Gifts! That we give ourselves! What a concept!
Last year, I started a thing. A gift guide for single women full of gifts that aren’t sad consolation prizes that assume our lives are inherently shittier than everyone else’s. My gift guide assumed our lives were just as good. (Actually better, that was just me trying to be nice.)
Do a quick search for “gifts for single women.” It’s either incredibly degrading “single and ready to mingle!” ballyhoo, things related to wine, or items with phrases printed on them that really make you sad about the societal opinion of women who simply sleep by themselves—case in point this journal that says “freak out and throw stuff.” I mean honestly can we stop associating singlehood with instability? For fucks sake.
Other guides focus on “sexy” things for going out and hooking you a man, like thigh high boots, red lipstick, lacy bralettes, you know—bait. If you look for gifts for single women on Etsy, it’s a very long list of jewelry made of single pearls. I swear to you in one guide I saw a gift card for a twerking class and the only way that’s fun is if it’s given to a group of friends of various genders and life stages and someone is in charge of setting up a GoPro. In one guide I saw We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which is an excellent gift, but for EVERYONE. It’s inclusion specifically in a guide for single women feels weirdly placed, and for lack of a better term for my feelings, icky. Married women are feminists, too. Fuck it married MEN are feminists, too! Stop it.
My 2019 guide focused on gifts that allowed us to surprise ourselves, meaning mystery boxes with surprise contents, etc. so that when we open them, we’re just as surprised as someone who’d been given a gift by a partner. For 2020, that mangey beast, I’ve take a different approach, focusing instead on items that simply make things nice. This year has not been nice. Let’s remedy things for ourselves via self-gifts that never feel like consolation prizes for a relationship, hmm?
I have been writing content for single women for eight years, and podcasting for them for two. If you have a single woman in your life who deserves presents (literally all of us) and you’d like more information on the kinds of things we like, please explore the following:
- pajamas and loungewear, basically anything without zippers or collars
- comfortable footwear for long walks
- books and book clubs
- journals (with NOTHING WITTY AND CUNTY PRINTED ON THEM)
- beauty gifts like palettes and sets, to us those are toys
- safety-focused gifts like this thing or running lights
- really nice kitchen things
- personalized stationery, we’re actually really good at snail mail
- absolutely anything related to travel, like this seatback organizer
- any kind of fun subscription box
- extremely useful home items like space heaters and crockpots
- things that are very funny like this pizza pocket
- things for the bath that don’t imply we’re sad, like this bath tray that swivels and is therefore genius
- things that are delicious but do not imply we’re “eating our feelings” whatever the fuck that means — food can be celebratory and luxurious without implying we need it to hold us in the night
- yes, sometimes we like shit for cats
- stylish cozy things like this chunky knit throw (I actually want one of these if you know me and want to buy me presents)
Basically, the thinking around gifts for single women needs to shift from sad and shoving us toward either dating or a drinking problem, and into usefulness, style, and comfort. To be even more clear on the topic, please stop buying single women the following:
- printed mugs and pillows that you think are funny but to us are just degrading and insulting by focusing on the one thing we don’t have (a relationship) instead of helping us celebrate all the things we do have like homes and friends and passports
- oversized wine glasses or printed wine glasses that say “it’s not drinking alone if the cat is home” or other less-than tat
- candles (you have no idea what we like in terms of smells—one caveat is you may buy us candles if you ask what we like first, or purchase us ANY scent from Diptyque)
- things related to ice cream or food-focused gifts that imply that’s our only comfort—if you want to give us something edible, it better come in a fancy ass box we can reuse later like Marie Kondo
- things that “fix” “problems” like weighted blankets (unless we ask you for one)
- succulents (why?!?)—we can care for real plants please and thank you!
- anything that implies we should hate men like mugs that say “male tears” —our singleness does not mean we hate men, it’s just means we’re single, shut up
Singlehood isn’t sad. It isn’t something that needs to be comforted or empowered or taken out dancing to meet boys. It is free, and independent, and valid, and whole. It’s something to be celebrated. And because we live in the world and society that we do, often if we want our singlehood celebrated, we have to make that happen for ourselves. And yes, you’re fully allowed to wrap your own presents even when you know what’s inside. It’s your holiday.
To read the full Single Girl Gift Guide for 2020 and try not to freak out about the advent calendar entirely filled with caramels, click here.
Shani Silver is a humor essayist and podcaster based in Brooklyn who writes on Medium, frequently. Some links above are affiliate links.