These are real gifts that I’ve purchased and given to my mom and mother-in-law (over age 60) over the years. They are the toughest family members to shop for, so I give it a lot of thought and refine my approach based on my hits and misses. My mom is much tougher than my mother-in-law, and they both have their quirks. Feel free to steal these ideas if they can make your life any easier.
I was reluctant to give this gift to my mom but my mother-in-law happens to have an electric blanket that she loves and has used reliably for 20 years. To my surprise, my mom actually loved it too and uses it a lot in the winter when she feels cold in bed. Older people tend to feel colder in the winter. It heats up quickly when you hold down the button and there’s an auto shut off feature, so it’s safe and easy to use.
Broadway Show Tickets
I found out a popular Broadway show was touring in my city and bought tickets for a group of family members including my mother-in-law. She didn’t know what to expect when she opened up the gift as she had never been to a musical before, but she ended up enjoying it and having a fun evening. If another popular show comes to town, I would try to get tickets for her again.
Dessert Wine or Wine Gift Set
I didn’t want to give my mother-in-law a regular bottle of wine, so I went with a Canadian ice wine because it seemed more rare and more special. We’ve also brought her Rieslings and Muscat-based wines in the past as she seems to be a fan of dessert wines. It’s not homerun gift, but it’s nice to bring in addition to dessert when we go over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. If your mom or mother-in-law is a wine lover, you could consider giving her a nice gift set too.
Full Cleaning and Detail for the Car
My mother-in-law appreciated this gift, mainly because she didn’t need to schedule a time to bring the car to the detail shop herself. We asked her if we could take the car for 5 hours on a Saturday, picked it up at her house, and brought it back clean, shiny, and thoroughly vacuumed later that day. We ordered the full detail service where they wash and wax the car, wipe down the interiors, and vacuum the seats and floors. It was like a new car when we picked it up.
Coffee Bean Grinder
My mom drinks coffee daily and has only recently become a fan of freshly ground coffee that was roasted within the last 2 weeks. When she initially opened the package, however, she flat out said that she didn’t need the gift. It was too expensive, and she definitely had no counter space for it. My dad persuaded her to keep it and try it, and they now use it all the time. Another option would have been a new coffee maker that grinds and brews.
I thought this would just be an “oh that’s nice” gift but both my mom and mother-in-law really loved their respective calendars. They were surprisingly impressed with how large and clearly printed the photos were. It was almost like having 12 enlarged, framed photos. Neither wanted to write anything on the calendar because they wanted to save it and preserve it.
My mother-in-law was still using a tea kettle to boil water, so we got her an electric kettle with precise temperature settings that you can select, and she loved the gift. She drinks a lot of hot beverages throughout the year, so she loves that you can set the exact temperature and that it heats up the water so quickly.
My mom doesn’t really like any kind of clothing you buy her, especially anything expensive, but my mother-in-law likes receiving comfortable athletic clothing like REI sweaters, North Face jackets, and Patagonia vests. I’ve gifted her a fleece jacket and a hoodie that she still wears frequently. The problem is that you can’t give her a new jacket every year, so you have to change it up a bit or else it gets repetitive.
My mom liked this gift but she didn’t love it. She is particular about down comforters, duvet covers, memory foam pillows, and bedding materials. She goes to Bed Bath and Beyond and walks up and down the bed sheet aisles checking out all the materials and scoping out sale items. But my mother-in-law isn’t picky about bedding so this gift really fell flat with her. She couldn’t care less if her bed sheets were Egyptian Cotton or 750 thread count Pima Sateen. But why shouldn’t your home bedding be as luxurious as in a hotel?
Gift Certificate for Home Cleaning
I initially thought this would be a great gift to help out my mother-in-law by relieving her of the burden of cleaning, but she didn’t want it because she doesn’t trust strangers in her house. She has never used a cleaning service for anything in her life. I would personally love to receive a gift like this, but it was not a good choice for her.