Buying presents is a minefield but plenty of men claim that buying for their significant other is an anxiety inducing torture that can often spiral into a barrage of existential reflection: What do women really want? Does anything worth giving have to mean remortgaging my house to purchase it for her? How can I not look cheap? Is a bad gift a dumpable offence?

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a handy list of treats for women that are as close to failsafe as can be. If in doubt – no barely-there underwear unless specifically requested and beware anything too closely related to domestic drudgery. Neither a packet of tea towels or a new mop head are going to be the one. However, it’s not all about diamonds, designer handbags and trips to Hawaii.

All of the below are sub $40 (with a few exceptions where a few dollars more will seal the deal).

Sparkly Socks

Once, buying socks for your beloved would have been as unthinkable as buying her say, a washing up brush or a bathmat. But times have changed and socks are never boring when they are sparkly. And glittery socks are having a real style moment – finally there’s a bit of glamor where once women played it safe with plain black.

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This pack of five pairs, each boasting a ribbed pattern which offers a stretchy resilience, are uber comfortable and will cheer her up every day of the week. If that’s not a dream gift we don’t know what is.

HASLRA Glitter Socks, $19.99 from Amazon

Pink Backpack

Fjallraven’s popularity is not on the wane. This classic ‘Kanken’ daypack from the Swedish outdoor clothing company manages to be casual and fun, without sacrificing on serious style. This is a mini version (mini backpacks are a brilliant nod to nineties nostalgia) of the larger classic which makes for a lightweight carry.

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You may as well go all out and opt for the crowd-pleasing ‘Millennial pink’ although a rainbow’s worth of colors are on offer.

Fjallraven backpack, $55.30 from Amazon

Cat Eye Sunglasses

The cat eye moment is still all the rage with everyone from Gigi Hadid to Rihanna rocking this feline shape.

The Vintage Gifiore Retro Vintage Cat Eye shades are a snip of the cost of designer equivalents – and yet they look sleek, polished and fresh. From translucent pink to opaque black and tortoiseshell – there are so many awesome colorways you could go all out and buy the lot.

Gifiore Cat Eye Sunglasses, $6.99 from Amazon

Digital Watch

These are classic timepieces – with something of a cult following. All Casio Digital Watches are suitable for women, but we favour the slightly smaller and more delicate versions as they are more feminine. The gold tone is perhaps the most glamorous.

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It’s easy to wear, lightweight with a strong clasp and suitable to accessorize any outfit. Cool, cult and cheap for under $20? The perfect stylish gift for small budgets.

Casio Digital Watch, $19.96 from Amazon

Winter Hat

This AbbyLexi double bobble hat is too cute! We favor a festive red but there are other hues to pick from too.

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The inside is lined with a toasty fleece to keep the chill out and the faux fur pompoms really ramp up the winter aesthetic. The best thing about this hat is that it’s actually really smart, so it’s wearer is not going to feel scruffy or out of place if she teams it with work clothes. Winning!

AbbyLexi Winter Hat, $16.99 from Amazon

Classic Books

Books, especially classics, particularly a collection of classics are an easy win. We love this Puffin in Bloom Collection not just because it features childhood favorites – Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Heidi and A Little Princess – but also because these tomes are going to look so pretty in our apartment thanks to the stunning, colorful floral designs on each.

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They come in a charming keepsake box and really are the most gorgeous gift for bookworms.

Puffin in Bloom Collection, $44.80 from Amazon

Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott

If she follows fashion it’s unlikely she won’t have a soft spot for Coco Chanel. This hefty tome Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott takes a deep dive into the life and works of one of the most legendary clothing designers in history, complete with stunning images from the private archives of The House of Chanel.

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Ideal for coffee tables – the monochrome cover is ideal for minimalists – this is something to dip in and out of without ever getting bored.

Chanel: Collections and Creations by Daniele Bott, $27.19 from Amazon

Vogue on Christian Dior by Charlotte Sinclair

The story of Christian Dior is told beautifully in this gorgeous book by Charlotte Sinclair. Dior’s work changed how women dress, creating new lines and silhouettes which thrilled and shocked in equal measure.

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The text – all originally produced biography – is punctuated by 80 photographs – both black-and-white and color – taken by some of the best fashion photographers in history including Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn. A must for any fashionista. The cover alone is a work of art in its own right!

Vogue on Christian Dior by Charlotte Sinclair, $17.96 from Amazon

Cashmere Gloves

Cashmere gloves are pure luxury – any woman staring down the barrel of a freezing cold winter is going to be on the ceiling if she opens some cashmere hand cozies. We suggest opting for gray as it goes with absolutely everything but if you know she likes bolder colors there’s a brilliant magenta version too.

