Everyday item to show my affection
May 21, 2014 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I want to get my wonderful girlfriend an item that she could wear or carry every day if she so pleased.

I love my girlfriend, and want to get her a nice gift. I'd like it to be a unique durable item that she could wear or carry everyday if she wanted to, as a little reminder of our relationship. Try as I might, however, I'm struggling to really think out-of-the-box at a high level. My mind is stuck on jewelry, mainly.

What does the hivemind suggest? This question is purposely vague -- I don't expect great detail requiring knowledge about her (like her favorite color, fondest memory, etc.). I'll handle that. I'm just looking for some grease to get my mind's wheels in motion. Money is not a concern, and neither is time -- I'd happily spend lots of money and time making the perfect memento of affection.

Thanks everyone!
posted by Ephemeral10 to Grab Bag (67 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The vast majority of women love and identify with jewelry. Of those, the camp is brought to life with Tiffany or Cartier.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:52 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If she doesn't have one, I think a watch would be nice. Sure, people tell time with their cell phones and I don't know how old you kids are but I feel like adults wear watches.
posted by kat518 at 12:54 PM on May 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

This is a necklace that I own. It's delicate and feminine, and can be worn for most occasions. Don't pay attention to "meaning" of card attached to it (karma), I think a circle is a nice reminder of a relationship.
posted by vignettist at 12:55 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't end up wearing a piece of jewelry every day, because I like to switch it out depending on my mood or my outfit. But another option to throw into the ring is a nice keychain or an item that will go on a keychain--that's something I'd have with me every day that I wouldn't need to switch out.

And I thought of it because three years ago I was in a LEGO store and impulsively bought my husband a keychain minifig of Darth Vader that he still carries to this day, and periodically whips out to go "Look! He's not broken yet!" And we have a standing date for when it finally does break, to go to the LEGO store and pick him out another keychain.
posted by telophase at 12:56 PM on May 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

This might sound like a weird suggestion, but my dad got me a small but very nice and durable flashlight, which I carry with me 100% of the time. It's useful and practical and fits in even a small purse.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:56 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

for non-jewelry ideas, perhaps a purse or tote bag, cellphone case (maybe that's also a wallet), or keychain. maybe not romantic enought, but just wanted to toss out some non-jewelry ideas.
posted by smokyjoe at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2014

(Also, if a guy got me Tiffany I'd wish he'd gone for a cool local jeweler...)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2014 [29 favorites]

I still have a Leatherman Pocket Tool (!) purchased for me like 14 years ago. I carry it every day. The earrings - nice ones, too - given at that same time? I've probably worn them four or five times.

A vintage or antique pill box for tiny things/aspirin/etc?

A pretty pocket knife like that or like this vintage sterling one, or like any of the many fancy little knives you can find?
posted by Frowner at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

A good small Swiss Army knife is a great gift, and you could probably get it engraved.
posted by ostro at 12:59 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

If she's a jewelry hater (I am), a really lovely and / or sentimental and meaningful keychain might be the way to go.

(on preview, telophase has it!)
posted by AmandaA at 12:59 PM on May 21, 2014

This particular woman treasures her pocket knife. But I agree that things outside the realm of jewelry vary much more based on the individual. Cases are col because of how much you can individuaize them. Super awesome umbrella?
posted by theweasel at 1:00 PM on May 21, 2014

What about a really nice journal/blank book?
posted by jbickers at 1:00 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about a lovely pen that also has a stylus for touchscreens? I use my stylus constantly. CONSTANTLY. I'd be lost without it.
posted by janey47 at 1:04 PM on May 21, 2014

I would like to mention ear cuffs. They're jewelry, unobtrusive, wearable every day. They also make a pretty easy "trademark," wear every day item.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:05 PM on May 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

A nice bag. I have one I've used daily for 6 years.
posted by mlle valentine at 1:07 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

look at what she has now and see what is worn out through lots of use. take that item, analyze its style, and get her something similar but an upgrade. a worn out wallet, a tattered scarf, scratched sunglasses. maybe ask a subtle question why she's still using something that's falling apart and you may get a clue as to why she's hanging on to it - loves the color, feels soft to the touch, organizes things well, can't find the quality replacement in stores or haven't had time to get another one exactly like it. that could give you the clue you need to getting the right upgrade for the right reason. good luck!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 1:07 PM on May 21, 2014 [21 favorites]

I'm not normally a jewelry person but do like simple, classic pieces I can wear all the time with everything. My man just bought me pearl studs for my birthday, and he totally nailed it, I'm thrilled.

