the internet princess gift guide
resisting the feminine urge to gatekeep again
author’s note: i wrote this while listening to the internet princess infinite playlist, the collaborative spotify playlist curated by my subscribers. every time i hit shuffle i always get the perfect song for the situation i’m in which feels very magical and beautiful. you have great taste!
gift-giving is a sacred act. i hope to spend my whole life trying to perfect it. i’m sometimes not that great at caring for the people around me because i’m sometimes not that great at caring for myself, and over my life it’s given me an intense appreciation and admiration for the capacity we have to give to each other — i think i’ll always be in awe of people for whom giving is second nature. unfortunately i think i might have been born naturally self-involved, so i have to work at it. trying to give good gifts to people i love is part of the work.
like i said in last year’s guide: giving a good gift is a side effect of listening, which is the most intimate thing ever. it’s really two gifts, because any good gift comes with the secret, implicit gift of being understood. <3
i am only one woman, so please do go to the comments to give and receive more gift ideas. happy holidays, and here are all my secrets!
year of books
many independent local bookstores offer monthly book subscriptions that can be curated to the recipient’s tastes — here’s one from Queen Books in Toronto. i think this alone is a great gift, but a much better (and sometimes cheaper) option is to do it yourself with second-hand books. If you spend a day going through used bookstores, you’ll definitely be able to find 6-12 books (for either a six-month or a year-long “subscription”) for between $50 and $120. pick ones that are meaningful to you, the recipient, or your relationship. assign one for each month and write a little note on the first page that says something cute or funny or sweet; if you want, you could make it specific to the month they’ll be opening it. wrap each book in brown paper, write the name of the respective months on each book, and give them the whole stack at once (but make sure they know they can only open them one month at a time). you have now given an extremely unique and special gift. <3
decorative lighter case ($55 from susan alexandra)
whenever people ask me for advice on making friends or meeting new people, i give them one piece of advice — always have a lighter. carrying them around with a case or chain is a bonus conversation starter, and it also is just very cool!! the lolita case from susan alexandra is pictured, but you can also find leather and cute crochet ones on Etsy. if you crochet, you can actually just make one yourself — one of my friends once made themselves a cigarette cozy with attached lighter pocket that makes me wish i smoked.
room shop scrunchie ($25)
this is genuinely maybe my favourite personal purchase of the year. i wear the giant satin scrunchie in chartreuse literally everywhere i go — it elevates every outfit and feels super healthy for my very weird and hand-to-manage hair. i recommend these to everybody.
fine food product
a weird fancy food product is maybe one of the most chic gifts ever. a very nice tinned fish in a beautiful container, a package of local cured meat, an esoteric cheese wrapped in paper, a package of dried figs with a tiny jar of herby honey, etc — this is one of my favourite genres of gift to receive. packaging is very important to the execution of this gift: try to get a little woven basket or tie it up with a ribbon & handwritten note.
semi-precious days letter necklace ($70)
i recommended this brand last year because i think they are so cute and great quality! i think this is a great way to do the chunky necklace trend that won’t feel dated or tacky in a couple months.
perfume sample set ($30-$70)
i love perfume!! being able to buy perfume is one of the single best parts of not being broke anymore, and by now i have probably dedicated full weeks of my life to nothing but researching and comparing perfumes. the cardinal rule of perfume shopping is do not buy before you try — which is where sample sets become your best friend for gift-giving and beyond. these sets will probably last for a few months of regular wear all by themselves, and they’re a perfect gift for anyone looking to start building a very cool scent collection.
here are some of my favourite brand sets, from least to most expensive. my current signature scent, if anyone’s curious, is Under the Lemon Trees by Replica.
A. N. Other, $30
Stora Skuggan, $48
if you’re low on money, bring your friend a really beautiful bouquet of flowers with a bundle of twine so they can dry them once they start to wilt. ask your florist to point you towards flowers that preserve nicely and are easy to air-dry (my boyfriend always picks out flower varieties for me that dry well and i’ve always thought it was such a sweet touch). the twine elevates the bouquet into a really thoughtful gift and i have never met anybody who didn’t want dried flowers hanging in their kitchen!!
i love this soap. i bought two for my mom and then one for myself and i will buy many more. they look so beautiful and elegant and clean! you can hang them in the shower or next to a sink for actual soap purposes, but you can also place them in a drawer or on a shelf and they’ll make the whole space smell incredible. i usually buy them directly from these Lebanese family artisans, but it looks like they’ve paused selling them for now — keep checking back, though, because i had a great experience with their shop.
this gift idea is recycled from last year’s gift guide, because it’s cheap and timeless and so good. a good gift is also a compliment, and to gift someone a subscription to a writer’s substack is to say “you are a modern yet timeless twenty-first-century woman! you have subversive tastes yet timeless sensibilities!” this gift also comes with a free bonus gift that keeps on giving, because a substack subscription is temporary but the social capital of visibly enjoying contemporary women’s non-fiction is forever.
my fav paid subscriptions are hunter harris’s hung up, p.e. moskowitz’s mental hellth, and jessica defino’s the unpublishable. you can, of course, gift a subscription to internet princess by clicking here. <3
woodchuck sato tabis (~$200)
THIS IS MY BEST-KEPT SECRET. i genuinely hesitated to put this in the gift guide but i have to remind myself that it’s the season of giving!!! this guy on Etsy hand-makes these tabi shoes for a fraction of the price of the Margiela ones and they are genuinely indistinguishable from real tabis, if not better. i got the ballerina heels and they are maybe the nicest and most comfortable pair of shoes i own. best of all, you don’t have to feel bad about getting a dupe because Margiela didn’t invent tabis anyway.
because these are high-quality artisan shoes, they’re still quite expensive, but i think they’re perfect to ask for as a splurge gift from your parents or to give to your best friend if you have some extra cash. highly highly recommend.
CD player + special CD
the best gift i’ve ever given was last year’s christmas gift to my boyfriend — i found someone selling an extremely rare mix CD of South African rock songs from the 80s and gave it to him with a portable CD-walkman and headphones. the CD itself was like $18 and the walkman was maybe $70 (but you can find much cheaper ones secondhand) and he still listens to it almost every day. one of the crazy things about physical media is that if you really dig, you can find music that very few other people in the world have ever listened to or will ever access; collecting a library of music that you physically own also supports independence from tech oligarchies and subscription-based bullshit. starting or expanding a physical media collection is the gift that keeps on giving!
for even cheaper, you can also burn a personalized mix-CD, which i think is the perfect gift for a best friend or partner — it’s like a spotify playlist with just enough extra effort to be special. it also feels really nice to have to put specific thought into the flow of the songs, the transitions between tracks, etc. to paraphrase brian eno, the limitations of a bygone medium are always what end up making it feel special.
thank you so much for reading!! honestly please let me know about your favourite gifts to give and receive in the comments — i’m sure many of you have better taste than i (and i still need to find a gift for my mom).
i am literally currently shopping for presents AS I TYPE, so once again, i'm kind of convinced you're a little bit psychic. this is so perfect. thank you rayne, queen of gifts and the internet
Inspired (sort of) by last year's list, i am currently trying to put together a cookbook email advent calendar with personal stories and messages mixed in. Last year, I was the first of my circle of friends to move out from my parent's house so this is pulling double-duty as older sister how to live advice content. I am also knitting up a storm and trying a little embroidery design.