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This is exactly the kind of thing she would consider too nice to buy for herself. Which makes them the perfect gift. You are most welcome.

Cashmere Gloves, $35.75 from Amazon

Card Case

Card cases are an often overlooked – and as such totally underrated – accessory, especially where women are concerned. Enter the Coach card case, available in a range of tonal colorways. The gray and muddy blue is lovely and will work for most occasions.

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Made from soft but durable leather this boasts six slots for cards and even when full remains slim enough even for diminutive clutch bags or women who hate handbags.

Coach Card Case, $50 from Amazon

Cashmere Pullover

Again, we’re honing in on that cashmere superpower with this Ailaile Cashmere Wool Sweater with plenty of cable knit detailing – in both rope and floral patterns – for maximum warmth and comfort. This high necked beauty can be dressed up with a leather skirt or down with skinny jeans and boots.

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Make sure you buy this a size or two bigger than normal – this should be a loose, casual fitting piece. Ideal for holidays.
Ailaile Cashmere Pullover, From $39.99 from Amazon

Bikini Briefs

Buying underwear for a woman is a really tricky business. There is so much scope for error and then the error leads to offence and the offence lingers and the day is ruined. But. There is one exception. Calvin Klein Bikini Briefs. These are casual, fresh and comfortingly regular. Their aesthetic isn’t bound up with expectation or meaning. Just make sure you get the size spot on.

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We love that these are cotton and therefore speak to her need for comfort first and foremost.

Calvin Klein Bikini Briefs, from $9.99 from Amazon

Notebook

We’re not going to say that women love stationery because that is a huge generalization but what we will say is show us a human being who doesn’t get a little thrill when they survey a brand-new Moleskine notebook and we’ll show you a liar. There’s something so tactile about the texture of the covers.

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A new notebook is a sign of new beginnings and fresh ideas – so this is the perfect gift for budding writers or those at the start of a new relationship. There are a whole heap of different colors and sizes to choose from, too, not to mention lined, graph, dotted and plain pages of a high-quality paper which makes writing a pure pleasure.

Moleskine Notebook, $27.95 from Amazon

Postcard set

Having a stack of interesting postcards is a necessity for anyone who loves a spot of good old fashioned correspondence. This box of Postcards from The New Yorker is the dream, not least because they are a lovely object for any desk or shelf – guests won’t be able to resist having a flick through.

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The cards are each substantially thick and sturdy – the quality of both the printing and paper is really high. With one hundred cards to choose from, each with a different cover boasting iconic and often controversial artwork spanning ten decades this collection really is a brilliant piece of history.

Postcards from The New Yorker, $18.71 from Amazon

Scented Candle

You can’t go wrong with a fragranced candle. The Homesick range is entirely natural and made from soy wax which contains no toxins for a healthier burn. They are also hand poured in small batches. Homesick offer a wealth of US cities to choose from including Atlanta, Las Vegas and Pittsburg, before going further afield to Australia to France. Homesick also has candles called Road Trip and Beach Cottage, honing in on nostalga-heavy scenarios.

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We love the descriptions of each fragrance – “Seattle smells like a strong cup of coffee on a perfectly rainy afternoon. Pine needles, lemon, and cedar meld with a hint of rhubarb and musk…” The burn time is between 60 and 80 hours so you get a lot of burn for your buck, so to speak.

Homesick Scented Candle, $29.95 from Amazon

Moscow Mule Mugs

If she loves cocktails – be it the making or drinking of – these Scash Moscow Mule Mugs will be an instant hit. Made from 100 percent pure hand-hammered copper, they are beautiful as ornaments too, before cocktail hour has even begun (and long after it is over).

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The copper keeps the drink icy cold – and there is no chance of the metal tarnishing thanks to being coated with food grade lacquer on both the inside and the outside of the mugs meaning they will shine on and on.

Scash Moscow Mule Mugs, $26.95 from Amazon

Cocktails Glasses

Coupe cocktail glasses like the Libbey Signature Kentfield Coupe Cocktail Glasses are the sexiest because, if legend is to be believed, coupe glasses took the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts.

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These are tall and elegant, with a 9-ounce bowl – but despite looking delicate, they are durable thanks to Libbey’s Clearfire formula which reinforces strength (ideal for wild parties, then). They are also dishwasher friendly – so you can raise a toast to a quick post-party clean up!

Libbey Coupe Glasses, $34.99 from Amazon

Cashmere Scarf

We know. More cashmere. But there’s a reason it keeps cropping it. Because it’s what she wants. This verdant green hug of cosy 100 percent cashmere from Rosemarie Collections will look good with almost anything and probably make a welcome change from the muted tones that are so often everyone’s winter “go to” colors.

