Bella Acton has seen it all when it comes to gifts men give women: The good, the bad, and the just plain bizarre. The founder of Never Liked It Anyway, a site where women can sell gifts from relationships gone bad, has made a career out of letting women rid themselves of material memories.
With the tagline, “Buy, Sell and Tell All Things Ex,” women look to make an extra buck off failed relationships—they’re putting everything from engagement rings to wedding dresses back on the market, and they’re explaining what exactly went wrong. As purveyor of this unique online marketplace, Acton has gotten quite the handle on not only how women feel about gifts they’ve received, but also which ones they tend to hold on to.
Looking to gift your lady something that’ll withstand time—and emotional rollercoasters? Start with these five types of presents.
“Treat her to something indulgent she wouldn’t necessarily buy for herself, and not only will she swoon at the gesture, but she’ll probably also give you a fashion show every now and then.”
1. Handmade Gifts
If you put almost any amount of thought and time into a handmade gift, you’ll probably pull on a few heartstrings. Think: A photo book you carefully designed and ordered from iPhoto (it’s handmade in the digital age), anything customized with her name or initials, or even something genuinely handmade. That said, don’t just scribble on a folded piece of paper and call it a romantic homemade card. She’ll be able to smell your half-assed, last-minute attempt from a mile away. Acton says, “It’s super rare to see girls selling handmade gifts [on the site]. We had one girl sell a handmade stamp with a poem engraved in it—but that was a complete one-off.”
Try This: iPhoto Photo Books (Price Varies; Apple)
High-quality, sophisticated lingerie is an extravagance almost akin to fine jewelry. Treat her to something indulgent she wouldn’t necessarily buy for herself, and not only will she swoon at the gesture, but she’ll probably also give you a fashion show every now and then. Plus, she’d be hard-pressed to sell used lingerie when she’s pissed at you. “There’s nowhere to sell lingerie,” Acton says. “It’s just too personal. If a girl’s really mad, she might throw it out, but nice lingerie is always worth holding on to. Every girl knows that!”
Try This: Hanky Panky ‘Dauphine’ Babydoll & G-String ($120, Nordstrom)
Handbags are one of those inevitabilities in women’s lives: We can’t really go without them. And because we have to carry them around pretty much every day, we tend to get excited about finding just the right ones. Take a look at your lady’s current collection to feel out her taste, and take note if she ever mentions something she’s craving. If you can use that intel to gift her a handbag she’ll really love, chances are she’ll carry it proudly (and maybe brag about her oh-so-thoughtful guy whenever she gets compliments). “Sometimes, girls sell [purses]—but it’s definitely a less common item,” Acton says. “We once had a girl who sold about 10 handbags. She discovered that they were gifts her ex gave every time he cheated. It makes sense she wanted them all gone!” Bella says. Lesson learned: Only buy her handbags when it’s a genuine gesture, not a guilty one.
Try This: The Zip Transport Tote ($188, Madewell)
4. Personalized Gifts
As kids, we couldn’t get enough of monogrammed backpacks and beach towels. And it’s amazing how, even as grown adults, we can get so excited by seeing our names or initials displayed permanently on our belongings. Getting her a personalized gift shows you took the time and energy to make something otherwise mass produced special for her. Add her monogram to that everyday tote bag, or snap a picture next time she signs something and have her signature turned into jewelry. Acton says, “The only personalized gift we’ve ever had on the site is a sweatshirt that says ‘Spaz’s Girl’. I’m serious! It’s hardly surprising that it didn’t sell!”
Try This: Yvonne Grade Personalized Signature Bracelet ($41, Hatch)
I know, I know: Shoes are definitely an atypical gift, for a significant other…or anyone, really. But if you’re looking to splurge, snag her a pair of timeless, high-quality heels that she can wear endlessly. Chances are, she’s ogled a few pairs in front of you that she’s resisted actually buying, and she’d be oh-so-touched by the fact that you picked up on it. “We do get some shoes for sale on the site, but mainly when a guy gets the size or style wrong,” Acton says. “If you know your lady well and get shoes she loves, she’ll never get rid of them. Ever!”
Try This: Kate Spade New York ‘Sage’ Pump ($298, Nordstrom)
Join thousands of men and women who are dressing up for a good cause. Go formal with Made Man and Career Gear on Friday, October 9th to help empower men in need with resources, training and suits they can use to rejoin the workforce. Because for every photo posted to Instagram or Twitter and tagged #FormalFriday, we’ll donate a dollar to Career Gear. Learn more at mademan.com/formal-friday.