The 2021 Holiday Gift Guide for Her
Gifts and stocking stuffers for every woman on your list
by Lois Joy Johnson, AARP, November 18, 2021
Holiday gifts used to be an easy, one-size-fits-all task. We’d wrap some cute mugs or candles, bake some cookies, sign the cards and cross off our to-do list. Now the gift bar has been raised. Thanks to daily online sales, social apps promotions and higher prices, gifting can easily break your budget … unless you shop with a list. Here are the best bargains, splurges and stocking stuffers from $10 to $80 for every woman on your 2021 list.
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PHOTO BY: Zara; Sephora; Walmart
1. The trend seeker
She’s always first to do and wear anything from shag haircuts to sock booties. That’s because she shops what’s new — just like millennials do — and the phrase “age appropriate” never enters her mind. Retro dazzle will keep her 50-plus influencer vibe going, so give her the Zara Sequin Shirt in Dark Red ($70, zara.com/us/en), a holiday entrance-maker over jeans or black pants; the Time and Tru Women’s Slouchy Shoulder Bag in Trailblazer Brown or Hunter Lodge ($25, walmart.com), a squashy baguette style worthy of the Sex and the City sequel; or a purse-size Yves Saint Laurent Libre Eau de Parfum Travel Spray ($30, sephora.com), a head-turning mix of lavender, orange blossom and vanilla that makes everyone say, “You smell fabulous, what are you wearing?”
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PHOTO BY: L.L.Bean; Target; Ulta Beauty
2. The hip homebody
Whether she works from home or just has a full calendar of book clubs, gardening, yoga and cooking, comfort style is her mantra. Take her everyday basics up a notch or two with the Women's L.L.Bean 1912 Sweatshirt, Sherpa-Lined Cardigan in Oatmeal Heather ($79, llbean.com), a soft shawl collar twist on her usual hoodie; the Dluxe by Dearfoams Women’s Fernie Genuine Shearling Slippers in Black or Gray ($42, target.com), suede moccasins with a rubber tread sole that work for errands, too; or the J.R. Watkins DETOX Bath & Shower Aromatherapy Tablets in Turmeric and Citron ($15, ulta.com) with muscle-soothing oatmeal for tub or shower (just place in a corner of the stall) that also clears the mind and senses with energizing ginger and citrus. It’s great way to rev up in the a.m. or wind down before bed.
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PHOTO BY: Athleta; Target; Madewell
3. The natural
She’s a vegan who likes beauty and fashion with a clean, green, sustainable twist. Follow her altruistic lead with gifts that are Fair Trade Certified, organic or made from recycled materials — like the Athleta Tugga Scarf in Fog Camo Metropolis Grey ($68, athleta.gap.com), a camp print neck warmer made from recycled water bottles; the Madewell Colorblock Quilted Scuff Slippers in Recycled Faux Fur in Light Sand Multi ($40, madewell.com), recycled from post-consumer plastic; or the Beloved Grapefruit Oil & Red Ginger Body Mist ($10, target.com), an energizing, vegan scent that’s cruelty-free and packaged in recycled plastic.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; Ann Taylor; H&M; Neiman Marcus
4. The classic
She wears pants not jeans, loafers not kicks, sweaters not sweatshirts, and lipstick and perfume with everything. Give her a gift that’s sophisticated and polished but updated just enough to make a contemporary difference, such as the Gap Modern Long Sleeve Striped Boatneck T-Shirt in Navy Blue and Green Stripe ($30, gap.com), timeless flattery in new-for-her colors; Ann Taylor Pearlized Chain Hoop Earrings ($40, anntaylor.com), a hybrid that’s fashionable; the Robert Piguet Fracas Luxury Hair Mist ($70, neimanmarcus.com), a fresh way to wear this classy and timeless tuberose-gardenia scent; or the H&M Clear Glass Jewelry Box in Gold-colored ($30, www2.hm.com/en_us/index.html) to keep her bangles or makeup easy to find and on display.
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PHOTO BY: Zara; Anthropologie (2); Old Navy
5. The free spirit
She’s a hippie-at-heart with crystals in her bag, a tattoo on her wrist and clogs on her feet. Keep the boho vibe updated with the Zara Fringed Knit Poncho in Green ($70, zara.com/us) to wear with vintage wash jeans, midis and maxis; the Anthropologie Fringed Pocket Scarf in Grey ($64, anthropologie.com), oversized with useful pockets for keys, airpods or hands; the Old Navy Long-Sleeve Smocked Printed Poet Blouse for Women in Black ($37, oldnavy.gap.com), a go-with-the-flow alternative to tees; or the Bohemian Reves Desert Fleur Botanical Perfume Rollerball ($32, anthropologie.com) with patchouli and vanilla — a scent that’s déjà vu … in a good way.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; Kohl's; Old Navy
6. The daily exerciser
She checks her steps on Fitbit when shopping, rides a “cruiser” bike that looks just like her old Schwinn for spins around the neighborhood, and wears joggers or leggings and a tunic top every day. You’ll never see her in a gym but give her sneakers-with-everything style a lift with the Old Navy Long-Sleeve Vintage Quilted Tunic Sweatshirt for Women in Terrestrial Green or Date Palm ($40, oldnavy.gap.com) with a high-low hem that flatters every body; the Gap 100% Recycled Nylon Relaxed Lightweight Puffer Vest in Olive Green and Black Leopard ($55, gap.com), an essential layering piece for nature lovers; or the Women’s Columbia Winter Blur Pom Pom Beanie in Black ($35, kohls.com), a fleece-lined knit hat with a faux fur accent.