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Rosemarie Collections Cashmere Scarf, $47.99 from Amazon

Bath Salts

We know what you’re thinking: bath salts do not scream sexy sophistication or style. Until right now. What was once the preserve of the elderly is now recognized as a powerful weapon in any bathroom armoury.

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This San Francisco Salt Co bath Soak is 100 percent natural, comprised of pure Epsom Salt infused with both eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. Added to a hot bath they will relax muscles and calm frazzled minds. They smell pretty good too.

San Francisco Salt Co, $12.82 from Amazon

Body Scrub

A combination of ultrafine Chinese bamboo particles within a rich cream base to gently and intensely remove dead skin cells, the Ritual of Dao body scrub. This scrub helps to promote mindfulness and includes ingredients such as green tea and white lotus.

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Skin will be fully hydrated without feeling greasy. As the name suggests, Rituals is all about making the everyday feel special, which is why their products make such beautiful gifts. As if all of this isn’t enough, the packaging is totally exquisite. No need to be hiding this at the back of the cabinet. Front and center, please.

Rituals Body Scrub, $29 from Amazon

Luxury Shampoo

Out with that supermarket tut that is usually full of harsh chemicals that serve only to damage one’s crowning glory! Only the best for madam. This Good Morning, Sunshine by Philosophy not only looks lovely but it smells lovely – think grapefruit juice on a bright, warm day – and makes one’s hair look rather lovely too.

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This is actually a 3-in-1 too, so she can indulge in a bubble bath on non hair-wash days, too. We bet you’ll be borrowing it.

Philosophy Shampoo, $22.98 from Amazon

Silver Bracelet

A simple bracelet will never be a mistake. If in doubt, less is more. This knot design from Sterling Forever is particularly romantic given that it is a symbol of strength in love.

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This can be worn with anything on any occasion, working as an everyday piece as well as for more dressy events. It is packaged in its own little pouch and the bracelet carries a lifetime guarantee.

Silver Bracelet, $44.20 from Amazon

Gold-plated Earrings

Earrings are having a real moment – and not just punchy statement hoops or tassels. The humble stud is stepping up and taking the limelight. We can’t think of a woman who wouldn’t be happy with a little ear bling and these 14 carat gold plated studs from PAVOI are a real find.

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The earrings are nickel free and totally hypoallergenic, so comfortable for even the most sensitive of lobes. We love the contemporary line shape, but there are a whole load more to choose from if you wanted to buy more. And at this price, why not?

Pavoi Gold Plated Earrings, $12.99 from Amazon

Leather Pencil Case

If she’s the type of person to have three lidless pens and a leadless pencil languishing at the bottom of her handbag, chances are she needs a pencil case but hasn’t got around to it as she’s not in grade school anymore and she’s got more important purchases to make. This is where you swoop in with a grown-up leather pencil case, in a color of her choice.

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The Meku Leather Pencil Case is slim and lightweight complete with a sturdy zipper. The leather is sumptuously soft and tactile. It is deceptively large, however, and can carry up to 15 standard sized pencils. It also contains two hidden pockets for your most prized pencils or pens.

Meku Leather Pencil Case, $19.99 from Amazon

Reed Diffuser

This Andaluca Reed Diffuser smells lush – combining rose, honeysuckle, jasmine and lilac fragrances to create a heady floral scent – will diffuse evenly throughout a living space for up to six months.

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It also neutralizes odors, which although doesn’t sound like a sexy selling point, is actually a really thoughtful consideration for anyone who lives in a studio where cooking can overwhelm the atmosphere. The fact that it’s filled with real flower petals makes this a pretty object to have in the home too.

Andaluca Reed Diffuser, $29.50 from Amazon

Bath Oil

Another beauty to add to any product addict’s bathroom, this Bios Apothecary Bath Oil includes actual rose petals, while the essential oils boast a fragrance which manages to carefully tread the line between rich and delicate.

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And that’s not all; this wonder product will also smooth dry skin, sooth stress and relieve fatigue. It is also completely chemical free – without synthetic preservatives, parabens, GMOs, artificial scents, colors or dyes. Pure heaven in a bottle.

Bios Apothecary Bath Oil, $36 from Amazon

Radio Alarm Clock

Yes, really. This is the holy grail of being super useful and super cute. We love the recycled bamboo finish – ideal for the eco responsible – and the retro feel. The display boasts both the time and the temperature in a crisp white LED light.

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Also, you won’t need your phones in the bedroom. And by taking your phones out of the bedroom your intimacy will soar. Comprende?

