Three essential items to carry in your handbag, always!

While I was an account manager of a popular hair serum at the Ogilvy brand, the idea of quizzing Instagram fans on what a Celebrity A-lister carries in her (or his) handbag, came up often. Needless to say, the idea was shot down, because it’s a marketing move that’s done to death. But there’s some truth to this game, because there is a list of essentials you should carry in your bag at all times.

Many celebrities are known to carry basic things, like an extra pair of underpants for their kids (Lena Headey), passport (Shakira), but its Jenny McCarthy’s insight of keeping a blank check for emergencies, that really got me thinking about what should be in my handbag.

Be it a handbag or backpack, there’s a list of essentials that should be part of your everyday …

The secret hundred dollar bill

Jenny McCarthy is onto something by keeping a blank check in her handbag, but I go a step further and urge you to stash a hundred-dollar bill and forget about it. It’s your secret money, that no one ever needs to know about. The only situation you are allowed to use it is, when you are completely broke and running out of food and will die if you don’t eat. And, hence use it to buy a cookie.

All jokes aside, there was this one time when there was a severe thunderstorm that flooded the entire city. Most banks had to close and the ATMs were not working. Water had flooded into most of the apartments and it was a total disaster. I used my emergency money stash to stock up food for the next couple of days. Normalcy returned after approximately two days, but you get the drift where I’m headed with this. I truly hope that you’ll only need to use this cash for a return cab ride home, after a night out with friends – it’s always better to be safe!

Army knife to the rescue

I’ll never forget when I was introduced to my first Swiss Army Knife at age seven. The shiny red Victorinox knife was my mother’s prized possession and she was wise enough to carry it in her handbag at all times. A little later in life, my Japanese boss gifted me a Porsche Design Army Knife, akin to the ceremonious handing of the chef’s knives by a Japanese Chef to his apprentice. My knife set marked my graduation as assistant to Head of the Office.

The point being, is that a Swiss Army Knife is multi-tool and it’s useful to have one around. I have since needed to use mine for the most basic purposes – I’m only slightly embarrassed to say, even as a toothpick! You have no idea how annoying a rogue orange bit can be when it’s annoyingly stuck between your teeth. So when in doubt with no floss around, reach for your handy dandy Swiss tool to see you through orange tough times. Also, I’ll pull out my knife when on vacation, to cut fresh fruit and cheeses from the market, or to open a bottle of wine.

Travel perfume and breath mints

You never know when you’ll be pulled into an emergency meeting with a client, and when that happens, boy are you cursing the fact that you just ate garlic bread for lunch. I store, at all times, a deodorant, hairbrush, and mints in one of my car’s cubby holes – but these are the kinds of things you need to keep in your bag.

I remember a client meeting with a Fortune 500 company’s Board Director, where my agency had to present their latest TV commercial. The meeting was going smoothly, until the client moved in for a closer look at the AV screen, sitting right next to my colleague in the process.

There are no words to describe the cigarette stench coming from the client’s breath and his clothes. It was an awful reminder to be thankful that it wasn’t the other way around – coming from a member of our agency. We had all taken a breath mint and sprayed cologne or perfume prior to the meeting.