Gifts for the Shady Phaedra in Your Life
Should you be blessed to have a Phaedra Parks as a friend, then you know exactly what it’s like to be constantly on the defense, constantly on emotional guard. This friend is often silent but deadly—a good listener, though—and a connoisseur of metaphors. When they speak, it’s usually to call upon Jesus, give helpful unsolicited advice or make grand proclamations about why everyone around them needs to get it together, because they simply do not have the patience. They’re the epitome of the upside-down smile emoji.
This friend knows how to pithily gather a messy person, but also knows when to shut up and let their smile or facial expression speak for itself. Because they do have manners. If this person is a rock in your life, you’ll want to reward him/her with gifts that show how much you appreciate their shady ways. Even if this means sometimes you’re the victim of their subtle wrath, the world would be too boring and pleasant a place without them.
Paper hand fan or portable handheld fan
A fan is an essential accessory for your friend because of its versatility and innate aura of shadiness. Anyone holding a fan simply looks like an expert shader. First there’s its obvious function as a cheap, portable cooling system on hot days. But your shady friend will also appreciate being able to whip a fan out when stating snide remarks like, “Forever 21 is having a sale,” to fully optimize their shade.
Is said friend always talking about hypothetical haters? A fan is helpful, so when the haters—fans, if you will—step into their shadow, your friend can proceed to look completely unbothered. Though a portable fan would do better at serving a functional purpose, a paper fan is best for aesthetic reasons.
Personalized wooden cross
If your friend is like Phaedra, then they’re either super religious or always calling on the Lord (out loud), either to prevent them from cursing someone out (“Lord, help me...”), to bless a person they hate, or to fix a situation they feel has gotten out of hand (a la Phaedra’s favorite phrase, “Fix it, Jesus”). A cross, then, is the perfect gift for their home, one that says: I am a devoted servant of the Lord who shall nonetheless shade you into eternity.
A fancy, elaborate hat
If there’s one thing Phaedra cannot live without, it’s a humongous, extravagant hat. The purpose of a large hat is, ideally, to conceal one’s facial expressions while offering shady remarks and to, of course, shade oneself from the elements. The bigger and gaudier, the better. But please, stick to primary hues. Your friend doesn’t want to be that much of a show-off, just enough to be the center of attention. Remember, according to Phaedra, “A wig does not count as a hat, honey.”
Teavana sapphire blue teapot set
Tea? Your friend always has it, always craves it, always dishes it. This person is always metaphorically sipping it, so just get them an actual tea set—a nice one—to help them look the part of a shady being. You could also throw in a box of hibiscus tea for good measure because it’s tart just like your friend.
The best way to impress a shade thrower? Play their game. You’ll never be quite as great as them because you weren’t born with the skills—maybe you’re good at math instead. But a gift that tells your friend about themselves—a Roomba—is a great response to all the shade they threw you all year. It’s your opportunity to not so discreetly tell your perhaps pet-loving friend that they’re messy. Or rather, “Aww, these fur balls are so cute.”
Gifts for the SUR Waiters and Waitresses You Know and Hate
While I recognize most of us don’t interact with literal SUR waitstaff in our everyday lives, we all have that one hot mess of a friend who is too old to be doing whatever stupid shit they’re doing. And even those friends deserve gifts—gifts to better their lives or simply keep them distracted so they leave you the hell alone.
A paternity test kit
I mean, it’s only a matter of time. It’s actually rather surprising that accidental pregnancies aren’t a more frequent storyline in the Vanderpump Rules universe. (Of course, other than that time Jax cheated on Stassi with that waitress in Vegas and maybe got her pregnant.) Knowing who your real parent is is great and all, but it’s most important to know so the father can immediately get a job at SUR and take his rightful place in the cast.
A fancy hair straightener
If you spent approximately 22 percent of your life grooming, you too would want some high-quality tools to get the job done. This particular straightener has supposedly been optimized to work well on color-treated hair, which will certainly be good news to this crew.
