Gifts for Black Women

by Phyllis Rawley

Gift giving can be a wonderful way to express feelings of friendship, love, admiration and congratulations. It can also be a challenge when you're not sure what is expected of you or what type of gift to buy. Be clear about the relationship intention that the gift represents. A holiday gift for a co-worker will be different from a gift intended for a love interest. Being culturally sensitive to black women shows that you are the type of gift giver who is caring enough to "think with your heart."

The Joy of Thoughtful Giving

Young black woman, 1860

Whether the black woman you are buying for is American, Brazilian or Nigerian, all women appreciate beautiful things. Flowers are a universal gift that express emotion, like a dozen red roses means love or passion in any culture. Gift giving will be separated into two categories, general and intimate. General gifts are given to anyone you don't know well, like wine, chocolates, pen sets or books. These should be gifts that you would see on a desk, served at a dinner, or commonly used in public view. Intimate gifts are lingerie, perfume, toiletries, bedding or items that you would not see unless you have or desire that level of intimacy with the lady.

Cultural Sensitivity

Bath gift basket

There is a saying, "When black women conquer their hair, they will rule the world." Michelle Obama constantly draws media attention to any changes about her hair, as her choice of style is not natural and difficult to maintain. The ongoing challenge for a black woman is that her hairstyle decision comes every 6 to 8 weeks when it's time for maintenance. It is safer to stay away from specific products like curling irons or chemical relaxers and choose gift certificates to beauty supply stores or her favorite hair salon. That way the gift is about hair care in general and not making a statement of: "I want you to look like this." The same sensitivity should be taken with any personal hygiene item, with exception to spa or relaxing bath gifts such as bubble baths, salts and oils. If you notice that she has dry skin or feet, don't buy her lotion, but consider buying a gift set or certificate to a bath store. That will send a message of "'pamper yourself." These items if purchased should be in a visually appealing gift basket. Food gifts can become a sensitive issue if the lady has a weight problem. Since black women are prone to diabetes, sweet gifts in small doses are best. Gifts that you think are traditionally 'black' like watermelon, barbecue or fried chicken can very easily be taken as offensive and should be avoided.

About the Author

Eighteen years of professional career equally divided between the for-profit world as an executive recruiter, published author, national speaker, and comedian and then non-profit, environmental, entrepreneurship education and foundation management. Three books: Career Tips for Teens, Career Tips for Twenty Something's and Career Workbook and written for National Employment Weekly.