Every holiday season media outlets publish gift guides for what to buy those hard-to-buy-for types on your holiday shopping list, and one of the most popular gift guides is “What To Buy For Your Wife/Mom/Life Partner/Person-Who-Has-A-Vagina-Who-Gave-Birth-To-Your-Spawn/Female Person Who Has Children” roundups. And they are always wrong. I can’t tell you what to buy for that special lady in your life, because I have no idea who the hell she is. And I really hate sweeping generalizations like “Every woman is sure to appreciate ____!” because no, not every woman wants a stupid toolkit housing “specially designed for the delicate female hand” pink screwdrivers. All women are different. All women like different things. If you don’t know the woman who gave birth to your children well enough to know what to buy her, than you probably shouldn’t have knocked her up to begin with. But for the love of Frosty The Snowman, please don’t buy her a scarf.

Scarves, pashminas, wraps. Do you have any idea how many scarves the woman in your life has? We have around thirty. Once we wanted scarves. We had this really great idea at one point that we would tie scarves around our head and wear oversized black sunglasses, like we were some glamourous movie star who had to avoid the paparazzi while we were buying Cap’N Crunch. This never happened, because when we tied the scarf the silk was always too slippery and it would end up untying and we just looked like a crazy person wandering the grocery store parking lot looking for our car while we carried bags full of Cap’N Crunch. We have enough pashminas and wraps too. We always forget to wear them and they are usually in danger of becoming a make-shift cape when one of the children decides they want to be Supergirl or something.

Don’t buy us appliances, of any sort. Unless, of course, they are full-sized carnival cotton candy machines. Or $3900 espresso machines. Or magical full-sized housecleaning and professional-chef grade robots that also can act as drivers and garbage-taker-outers and can turn into private jets because they are also Transformer robots. We don’t want new crockpots or vacuum cleaners or sonar toothbrushes or wide-slice toasters or those stupid foot baths you plug in that emit lights and air bubbles to massage our feet. We are not going to sit there with our feet in a tub of water and “relax” just because you got drunk on overpriced vodka tonics on an international flight and perused the Sky Mall catalogue. And if you do buy us that $3900 espresso machine, we will assume that you won the lottery and are lying to us about the rest of the money so on second thought don’t buy us that either.

Spa gift certificates. Nothing says “I had no idea what the hell to get you so I bought you a gift certificate to a spa” like a gift certificate to a spa. Going to get a manicure or pedicure or facial is just maintenance , we can do that ourselves. It’s like getting us a gift card to get our cars detailed or our teeth cleaned or pick up the dry-cleaning. If we want to go have our hands stuck in softening paraffin baths we are more than capable of getting it done on our own time, without a stupid prepaid permission slip from our significant others. If you buy us a gift certificate to a spa we will never use it, and forget it amongst our piles of pashminas, and we won’t remember where we put it but we will also know that we put it somewhere, so after we look for it for 30 minutes we will give up and our eyebrows will go unthreaded for a year. Is that what you want? You want us to have un-groomed eyebrows? To hell with you, pal.

Personalized jewelry that says shit like “Number One Mom” on it or those awful dog tag necklaces that read the names of our children in comic sans or stacking rings with birthstones in them. Unless we have specifically told you we want one of these items than the chances are, we probably don’t. We love our children, yet some of us don’t want to express it by wearing an artisan, hand-stamped, one of-a-kind silver disc saying so. And these sorts of gifts come with bonus extra built-in guilt because if we don’t wear them, than we obviously hate our families and would rather be living out or lives as single women who work in Las Vegas as trapeze artists rather than moms who are currently attempting to figure out how to remove bubblegum from suede.

The woman who mothers your children is probably dropping all sorts of hints about what she hopes to find under the tree this year, you probably just aren’t paying attention. If you ask us, most of us will just say “Oh, you don’t have to buy me a gift” which can roughly translate into anything from “I want three boxes of salted caramels” to “I’d really like some slipper socks” to “I want this absurdly cool and amazingly expensive three-doll necklace by Marni” to “I would like a chicken coop.” Because the majority of us can’t afford $1000 chicken coops, you can never go wrong with a lengthy, hand-written letter listing all the ways we are amazing partners and mothers, and all about how your life would be a sad barren wasteland of nothing without us. Include a simply framed photograph of the kids and present it to us with a cup of very good coffee and an IOU for a back rub later. The very best part of a gift like this is that it would actually mean something, plus, we can’t return it. And what sort of jerk mom would dislike a photo of her own kids? Not the one with the badly groomed eyebrows!

(photo: infografick /shutterstock)