Other gifts I've loved and found much romance in: A beautiful pocketknife I carry and use all the time; the perfect perfume, printed silk scarves.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2014

I'd like it to be a unique durable item that she could wear or carry everyday if she wanted to, as a little reminder of our relationship.

My wedding ring fits all of these criteria for me. ;)

But in seriousness though, depending on your ages and particular situation, be careful getting her anything in a small box that could (pre-box-opening) be interpreted as a proposal. That will not end well.

A tactical flashlight perhaps? Or a vintage compact if that's more her style?
posted by melissasaurus at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh- if you live someplace where it would be useful, a really nice umbrella that folds down super-small is so great to have. I had one for years and I'm so sad I lost it. Gotta replace that thing!
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:09 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you live where it's cold, then really nice gloves are fabulous. A long-ago boyfriend bought me beautiful leather gloves lined in cashmere. Whenever I have occasion to wear those gloves I'm reminded of what a lovely, caring person he is.

I bought Mr. 26.2 a very nice wallet that he seems to enjoy. Leather goods are nice because they age and patina.
posted by 26.2 at 1:11 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Another in the pocket knife camp. Mine's engraved and it is awesome.

One boyfriend had a knack for getting me fantastic presents based on things he'd noticed about me. I stole his socks, so he gave me bunches in the same brand and color (in retrospect, it might have been so I'd stop taking his, but he was very sweet about it.) I love to cook, so he got me three sets of teaspoons.

How does she wear her hair? If she uses bobby pins a lot, a nice set of combs might be a nice upgrade. I'd try Etsy for those because I don't know where else to go.
posted by punchtothehead at 1:11 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about an upscale wallet, wristlet, key ring, or other smallish practical accessory that can fit in her bag? When I get nice jewelry as a gift, I'm usually too afraid of losing it to wear it regularly. The stuff that goes in my purse is stuff I use every day.

Plus, a swanky key ring is exactly the kind of thing I'd feel ultrafancy carrying, but would never buy for myself. Your girlfriend's taste may vary.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:11 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

My partner spent months searching for a specific limited edition cellphone case that I wanted. Every time I use my phone (which is all the time), I feel super loved remembering this. If she uses her cellphone often, perhaps you can get her an engraved/customized case or a cellphone charm.
posted by inevitability at 1:12 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

The above suggestion to look at the things she has now which are on her at all times is really the best one, tbh. I've had guys buy me jewelry despite the fact that i wear none at any time and it was awkward, like what am I supposed to do with this?

Something less portable but also nice would be a really nice (candid if possible) photo of the two of you in a nice frame, if she is a photo person and also has a good place to display it.
posted by elizardbits at 1:15 PM on May 21, 2014 [18 favorites]

Nth-ing simple, small necklace or bracelet.

Wallet sized photo of the two of you?

Build her a bike?
posted by amaire at 1:15 PM on May 21, 2014

Is she "hard to fit" in any manner?

For example, my hubby is not able to wear most fashion sunglasses, that you would get in the $20-$50 range, because they are generally too small for him. One day he found a pair that fit him to a tee and looked great. They were $400, way more than he would ever spend on himself, and he was going to walk away.

I bought them for him on the spot because the poor guy had been looking for a really good pair of glasses for so long, and it was unlikely that he would find an equally good pair for a better price. He's had them for years and cherishes them.

So maybe something along those lines. I'm not saying spend a fortune, I'm just saying if you can find something that solves a nagging a little problem, she'll know how much thought and effort you put into it, and she'll have a good feeling for you everytime she sees that item.
posted by vignettist at 1:17 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am a lady-person and I hate 99% of jewelry. I'd enjoy a really luxe pocket knife, or a pocket watch, or a "worry stone" or similar (made out of smooth polished wood/marble/stone), or something fun and kinetic to put on my keyring. Barring that, and assuming she DOES like jewelry, the talismans from Pyrrha are amazing (some friends and I got one for a member of our group and she LOVED it).
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:19 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

Buying jewelry and bags for someone when you're not absolutely 100% confident that you know their taste backward and forward is often a miserable road to take. People can be very particular in unexpected ways.

I like the idea of a keychain. It's something she'll touch every day while still being something that she's likely not particular about.

