Shopping Siren has never won the lottery. Never been surprised by Publishers Clearing House people on her front step. Never been rescued from the path of rampaging bulls by a handsome Spanish prince with deep brown eyes and an accent to die for.
Not to say I haven’t been lucky.
I have had the same best friend since I was 13.
When you’re a kid, best friends are pretty common. Back then, you had so many you had to rank them. Your second best friend sat next to you and had the sparkly markers, your third best friend lived down the street and was always up for a game of Battleship. You met your fourth best friend at summer camp.
But as you get older, a real BFF — the kind you room with in college, go first-job hunting with, share heartbreaks with — is exceedingly rare. Unless you’re lucky.
So my best friend’s birthday ranks right up there with my mom’s birthday and Christmas as Important Days to Shop For. If you have a best friend, you know what I mean.
Only … I have absolutely no idea what to get her. (And, unfortunately, she’s not into scarves or else this would be a whole lot easier.)
Used to be we got creative. Once, when we were poor college students, she went to a thrift store and spent $2 on a tic-tac-toe set complete with little metal cat and mouse pieces. I got her a genuine movie poster from her then-favorite movie. They were some of our best presents ever.
However, in recent years, gift cards have taken over as our go-to gifts. Borders, iTunes. They’re great, but surely I can do better. After all, I’m creative. I have ingenuity. I love to shop! Shouldn’t be a problem.
And if it is? Um. Well. Her favorite movie has changed since college.
• Books, Goodwill, various prices
Sure, they’re mostly used and I don’t generally recommend giving used gifts. But books are a different … well, story. Browse the shelves for your BFF’s favorites in hardcover originals or out-of-print paperbacks. When in doubt, check out childhood favorites. A pristine hardcover copy of “Curious George Flies a Kite,” copyright 1958, for 99 cents? More memorable than a barrel of monkeys.
• Frames, Goodwill (Auburn), $4.98
Hot pink tabletop/wall frame with “BFF” along the side. Your best friend left her hot pink phase behind with boy bands and glittery lip gloss? Try the more subtle maroon and brown tabletop frame with “friend” lettered along the bottom edge. Share your best times with your best friend.
• Candle garden, Goodwill, $6.98
Package includes two pillar candles and one ball candle, a ceramic tray and clear plastic gems to scatter elegantly around said tray. Package it with a spa gift certificate for you and her and you’ve got a girls’ day out. And, hey, you get to go to the spa!
• Jean jacket, sizes 6-26, Fashion Bug, $17.99
Medium blue denim jacket with simple, clean lines. A classic. Just like her.
• Cozie Wrap, Fashion Bug, $9.99
Fleece blanket with arms and pockets, comes in blue, pink and leopard-print. Go for the leopard. Because, really, if you’re going to give a fleece blanket with arms and pockets, it has to be in leopard print.
• TomTom One 130S, Radio Shack, $89.99
Portable GPS. Tell your BFF not to get lost.
Best find: Sing Scene pop video game, Radio Shack, $29.99
No game console needed. Just plug the mic into your TV and sing along to pop songs, scoring points when you hit the right notes. For the BFF who’s always fancied herself a singing sensation. Now she can be one! (In the comfort of her own living room, without the potential trauma of an audience. Hey, what are friends for?)
Think twice: Lame gift cards, various places, anything less than $10
Gift cards can be a great (see candles/spa idea), but if you’re getting the gift card for a restaurant that has a drive-through, for a shop that features used items or for a service provider that doesn’t provide a service your BFF needs (think dog walker when she doesn’t own a dog), try again. A $5 card to McDonald’s is great for the paper boy, not so much for the friend who weathered your very first car accident with you — in the passenger seat. So get creative and get shopping. BFFs deserve something great, don’t they?
Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who still say dogs are a girl’s best friend) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.