… it’s back! The gift guide for clueless men who want to do better this year. Email this to your husband, your brother, your brother-in-law, your son, your dad – whoever needs gift inspo for the lady in his life!
Just remember two things (I’m talking to you now, Mr Man): if she hates it, blame it on me. And for the love of God keep the receipt.
(A note about the discount codes – I wrote this guide and then asked brands I featured that I had a contact for if they wanted to offer a discount. I wanted to say that because otherwise it looks a bit like I’ve only featured brands who offered me discounts which is not the case.)
THE MAIN EVENT
Roxanne Assouline bracelets I can’t really explain why these are cool, they just are.
Tilly Sveaas T Bar necklace. Jewellery has moved on slightly from dainty to chunky and Tilly is one of the best in the business. Get 10% off with code dearhusband10.
Theodora Warre pinky ring – pinky rings are having a massive moment and this is probably the coolest one I’ve ever seen. nb Giles I want this
Margot and Mila earrings. Margot as in “Robbie” and Mila as in “Kunis” – need I say more? 15% off with the code DEARHUSBAND15
Decree Protect Elixir this is expensive stuff but it works. I was sent a range of this and my skin has improved notably. Every major beauty journalist agrees with me (I have checked as I often do not have the courage of my convictions with stuff like this).
A Beauty Pie membership – this would be such fun to get. Basically a membership to this gives you access to massive discounts on top-class beauty stuff, I know the company very well and they are legit. Beauty Pie will give you £50 extra credit with the code ESTHERSENTME
Creme de La Mer – the original and the best, if you’re willing to really hurt yourself financially. People don’t talk about Creme de La Mer much any more because it’s so prohibitively expensive that it’s sort of rude to even mention it. But in this situation it’s perfect.
I am so over designer bags. They are all so incredibly vulgar and impractical. The only bags that I think are remotely acceptable at the moment are French.
Go for the Jerome Dreyfus, the Georges L Savane or the stunning Lulu L. I also admire Le Sac 24hr by Gerard Darel. Sezane makes the very pleasing Gaby Bag.
I covet this Smythson wallet like mad as it has four sections in one – one for notes, one for coins, one for receipts and one for
drugs spare sanitary towels. My friend Lindsay has got one and my eyes go green and my tongue flicks out whenever I see it.
Anya Hindmarch make-up bag – this will require a bit of detective work from you … is her make-up bag a disgrace? If so, get her a new one. This has two sections – one for brushes and tubes and another section for other junk. Really nice.
…or even better this one, which is clear…
A Flowerbx subscription Choose from weekly or monthly – very chic flowers. A bit like a cheese box subscription but better. I gift myself this every year from January to April to alleviate New Year blues.
Slip silk pillowcase I love my silk pillowcase the most. To be seriously classy, get two. Yes they are machine washable.
A BIT ON THE SIDE… think of these gifts as those Amazon “add-ons”. These are for stockings or to give alongside something else. They are not really stand-alone presents.
Cashmere bed socks – The White Company are the best. Get many pairs. Like 3 pairs. Giles did that once and I was just like COR HE IS SO AMAZING.
This Works Sleep Plus Pillow Spray because it really does work and pretty much all women care about is sleep.
Living Proof Dry Shampoo a really, really really good dry shampoo with a beautiful scent.
Sand & Sky Clay Mask pretty much all clay masks are the same but this one is famous (I know it’s ridiculous, I don’t make the rules) and your wife/girlfriend will be excited to get it.
nb. If you have very small children do not get your wife a smooth leather bag – go for a grainy or suede texture because little fingernails will inevitably scrabble at a very smooth surface and mark it and then it will be ruined.
Books (again, as an add-on please, gents.)
Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottleib
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
French Exit by Patrick de Witt
The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst
Thank you very much.
If you have enjoyed this gift guide please buy through my website to ensure I get the puny commission that will make the two days it took to write and admin this thing worth it. If you don’t want me to have the commission don’t forget to clear your Cookies before you buy. (You asshole.)
Thank you! Didn’t send it to my husband but my teenage daughter was all over the Margot and Mila!
Jill Horne (@HornesterJ) says
Thank you for writing another one this year! I think I’d love the pillowcase but it seems quite expensive. BUT, using it every day would surely make it worthwhile.. All the items are gorgeous, many husbands will be breathing sighs of relief.
Esther, I love you wit and charm, here and on Instagram, but this annual post always highlights, sadly (for me), how different we are. (Also noticeable recently when you had a dinner party AND it looked like Robert Peston was sitting at the table.) Reading it becomes an exercise of clicking on the links and then exclaiming inwardly about the prices. My husband did buy me some of those bed socks a few years ago but if he’d bought me 3 pairs I’d have thought THAT IS ODD. And I bought a Charlotte Tilbury clay mask recently under the belief I was following your skincare regime only to read here that you have moved on and I have bought THE WRONG MASK. Sign.
