested in like clothes handbags jewelry or even romance--a surprise picnic, walk or special getaway. To me gifts don't always have to be bought just well though out!

Guest's picture
Theresa

The best gift is something that she actually wants! I remember years ago, my late husband was convinced by the women he worked with that I should get a spa day as a gift. I'm not a "spa day" type of girl - never was, but they had convinced him it was a one-size-fits-all gift. I thanked him profusely for the sweet thought, and asked if it was OK if we did something else. He was relieved, and we had a wonderful day together instead.

Guest's picture
Cherie

The best present my husband ever gave me was a kayak! He knew it was something I'd have fun with but would never buy for myself.

Guest's picture

A gift card for coffee or massages would be my preference.

Guest's picture
Scoutmaster

The BEST gifts are from the heart....
It can be a day off from life to do whatever you want,
a handmade gift personalized just for them,
Treats like a home cooked dinner,
If you have more $$$ than time, A gift she really, really wants but can't afford.
(I personally would love a hammock tent!!! HINT HINT!!)
Even simple gifts have touched me in the past...A jar of homemade salsa, basket of organic fruit that they grew, That item that they found at a yard sale that I wanted that they found first, only to turn around & give it to me later.

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Susan D.

One of the best gifts I ever got was a tool box and some good quality handtools from my spouse. I could never find the particular hammer or screwdriver I wanted to use in my husband's messy shop in the garage. I've had it for over twenty five years now, and still use it frequently--it outlasted our marriage. Not romantic, perhaps, but a really thoughtful gift.

Guest's picture
Jan j

I love a big bunch of my favorite flowers. A massage gift with it is very nice!

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Kathleen

I would love to receive a thoughtful letter - yes, actual handwriting on paper. The paper could be anything from nice stationary to "found" paper (a favorite Chinese restaurant placemat, a vintage postcard, or a local advertisement for something unique, for example). Handwritten letters carry an energy that emails and texts can't begin to touch, and we can reread them when we need to reconnect to what matters.

Guest's picture
Sara N

Gift cards to a favorite clothing store are always welcome, that way women can pick out what they like.

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Chris

Singing and playing (on acoustic guitar) an original, heartfelt song in a romantic place when it's just the two of you.

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Barrett

The gift of TIME is a great present. It can be personal time for the woman to do something she wants to do or to relax and destress. It can be time that is given by others to free her up by taking on a chore or it is time that you share just being together.

Guest's picture
Carmen

Just like gifts for men, I think it all depends on the woman. Me? I'd love anything related to yarn, knitting/crocheting or some other craft supply.