And so we come to the last of my Christmas gift posts – Gifts for women and as with the others, not everything is just for women, lots of these ideas would work for men too. I’m structuring it differently this time, starting with the big brands we know and love and then moving on to feature a few ideas from smaller brands. Ever since bloggers fell out of favour I find that very few small brands get in touch to tell me about their wares. All they want is Instagram coverage which is stupid really because it expires in a day whereas people go back to gift posts on here again and again. It means I have to spend a lot more time digging around for ideas but I’ve found a few that I think are especially good.
Before I start though, a lot of you have been saying you’ve reached a point where you can’t think of anything when people ask you want you want. I absolutely understand that but the risk is that you’ll then get something getting you really don’t want. Don’t forget that people enjoy giving and seeing pleasure in the face of someone they love. So I’m beginning with two gifts for women that might not have occurred to you but in my view do more for us at this stage in life than almost anything else.
Gifts for women – big and small brands
A great haircut
So many of you tell me that you’d love a new look but don’t feel you can indulge yourself by going to somebody who really gets hair. Well why don’t you ask for a contribution towards it for Christmas? And of course I’m going to recommend an appointment with the fifth most important man in my life, Premlee Ramasay. He’s the Michelangelo of hair – he takes one look at you and just knows what will work for the planes of your face. I’m utterly loyal to him as you know, he’s been doing my hair for four years now but it isn’t just me. He’s incredibly discreet when it comes to his client list but I know that he also does Sarah Harris’s hair (the Deputy Editor of Vogue who has stunning long grey hair – you know the one) and also Sarah Gilbert (the inventor of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine). You can find out more here.
An appointment with a menopause specialist
Another thought in terms of investing in yourself and your future is an appointment with a menopause specialist. Again it can feel like an indulgence but it can be quite literally life-changing for you, your partner and the rest of your family – such is the impact. Mr MC tells every man he knows how valuable it is – I think he’s a better ambassador for private menopause care than I am! Again an appointment is something that you could ask for as a gift.
I go to The Newson Clinic as you know. I have my appointments via Zoom and it works fine so it really doesn’t matter where you’re based any more. I now have an annual check-up but my prescription is then amended and dispensed by my usual NHS GP (eventually). It can be a long wait for an appointment with Newson Health so the other practice that I hear great reports about is Dr Naomi Potter’s which is expanding quickly.
Gifts for women – big brands
Moving on to more frivolous luxuries, I’m starting with one of those canny buys where you can either stock up on pieces you need and end up with little stocking fillers for others or buy somebody a beauty product you know they really want and have the bonus of a gift for yourself. This discovery kit featuring some of beauty’s most exciting brands is free with code BEAUTY2 if you spend over £60. Bear in mind it’s a Black Friday week offer and stocks are limited. There are various sitewide offers of up to 25% off beauty products too.
While we’re on the subject of beauty, I have to point you towards one of my all time favourite brands Bobbi Brown because their Black Friday week offers are pretty unbeatable. They have to have one of the nicest selections of beauty giftsets this year, they start at really low prices and for Black Friday week they have 30% off.
I can’t imagine anybody not being pleased to receive this, a collection of minis of my favourite eyeshadow crayons, great for keeping in your handbag or taking on holiday with you.
This little set is great for giving skin a glow boost. There are lots of other giftsets at all kinds of prices all with 30% off. There’s 25% off everything else on the site for Black Friday week too along with free gifts with every order with code EARLYBIRD.
Liberty’s beauty hall is one of my favourite places to browse because you never know what you’ll find but you have the guarantee that even if it’s something you’ve never heard of, it’s going to be good. At the moment they have 15% off beauty which, rather surprisingly includes the Augustinus Bader range (I haven’t tried it but the hype is huge). There’s free delivery when you spend over £45 and it’s fun just browsing through everything here and I’ve pulled out a couple of personal recommendations:
Cool Girl is my favourite texturising spray, it takes your hair from looking coiffed to having a hint of Parisian tousle and the fragrance is fantastic – if they sold it as an EdP I’d buy it for that alone. There are two sizes available, the full one for your dressing table and the small one for your handbag.
If you’re looking for a little something to top up your bag for free delivery, these soaps are superb and of course a much better environmental solution than plastic tubes of shower gel. The full collection with 15% off is here.