[My husband and I carry special coins that we've given one another. He gave me a half-dollar from my birth year and it's been in my wallet for over a dozen years. I gave him a non-currency coin engraved with a special message. It's been in his wallet for nearly as long.]
posted by quince at 1:19 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Generally, I am a fan of utilitarian gifts (so that they are used regularly)
-My partner bought me a pocket watch and had it engraved. I wear it every single day and feel naked without it. It is also useful with the time keeping business.
-A key ring with a compass on it (so she can always find home/you can always find each other).
-You could hand sew her a handkerchief with her initials on it (achoose you)
-You could get her a set of bamboo utensils to keep with her so she "never has to eat with plastic." (only the best for your boo).
posted by anya32 at 1:23 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

OH ALSO one time a boyfriend got me a really really nice pair of sunglasses that I would never have bought for myself and it was a very wonderful gift.
posted by elizardbits at 1:24 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Things I have gotten from Mr. gudrun that I have with me almost all the time - a simple silver chain/necklace (I'm not a big jewelry person but this is simple and I wear it a lot for every day), and a small key chain version swiss army knife with my initials on it. Things I don't have but would appreciate if he gave them - nice leather - like a wallet, cell phone case, key chain, or a simple knot ring.
posted by gudrun at 1:29 PM on May 21, 2014

Things people have bought for me that I have not used all the time:
- A necklace with a really fine chain. Those things just creep around my neck and end up looking all wrong. And don't go with much of the stuff I wear.
- Bracelets. I use computers. A lot. Bracelets and typing are not compatible. Ouch!
- A portable music player thing. If I'm at home or work or in my car, I have music available. If I'm not, then I'm somewhere that I need my situational awareness for personal safety and I do not want to be listening to headphones.

Things someone bought for me that I carried ALL the time in my handbag of readiness:
- My Gerber pocket knife with the pliers.
- A good small flashlight.
posted by emilyw at 1:31 PM on May 21, 2014

A belt or tote from everlane?
posted by stray at 1:35 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also suggest key chain or something small and durable that can be carried with her keys. Personal totems can be highly, well, personal. Does this need to be a surprise? If not, get her input and you can still put your personal touch on the final item. If it does, and you have enough time, try to have conversation about keychains or small tools you always carry to find out her feelings.

Btw, I love the jewelry I have been given, but I don't wear it every day. It is special and for special occasions. I do wear my engagement and wedding ring every day, though.
posted by soelo at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2014

A nice, everyday watch. I have a Movado, and I really like it. The stainless steel watches are really nice.

They're not all that expensive and lots of us don't really like jewelry (I can barely stand to wear my wedding ring.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

E-ink e-reader with a nice folding cover that turns it on on/off and a custom design or image etched / skinned on it?
posted by anonymisc at 1:45 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for keychain... I don't like to wear a watch, I switch out my jewelry everyday, knives and multitools are nice enough but I don't carry them everywhere I go (either because of weight or airline restrictions), but I've had the same keychain since high school.
posted by mskyle at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2014

I love jewelry, but not picked by someone else. I would really not love Tiffany, for example.

A simple, engraved keychain in her metal of choice - something flat but slightly weighty - would be guaranteed to be seen and used every day, I think.
posted by Salamander at 1:53 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

My Leatherman Style CS was a Mother's Day gift. It's been on my keyring for several years now. It's very compact, and it reminds me of my little family every time I have to wage a war against clamshell packaging, remove a splinter, open a beer, or file down a ragged nail. The only other keychain accoutrement I've ever wished for was a pen.

Another thought: I got a Midori Traveler's Notebook about a month ago, and I'm really enjoying it. The 'guts' are highly customizable -- it can be a day planner, a particularly nice blank notebook, or anything in between. Since the insides can be added and removed, there's no "I don't want to ruin this lovely book" anxiety.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

A vintage hair pin the simple beautiful and small enough that they can be worn everyday
posted by elphbawickedwitch at 1:59 PM on May 21, 2014

Handbag, perfume or jewellery.

Cashmere shawl?

Eh, Marilyn Monroe said it best. A nice pair of diamond stud earrings fit everyday!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:10 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

nth-ing the watch. My husband (then boyfriend) gave me a Citizen bracelet watch fifteen years ago, and I still wear it daily. It seems to be indestructible, and is dressy enough to wear to work and simple enough to wear casually. They make an "ecco-drive" version now that doesn't even need to have the battery replaced.
posted by Kriesa at 2:13 PM on May 21, 2014

A tiny fossil or meteorite? I find the idea of something entirely unique and millions of years old to be wildly romantic.
posted by judith at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

A small purse mirror (mirror compact). You can get one engraved with amessage.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:27 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you are considering pocket knives, also consider if she has to fly a lot. About a decade ago I lost a sentimental leatherman by forgetting to remove it before flying, and so I won't carry one anymore (too bad, because I would like to).

