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HELP! In-Law Christmas Gifts!

For me, it's that time of year again:  Buying season. The time of year where I try to balance pleasing everyone with cost effectiveness, and usually, I think I do a good job with most of my relatives. But I always get stuck when it comes to my in-laws. Specifically, my MIL and two SILs.

My MIL is a well-meaning lady. She makes an effort to make me comfortable, but we come from very different family situations. I find it hard to relate to her, but not impossible. Suffice it to say, my MIL's immediate family is her entire world, and she doesn't maintain personal relationships outside her children and husband as best I can tell. She is the CEO of her home, and hasn't been a part of the traditional professional world for over 20 years. My MIL does not like to go out, but she does like to go out to eat sometimes. However, when going out to eat, she likes the finer things, the four star restaurants. Her wardrobe consists of yoga pants, and she has no interest in being trendy. MIL doesn't like gyms or workout classes. 

DH's family is well-off so if my MIL wants something, she buys it. This makes her very hard to shop for. I have bought her platters that have never been used, cookbooks that she openly criticizes as "unhelpful," bath stuff still perched on the edge of her tub and plenty of untouched kitchen accessories. Once, I tried to do an edible arrangements delivery for her and she went out of town without telling DH and I. When she finally got it, it had basically gone bad. What can you get for the woman who has everything, but has so few interests? I'm not criticizing her lifestyle. All in all we get along, and that's more than I can say for many in-law situations. It seems wrong to go with a gift card:  She has money, and if she liked to shop she would. 

Now for SILs. Well, I can understand my MIL to some degree, but I have nothing in common with my SILs. We're in such different situations. While they grew up with fine things, they have no interest in things that my friend and me liked when we were their age. Not make-up, not clothes, not purses. Absolutely no jewelry. Like their mother, they wear yoga pants and have no interest in being trendy or dressing well, which is fine. they have more important things to worry about. They also have some serious health concerns which limit their lifestyle, both food-wise and activity wise.

Both SILs spend a lot of time at various doctor's offices, if that helps. In the past I got them Vera Bradley bags and such, but they did not like it. I also got one SIL a cookbook that she did not care for. I bought them both clothes in the past only to find my gifts, tags still on, in a pile of clothes I offered to take to goodwill for donation. Their mother usually gets them their entire Christmas list, so I can't just get a copy and go from there. And to make things worse, DH isn't very close to them. So, help, yes. I have no idea what to get them. I'm stuck.

Suggestions are very, very welcome. I feel like that weird girl who married into the family, and I would like to show DHs family that, in some small way, I was thinking about them when I bought Christmas presents this year and that I get them somewhat. Again, help.

Re: HELP! In-Law Christmas Gifts!

  • Gifts for in-laws is hard! Do you know anything that these people do like or enjoy? It sounds like their interests don't match yours, which is hard because gift ideas don't come as easy, but they have to like or enjoy something. For example, in MIL likes nice restaurants maybe she would like a nice bottle of wine to enjoy at home or take with her? For SILs how old are they? If they're not into clothes and that stuff maybe they would enjoy tickets to sporting events or concerts?
  • You can't go wrong with a kitchen item, a CD of holiday music or a winter decoration for the home.

    Bargain shop for these items. It's likely they have just about "everything" they want, anyway.
  • Sometimes they can be a little cheesy, so it really depends on the person that you're giving them to, and whether or not they would be interested in them - but what about a subscription gift?

    If she likes fine dining, you could give her a six month or year subscription to a wine of the month club.  They also have film of the month, or monthly "unlimited ebook" subscriptions.  Papirmass is a subscription where they send you art prints.  Bespoke sends themed boxes that vary from month to month, but some of the boxes seem to target men. 

    And of course, there are good old fashioned magazines, if there is one that you think they might be interested in.  Is there a magazine for yoga pants enthusiasts?  :-) 

    When someone seems to "have it all," I usually go with homemade baked goods or drink mixes.  That might only work if you are able to work within their dietary restrictions.  If you do bake them something, include an ingredients list so they can see that you made the effort to make them something "safe" for them to eat.  The food that you sent them previously might have gone over well, if you had known ahead of time when they were going to be in/out of town.  Maybe try that again, but check their schedule first. 
  • I agree with OtterJ- a subscription service would be a great idea. I've no idea how old your SILs are, but maybe they'd like a makeup-oriented subscription service like birchbox or ipsy. 

    Does anyone like to watch movies? You could make a movie gift basket with popcorn, a movie, maybe some wine or hot chocolate, etc. You could always get a holiday themed dvd or even a gift card for the movie portion if you don't know what they'd like.

     Since they have everything do you think they'd be interested in an ancestry testing kit like 23andme?
  • Are they on Pinterest ?  Whenever I am stuck on ideas for someone, I see if they have a pinterest account, I try to get ideas from there.

    I like the subscription idea.  What about a membership somewhere?  I know my sister gets us a membership to the zoo every year and we love it.
  • Your family sounds a LOT like my in laws. So, I go on ETSY and since my MIL is in a very similar situation-- I'm just ordering her a set of infused salts and a travel kit for my FIL. I'm considering making a string art with their last name on it-- jury is still out on that one.

    For my SIL, I give gifts to her kids and get her and my BIL a family ornament. They don't get us anything. 
  • I also make homemade soaps that are all natural and I give those as gifts. If you are interested, shameless plug, it's Durham Soap Shoppe on Etsy :)
  • Hi, how about a small donation in their name to a charity you (or they) may be interested in? Can't go wrong there. Good Luck!
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