And that’s just beauty, there’s 30% off other products across the store, you can find out more here.
Lastly on beauty I’m going to add the Kiehl’s Retinol because I’ve just replaced mine, I’m still using it and I really rate it. It isn’t usually included with their discounts but there’s 20% off here.
Gifts for women – Style
Moving onto other lovely gifts for women, I was thrilled to come across this. I’ve been looking for a tan suede bag for months and I’ve finally found one. I usually steer away from logos but rather than being trend driven this is such a perennial classic that I feel I can make an exception. It’s such a great neutral it would go with everything and elevate an outfit far more than leather ever would – obviously you’d need to spray it with suede protector every so often.
Every year I wear my gold sequin turtle neck and people ask me where they can find one. As we’ve already discussed there aren’t many sequins around but I spotted one and it’s an investment – but given that when it comes to sequins we’re now buying for life, it’s worth it if you really want one. You need good quality because cheap ones tend to scratch your neck making them hard to tolerate for a full evening.
Bucket hats have been back all year but they’re easier to wear in Winter – it can be hard to pull the canvas ones off without looking a bit Noel Gallagher. This is chic and simple with a deep, face-framing brim.
And if you’re on the hunt for a cashmere beanie, you may find a paler shade works better to flatter fading midlife skin pigment. This one is much cheaper than any other I’ve seen.
Cashmere beanie, also available in ivory or black
Gifts for women – travel
Moving on to travel and here’s a gift that anyone would love, an AirBnB giftcard
Something useful, an easy to store/pack steamer. I have a huge one in my dressing room and I can’t really justify replacing it but I wish it didn’t take up so much space. I hardly ever do any ironing since I got it though, it works on everything apart from crisp cotton. The advantage of this is that you could take it on holiday with you too.
Gifts for women – small brands
Moving on to smaller brands, I’m going to start with my friend Claudia’s new jewellery collection. Like most of us, since she’s empty nested she’s found lots of new passions and every season she makes me smile by dedicating her new range to her latest one. You may remember the Viking inspired range dedicated to women of the north which I love, it’s still going strong. Last summer she launched her honey bee collection and her own hives are thriving. By the way she donates 1% of her annual turnover to the B4, 1% for the planet project.
Claudia’s latest love is wild swimming. We’re meeting up in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to finding out if she’s still doing it in this weather – as I look out across a sparkling but frozen Morecambe Bay from my desk this morning I know I wouldn’t be!
Anyway having found great peace from her new hobby Claudia has launched a new meditative range. She has pieces that work as touchstones and others that spin, inspired by the spinning items that Tibetan monks use to calm their minds. Very kindly she invited me to pick something to show you and I had no hesitation in going for this gold necklace. As you know, my silver ‘world is your oyster‘ one has been my talisman for the last five years, I wear it a lot but as the colour of my skin and hair changes I find I’m relying on gold more for the touch of warmth it gives. This new dreams necklace is a beautiful shape and I do find myself using it as a touchstone throughout the day…
… it also has a great double-sided inscription with midlife women in mind – an important reminder…
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”
… after all, we all need to make the most of this next part of our life and follow the dreams we have.
However I can’t help thinking that it would be a lovely gift for a younger woman too, someone just starting out. A graduate maybe, a bride or a new mother to remind them not to lose sight of themselves -as it’s so easy do at that stage of life. There are lots of other pieces in the new collection so do go over and have a look, Claudia’s offering Midlifechic readers 20% off with code MIDLIFEGIFT20 (excluding hand written gift cards and layering sets). Oh and for those who are lovers of the original oyster necklace, I’ve spotted that she’s quietly released that in gold too here!
Going back to cashmere, how about some recycled fingerless wristlets? I’ve never liked the feeling of wool rubbing between my fingers so I always prefer these to classic gloves and I have lots of pairs. Made from old cashmere jumpers there are all kinds of colours on offer; they’re often good for working in the office if it’s chilly and especially useful for dog walking when you have a pocket filled with training treats. There’s a Black Friday week offer with 20% off here.
