Honestly, I think the best Bridesmaid or Best Man gifts are the ones that are personalized–and I don’t mean crap that happens to have the BM’s name or initial on it. I mean, a gift that was selected specifically for each girl. My SIL gave all her BMs different things and mine was a beautiful coffee table book on architecture because I loved that. If you have one girl who’s a foodie, a nice olive oil and vinegar set or great coffee would be nice, while the sports nut might appreciate some bball tickets. I wouldn’t worry so much about being democratic or “spending the same amount on each girl” because if you know them well and give them something that honors who they are, they won’t care.
But, here are things that either I got that I liked or friends got that I WISHED I had gotten!
-If your BMs all live in the same city (or you know their cities well enough), services also go over big–like gc’s for mani/pedis, or massages.
-An umbrella (that was pretty plain–no personalization or cheesy designs)
-A DVD picked specifically for me along with some food goodies (some homemade by the bride)
-A pashmina that was in a neutral color, not the wedding colors (because, much as I like teal, it doesn’t really go with the rest of my wardrobe)–silver, cream, gray, black…you get the idea
-The classic LL Bean “Boat N Tote” tote bag
-A little basket of potted herbs that the bride grew (she was a gardener)
-A good sturdy water bottle (like a Klean Kanteen or CamelBak)
…And stuff that I didn’t like, or my friends have gotten and complained about: Most of it–and I’m sorry to say it in such brutal way, but–falls under “Misc. Crap:”keychains, stuffed animals, makeup/cosmetics bags, jewelry boxes, clutches (unless it’s really plain and neutral–no woman over 12 goes out with a pink polka-dot clutch that has her initial on it), etched vases, barrettes & hair items, smelly candles, flasks & shot glasses, photo frames (unless again, classic and neutral)…I’m sure that you’ll get responses from BMs who’ll say, “Hey, I once got a jewelry box and loved it!”–I’m just saying that I hear the most complaints about these sorts of things because it’s much harder to match such a wide variety of tastes, combined with the fact that a lot of these things are sort of demanding of the BM’s fashion and/or space (ie, things that she’d have to put on display or wear or use everyday). It’s not a big deal to think that the flip-flops you were given were ugly, but it’s a bigger deal to feel like you’ve got to put a picture frame that you think is cheesy looking on display in your home.
Jewelry falls somewhere in between: it’s a nice thought, but there’s about a 10% chance that it’ll be my style and that I’ll wear it again (just being honest). Oh, and I’m one of the .001% of women who don’t have pierced ears and have gotten earrings twice. But it’s still a gracious thing to give and at the end of the day, if it just goes into storage as a momento, so be it. If you are going to go that route, smaller, delicate jewelry is better, more BMs tend to prefer silver to yellow gold, and sometimes a little personalization goes over well, like birthstones or initials.
(Sorry this is so long–been a Bridesmaid or Best Man a lot so I’ve got lots of opinions on the matter!)