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Birthday Gift Ideas for Your Mother In Law

Jun 17, 2008

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Your mother-in-law is turning one year older and the struggle to find the perfect birthday gift has begun.  You know it's coming.  Your palms sweat.  Your stomach turns.  Your head throbs just thinking about it.  Every year you face the same dread and confusion.

Finding the right present isn't just about impressing her.

If her special day feels more like a test of character than a celebration, you may be on to something.  Finding the right present isn't just about impressing her.  You may think you've found the ideal token of your appreciation, but your efforts to woo her could easily backfire.  The pursuit of birthday gift perfection can land you in the dog house if you don't obey the basic rules of gift giving etiquette.

When it comes to your mother-in-law, a well intentioned offering can quickly become an accidental insult.  For instance, a gift certificate to her favorite beauty salon may seem like a logical solution to the birthday gift conundrum.  However, she could see it as a message that she needs to work on her appearance.  Likewise, a new kitchen gadget for the woman who is constantly baking could be seen as self-serving if you're among those she cooks for.  Fortunately, steering clear of the wrong gift is easy.

On her special day, like any woman, she wants to be indulged.

Forget sensible.  On her special day, like any woman, she wants to be indulged.  The key to dazzling your mother-in-law is to recognize her special interests.  Women often find it hard to justify spending money on things that don't benefit the family as a whole.  You can make a big impression by catering to her less practical longings.

Consider what you know about her.  Is she a collector of nicknacks?  Is her garden her pride and joy?  Does she have out-of-town relatives she'd love to visit more often?  Is her pooch her constant companion?  If you don't know, ask your spouse.  Discovering her unfulfilled desire will be the key that opens the door to her heart.

If she's a collector, contributing to her growing collection is a great birthday gift idea.  Collectibles come in all shapes, sizes, and most importantly, prices.  Whether she adores flags, figurines, or doll furniture, the vast selection available will ensure you find something both unique and budget-friendly. 

Recognize the intricacies of her tastes.

When buying for her collection, pay attention to details.  She's probably working around a theme.  What do those figurines have in common?  Are they all religious?  Saints or angels?  Glass or porcelain?  Recognize the intricacies of her tastes.  She'll get the message that what matters to her matters to you.

If your mother-in-law is an avid gardener, but you don't know a pansy from a perennial, don't be discouraged.  You don't need a degree in botany to get a big green thumbs-up at gift giving time.  Instead of worrying about what you don't know, focus on the obvious: her garden ornaments.

Most serious gardeners can't satisfy their lust for lawn decor with flowers.  Chances are she's added garden flags, statues, or maybe even ornamental rocks.  If not, you can help get her started.  Again, think about her unique tastes.  Planters and statues come in all varieties and sizes.  A garden stone could appeal to her sense of humor or honor her religious convictions.  Just be sure the ornament you select is not so large it detracts from the natural beauty she works so hard to create.

Help her reconnect with a gift designed to bring them back together.

Another way to tug at her heart strings is to help her be with the ones she loves.  Time has a way of putting geographical distance between us and the ones we care for.  Your mother-in-law knows this well.  Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, and children can find themselves scattered and out of touch.  Help her reconnect with a gift designed to bring them back together.

If you can afford airfare, a gift certificate to visit a distant loved-one is hard to beat.  However, if you can't cover the entire cost to and from, you may cause more headache than heart-song.  Instead, think of a relative within driving distance.  Find tickets to an event they could enjoy together.  Or try a gift certificate for a fine restaurant in that person's hometown.  Always make sure the value of the gift certificate you give is ample to cover the entire cost of the activity.

Remember a present for her constant critter companion.

Finally, if your mother-in-law is a pet lover, there's a surefire way to win her affection.  Remember a present for her constant critter companion.  This should be done in addition to, not instead of, the birthday gift you've chosen for her.  It could be a nice chew toy for her prized pooch or a fancy feeder for her favorite feline.  You could even give a framed photo of her beloved.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to show her you respect her love for her little one.

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