I am of the belief that the best relief for a hangover is a chilled bottle of yellow Gatorade, a full liter of room temperature water and a breakfast burrito from this great place down the street from me on Fairfax. If that specific combination of good isn’t readily available, these “nutrient replenishment and liver support” capsules are supposedly very effective. They’re branded as multivitamins “for healthy people who who drink,” which is a truly impressive way of flattering borderline alcoholism. You can’t convince me this product wasn’t specifically made for an up and coming SUR waitress who is trying to earn her full cast member slot on the show.
A vaping starter kit
Do these fools vape? I feel like they vape—or like they should vape. They seem like vape people. Vaping sounds like something they’d like—very much up their alley. I would get them a vape, is what I’m saying.
Talkspace Gift Card
Who doesn’t need a licensed therapist on speed dial every second of their life? Did I say speed dial? I meant speed messaging because Talkspace is a service that allows you to text a therapist as much as you want, which is probably as helpful as actually talking to someone? Who knows. Plus, you know this group is better at texting than talking.
I would argue that most of the issues among the Vanderpump Rules cast stem from the fact that they’re all insane and deeply immature, yes, but also because they’re terrible communicators and nobody actually listens to anybody. I’m guessing that, at the very least, these therapists will text you back immediately and probably won’t immediately try to pivot the conversation to their own problems.
The one caveat is you actually have to pay for these so you don’t end up flying back and forth to Hawaii for trial dates. These will also work great to shield your face while the Botox settles in.
Luxurious Gifts for the Elegant, Highly Sexual (and Possibly Bankrupt) Sonja Morgan in Your Life
“I have a taste for luxury and luxury has a taste for me,” says Sonja Morgan in her Real Housewives of New York Season 3 tagline. Surely, you have a friend or loved one who can relate. These are gifts for the “DE-LUUUU-SION-AL,” party-loving Sonja with a sexy J in your life.
A toaster oven that’s actually been produced and is on the market
If being Sonja is so wrong, why does it feel so right? Maybe your pal’s line of toaster ovens never came out despite your coaching and the hours that you put into helping them launch their brand, but that doesn’t mean they should go with cold food (to match their cold townhouse) this holiday season! Get them a different kind of toaster oven—one that’s useful and actually exists.
In these curséd depraved times, you can—through a handy Google search—find a dance or fitness studio that offers a beginners burlesque class usually for about $15 a session. Let your loved one tap into their inner Sonja by giving them the tools they need to create their own caburlesque performance. If they happen to live out in the boonies or are too shy for classes, you can always settle for an instructional DVD pack. If you really want to go the extra mile, throw in a gift card for Frederick’s of Hollywood to help them find the perfectly trashy burlesque outfit.
A tiara (and a Netflix subscription)
If there’s one thing we learned on the last season of RHONY, it’s that yes, it IS about Tom. If there are two things we learned, it’s that AND the fact that Sonja loves Netflix and occasionally watches it while wearing a tiara. Give your friend the gift of unlimited streaming and the elegant headwear they’ve always deserved!
Grey Gardens (The Criterion Collection)
This Maysles brothers’ documentary tells the story of Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (Big Edie) and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (Little Edie), rich socialites-turned-broke shut-ins who lived together in Grey Gardens, their filthy, crumbling, and derelict estate in the Hamptons until Big Edie’s death in 1977. You don’t have to explicitly tell your friend that you’re trying to warn them about the dangers of delusions of grandeur and extravagant spending, but hopefully they’ll take the hint.
A rich person’s vibrator
“Too opulent” is not a phrase that exists in your friend’s vocabulary, so why apply it to a sex toy? Give your fancy, orgasm-hungry pal the gift of gold-plated D with this 24-karat gold OLGA vibrator by LELO so that they can blow their load like the Upper East Side elite. If the $3,490 price tag is too much for you, you can always go for one of their slightly more budget-friendly luxury models. Or, if you really don’t want to spend any money but like the idea, just get them a used DVD of Austin Powers: Goldmember and a bottle of lube. It’s not like you’re made of money.
