xmas gifts for your mother-in-law

Reader N. K. asks:

Christmastime is coming, and I am in full gift-hunting mode. What do you get for the new mother-in-law you’ve only met a few times? She likes quilting and hunting — that’s all I’ve got. I am completely out of ideas here.

Dear N. K.:

Congrats on having a new mother-in-law, I think! That’s pretty exciting.

But other than that, I think the stress that comes with trying to find relatives gifts is pretty common over holidays. In our modern era, you spend even less time with in-laws and even first cousins than generations past, so it’s no wonder we hit Thanksgiving with no clue what to get people.

However, I am of the mind that a gift should reflect the giver as well as the recipient. So before you go trotting off to buy your new mom-in-law something you know nothing about, consider things that would make her think of you, too. Furthermore, you two have one more thing in common: your spouse is her off-spring. You might consider him (her? are you in Hawaii?) when you get the present, and I would definitely recommend getting his/her opinion or going in on a gift for her together.

I’m going to take you on a tour of what you could get and what each item would say about you and your relationship to mom-in-law.

In order of difficulty, from least to greatest:

A gift card to Amazon.com or Target or anywhere generic.

What it says: I don’t know you, I admit this, here’s some cash.

Why do it: Honestly, you don’t know her. And you won’t be getting her something she hates.

Why not do it: It could come across as lazy and careless.

Gift card or certificate to nearby quilting or gun store.

What it says: I kind of know you, like, enough to know that you like quilting and/or hunting, but not well enough to get you something too specific.

Why do it: Because I have never seen a gift certificate to a gun store before.

Why not do it: Once again, it could give off the “I really don’t care” vibe.

Empty boxes

I would not recommend giving empty boxes, even if they are pretty. Image: Francesco Marino / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A subscription to a hunting or quilting magazine.

What it says: I know your hobbies, and I’ve done a bit of research into what folks who do your hobbies probably read.

Why do it: Keep that magazine industry alive! Starving writers need their $20-per-article pay checks!

Why not do it: She may already have a subscription to every single hunting/quilting magazine that exists. Or she may hate reading.

Scented candle, bubble bath, bath set

What it says: I know you’re a girl, too, and while I don’t know that much about you, I know this is stuff that I, at least, would like to have. Also, I care greatly that you schedule some relaxation time.

Why do it: Everyone could use a scented candle or other bath accoutrement from time to time.

Why not do it: It can be generic. Also, what if she hates smelly stuff?

Quilting instrument you know every quilter needs

What it says: I know you love quilting!

Why do it: Every quilter needs this!

Why not do it: What if she already has it?

A gun.

What it says: I’m crazy.

Why do it: Shock value, only. Or to send a message to your mom-in-law that you MEAN BUSINESS.

Why not do it: I don’t think you can technically buy guns for other people, really.

2 Responses to “xmas gifts for your mother-in-law”

  1. 1 Richard
    November 30, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Ask your mother-in-law, ask her offspring, ask quilters, or ask hunters what would be a nice gift. Surely you know someone who knows the mother-in-law, quilts, or hunts? Or someone who knows someone?

    Ummm, yes, you can absolutely buy guns for other people. They are, however, rather personal items and you wouldn’t want to gift one that is tacky or inappropriate. It would be like gifting shoes without knowing the other person’s size, style, preferences, wardrobe, or gender.

    Better to get her something that is always handy and always getting lost, broken, or used up. For hunters, flashlights (the LED kind) and multi-tools comes to mind. Even the shittiest ones end up deployed and appreciated.

    Regarding gift cards, a lot of people find them very annoying. Merchants, however, love them because a shockingly high percentage are never redeemed. Easy money! A mother-in-law could easily look at a gift card as a signal of financial idiocy. She’ll start gifting back books about personal finance.

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