By: Wael Abdelgawad
Can’t decide what to get your wife for Eid, or your anniversary, or her birthday?
Why is gift-giving so hard for men? Maybe it’s a part of the mystery that women represent to us. We don’t always understand how they think, or what moves them.
When it comes to gift-giving, at least, here’s a big hint for you: listen.
Are you waiting for the hint? No, that was the hint. Listen.
Women will tell you what they want, if you pay attention. Next time you’re passing a shop window and she says, “Oh, look at those shoes, those are lovely,” make a note of it. Next time you’re watching a travel show and she says, “Wouldn’t it wonderful to see Niagara Falls someday?”, pay attention. Women drop hints like this all the time. And when I say make a note of it, I mean literally. Keep a small notebook in a private place, and every time she drops a little hint, write it down. That way you’ll never be short of gift ideas.
If you’re the average Ahmed who can’t be bothered with all that, and now you find yourself in a bind, here are some gift ideas that most women would love. I’ll start off with the ones that cost nothing at all (or very little), and move on to ideas that will require you to break out the wallet:
- A picnic. Plan it well, with good food, a comfortable blanket, and some books or games to pass the time as you relax in the shade.
- Make a card. Don’t just buy a Hallmark card. Make your own, draw a flower on it, and write something loving and heartfelt. It will only take you a couple of hours, no longer than it would to shop for something, and she will keep it forever, I guarantee it.
- Take your wife someplace that has meaning for the two of you, like the first place you met, or the first house you lived in. Alternatively, take her to her childhood home or playground and let her share with you her reminiscences and memories.
- Write her a poem. Take your time and try to write something sincere and personal.
- Bake your wife a batch of chocolate chip cookies. This is a much nicer than just buying chocolate, and is an especially sweet gesture if you don’t know much about cooking and have to work at it. Just make sure the cookies are edible!
- Do you know how to cook? Cook her dinner, or bake a pie or cake, or some special sweet from your culture.
- A nice dress or skirt, hijab scarf, a classy overcoat or jacket. Shukr Online has some beautiful clothing.
- Take her shoe shopping. Women always love shoes! And I don’t mean sneakers, but dress shoes. Women are notoriously choosy about their shoes, however, so don’t try to pick out a pair on your own unless you know your wife’s tastes and size very well.
- A new purse or handbag. This is a rather personal choice for a woman, so make sure you retain the receipt so she can exchange it for something more to her liking.
- A nice belt. Some women like belts and handbags even more than clothing, and love to have belts in various colors to complement their outfits.
- Jewelry. It doesn’t have to be terribly expensive. I once got my wife (ex-wife now) a turquoise necklace for $100 or so. Oh yes, she loved it (the divorce was over something else entirely, lol). I recently read an article on a stone called tanzanite. It’s beautiful, natural, and not too pricey.
- A new Quran with a wooden Quran stand, and handmade dhikr prayer beads for tasbeeha.
- An Islamic artwork of some kind. I don’t mean a framed poster of the Ka’bah (nothing wrong with that, I have one on my own wall, but it doesn’t have that personal touch). I’m thinking more on the lines of a hand-painted canvas, calligraphy, engraved copperplate, engraved brass lamp, a mother-of-pearl plate or Islamic silver plate, etc. These can be hard to find in your locality but can sometimes be ordered online.
- A personalized photo locket. This would be a small metal locket on a chain, perhaps in a heart shape, with a personalized engraving on the outside, and a small photo inside.
- Dinner at a nice restaurant. Someplace you would not go every day. It’s always good to support Muslim-owned restaurants and Muslim businesses in general, if you have any in your area.
- A beautiful flower vase, with fresh flowers in it.
- A potted plant. Not something ordinary in a plastic pot, but something unusual like a bonsai, or a beautiful orchid, in an attractive ceramic planter.
- A decorative photo frame with a photo of the two of you.
- Is she a collector? If there’s any type of art or craft that she likes or collects, get her one. Does she collect coins, stamps, glass figurines, home decorations with chickens on them (I’m not making that up)? Get her one.
- A weekend trip somewhere. Even if you’re not ready to go right now, make the reservations or by the tickets and let her know.
- A new watch.
- A pair of women’s designer sunglasses.
- If she likes gadgets, how about a new mobile phone, a Bluetooth mobile phone earpiece, a slim digital camera to fit in her purse, or even a laptop computer?
- If she’s into fitness, how about a new yoga mat, a bicycle, hiking shoes, tennis racket, etc? But only if she’s already into it! Otherwise she’ll take it as a hint that she’s overweight 🙂
- If she’s a working woman, how about a new briefcase? This tells her that you value and respect her work.
- A set of natural bath products like soap, shampoo, bubble bath. Please try to buy cruelty-free products (not tested on animals).
- Perfume oils. It helps if you know what she likes. If you don’t, check what she’s already got. Smell them and get to know the scents so you can pick something similar. But honestly, every husband should know his wife’s favorite perfume.
- A tea set, meaning tea pot, tea cups, and a collection of herbal teas.
- A scented massage oil along with three handmade coupons saying, “Good for one massage on demand from your loving husband.”
- A gourmet basket with some of her favorite food treats, such as chocolates, cheeses, strawberries, or whatever you know to be her favorite tastes.
- An attractive or artsy candle set, the kind they have in gift shops.
- A subscription to a magazine for Muslim women, such as Aziza Magazine.
- I’m hesitant to suggest this one because some women take it the wrong way or think it’s unromantic, but something for the kitchen. A new kitchen appliance like a top-quality food processor, a set of quality cookware, etc. This is best for a woman who enjoys cooking.
- In the same vein as #34, a set of Egyptian cotton towels for the bathrooms. These are wonderfully soft, but again it might be perceived as unromantic, so watch out. Caveat emptor!
- An iPod that you have pre-loaded with Quran recitation by her favorite reciter, some of her favorite nasheeds, some good radio shows, etc. This is a wonderful gift for a woman who commutes, or who spends time every day on a treadmill, or even just to listen to while working or doing chores. This gift will take some money and some time to put together, but will give her hours of pleasure.
What NOT to get a Muslim woman as a gift:
- Anything for cleaning the house, such as a vacuum cleaner, broom, mop, etc. This is like telling her that you see her only as a maid. Those things should be part of the normal household expenses, not gifts.
- Groceries. True, if you don’t normally do it then the gesture is nice, but it’s too prosaic.
- A sexy nightie. Not that this is un-Islamic, but it just seems a little tacky to me. It’s like it’s more for you than for her, if you get my meaning.
- Anything that is really about you more than her, like a CD of your favorite band, a game box, a flat screen TV, etc. If you think that you might end up using it more than her, then chuck it and keep looking.
- A “cool Muslim star and crescent cigarette lighter”. Yes, I actually saw this on a website listed under “Muslim gifts.”
Remember, pay attention and listen, and you’ll never be short of gift ideas in the future.