An appointment with a financial advisor
Cost will vary, but the lesson will be priceless.
A personal assistant
The Amazon Echo is a speaker/voice assistant that can both play your music and answer questions about just about anything: your schedule, your questionable business holdings in Dubai, the weather and traffic for your trip to Atlantic City, or whether or not John-John Kennedy is still alive.
To quote my colleague Mario Aguilar at Gizmodo, “When you say the wake word ‘Alexa,’ it starts listening and you can ask it for information or to perform any of a number of tasks...Its got what Amazon calls ‘far-field recognition’ that allows you to talk to it from across the room. It eliminates the clumsiness of assistants like Siri and Google Now that you have to be right on top of.”
While it’s true that Amazon Echo has neither the human-shape or youthful glow of one of Sonja’s unpaid interns, it’s actually legal to make it work 24-hours a day and it can never sue you for violating labor law.
Gifts for Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson
Even if you’re not connected to a network of revolutionary hackers, everyone knows a guy who’s a little bit like Mr. Robot’s Elliot Alderson. Putting aside the fact that your personal Elliot Alderson is likely not the giant honking dreamboat that Rami Malek is sorry to us all), there are a few defining characteristics that will make it easy for you to choose a holiday gift for this brooding figure in your life: disinterest in flashy clothes, deep distrust of the government, and a proclivity for staying indoors whenever possible.
This person is complicated and perhaps infuriating in every single aspect of life, except when it comes to their material needs. Therefore, the holidays are a rare reprieve from their bullshit because anything you give them, they will love, so long as it is a version of one of the five or so items they deem acceptable to keep in their lives. The key here is simplicity, combination of the practical and utilitarian, but slightly luxurious in order to pamper them in ways they didn’t know they wanted (and honestly, very likely won’t notice, but at least you can feel good)
Again, if this gift guide were for Rami Malek, it would be populated with Dior suits and La Mer cremes pour homme, but it is for Rami Malek as his Mr. Robot character Elliot Alderson, so sink into the paranoid wave and flow with it.
Hidden picture frame spy camera
Here’s the deal: the FBI is very likely futzing around in ya man’s apartment when he is not around, for various reasons such as hacking into their mainframe. But they’re not going to go unnoticed, because he’s onto them: any move they make to tap into his hard drives (or whatever) will be recorded with this tiny spy cam, hidden above the framed photograph of his dog (or whatever).
Seamless Gift Card
Make him eat, cause he doesn’t enough. Also, customizable. Get him one with fire on it.
This bananas mirror
This mirror will remind him to reflect on the fractured nature of reality, and will also look cool in his home, which is sparsely decorated.
Real recognize real: your personal Elliot will want nothing more for the holidays than IRL Elliot’s notebook, an “in-world fiction book with 7 removable items” written by Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail and staff writer Courtney Looney. He’ll delve into the mind of a tortured genius and see how closely he relates.
Y-3 Hooded Sweater
The genius in costume dressing Elliot Alderson in an iconic hoodie is that it works because it’s accurate: every freaking nerd-dude slash malcontent makes a black hooded sweatshirt a uniform. Get him a new version to replace the dirty one with holes in it he’s been wearing for six years, and make it a nice one.
Gifts for the Relentlessly Perfect Marissa Hermer in Your Life
If you don’t know who Marissa Hermer is, I feel sorry for you.
Marissa Hermer carries pregnancy well. Marissa Hermer is well-spoken and successful. Marissa Hermer has a tasteful website. Marissa Hermer will never, ever wear an outfit that is inappropriate for the occasion. Marissa Hermer. Marissa Hermer. Say it like a prayer, or if you want to feel bad about yourself.
Marissa Hermer, an American cast member on the seminal Bravo reality show Ladies of London, has it together to a nearly extraterrestrial degree. She has three tiny British children, a doting British husband, substantial personal wealth, a forthcoming cookbook (An American Girl in London), the outward appearance of calm contentedness, and London society in the palm of her perfectly manicured hand. Marissa Hermer’s parties are devastating in their detail and precision, her home has been featured in magazines, and her Instagram account is an eclectic mix of Sundays in bed with the kids, black tie events, beach vacations, and ruthlessly perfect tea time snacks for her children.
