For every amazing holiday gift I've received over the years, I can name at least two that were decidedly well intentioned, yet decidedly off base. After all, it can be hard to buy gifts for anyone, but when that certain someone has very clearly defined tastes, things get even harder.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but one universal truth - ensure that you know the recipient's taste inside and out before gifting any of the following gifts this season:
Perfume - Fruity, floral, aquatic or musk? A loyalist or a dabbler? Mass or niche? If you feel confident in the answers to these questions, by all means, buy away. But just know that fragrance is highly personal and incredibly subjective. A safer bet? A Sephora sampler, (here, here or here) which allow your lucky giftee to sample away to their heart's content and then redeem the enclosed scent certificate for a full sized bottle of their choosing. ($24-$65)
Art - Let me contradict myself for a moment and concede that two of my very favorite gifts of all time fall under the classification of "art" - one a Marilyn Minter print and the other, a painting done just for me. That said, art is again, and obviously, highly subjective and even (as any who've attended a show at the Whitney can attest) dangerously divisive. Consider instead: a gift certificate, perhaps packaged with a frame, to a site like Society6.
Jewelry - Well-intentioned, yet sterile is the best description I can muster for the many uninspired jewelry gifts I've received from (ex) boyfriends throughout the years. Think tiny (read: conservative) diamond hoops or a highly traditional gold heart necklace when my tastes run more to near-weaponry from designers like Eddie Borgo and Dominic Jones. In short, while I appreciated the thought (I did! I swear!), I would have appreciated a piece of jewelry that suited my (very openly expressed) personal style a heck of a lot more. A better idea? If you're not sure on what she (or he!) will love, ask one of her closest friends, or better yet, scour her Pinterest boards (if you're gifting me, behold a little inspiration here!)
The Useful Gift - I hate to continue to throw men under the bus here, but this is again, something men are often guilty of. Unless SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED, no woman wants what could be even remotely construed of as useful- I honestly cannot believe the horror stories I've heard from friends who unwrapped "gifts" ranging from wireless routers to blenders, or worst ever, an AB ROLLER. Please do not make this mistake. If you need a refresher on some universal rules of gift giving, here's a link to my thoughts on the matter.