Retailers really don't need a special holiday to offer gift ideas for the women in your life. Big bows, glittery wrapping paper and surprises are always in style. But for those of us who are baffled when it comes to choosing the perfect gift, retailers and industry experts offer some tried-and-true as well as original gift ideas that are sure to make your favorite lady happy.

(For more ideas on gifts, read 5 Holiday Gifts That Keep On Giving.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Jewelry
While it may be true that diamonds are a girl's best friend, gold, silver, platinum, precious gems and semi-precious stones are also high on the wish-list for this holiday season.

In fact, the jewelry business has been strong all year with sales up more than 11% from last year, according to the Jewelry Industry Research Institute and a strong commodities market for metals pushed for increased numbers. In spite of the recession fears, which may put a damper on other retail sectors, purchasing jewelry and accessories is often seen as a way to spruce up one's wardrobe without having to buy a closet full of new clothes. In addition to the traditional jewelry styles, oversized shapes and artisan pieces are among the top trends for 2011. According to the Jewelers Board of Trade, the total sales in 2010 reached $63.4 billion, with consumer confidence slowly increasing, this number is expected to be passed by the end of 2011.

Clothing and Apparel
Let's face it, some women want to look good no matter what the economy dictates. So, one can never go wrong with a gift of the latest fashion. Jeans, sweaters, coats and boots top the list of must-have items for holiday gift-giving, and according to research firm ShopperTrak, an increase of 2.7% is expected for sales of apparel and accessories. According to PriceGrabber, 66% of shoppers surveyed plan to select apparel for gifts this holiday.

Electronics and Appliances
Sales figures tell us that women also like electronic gadgets, like eReaders, iPods, iPhones and mobile devices, but for different reasons than men. Women like to stay in touch and catch up on the latest celeb gossip rather than search for news and sports. And developers have tapped into that female market with stylish and fun devices as well as applications that appeal to women with busy schedules, such as grocery, doctor and fashion magazine apps. As far as appliances go, they are no longer reserved for Mom. The huge popularity of cooking shows and celebrity chefs have given new appeal to high-end and high-tech appliances and cookware, which can transform the kitchen into the new hot spot in every home. (To help you survive holiday gift giving, read 4 Types Of Gift Giving That Will Leave You Broke.)

Books, Music, Videos, Games
In 2009, gift giving was all about personal, said BIGresearch. In 2010, shoppers were more practical. This year, it's a little of both. Of shoppers surveyed, 46% said they plan to purchase one or more of these items this holiday season, according to PriceGrabber. With online shopping outlets so abundant, selecting just the right music – physical or digital - has become much easier. 2011 industry reports from Billboard and Nielsen Soundscan indicate overall music sales (which include albums, singles and music videos) are up 8.5% over the same period in 2010, from 756 million to 821 million. Analysts expect the trend to continue through the holiday shopping period.

Gift Cards
Can't decide what to buy? Gift cards are no longer considered impersonal. In fact, PriceGrabber found that 52% of consumers say they plan on purchasing gift cards for holiday giving. Makes sense. Most retailers, restaurants and other goods and services offer gift cards, and merchants, such as supermarkets and drug store chains, have available other retailers' gift cards for their customers, as well, leaving behind the hassle and stress of choosing the perfect gift. In 2010, TowerGroup research found that the total sale of gift cards reached $91 million which was nearly a 5% increase after two continuous years of falling sales. They also found that shoppers were more likely to redeem their gift card in January, immediately after Christmas. According to the TowerGroup Research, the gift card industry is expected to reach $100 billion by 2012. Some top choices for gift cards are department stores, chain restaurants, day spas, gym memberships, and theater tickets. (For more on gift cards, read Will Your Gift Card Gift Go Unused?)


The Bottom Line
You can't go wrong with the traditional favorites for holiday gift giving. And retailers are already blitzing television, internet and print ad space. But a little creativity can also go a long way to finding that perfect gift for the woman or women in your life.

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