Susan I find this comment quite confusing – of course we are different. Everyone is different!
I’m not sure you were expecting or wanted a reply to all of this but I really must make it clear that I have never used or recommended a Charlotte Tilbury clay mask. I’ve said more than once that all clay masks are basically the same and I think the one I most often recommend is Clear Improvement by Origins, which is £17.60 from John Lewis.
I recommended Sand + Sky one this post because it has become over the last two years something of a cult product and feels like more of a fun gift than the Origins mask. They are both just as good as the other in my experience.
But I’m not too alarmed at the mix-up because Charlotte Tilbury is a great brand and I’m sure the clay mask would have done a great job – whether it’s part of my skincare regime or not.
Combing back through your past posts, I’ve found it. You mentioned the Charlotte Tilbury clay mask in Dear Husband last year. Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you. I rarely comment, or try to be funny about anything online which is probably best!
Susan I find these to be a fun kind of anthropology as well… I have a friend or two whose fathers/brothers move in similar circles and I’ve seen them spend impressive amounts of money on some fairly hideous gifts so I’m glad to see someone steering them. As for my household we’re trading used books as we’re taking on a car loan this year… but that doesn’t make for as much fun as browsing as the gift guides of people entirely different from me. And I never have the faint guilt here that I do when I read gift guides meant for outdoorsy types or distance runners… Honestly how many folding stoves can those people store in their houses anyway.
p.s. if anyone in a similar gifting bracket to me is looking for silk pillowcases https://www.dharmatrading.com/clothing/silk-charmeuse-pillowcase.html should run you 21 or 22 gbp including shipping, though you are messing with shipping internationally around the holidays and they only come in one color. I don’t have these as bamboo twill does well for keeping my hair from frizzing but I hear good things about them from others.
Hi Susan – I’m sorry to be pedantic, but there was no reference at all to Charlotte Tilbury in Dear Husband last year. On a Dear Husband from 2016 I mentioned the Charlotte Tilbury “Wonder Glow”, which is not a clay mask.
Don’t worry, pedantic is my middle name… It’s here in https://onthespike.com/2018/12/17/dear-husband-2/
“But I have two words for you that are utterly failsafe and no woman could ever be angry about: CHARLOTTE TILBURY.
Get her any or all of the skincare, by that I mean the Magic Cream, the Night Cream, the primer, the clay mask, and some of these sheet masks.”
Aha I see. Well, that was really just a random list of examples of Charlotte Tilbury products, it definitely wasn’t a specific recommendation and I didn’t say that I had used it. But if you feel misled by that, then I apologise!
And when I say “random list” what I mean is that it was a selection of products from CT that I have seen recommended elsewhere but have not specifically tried, (except the Magic Cream and Night Cream, which I have tried and like very much), but which I have read good reviews of by beauty editors I trust, which I would be excited to receive as a gift. That year particularly CT was still relatively new and was something of a novelty, exciting brand.
As you can imagine I am pretty embarrassed to have so emphatically said that there was no mention of CT last year when there was – I skim-read the post in haste and only saw the main product (the washbag) and not the extra copy, which was the recommendation to fill it with CT products.
Anyway, as I said, I am sorry if you felt like I was declaring that I used all of those products, that they were my skincare regime, and felt misled. There is a huge amount of fudging, dishonesty and magic mirrors in this industry, (although I’m sure not as much as some people fear), and I am pretty horrified to be made to feel like I’ve been leading anyone a merry dance.
My dad has begged me to ‘please buy him a book with a narrative this year’ (I have been relying on those CIA-type quiz books for the last 3 years!). Do you think Catch and Kill counts as that?!
Well that would be a very woke gift for your dad… I would try him on Manhunt by Peter Bergen instead – or the Topeka School if he’s a massive intellectual? He may also like the Sisters Brothers.
Ooh thank you – he does consider himself a great intellectual so I’ll give the Topeka School a go.
Funnily enough I tried to lend him the Sisters Brothers the other day but he forgot to take it with him.
Has he read any Robert Harris? That’s my go to Dad/Husband/Brother novel present and I borrow them after. Very reliably good.
I’m struggling with a book suggestion for my husband to get me so I think I’ll go for the Topeka School given I’ve read 4 of those and quite liked 3. I’m going to see that Smythson wallet in my dreams, out of my range sadly but I hope someone gets it and sleeps with it under their silk pillowcase and wakes up with clear skin and a full heart.