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PHOTO BY: Zara; H&M (2); Nordstrom
7. The luxury lover
She has a yen for labels and logos even if it’s only on a perfume or lipstick, craves cashmere and silk but wears synthetic, and finds low-cost lookalikes to pricey designer duds. Give her the Zara Quilted Chain Strap Shoulder Bag in Chocolate Brown ($50, zara.com/us/en) as a stand-in for another coveted brand; the H&M Knit Dress in Dark Beige ($40, hm.com/en_us), which has a relaxed fit, dropped shoulders and a runway-worthy look to wear with the H&M Waist Belt in Brown ($15, www2.hm.com/en_us/index.html); or a designer lipstick like Chanel Rouge Coco Ultra Hydrating Lip Colour in 472 Experimental or 440 Arthur ($40, nordstrom.com) in a clear modern red.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; LOFT; H&M
8. The worker bee
She’s back on the job. Whether it is 9 to 5, a part-time gig or working from home, the paycheck, mental stimulation and camaraderie of coworkers are worth it. Keep her Zoom- and meeting-ready with gifts that make 7 a.m. dressing and spontaneous screen time easy — like the Loft Cowl Tunic Sweater in Tango Red or Wild Magenta ($60, loft.com) in face-brightening hues, the H&M 6 Pairs Hoop Earrings in Gold-colored ($15, www2.hm.com/en_us/index.html) to add a chic touch of face-warming radiance, or the Old Navy Oversized Soft-Brushed Overcoat for Women in Sunflower Gold ($80, oldnavy.gap.com) with a chic tailored cut and above-the-knee style that will work with skirts or pants.
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PHOTO BY: Target; LOFT; Mango; Target
9. The glamster
She’s a beauty-and-style junkie who likes a pulled-together and polished effect 24/7. Keep her Evite and holiday ready with gifts that sparkle, shimmer or shine. Make every day a good one with the EcoTools Satin Pillowcase in Cream ($6, target.com), made from recycled shimmery silk to reduce next-morning frizz and bed head and minimize sleep lines; the Loft Jeweled Button Cardigan in Blue Lake ($65, loft.com) with puffed shoulders and glitzy details that’s an instant day-to-night look; the Mango Croc-effect Cosmetic Bag ($20, mango.com/us) — so classy it can could double as a clutch; or the SpaLife Intensive Repair Hand Mask ($5, target.com), a two-pack of gloves enriched with argan oil and shea butter that will smooth and soothe without wrecking a manicure.
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PHOTO BY: L.L.Bean; Target; Old Navy; Sephora
10. The outdoors-enthusiast
She prefers birdwatching to people watching, walks in the rain to runs on the treadmill, and ponytails to perfect blowouts. Encourage her fresh-air style with weatherproof solutions like the Old Navy Water Resistant Frost Free Short Puffer Jacket for Women in Trident Maple or Venetian Blue ($80, oldnavy.gap.com) in a not-the-usual-neutrals color; a pack of Kristin Ess Satin Skinnies ($10, target.com), elevated scrunchies that prevent breakage or creases (great for fine, thin hair); the L.L.Bean Adults’ Sunday Afternoons Nightfall Reflective Beanie in Black ($30, llbean.com) for safe dog walks after dark; or the Skylar Willow Woods Eau de Parfum Rollerball ($29, sephora.com), a clean, earthy and woodsy scent perfect for evenings by the fire.
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PHOTO BY: Macy's; Target; Ulta Beauty
11. The sociable single
She’s divorced, widowed or on her own by choice, but her active social and dating life makes looking good a priority … whatever her age. Give her time-saving gifts that add a sparkling finish to any outfit — like the A New Day Women’s V-Neck Ruffle Pullover Sweater in Black or Gray ($30, target.com), available in women’s and women’s plus sizes; the Revlon One-Step Pink Hair Dryer & Volumizer PLUS ($70, ulta.com), a lighter update that has more settings and slimmed proportions; or the Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia Eau de Parfum Spray ($80, macys.com), a crowd-pleasing floral scent that’s sexy and memorable. (It's so good you’ll want to keep this one for yourself!)
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.