Gifts for women – make-up for midlifers
This isn’t a new brand but it’s one I haven’t tried before – as a proponent of ‘ageless’ I tend to resist ranges that are targeted by age alone. When big brands such as Pantene are suddenly badging their ranges with menopause it feels patronising somehow but Look Fabulous Forever has had great success over a number of years. It was founded in frustration by midlifer Tricia Cusden when she couldn’t find products that took account of her changing skin. I have to say I really, really don’t like the brand name and so as someone who spends her life working on that kind of thing it’s probably one of the reasons I’ve steered clear. However when they got in touch to ask if I’d like to review some of their make-up, their approach was so hands-off with none of the usual demands of Instagram coverage that I instantly warmed to them.
I’ve been using the pieces they sent on and off for a few weeks now and not all of them work for me but some have surprised me so I thought I’d include them today. First of all the foundation – now I really didn’t like this at first because it didn’t seem to be as creamy as my usual foundation and it sat on the surface of my skin but when I paired it with the primer, it glided on beautifully. It’s very much a foundation for someone who wants a natural look – there’s no added ‘glow’ but it gives a lovely satin finish.
I really do think the primer twins with it, I’ve tried it with my usual foundation and it hasn’t made a difference but it works beautifully with their own product. One thing I would like is more product information printed on the packaging, I like to read about a product again as I open it and I feel as though that’s missing from each item.
Like the foundation, the blush looks utterly natural. It made me realise how much I rely on blusher to add colour to my face because this gave me a much more subtle result. Once more I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to look like a gently enhanced version of their natural self.
The eyeshadow was a surprise – as you know I don’t use powder eyeshadows because I prefer crayons so I trialled it with low expectations but it’s absolutely lovely. I don’t know how they’ve achieved it but it almost has a cream finish when it goes on, it’s matte and it has great depth of colour that lasts.
And lastly the lipstick – they sent me a selection which included this lovely berry shade. It’s called ‘Stay All Day’, it needs reapplying after a coffee so it isn’t as long lasting as a brand such as No7 but I still like it.
After Christmas I’ll try to remember to take a photo of the finished look on my face. Having a shower is tricky after my leg op last week; the hidden valve problems meant that I had to have them both done in the end and I’m a bit sore so all in all I look a bit rough this week! What I will emphasise about this range though is how lovely the formulations are, it does feel as though they’ve been made specifically with midlife skin in mind. If you’re somebody who wants simple, classy, grown-up looking make-up then this is absolutely the range for you and… they offer a 30 day refund or exchange option if you don’t like what you’ve chosen. Oh and there’s 20% off everything until Saturday so it’s a great time to support a midlife brand.
Home and garden
If you’re someone who has everything they need, how about something for the home? I just wanted to point out these rechargeable lamps because they’re great for a spot like a mantelpiece or a coffee table where you don’t want to have trailing cables. I don’t know why they haven’t been thought of before. There are lots of different shades and a few styles of lamp bases available.
Now this is my kind of gardening, a seedball that comes wrapped in nourishing compost so all you have to do is put it on the ground and it grows. I had plans for an exotic jungle scheme down on the deck but when I throw our weather and my gardening skills into the mix, I think I’ll just plant it with wild flowers like these.
There are different themes to choose from and you can see the full selection here. This one is an artist’s meadow but you can opt for single flower types or flowers that attract specific animals, birds or bees.
This is a lovely gift pack, (although personally I wouldn’t really want to attract any more bats than we already have):
I read this weekend that pottery is a big craze again so here’s a great gift for anyone who you think would enjoy it, it must be so therapeutic. This kit includes everything you need to get started and ideas and instructions for 20 different pieces that can be air dried at home. There are all kinds of pottery bundles with Black Friday offers at the moment here.
And I’m going to finish with book recommendations. I’ll give you the option of Amazon or non-Amazon links where available obviously Amazon’s cheaper but the other links support independent bookshops – I’ll leave the choice to you.
Gifts for women – Midlife books
‘Notes on the chuff of life’ – I do like the idea of the ‘chuff’ of life. Entertaining musings on midlife from Radio 4’s Fi Glover and Jane Garvey here, thought provoking and entertaining too – a great gift for a friend.
Did I say that out loud? Notes on the chuff of life – Amazon
Did I say that out loud? Notes on the chuff of life –Support small independent bookshops
Here’s one from Rachel Lankester, a blogger friend of mine who I have to cheer for the huge achievement of writing and publishing a book, particularly because it’s on our favourite subject of midlife. Rachel runs Magnificent Midlife and she’s somebody I really like and really respect. We’ve met a couple of times and found ourselves down a rabbit hole of utterly absorbing conversation because we have the same view that midlife is an opportunity for renaissance but… we come at it from quite different angles.
