Your girlfriend wants to know you’re paying attention to her. And there’s no better way to do that than giving her a really great anniversary gift. But what, exactly, makes a great gift?
“The two main elements of a good gift are 1) something they wouldn’t think to buy themselves and 2) one that shows you’re listening or that you see them,” says Veronica DeSouza, WNYC and Gothamist’s Director of Digital News and Audience who also runs the excellent shopping newsletter buy, bitch! “ If someone is always DMing you with cool nail art on Instagram, take note of that for their birthday.”
This is a no-brainer, but in other words, pay close attention to the things your lady enjoys doing, the shows she likes watching, the takeout she likes ordering, the activities she likes participating in, and so forth. Don’t ignore the details. And if you think of a gift, put it in a note in your phone that you can return to when your anniversary rolls around.
You don’t have to spend oodles of money to impress her, either, as long as the gift answers the question she’s been wondering all year: Has my boyfriend been listening to me? And if you’re stumped on your own, here are some gift ideas that will knock her socks off and ensure you make it to the next anniversary.
Studs Pearl Earring Set
Jewelry can be tricky, so you either want to go for something sentimental, something classic, something trendy, or something that’s fairly low-stakes in terms of your spend. Studs hits the last two elements: it offers trendy earring sets for a reasonable price point (and they have frequent sales!). So while you might not be at the buying fancy jewelry phase of the relationship, a cool set from Studs can be a hit.
Quince Cashmere Set
Something soft and comfy is sure to make her happy. “One of my favorite recent gifts is this cashmere set from Quince,” de Souza says. “My mom got it for me for Christmas and I’ve been wearing it so much. It’s a great work from home outfit and even though I love a good sweatsuit, I wouldn’t have bought it for myself!”
Sure, you could give flowers. But flowers die within a week, and you’ve probably been there, done that. A succulent garden is a way to give something that lasts, and this one from Olive & Cocoa is beautiful. Plus, it’s easy to care for, which makes it a great gift if your gal doesn’t exactly have a green thumb.
Perfume is a gift that lasts, and it will also inevitably have good memories associated with it. “I love a gift that keeps giving,” says Ashley Hosmer, a Portland-based creator. “Perfume discovery kits allow you to gift something personal like fragrance while also allowing the recipient to have fun with it — they can try different scents and then pick the one they like the most.” Nette is a sustainable candle company that recently launched fragrances — and they offer discovery sets. “Bonus points for including a card that says you’ll purchase them a full-size of the winning scent,” says Hosmer.
AirBnB offers experience gifts, including cooking, drawing, meditation classes, and more. And you don’t have to go anywhere to take them. “I tend to think experiences make for much more memorable gifts than objects,” says Emilie Friendlander, co-host of the podcast The Culture Journalist. “Listen to your [girlfriend] telling you about their week and try to pick up on clues. Maybe they’re trying to learn how to cook, so you buy them a cooking class; maybe they’re getting into basketball, so you get them tickets to a game.” Perhaps she’s expressed interest in learning how to cook Indian food; There’s a class for that. Is she a coffee nut? There’s a class you could take together where you can learn all there is to know about Colombian coffee. The best part of it all is that you put thought into it, and you get to spend time together. Your girlfriend will love that.
Artifact Uprising Frame
Hosmer suggests going for something sentimental for the people you know best, and certainly your girlfriend fits that description. (If she doesn’t, that’s certainly some food for thought.) A framed photo is a simple gift, but it shows her that you care. Artifact’s frames are sleek and stylish, and with their service, you can sort out a gift using pictures you have on your camera roll.
If your girlfriend is into astrology, zodiac-themed gifts are perfect for her. Better yet, it shows that you actually know her birthday and don’t think astrology is silly — and, of course, that you’ve been listening. There are plenty of astrology-themed gifts on Etsy, but these necklaces in particular are pretty and dainty, and they can be layered with other jewelry. They also come in different materials, so if she doesn’t wear much yellow gold, you can go for silver, rose gold, or white gold. Picking the right metal is another way to show you’re paying attention.
StubHub Gift Certificate
You might want to go to a concert or a sporting event or a show together, but you don’t know exactly which one. A StubHub gift certificate will let her choose. “I think experiences are often overlooked,” says de Souza. “A nice dinner at their favorite restaurant, some fancy cocktails, concert tickets. The gift ends up being a nice shared experience and time spent hanging out.”
A Cocktail Making Class
Are you sensing a theme? Time spent together is always a great gift, and you benefit too. Uncommon Goods has tons of experience-based gifts, including art classes, mixology classes, astrology classes, and more. This hits on sentimentality and leverages things that she’s really interested in.
If your girlfriend can’t get enough of audio books and listened to Prince Harry’s Spare the moment it came out, consider an audible subscription. You can select from one to 12 month subscriptions, which makes this a flexible gift. She’ll love listening to all of her favorite celebrity memoirs this way.
Brooklinen Silk Pillowcase
A silk pillowcase might not be the most obvious gift, but it’s subtly impressive. It imparts a little bit of luxury (because who doesn’t want to sleep on something that feels as good as silk?) and it’s smoothing for her hair, too. Hosmer suggests elevating your gifts by adding some personalization. While Brooklinen doesn’t offer this service, you could order it, take it to a tailor, and have her initials added.