Does she write much? A really nice pen/pencil can be great for people who handwrite.
posted by nat at 2:29 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about a custom business card holder, like the modern one here or the vintage one here?

If you know she is a jewelry person, I think a pair of pearl or gold studs would be the way to go, since they can be dressed up or down and worn with many combinations of outfits. I have a pair of black pearl studs from my mom that I wear a few times a week.

If she is a writer or the introspective type, she might like a 5 year journal, like the one here.

Love the suggestions of compact mirrors and pens, as well.
posted by topophilia at 2:44 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

jewelry is nice but the only jewelry you can realistically expect her to want to wear every day/ every where is a wedding ring. (Also: I like jewelry and can't stand Tiffany. Never seen a single item there that I would wear. Don't buy into marketing hype and stereotypes.)

I like the keychain idea. You can get get an elegant one, or a protective amulet one, or, if she doesn't have one already, a flashlight for her keychain would be a very useful and caring gift. Flashlights can save your life.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:56 PM on May 21, 2014

Seconding wallet. But you have to ask her what she wants: people are particular about wallets, depending on how many cards they put in there, how much change, how big etc. You could buy an upscale version of the one she owns, but make sure she's happy with it.
Also, wallets don't last forever.
Actually, everything you want her to wear every day is highly specific to her tastes and you should get her opinion on it.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:57 PM on May 21, 2014

A thin gold or silver ankle bracelet. It's sexy, you can wear it everyday, goes with everything.
posted by egeanin at 2:58 PM on May 21, 2014

Another vote for nice-as-hell pen. I'd never take Tiffany jewelry out of the box.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 3:18 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would love some kind of indestructible leather bag like these from Saddleback leather or Frye (but of course I'd want to be able to pick my own!).
posted by jabes at 3:35 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I vote for an awesome handbag. I received one similar to this one years ago. I used to change out cheap purses regularly, but once I had this one I never looked back and had carried it daily ever since (until I had a kid). It was classic and classy and went with everything and held everything!
posted by MayNicholas at 3:43 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I bought some 18g copper sheeting and some metal etchant (just a relatively safe salt solution) and etched a small rectangle.

I used baking soda to remove finger oils and a pitch resist that I carved my design into. I let the copper sit for a very long time in a small glass bowl filled with the etchant solution. I know clear packing tape can also be used as a resist.

When my design was good and etched in, I scrubbed the copper, sanded the edges, lightly hammered a nice pattern, drilled a hole, and gave it to my husband for his keychain. It's held up remarkably well. I got all my materials from Amazon.
posted by tllaya at 3:45 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know you said 'wear or carry' but if you can go outside that a bit there are a lot of things people need, things that people use daily that most people have a sort of okay version of but nothing too exciting...

Suggestions along those lines: a really fabulous set of cutlery. Linen sheets. A beautiful bedside reading lamp. A your-kids-will-fight-over-inheriting-it clock. A nice (classic Hudson's Bay? Cashmere?) blanket, not a 'throw' but sized right for where she sleeps.

I really like the simple styling of vignettist's necklace -- but I balk at plated. And then you have people weighing in saying that they worry about losing nicer jewellery so balk at wearing it regularly, which underscores the individuality of that stuff -- jewellery can be risky unless you have a great idea of what's wanted. (Same view, here, on bags.) A keyring is safer; 'valet' jobbies that detach into two are nice. (Tiffany and Cartier have a lot of chav associated with them now; listen to showbiz_liz on that...)

I would get a lot of use out of a nice pen or a watch that was a bit above my usual grade, but I know plenty of people who don't use either item much. But they are nice ideas if she's the type. Refillable compacts are cool too -- if she already uses a regular one.
posted by kmennie at 3:45 PM on May 21, 2014

I love jewelry but almost never wear it, and Tiffany jewelry leaves me absolutely cold.

It's a bit outside your parameters, but what I would recommend is really truly excellent towels. Really good towels can be spendy, particularly if you get a full set, but you use them every day -- and not just incidentally, but all over your entire body as part of your daily routine. Not particularly romantic, I'll admit, but out of the box for sure!
posted by KathrynT at 3:52 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

What kind of job did she have? My noise-canceling headphones have made my cube farm job so much better.

Nthing pearl studs. I get mine for $8 from China through etsy so it's ok when I occasionally lose one cause I literally wear them all the time.