Rachel is earthier and meatier than I am but that’s exactly why I like talking to her; in the end we usually decide to disagree with each other quite happily. I think being able to have an intelligent conversation like that with someone is precious, especially at the moment when so many people find offence with any viewpoint that doesn’t match their own.
I’ve read most of Rachel’s book now and as always we have different views on things like HRT but it’s inspiring nevertheless. She’s written it as a workshop so that at the end of each chapter there are bullet points that will help you to review your life and consider your next steps. It’s classic that even in the written word Rachel and I have an immediate difference of opinion and the thing that really bothered me (and I told her within minutes of picking the book up) is the Americanisation of language all the way through. She’s British and yet she’s used ‘estrogen’ ‘mom’ ‘color’ ‘aging’ and many other US words and spellings.
Her argument is that a lot of her audience is American and she’s spent a lot of time over there. Now I have American readers too (and you know you’re very dear to me) but as a linguist and ferocious protector of languages I do feel that written English needs to be safeguarded in the UK before it’s completely eroded, particularly when it’s someone’s mother tongue. In fact I told her that if it wasn’t for the fact that I like her so much it would have made me stop reading. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts because Rachel doesn’t feel it will be a big issue for women in the UK but I do. So your feedback would be helpful, especially when she’s put so much work into it. I know she’ll listen because that’s the kind of woman she is so do let her know – and me if you think I’m wrong of course. Either way, let’s open up the debate.
Anyway, Americanisations aside I’m going to recommend her book to you, especially if you’re finding yourself a bit lost at this stage. Rachel’s a brilliant woman and her book will guide you to your own conclusions about what’s next for you in this new chapter that’s wide open with opportunity. You can buy it here… (and yes, it’s priced in dollars – grrrr!).
Here’s one for anyone who misses Schitt’s Creek and can’t quite believe that it’s over forever. It took us a few attempts to watch it but once we got past the first three episodes we were as hooked as everyone else, it was a real pleasure of lockdown. I haven’t seen this book in person yet but apparently it’s a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes information, character development and just joy, More than a coffee table flick-through for any fan of the series.
The Story of Schitt’s Creek – Amazon
The Story of Schitt’s Creek – Independent local bookshops
This is such a beautiful book and rather poignant. It deals with love, loneliness and making connections in a big city and it’s bewitchingly illustrated. I thought it might be particularly lovely for young women who are just finding their way.
Crushing – Amazon
Crushing – Independent local bookshops
A book for absolutely anyone; again it’s beautifully illustrated and it charts the changing seasons from a printmaker’s point of view. One to keep on your coffee table and savour again and again throughout the year.
A Year Unfolding – Amazon
A Year Unfolding – Small independent bookshops
And I’m ending with a sustainably lovely gift – a mystery book or even a hamper. This is a stocking filler – a second hand book wrapped with treats and a donation to charity. You can select the genre of book but not the book itself, it’s guaranteed to be in good condition and a decent read…
… or you can even go as far as a Christmas hamper with a Christmas themed book and lots more goodies thrown in. There are other themes and price-points here – I think it’s a fabulous idea.
Gifts for women – big and small brands
That’s us done for Christmas gift ideas this year, over and out. I hope I’ve given you some helpful ideas that will be useful and truly loved by your friends and family. I’m running a bit behind but I’ll enjoy catching up with your comments over the next few days. Thank you for reading – I’ll be back on Friday with a compendium of all the Black Friday offers – there are so many this year it’s making me dizzy!
Disclosure: ‘Gifts for women – big and small brands’ is not a sponsored post
Early Black Friday offers
John Lewis – Black Friday site here – includes own brand offers and price matches
Sweaty Betty – 25% off everything here with code CHEERS
Whistles – 25% off everything here
Hobbs – 25% off everything here
Ted Baker – up to 40% off almost everything here
Phase Eight – 25% off everything here
French Connection – 20% off everything here
White Stuff – 25% off all coats, knits and nightwear here
Closet London – 30% off all new in with code BF30 here
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