The other day, I was struggling to negotiate a friendly settlement between a close buddy and his lovely wife.

He said: “I told her I’ll take her out to dinner for her birthday, but she got angry and slammed the phone. Women!"

Gifts issue: As always, with prices

When I called her, she said: “He’s been married to me for seven years and he still wants to take me to a place of his choice for my birthday. Doesn’t he know I don’t like that place? When will he ever learn?"

Me, in an effort to placate: “Men are like that. Once, my husband gifted me a bronze urli for our anniversary. I bet you don’t even know what an urli is."

She: “What’s an urli? At least he gifts you things. My husband has already told me not to expect a gift."

Bottom line: Gifting is no easy task. Especially, if you’re not like my sister-in-law, who always has the perfect gifts (always perfectly wrapped) for any occasion. Our birthdays are just a day apart and we usually celebrate together. And gift together. This year, she got me a lingerie gift voucher from one of my favourite stores (perfect gift); I got her a lavender handbag that stayed in her cupboard for three months until I pointed out that she wasn’t using it. I should have noticed she’s conservative when it comes to bags—I’ve never seen her carry anything that’s not black, brown or white.

If you struggle with gifts and gifting, this is the issue for you. This week’s Lounge has 111 ideas to get you started for the festive season. Everyone on the team went shopping; then, colleagues Melissa, Manoj, Devajit and Pranab conceptualized these fabulous looking pages. My favourites in this issue are Shoba Narayan’s column on Page 5, the candles on Page 8 and the gifts from NGOs on Page 14. But one of the best things about Lounge is that everyone usually likes something different—so pick your favourites. I also asked some colleagues about the gift they will always remember. Here’s what they said:

The second-hand Yashica SLR camera my dad gave me when I went to study mass communication in Mumbai. I still have it and it takes the best pictures ever.


My first boyfriend gave me a gold necklace with a heart and small sapphire. It was embarrassingly ugly, totally not me and I never wore it. But it was the first grown-up gift I’d ever gotten and I was kind of impressed that he made the effort of going to a jewellery store for me. That was 10 years ago and I still have it.


My grandmother’s copper dishes and bowls, given to her by her father when she got married.


My best friend gave me my first really “valuable" gift: an indigo silk Ritu Kumar scarf, which he bought from his first salary at his first job. I was 17 and, coming as it did after cuddly bears and figurines, I felt very grown-up.


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