Sisley is so expensive it makes you cry (only ever slather my face with it before all flights from duty free samples). So, I would suggest that as an alternative to CDLM.
Any suggestions for Boyfriend who really only wants a bloody rolex (or any other expensive watch) and I’m defo in the swatch level of price!
Rotary have pretty good-looking watches for sensible prices, though a bit above Swatch. I have just bought myself one for Christmas (but haven’t opened it yet b/c it’s not Christmas). JL has many of them or look at their own website.
Thanks. Ordered the pillowcase for a friends birthday. It was in October and it’s a bit late but I’m a bit useless.
I rather enjoy reading different people’s shopping wish lists. I mean, Esther’s contains what I would definitely class as ‘treats’ at a special time of year, but it’s hardly Goop suggesting we buy an island!
Plus, I’d much rather have one fancy gift than 3/4 crappy ones I don’t want.
AND you could always use it as inspiration and source alternatives at your own price point, higher or lower.
In other news, regards gifts,
Sali Hughes ( I think?) once suggested buying a smaller thing that was worth more, as in a really fancy lipstick or mascara etc… and whilst it looks tiny and first seems odd, it def works. Everyone squeals with joy and always says ‘oh I wanted this but could never justify buying it for myself’. Which in itself contains a whole can of worms for another day!
Ooh definitely. ‘I want but could never justify it’ is the best category, and covers everyone, if you know them well enough.
I get people microplane graters if they haven’t got one. They are phenomenally expensive if you’ve never used one, but amazingly good and worth every penny. The uninitiated think thirty five quid for a grater is profligacy, I think thirty five quid for something someone will really really like is a bargain. Ditto Fortnum’s tea – for tea, extortionate. As a present, very reasonable.
I see microplane graters are much cheaper now – I’ll be going for full sets from now on!
Yes I love looking at gift lists – I just see it as ideas for *the kind of thing*. For example instead of cashmere socks, I might get some nice ones made from sackcloth. In seriousness though one of my favourite necklaces my husband bought me was from Tilly Sveaas after it was on here and it wasn’t as expensive as the one specifically suggested but it was to my liking and gave him somewhere to look. You begin googling Creme de la Mer and end up buying yourself a micro plane grater from John Lewis and it’s all good fun. I just looked up the Goop gift guide and thoroughly enjoyed myself there too.
Yes, because who doesn’t fall on the How To Spend It gift guide with glee? You fantasise for a while, convince yourself that being that rich would be awful, and go back to cleaning dried dog shit out of your shoe. No hair shirts required.
I also am on a waaaaay different budget to gift lists like this, although its fun for inspiration. A fun side effect is that my targeted ads seem to be picking up on it and offering me alternatives – just got sent this Spanish brand Vitaly who have some nice looking pieces in the chunky Tilly Sveeas style for a much lower price point (+ with lifetime warranty). https://www.vitalydesign.eu/collections/accessories I’m eyeing up the Maile bracelet in gold…
I am sorry if I have embarrassed you Esther. I, and loads of others I’m sure, enjoy the glimpse into your world and your recommendations because we know you are genuine, as well as an entertaining read. (I like the cats too!)
My original CT mask comment was originally just a throwaway remark, I looked at the JL website reviews too before I bought. I only came back on here to respond because you started banging on about never mentioning it so I thought I’d better as it made me look a bit mad!
Budget options! (Using Esther’s fun read as inspiration)
Hi there! Totally agree on the microplane graters referenced by another reader as a great gift, I got one from a friend, life changer.
As for budget choices: I got some fake Rosie Assoulin bracelets at Pull & Bear yesterday. Not the same thing but can’t be so bad for 7 euros. I am considering getting myself one single Rosie Assoulin bracelet to try it out (you don’t have to buy them as sets of three on her website). On Insta, people resell theirs (look under the hashtag rosieassoulin).
Oak and Elk do a lot of the same type of things as Margot and Mila, also at about half of the price, but very well (hand)made.
Orelia do a T Bar necklace.
As for make-up to splurge on (for someone else, but get the skin tone right!) I would love to give/receive an YSL Touche Eclat. Kind of affordable but feels very luxurious.
2-pack of multicoloured bracelets
it the one you need to look for on Pull & Bear, the link does not work, oddly enough
Can I just say that the pic of the Grinch with the caption Dear Husband makes me LOL hard. So apt! Since we live in different hemispheres I couldn’t benefit from any of your recommendations. But yes, another Xmas, another sweaty panicky husband on Xmas eve grabbing assorted hand creams from L’Occitane. (At least they come in a nice tin)