Does she like to cook? I have kitchen things I use every day. What about a soft blanket? I use mine whenever I'm sitting at home. Maybe perfume? Admittedly I don't wear it at all so maybe ask someone else.
posted by carolr at 4:20 PM on May 21, 2014

My then-boyfriend gave me this very karma necklace and I loved it. It was delicate and beautiful. I thought the circle was meaningful. I wore it daily for a couple years and didn't take it off til we broke up. As someone above mentioned though, it was plated and the gold wore off.
posted by chatongriffes at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2014

My SO bought me a beautiful cocktail ring with a gemstone in my favorite color which I loooove and wear every day, but the everyday item that most rings with affection for me? A bookmark with cats on it, because I love reading and I love cats. I think it cost less than three bucks.
posted by sm1tten at 4:35 PM on May 21, 2014

This sterling silver key ring.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:29 PM on May 21, 2014

People's tolerance for stuff on their keychains may vary, but the best things on mine are a mini-flashlight (mine's cheap as hell but I bet nice ones are out there) and a heavy chain bracelet that is both a memento of someone dear to me and a really practical way to manage my keys when I want them near to hand but not in hand.
posted by EvaDestruction at 6:12 PM on May 21, 2014

i like the watch idea. you can possibly get it engraved with something nice, as well.
posted by koroshiya at 6:34 PM on May 21, 2014

I got a gift almost 15 years ago and it's the only thing in my life that I've kept with me on a daily basis over all that time. It's a leather photo wallet. I love it because it's a sturdy and nice place to put my very favorite photos or maybe a couple of other things (tattered newspaper article, old fortune from a fortune cookie that I loved and held onto) and carry with me in my purse. It doesn't really stretch out so I can't overstuff it like I do so many other things, so it only holds the equivalent size of ten or so photos. I have a few photos of people and pets that are important to me plus a few other various paper things. When I'm talking about my dogs (or whatever) I can pull out the photo and show someone, which is better than trying to use a phone screen.

It's been the one thing I always switch from purse to purse so I always have it with me. It's just big enough to carry a few little reminders of things I love.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:57 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Everyone is jealous of the handsome folding pocket comb our fellow MeFites helped me find.
posted by Lieber Frau at 8:39 PM on May 21, 2014

My then-boyfriend and now-husband bought me a cat-shaped keyring (I love cats!) with *his* phone number engraved on the back (so that if anyone ever found me in a ditch, there'd be a phone number they could call that wasn't mine). I've had it for years, and every time I use my keys it reminds me of his small but incredibly sweet gesture.
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 10:50 PM on May 21, 2014 [6 favorites]

Keyring/keychain is a good non-jewelry idea. I think a lovely jewelry is a gold ID bracelet with her name engraved on it. My mother wears one that my father gave her years and years ago, similar in size to this one . Unlike the one linked to, hers is 14k gold. She never takes it off.
posted by Dolley at 7:12 AM on May 22, 2014

One of my favorite pieces of jewelry is a necklace my boyfriend got me that is made out of an orchid dipped in resin. It's special to me because it was something had had made for me, and it showed that he put a lot of thought in to it (I love orchids, it's my favorite color, etc.)

Other things to consider: a nice wallet (can be hard to pick out for another person though), a vintage locket, or a miniature photo book.

If you want to get away from the everyday items, I think framed art is a really sweet gift--especially if it's something that's meaningful to both of you.
posted by inertia at 10:35 AM on May 22, 2014

This year my husband gave me three gifts that I carry every day - they were all splurges, only a bit decadent and incredibly considerate solutions to problems in the same way everyone's saying. This Lodis clutch / wallet, gotten for me as a surprise before a trip, has been extremely easy to handle and can be carried either as a purse or easily slipped in my bag. It's the best wallet I've ever owned, extremely stylish and incredibly functional. There's a similar one on Everlane.

He also got me a very functional but stylish leather messenger bag I'd been admiring with longing for months from a local artisan store (price/style pretty much like the Saddleback). It goes everywhere with me. Then an Alessi Record Watch, which has it's own wikipedia page! Alessi is great for unique, lightweight watches that never need to be wound. What everybody says about taste is so true - the wallet was a surprise, but I'd been using a filthy terrible one for awhile. The other two items he knew I liked but he still brought me along for the watch (knowing I'd like one and that I'm a design geek) once he'd decided to make sure it was the right size and that I liked it.

It doesn't have to be such a stark contrast between surprising her or giving her all the input; I think all the way surprise gifts are over rated. It thrilled me to death that my husband had plottint about buying me the most delightful possible watch. Being taken to the small store he'd scouted out for watches was totally special. I'm typing this to you wearing the watch with my bag (with wallet in it) next to me, for reference.
posted by sweltering at 2:44 PM on May 22, 2014

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