Please see UPDATED for 2015
Are you one of the many reenacting men who are wondering “What do I get my wife for Christmas?” or “What do I get my girlfriend for Christmas?”. If so, this post is for you.
With such a unique hobby it can sometimes be challenging to find that perfect gift or gifts. This is especially so if you are a military focused man while the love of your life is focused on an ever improving civilian impression. There are questions of authenticity piled on top of the usual questions of personal preferance and fit that go along with buying any woman a gift.
Well, here is a list of mid-19th century appropriate gifts that a woman is sure to love:
- Lets start with the last minute gift just incase it is the last week before Christmas and you’ve been distracted with work, the weather and every other crazy thing that happens this time of year. You can find just about everything you need to make your wife or girlfriend a nice hair basket or box in your local stores. Really. Find a cute box or basket, on that is about the size of a softball and simple. If you happen to see a plain tin covered with a paper label in the holiday cookie/candy/nut section, grab that and take the label off. Head to the hair section. Here pick up a pack of hairnets (the kind the lunch ladies wore when you were in school), a pack of small hair pins, a pack of large hair pins, a pack of the brown plastic pins that look like shell and a pack of the small black elastic bands. Arrange these neatly in the box, basket or tin. If you have time and are crafty, take the items out of their package and put them in little fabric bags or tie them with pretty ribbon. (If you don’t have a bag, don’t open the elastic bands.)
Now, on to the items you can order online….
- Ribbons are something every woman will love because they are so pretty and very useful. My favorite ribbon source is www.ribbonstore.com owned by a lovely woman named Carol. She is also on Ebay under Ribbon Store. The great thing about Carol and her ribbons is she send your ribbons in a pretty presentation inside a candy box. So creative! I highly suggest her silk satin ribbons which come in a variety of widths (pick 1″ and 1.5″ to start) and her German moire ribbons which come in bonnet widths (3″ and 4″). To figure out the right colors, think about what dresses you see your wife or girlfriend in most often at events or a dress she might be working on for herself this winter.
- Picking clothing is very difficult and a good thing to avoid. One expection are stockings. For stockings you want natural fibers (cotton, wool and silk.) I happen to love Sock Dream’s O Basics as well as their O Woolies as they are both very comfortable and nearly 100% natural. For silk stockings check out James Townsend who also has nice thin cotton stockings as well. For stocking colors white and black are the best safe choices. If you know she has a favorite color and might just wear colorful stockings, get one pair in her color. Clocking is good. Avoid stripes.
- If you want to be a little creative, here is a little twist on filling a stocking I’ll call “a pocket full of sundries”. First, buy a pocket, the kind that ties around her waist under her skirts. Here are a couple 1, 2. Fill it with sundries such as – pomade, hand-salve, a fan, lavender soap or sachets and rose water. Then top it off with a reproduction pattern.
- If you have plenty of planning and shopping time, some items you might consider include a custom made box or trunk, or a carpet bag. – If you happen to be a craftsman you can make her a lovely box or trunk. Just about any reenacting woman can use a new box or trunk.
- If your wife loves keepsake gifts, you might consider a parasol, a lace or paisley shawl or a piece of jewelry. If you don’t have a local antique jewelry dealer you trust, here are some favorites – Originals by Kay and Another Time Antiques (who is my local go-to.)
Gift Certificate Ideas – If you want to play it safe or know your wife likes doing her own shopping, gift certificates are a nice idea. A few to try…
- Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, Micheals – A good choice if you have one near by and she enjoys sewing.
- Her favorite seamstress or milliner if you know who she is. May I suggest – Mrs Parker’s Millinery, Timely Tresses, Vivian Murphy’s The Mantau Maker, and Orginals-by-Kay
- Robert Land is a great choice for footwear.