Finding a gift for the woman in your life—whether that's a spouse, sister, mother or co-worker—isn't easy. There are plenty of products to choose from, of course, but too many are items that might seem like a good idea initially, only to be met with a semitepid response when the gift is opened.
While the perfect gift really all depends on the person you're buying for, we spoke with gift experts about what items women really want this year. Here's what they suggested.
—By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 9 Dec. 2013
It's hard to go wrong with jewelry—or personalization. And this necklace from high-end jewelry designer Posh Mommy fits the bill. Julie Kenney, founder of The Gifting Experts and a celebrity gifting insider, says this piece "celebrates life's most treasured moments with the style and luxury" and calls it "a style that carries across generations."
Amazon has a well-established foothold in the eReader space, but its latest effort is miles beyond anything it has done before. It offers an incredibly sharp screen, a built-in light for nighttime reading and, for Amazon Prime members, a huge collection of free "loaner" books. The battery life is equally impressive, lasting for weeks, depending on usage. This second generation of the Paperwhite integrates Goodreads for a social experience and turns pages faster.
The Goldworm sisters—Samantha and Dawn—first made their mark at 2009's Fashion Week in New York, bringing scents to the runway. Their other endeavors include making personalized scents for hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, as well as celebrities like Lady Gaga. Now you can bring some of that home with these five candles, which range from "A Forgotten Memory" to "A Vivid and Wild Beauty." New York stylist and personal shopper Natalie Decleve recommends them, calling the candles "subtle and unique."
There are a plethora of beauty products on the market, but the Mia 2 has won raves and is smaller and lighter than its predecessor, making it easy to travel with. It comes in a variety of prints and colors. And it's one of Kenney's go-to gift items. "Clarisonic goes beyond cleansing by using sonic technology to gently yet deeply cleanse pores of environmental toxins, makeup and bacteria without abrasion or harsh chemicals," she says.
Material goods look nice under the tree, but let's face it: It's easy to give a bad gift, even when you have expert advice. Sometimes the best gifts aren't the ones you wrap up in a big bow; it's time spent together. This could mean anything from tickets to the theater or symphony to just a nice dinner out. This time of year is typically full of good opportunities, such as "The Nutcracker" or road versions of popular Broadway shows (assuming you're not near New York or London).
Believe it or not, there's science backing up this gift idea. In an upcoming study, Stanford doctoral candidate Cindy Chan and Wharton marketing professor Cassie Mogilner noted that "people who receive experiential gifts ... feel more connected to their gift giver than those who receive material gifts, regardless of whether the gift is consumed together. The connecting power of experiential gifts stems from the emotion that is evoked. Giving experiential gifts is thus identified as a highly-effective form of pro-social spending."
Blending vibrant colors and gold-plated bronze, this bracelet draws from Turkish and Mexican influences and is a favorite among image consultants. "Handmade in Istanbul, these bright bracelets are great stacked or worn alone for a pop of color," says New York stylist and personal shopper Natalie Decleve.
There are more than 8,500 fragrances on the market, which can make it tough to pick the best one. Preferences vary by individual, of course, but Nasreen Rehmat, owner of Seattle's boutique Parfumerie Nasreen, says one of the hottest perfumes for her customers these days is House of Sillage due to both its fragrances—gourmand, fresh and floral—and the unique packaging of the scents. "The fragrances evoke feminine sensuality and engage each wearer in mysterious ways," she says.
We're all beaten down by stress on a daily basis, but taking time for ourselves is a luxury many people can't afford. While a full day at the spa may be out of your price range, odds are you can find a massage studio that has reasonable rates nearby. Beyond easing the sore muscles of your recipient, it may also help them manage anxiety, sleep better and even boost their immunity.
Swedish massages are the most popular, but you might want to try something less commonplace, such as a Hot Stone massage or a massage with aromatherapy. One trend that's on the rise these days, while not technically massage, is Reiki, a new-age healing method first developed by a Japanese Buddhist in 1922. Many massage facilities offer this service as an add-on to a traditional session.
Retailer Red Envelope has created an empire out of producing luxury gifts for budget-conscious shoppers. This bag, as the name implies, is ideal for women who practice yoga, but it also is handy for trips to the beach, park or other locales.Gifting Experts founder Kenney notes it's "roomy enough to handle all of her gym essentials with a handy adjustable yoga mat carrier" and "will last for years to come."
Price: Varies ... wildly
Whether it's a long weekend away or a world cruise, every woman needs to escape now and then. Although your budget will likely determine the destination, there are a few burgeoning travel trends for girl getaways, according to The Travel Channel. Adventure seekers might try a scuba-diving camp, like the one hosted by San Diego–based Scuba Diver Girls, while foodies may enjoy a culinary trip such as Epitourean's Edible Destinations. There are even luxury camping destinations—dubbed Glamping—such as Moose Creek Ranch near Jackson Hole and Maui Retreat on Hawaii, some of which come with tentlike structures that include beds and DVD players.