Gift Ideas for a 'Treat Yo Self' Best Friend

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Age: 56

Place: Florida

Relationship: best friend

From the gift-giver:

Retired and wealthy. I am neither. I met my friend because we both enjoyed foxhunting. Now that we are older we no longer ride, but have remained friends for 30 years now. She and her husband moved to Florida 13 years ago to look after her aging parents. While she lived in Michigan she owned a plumbing store. She is generous and helpful to family and friends in need.

Her home is beautifully decorated in a Florida fashion—lots of citrus colors. She enjoys cooking and we have often cooked together. She loves the Food Network. We exchange recipes often—she has all of mine. She golfs and plays bridge, and loves to entertain. I live in Michigan and I visit her at least once a year; she comes up here once a year. When I visited her recently, she rented a limo for us and five of her women friends, and we went shopping and out to dinner. This is an example of what she likes to do for fun. I guess you could say that we are best friends. I love her and I like to show that in the gifts that I give her.

Any gift they’ve loved?

Some of the favorite things I have given her are things for the kitchen such as trays and gadgets. But she really likes it when I send her cookbooks.

We recommend: Ruth Reichl’s new cookbook ($35) and a sweet apron ($32)

Your best friend may live in Florida now, but the way you describe her reminds me so much of what I admire about my dear friends from Michigan. They seem to do everything well—and joyfully. Your friend's enthusiasm for cooking and generosity of spirit calls to mind, too, some of my favorite writers—Nora Ephron, Ruth Reichl—women I always wished I could hang out with, in part because they remind me of my best friends.

Reichl, who has a new cookbook out, talks about how the act of making a meal is its own meditation, something to be savored (almost) as much as the resultant dish. In My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life, Reichl catalogues the months she spent cooking and finding joy again, after the magazine she edited, Gourmet, unexpectedly folded.

And you might pair that with an apron—not the kind you put on just to protect what you're wearing underneath, but one that makes creating a meal feel even more festive. I like this one from Anthropologie.

Other ideas:

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