Retro Bamboo Digital Radio Alarm Clock, $17.99 from Amazon

Bluetooth Headphones

Cordless, bluetooth headphones are a lifestyle revolution – and we are in no way exaggerating. Once you’ve enjoyed cord-free living you won’t go back. And neither will she. These Rydohi cans are awesome. They manage to be feminine without being girly. We love how they fold up small and neat – perfect for keeping in a purse.

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They block out unwanted sounds and allow for incoming calls, as well as being compatible with laptops and some TVs.

Rydohi, $21.90 from Amazon

Stationery Set

Yes, to having lovely stationery. In a society where technology is king sometimes it feels really good and proper to sit down with some crisp, fresh notelets and write something meaningful with your hand. In ink.

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Handwritten notes are special, require thought and planning and feel quaint and almost a little romantic. If your partner likes writing, chances are she’ll love some cute stationery.

Hallmark Stationery Set, $9.99 from Amazon

Fine Art Print

These Gango vintage prints featuring a host of butterflies are an excellent choice when it comes to artwork as a gift. They manage to be beautiful, decorative and appealing without being too pretty or twee.

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The paper quality is good and the ink durable. Place in a slim black frame and hang anywhere for an instant interior pep up.

Gango Butterly Prints, $11.99 from Amazon

Leather Belt

Simple, classic items are always going to be appreciated. This Calvin Klein leather belt will become one of her wardrobe staples – perfect with jeans or for cinching in dresses. The gold details are subtle and smart – the little disc bears a small engraved logo. A leather belt is one of life’s little luxuries. She’ll use it all the time.

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Calvin Klein Leather Belt, from $38 from Amazon

Instant Film Camera

We defy anyone not to be chuffed to receive a Fujifilm Instax MINI 7s Light Blue Instant Film Camera. The potential for fun is vast, not least because out life is so instant these days thanks to smart phones and Instagram.

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This has an autoflash – so she won’t need to worry about forgetting to turn a flash on and being left with blurry photos. Make sure you stock up on film, though, as instant pictures are totally addictive.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 7s Camera, $44.95 from Amazon

Minimalist Bangle

This is so pretty, so understated but most of all, so romantic. On the inside of this gold Kate Spade Bangle the words “HEART OF GOLD” are emblazoned.

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With a width of 0.5 of an inch, this is light and simple – the perfect everyday piece. The bag it comes in is pretty special too – black with bright pink drawstrings – it’s the little details after all. We forecast a wealth of compliments coming for her when she wears it, which might not be aim of the game but hey, it’s always nice.

Kate Spade Bangle, $32 from Amazon

Fountain Pen

A fountain pen is a gorgeous grown-up gift and one she will cherish for years. This Scribe Sword, with a body of brushed stainless steel with polished accents, writes beautifully and easily, gliding across paper with an even flow of ink. The pen comes with its own pressed and stitched case – a really elegant gift for any wordsmith.

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Scribe Sword Fountain Pen, $28.99 from Amazon

Terrarium

Perfect for someone without a garden or much outdoor space, a hanging terranium brings a little verdant spark of joy to any interior. This teardrop shaped indoor terranium arrives empty, so you’ll have to stock up on some plants before gifting.

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The best thing about indoor terraniums is that they are very low maintenance: the plants in them will rarely need water – an easy joy for someone who is always on the go.

Indoor Terrarium, $26.99 from Amazon

Pasta Maker

Who cares if she isn’t a master chef? A pasta maker is a fun gift that speaks to a fun, experimental relationship. This Imperia Pasta Maker produces slim lasagne sheets which are then cut further into strips. Buying her this is akin to laying down a challenge (and it also promises future meals). A solid, good gift for experts and amateurs alike.

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Imperia Pasta Maker, $39.95 from Amazon

The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails by Steve Reddicliffe

If she shines during cocktail hour this volume, containing no fewer than 350 recipes for classic tipples like the Old-Fashioned as well as a whole bunch of brilliant new innovations, will be right up her alley.

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This weighty hardback book is curated by Steve Reddicliffe, whose column in the Times has covered every aspect of social drinking, making him well placed to do so. Essays by some of his most esteemed colleagues pepper the pages – making this so much more than a recipe book.

The Essential New York Times Book Of Cocktails, $17.29 from Amazon

Cashmere Socks

We’ll say it one more time. Cashmere will win the day. Even bed socks like these 100 percent pure cashmere ones which were made for home lounging. We love the baby pink, which just serves to reinforce the soft, gentle vibe. Unlike many cashmere socks, these include a little spandex around the ankle to keep them from sagging. These socks are not made for walking – just for complete relaxation at home.

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Cashmere Bed Socks, $34.99 from Amazon