Marissa Hermer, upon reading a somewhat critical blog post about her choice in baby beverages under this byline, has befriended me on social media as part of, I assume, a frankly genius strategy to making me feel too guilty to write rude things about her. Since I am a professional, I will continue to say what I feel about Marissa, but I am in awe of her ability to make me not want to—to make me, instead, desire the glow of her plucky approval.
Do you know someone like this? Someone so relentlessly organized and immaculate that it makes you want to scream, and also prostrate yourself at their feet and never let go? What the hell do you get for that person? Here are some ideas!
Extremely expensive floral scissors
These floral scissors from Goop.com are meant specifically for gardening and flower arranging. They are beautiful, obscenely priced, and completely uncalled for. I am convinced that only Marissa Hermer, or someone like her, would know what to do with them.
Adorable egg cups
I did not actually know for sure what an “egg cup” was until I noticed, while perusing Marissa Hermer’s Instagram account, that she collects them. I find this exhausting, and inspiring.
Marissa Hermer isn’t edgy, per se, but sometimes, she enjoys a pop of color for a night out. Who doesn’t, gals? Enter Glossier, the absurdly well-marketed and kind of reasonably-priced beauty line for the downtown Instagram girl whose skin and features are already fine. Personally, I like Generation G in “Crush.”
Lucite desk supplies
I am willing to bet $10-$20 that every single woman who has ever engaged in a discussion about “having it all” also has lucite desk supplies. If Marissa Hermer doesn’t already own, at minimum, a clear stapler, I will set my hair on fire and run screaming into the see.
Stationery that will look cute on Instagram
Every Marissa Hermer worth her salt has to own some fun-yet-classy stationery—for thank-you notes, personalized letters, and posting inspirational mantras on Instagram.
Babyccino mug set
If you think every member of Marissa Hermer’s family doesn’t have a personalized mug, you’re freaking dreaming—the Hermers love a mug. And the young Hermers love babyccinos, which are, as far as I can tell, steamed milk packaged for babies with a taste for the high life. These personalized kids mugs are perfect for jumpstarting your elegant 4-year-old’s busy day.
Gifts for Your Friend With a Million Food Allergies
You may have a friend who you’ve recently experienced as annoying. This friend suddenly couldn’t eat dairy products, and then, soon after, gluten; eventually, she began having trouble digesting onions, and raw vegetables, and alcohol, and starts saying things like “leaky gut” and “healing energy treatment.” She complains constantly. She gets teary-eyed at restaurants.
You can’t help this friend. Sometimes, it seems as if no one can, not even her gastroenterologist, who is like, “idk!” She is alone in a smoky abyss of unsympathetic first-world problems. But you can give her a nice holiday gift! Here are some ideas.
It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow
At this point, your friend has leaned all the way in to the bougie side of life. She is her own worst enemy, and she doesn’t care anymore. Gwyneth Paltrow, whose trendy and restrictive dietary life once puzzled and amused your friend, has now emerged as one of the only cookbook authors with recipes insane enough to match her eating requirements.
Gluten-free/vegan cookies that don’t taste like shit
The bar is admittedly low for your friend’s taste buds by now, existing, as she does, on brown rice pasta and extremely bitter chocolate—however, Lucy’s Cookies manage to taste almost normal without using milk or wheat products (or eggs?!), which is frankly almost impossible.
Fancy vegan cheese
Your friend misses cheese. Wouldn’t you? Luckily, vegan cheese is booming business these days, and it’s becoming less and less disgusting. This sample cheese box from Dr. Cow, whose cheeses are made from raw cashews, got high marks from Food & Wine.
A very good book
Your friend needs to be distracted from her own stupid problems. Myths to Live By, a collection of fascinating lectures delivered in the ’70s by legendary mythologist Joseph Campbell, will give her something to talk about besides her colonoscopy results.
