Privilege Blog

Real Life Presents For Women From Bouncing Babies All The Way To Elders

Presents. We High WASPs we call them presents, even though the word “Present” doesn’t sound as good with “Guide,” as the word “Gift” does.  Let’s think about the women we might be giving to of all ages. For me, that means from 84 years to 5 months.




For my mother: Alzheimer’s appreciates repetition. The concept of a uniform takes on new meaning, supporting self-recognition. Without much thought, we packed Mom’s striped shirts for the move. Now we stick with that design to help her orient. Ease of dressing is also critical, someone is always helping. I’ve found the petite washable crepe pants from Eileen Fisher work well here (Mom’s short), as do button-front tunics. Shirt: Brooks Brothers, on sale. Pants: by Eileen Fisher at Nordstrom,

For my daughter: Medical students in Southern California need cute backpacks to carry their papers and even cuter sunglasses to protect and enhance their baby blues. Backpack: Vera Bradley. Sunglasses: Ray-Ban.

For my stepmother: At a guess, she wants nothing. And yet I would love to get her a piece of jewelry, the kind that’s really art in disguise. Previously-owned Hermès via The RealReal. I think I quite like the tarnish. Or, as she may have recently told me, a vase for a photography prop. Did you know Calvin Klein offers vases from a ceramicist? Me neither. But this one is less expensive and still pure of line.

A topper for my working sisters: In order to find affordable pieces nice enough for work, I’d scour the department store sale sites like Off5th, Nordstrom Rack, and Neiman Marcus’s Last Call, looking for a lucky size. Lots of Friends and Family deal this week. Or maybe I’d just splurge. Cardigan: Eileen Fisher at Nordstrom. Cashmere, by the way. A less expensive version that comes in multiple colors, in Tencel, here. The jacket is by Akris Punto, seriously discounted here. We always want our jackets to give like a cardigan, our cardigans to impress like a jacket.

Jewelry for my teenaged nieces: Something simple, a little edgy, but not remotely trashy.  Silver branch necklace via Blue Nile. Or maybe one of these.

Books for the school-aged children of my friends abroad: Reading levels vary widely at this age. I discovered Mo Willem in my volunteer teaching. How does he write so much humor and empathy into so few words? Today I Will Fly! (An Elephant and Piggie book). And surely any six-year old girl, or any six-year old anyone, ought to know Pippi Longstocking. I remember finding it very scary, that she lived alone, and wondering how she bore it. And yet she did, with good cheer.

Baby present for a little girl: Handsome in Pink makes gender-agnostic baby and toddler clothes. If a middle-aged woman can wear a biker jacket, surely a baby girl, or a baby boy, for that matter. should have this biker onesie.

Presents for a real life lived, for me: A throw blanket for sofa writing (or maybe this one, less expensive), Crocs for muddy gardening on sale here.

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17 Responses

    1. @Mary anne, Thank you. I don’t subscribe to giving “gifts” that aren’t something someone wants the rest of the year;). If you want it, you want it, doesn’t matter if it’s boring, doesn’t matter that it’s a holiday.

  1. Very thoughtful gifts. I’ve been doing a bit of holiday shopping on Etsy – wooden piggy banks for grandkids with their name on them, things like that. But, I’m buying very few things in general. Going to be giving contributions to causes in honor of some of the people.

    About your mom…I did very similar stuff with my mom, uniforms. Also, since we took away her real jewelry, she loved loved getting glitzy stuff from J. Crew, etc.
    I was shocked at how much it delighted her, and if it got lost, broken, whatever – didn’t matter much.

    1. @Kathy, Kathy, I love the idea of replacing real with glitzy…Very thoughtful so that pretties will still be a part of one’s life…In years to come, should my health decline to such a place, I hope my family will remember shoes for me…smile

  2. We’re doing minimal presents this year, lots of budget constraints involved in our small-babies-part-time-work stage of life (and bloody Trump is sending up mortgage interest rates, even all the way over here in Australia – just what our budget doesn’t need!)

    So mainly handmade, by me, bleary-eyed and weary-boned on the sofa, after my two year gets to sleep but before the 10-month old wakes up for his midnight feed. I’m just finishing Christmas stockings for this year’s crop of babies; some cast concrete and gold foil ring bowls for various elders are done; amigurumi toys for bigger kids remain outstanding.

    In other words, I look with longing upon your present-giving largesse! One day it may be our turn to be generously bountiful again – and may we do it with as much style and thoughtfulness as you!

  3. We are keeping it low key this year but I do like the tarnish on that Hermes scarf! What I am finding fun is choosing gifts for my 3 year old grandson.

  4. You have a great list here…I like how you consider each recipient. That’s what I try to do too.
    Its very snowy, icy and cold here today and tomorrow we are supposed to get an even bigger dump of snow!
    I think I will make moms’ rum ball recipe tomorrow if I am going to be stuck inside all day!
    Hope your Mom enjoyed her birthday celebration.

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