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Last Minute Beauty Gifts

By Amalah

Hi Amy,
I stupidly offered to help my boyfriend with Christmas shopping and take care of gifts for his sister-in-law and 11 year old niece. I know this is short notice but am wondering if you have any suggestions. I was thinking either a Philosophy or Laura Mercier bath set for the SIL and possibly a less sophisticated bath/shower gel with lip gloss (not too make-up-y) for the niece. They’re both pretty low maintenance, athletic-types, but the SIL does like to be pampered a bit (he gave her a salon gift cert last year which she loved but he doesn’t want to repeat the same gift). Again, I know this is short-notice what with Christmas just a little more than a week away, but it’s also timely – do you have any suggestions? I know I would love one of the Amazing Grace sets but I also know it’s incredibly difficult to buy fragrances for someone you don’t know that well because what if they’re allergic or hate the particular fragrance you choose or whatever. Ugh! Any help would be appreciated!
Happy Ho Ho Ho

And NOW who is talking about Christmas gifts on incredibly short notice? And GUESS who is rushing to finish this column so she can go haul ass to the mall and buy a bunch of gifts she’s known for a month she needed to buy, but sort of hoped that if she completely ignored the holiday season, all this stuff would just sort of take care of itself?
So since I’m in a hurry, you’re probably in a hurry, the whole world is in a big hurry, I’m gonna simplify this down to a list of ideas rather than go on a rambling tangent about gifts and fragrance and whether or not it’s a good idea because THERE IS NO TIME. AND THAT’S WHY GOD INVENTED GIFT RECEIPTS. Like any gift, you do your best, but make it easy on the recipient to return it if they need to. Don’t bug her later to see if she’s used it, be happy if she volunteers a glowing review later.
So here are my favorite beauty and pampering-related gifts and sets, by price and recipient. Now get in the car and GO GO GO the clock is ticking.

LUSH Legends
, $276.95, hot damn
LUSH Honey It’s Christmas, $76.95
Philosophy’s The Miracle Worker, $85
N.V. Perricone M.D. Power Program, $140
Laura Mercier Chocolate Truffle Bath & Body Collection, sold separately, $36 to $55
Juice Beauty Green Apple Body Brilliance, $59
Bliss Glamour Gloves, $48
Sue Devitt Holiday Eye & Lip Kit, $36
Carol’s Daughter Souffle Trio, $32
Korres Party Survival Kit, $29
Kiehl’s Cranberry Deluxe Gift Box, $43.50
LUSH Frosty, $9.95
DuWop Lip Venom Trio, $21
Bliss Tried & True Travel Kit, $20
Sephora Girls Secret Box, $24
Philosophy Kiss Me Lip Trio, $25
LUSH Very Berry, $39.95
Marc Jacobs Daisy Solid Perfume Ring, $30
Philosophy Cinnamon Buns Shimmer Body Lotion, $18
Prada Amber Pour Homme Gift Set, $72
Anthony Logistics for Men The Perfect Shave, $50
Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer, $14

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I would also recommend any of the Philosophy Bath and Body Gift Sets — — that are just a bunch of the shower gels, or maybe a shower gel + lip gloss for your niece. The thing I like about the Philosophy shower gels is that they smell yummy in the shower, but the scent does not linger after you are done showering if you don’t want to walk around smelling like a gingerbread man all day. (Personally, I don’t mind smelling like dessert, but I know that is not everyone’s thing.) These shower gels are always on the… Read more »

the ass editor
the ass editor

I am a huge fan of Sephora’s Scent Sampler Gift Certificates, available for men and women. They come with samples of either 8 (men) or 10 (women) different perfumes and a gift card you can redeem for a full-sized bottle of any of the included fragrances, all for just $50. I think they’re great picks becuase they’re more personal and fun than a regular gift card, and you don’t run the risk of choosing a frangrance the recipient hates.


Despite being totally 70s, some Bonne Bell Lip Smackers would probably go over well as a non-make-upy gloss for the 11-year-old. One of the big tubes or holiday flavours, preferably.


I ought the lush frosty for my hard to please sister in law, so I’m glad you recommended it here.


I might recommend a mother-daughter spa day (if any of your local spas offer that), which would take care of them both in one package.
Personally, I’m getting my SIL a couples massage for her and her husband. As for her daughter, who is also at the same age as your niece? I’m getting her a gift card for her favorite hair salon, and The Daring Book for Girls (I want to get this for her while she’s still young enough to enjoy it).
Hope that helped.


If you’re not concerned about having an actual package under the tree, I’m partial to subscriptions to things people get all year long. Magazine subscriptions (how about Seventeen or Marie Claire for the niece, Sunset or Real Simple or Cook’s Illustrated or the New Yorker for the SIL?) I just got my secretary a 1-year membership in the “Scrub Club” from this place: She starts in January so I can’t give a review, but it looks fun. And in looking for ‘of the month’ clubs I came across one that sends the person a sample-size perfume each month. (But… Read more »


These are great. May I make a request? Would you do a gift guide for us next year? I would be willing to help if time is an issue.


Wow! You used my question! Thanks for all your great suggestions! I wound up getting the SIL the Best of Bliss set (my Sephora was really picked over and plus, it’s a very small store) and the niece is getting her first flat iron including thermal protection spray and some innocent (sugar cookie?) smelling bath and body stuff. And they’re both getting gift receipts so they can return any or all of it. Oh, and for the record, I bought myself the damn Amazing Grace set because, lemme tell ya’, between work, school, and dealing with having my place broken… Read more »