Natalie Massenet, the chairman and founder of online luxury retailer Net-a-Porter, offers free advice on what to buy for the ladies in your life. As she says, women talk—so think of each present as a marketing campaign for yourself.
1. For girlfriends and wives, start with the feet:
I have counseled so many men about the power of buying a woman shoes. We don't expect them from a man, and it's what women love. Don't buy practical shoes—buy something that implies you're going to take her on a really great date, like Christian Louboutin Love pumps. Find out her size, then take the time to open up the shoebox and write a little note inside that reads: WEAR THESE SHOES. I'LL PICK YOU UP AT 8:00.
2. For female friends and colleagues:
The Scosha Gypsy Friendship gem bracelet set is something I have given to every one of my closest friends. It always works.
3. For Mom, go with the heart:
Give her a leather agenda from Smythson, preferably in chocolate brown, and then on the page of her birthday, write: DINNER WITH ME. Don't say anything beforehand—just wait until she reads it. It's personal and unexpected. Plus, every mom wants to spend more time with her kids.
4. For Sis, think cool:
The clutch bag is really important. Girls go out, and they need to be able to carry their lipstick and their credit card and not much else. There's a Miu Miu ombré paillette-embellished clutch that's tiny but really pretty. Sure, you could give her a very practical tote bag and she'll use it every day, but sometimes women just like to have pretty things.
5. On flowers:
The key to bouquets is to go with one kind of flower. Take away all the greenery, and keep it really simple. Peonies or cabbage roses in white are beautiful. Sending flowers before a date is a lovely way of saying "I'm looking forward to seeing you tonight." Don't just hand over flowers as the gift.
6. For the home, shop luxury basics:
It has to be something useful you would never buy for yourself, like a cable-knit cashmere blanket from Ralph Lauren. No one would turn that down, even if they had five of them. For someone at the beach, Pucci beach towels.
7. Music always makes people feel good:
I once got my mom an iPod, had it engraved, and then filled it with the songs of her favorite singer, Frank Sinatra. Another time, I had 12 houseguests and I downloaded a song with each of their names. Every time one of them arrived, we played their theme song. It costs 99 cents to download the song, but the thought is worth so much more.