She just wants one, okay?
Gifts for Your Friend Who Plans to 'Make 2017 Her Year'
You know the homegirl in your friend group who, back in August, broke up with her boyfriend because his friends just like, totally ignored her at Governor’s Ball and what the hell was that about? In September, her allergy to stone fruits was honestly the worst it has ever been. And then, in October, nobody got her costume at ALL and kept asking if she was Lady Gaga but she was obviously sexy Dolores from Westworld!!!
2016 was a disaster.
The good news is you guys got a drink last week, and she is in a really good place right now. She’s cutting out wheat and going to focus on herself for once. She’s not going to get you anything for Christmas, but will be hurt if you don’t get her something—but what?
The new year is an excellent time to start a hobby. Plus, this particular friend of yours would do well to expand her horizons, and there is an approximately 110 percent chance that she has never clogged before.
Journal filled with M&Ms
Journaling is so important. But so is chocolate, right girl?
Some soothing chamomile tea
This is a perfect present for her if she didn’t just cut out wheat—and apparently refined sugar, which she announced moments after you gave her the diary with the chocolate in it—but is also suddenly very concerned about the calorie count in alcoholic drinks (which she inevitably referred to as “alkie” when you were in college).
Under-Desk elliptical trainer
There is no substitute for exercise. There is also no substitute for a desk complicated enough that just sitting in it is such a distraction that she won’t be able to g-chat you while about whether she should get bangs or not while you’re in a meeting.
A Book About Religion
Studies show that adopting a spiritual practice can help a person who has gone through a difficult period find stability and healing. I didn’t finish reading the study, but I imagine it doesn’t matter which one. Why not try Missionaries, Parents, and Girls Who Wait by David R. Mickel?
CPR “mouth” and “nose” for kissing practice
This is a good “splurge” gift if you’re feeling really generous this year. On the card, you can write about how she doesn’t need Seth in her life to get practice making out.
Gifts For the Friend Who Unironically Refers to Herself as a #GirlBoss
Do you have a friend who identifies strongly with the #GirlBoss brand? It’s the friend who shares inspirational quotes about overcoming the difficulties of being a woman in corporate America. A friend who has a job that pays well, even though you’re not exactly sure what she does for a living. A friend who rails against “being basic” and wonders about abstract concepts like work/life balance. A friend that earnestly uses the hashtag #girlboss on social media to describe some corporate feat.
She considers Sophia Amoruso a style icon and inspirational leader. For her, Sheryl Sandberg is a minor saint. She has disposable income, she’s fashionable, and she once told you that when Amoruso said that “GirlBoss is a new word for feminism,” it really struck a chord. You nodded without saying a word.
T-shirt indicating her edgy music tastes
A #GirlBoss definitely spends a lot of time proclaiming her interest in hip-hop and rap, or any other genre of music that might be perceived as “edgy” in corporate boardrooms. This Wu-Tang shirt is perfect for her, she might even know some of the lyrics from “Protect Ya Neck” and, if she doesn’t, this is the perfect opportunity for her to get acquainted. It will be great when she starts using the line “swinging through your town like your neighborhood Spiderman,” when she comes for a visit.
Your friend definitely believes in the “lost art” of letter writing and bemoans social media’s role in dismantling real human contact in her Facebook posts. This stationery that simultaneously screams “expensive” and “interesting” is perfect for maintaining her brand across multiple formats.
A purse might be an accessory, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be accessorized.
Pop-on manicure set
#GirlBosses on the go might not have time for an elaborate manicure, but these pop-on sets at Sephora are perfect for a busy business woman who uses the word manicure as a synonym for the phrase self-care.
A true #GirlBoss would never carry a classic luxury handbag, she’s probably railed against the Louis Vuitton Speedy as the most basic bag that a woman can own or rolled her eyes at a Birkin spotted in the wild. But wallets are a different beast and their constant handling require the work of a luxury retailer.
A branded accessory
This pin is the perfect way to say, “I recognize and appreciate your brand but I have student loans to pay.”