What to buy Mum for her 65th birthday?
March 8, 2005 1:21 PM   Subscribe

My mum will be 65 on March 18. She can just about buy anything her wee little heart desires. I cannot because money is, well, in short supply. What should I get/buy/do for her birthday?

I don't want to be too specific about her tastes/interests. I want to get as many answers as possible. Y'all will most likely come up with something that won't occur to me.

I'm in the Greater Vancouver area in British Columbia. Mum is just north of Seattle, Washington.
posted by deborah to Shopping (21 answers total)
Photos of yourself. Seems self-centered, but she'll love it. Especially if it's pics she's never seen. Fill a whole photo album for her. You're looking at maybe $30.
posted by ColdChef at 1:25 PM on March 8, 2005

Something that involves spending time with her. Dinner together, a movie, a play. Most parents would pick time with their kids over any material item.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:30 PM on March 8, 2005

Unless she's at the "I have five assistants on call 24/7 to do my bidding" level of independence how about something that would take time to track down but isn't expensive? Like a long out of print book or one of the many foodstuffs you can get in Canada that aren't available down south. The power of eBay to aquire impossible to find but still modestly priced objects can be pretty amazing to those who aren't aware of it's power.
posted by Mitheral at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2005

Burn her a CD. Think of songs that mean something to her, and to you, and songs that you both enjoy and that remind you both of special times or places. Make a nice cover with a photo montage or whatever for the cover, liner notes, reasons behind the song choices etc...make it special and make it look really professional. Ask her friends or your Dad what songs she liked when she was younger...do some research. I've done this for various relatives at various times and it's always been a great success. It probably depends on how world weary the person is though, not everyone can see the magic in a 99p CDR.
posted by fire&wings at 2:05 PM on March 8, 2005

Response by poster: I should probably also mention that I don't have any credit cards. So eBay and other online shopping isn't doable.

And no, Mitheral, she's not quite that wealthy. She makes a good living and has only herself to support.

If it makes a difference, Mum will be retiring in 2006.
posted by deborah at 2:08 PM on March 8, 2005

Something homemade perhaps? A card for starters I guess. A poem? A filled photo album? A letter to her grandchild explaining what a wonderful person she is? A family history chart? A family coat of arms?

How about naming a star after her for $54 (+ shipping...whatever that might mean)?
posted by peacay at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2005

(I've always assumed Seattle and Vancouver were geographically really close, like Toronto and Buffalo. If my sense of geography has failed me once again I apologize for my infeasible suggestion)
posted by Kellydamnit at 2:15 PM on March 8, 2005

A photo in a frame is always nice. If you have one of the two of you together, even better.
posted by caddis at 2:35 PM on March 8, 2005

Host a surprise potluck get-together with her best friends?
posted by jasper411 at 2:46 PM on March 8, 2005

KellyD, Seattle is about 3 hours away from Vancouver.
posted by matildaben at 2:54 PM on March 8, 2005

A letter. Seriously - my parents still talk about the one I gave them for their 50th Wedding Anniversary. So many things you can say to someone - thank them, tell them your favorite memory.

Or, I agree, its the spending time - dinner out, even if its somewhere inexpensive. Or cook dinner. Take her on a "date" - a matinee movie and dinner afterwards.

Give her your favorite book, and inscribe on the inside why it's your favorite.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:59 PM on March 8, 2005

Don't spend any (significant) money but do spend some time to make something. Anything my kids make me is so special (I'm 60+ they're adult.) You've still got time to knit a small something (finger warmer :-) or paint a picture or ...

Also, seconding dpx's letter suggestion, they're special too.

It really is the thought that counts, from my parental perspective ... nothing from a shop counts half as much as something that's been part of my children's lives.
posted by anadem at 3:12 PM on March 8, 2005

Amtrak has a daily train (Amtrak Cascades) between Seattle and Vancouver ($28 or so, one-way; $40 business-class) (as well as buses), that take about 4 hours. Perhaps you could send your mother a card "good for a weekend together"; all she has to do is take the train up and back?
posted by WestCoaster at 3:23 PM on March 8, 2005

It's been enjoyable-but-challenging already, but here was my solution for my mom's present:

One year of little surprises in an envelope, mailed every two weeks (which is 26 envelopes total to prepare, which isn't so bad). The envelopes get mailed out on Wednesdays so she'll receive them on Fridays. I found some fancy colorful envelopes at Paper Source. What's in the envelopes: little crafts, $5 giftcards here and there (coffeeshops, bakeries, local stores), and yes, cool stuff for her to read, recipes or stories or quotes. This part is cheesy, bewarned: when I told her about her forthcoming year of presents, I could only think to term it "a smile subscription." But she loves it, she says, and she always mentions the latest envelope when we talk.

My only advice/cautions: this does require a good deal of devotion, and may tax the creative side of your brain, and you'll want to have several envelopes' worth of ideas before you start! (Even a once-per-month mailing would be reasonable, though.)
posted by oldtimey at 3:46 PM on March 8, 2005 [1 favorite]

For my last birthday, a friend gave me the Best Picture Oscar winner for that year. For my friend's birthday I, um found the top 100 Billboard charting songs for that year and made a CD. "Gone with the Wind" was the Best Picture winner for 1940. Perhaps you can come up with interesting things from her birth year.
posted by FreezBoy at 4:21 PM on March 8, 2005

Macaroni, Elmer's glue and construction paper!
posted by borkingchikapa at 6:06 PM on March 8, 2005

Something to think about that might help - pretty much everything you buy today is machine manufactured, and there are very definite limits to what can actually be made that way. (With current technology).
Even a mediocre craftsman or hobbiest can build things that are simply non-manufacturable by either machine or cheap labour, which in today's market is pretty much the same thing as something that money can't buy, because the price of a commissioned one-off custom piece is so far above the closest mass-produced item that there is virtually no demand. But as a labour of love for a gift, many hours of your time and skills may be able to create something that would cost a fortune to commission.
In other words, look at your skills and interests and think "custom". Not necessarily "custom built", "customized" works too :-)

Or, if you don't have the time for a big project, I have no idea what your budget is, but Oldtimey's cool smile subscription idea made me think of those LCD picture frames (don't know the company name, sorry) that display a montage of images and plug into a phone jack, to auto-update at 2am the images to display from a website. If you operate the website subsciption, you'd basically be handing her a Mystery Box of photos that shows the latest things in your life By Magic. (Assuming you use a digital camera and your photos already pass through your computer anyway, meaning very little work is involved). I know my mother is always dying to know what's going on in my life... :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 6:29 PM on March 8, 2005

Make a Life Poster.
posted by nitsuj at 6:56 PM on March 8, 2005

A letter that talks about things she did for you that you loved, things you remember doing with her, things she taught you. Bake her cookies.

The smile envelopes are a great idea, and a frame decorated with macaroni & sprayed gold would be pretty cool.
posted by theora55 at 8:10 PM on March 8, 2005

FWIW, my Mom's birthday is today, and I did this. Before that, though I've gotten in the habit of writing her postcards every week or so. Sometimes they're nice looking cards, sometimes I have something to say, sometimes there's nothing on them except "I'm thinking of you" but it's an easy way for her to get the kind of incidental contact from me that we don't have as much now that we don't live together.
posted by jessamyn at 7:58 AM on March 9, 2005

Response by poster: Wow. I ♥ AskMefi.

Thanks for all of the photo ideas and I'll probably go with something along that vein. I'm also thinking I'm going to come up with some sort of artsy-fartsy project to put together. Might even combine the two.

Just an FYI about the more "touchy-feely" ideas: it's not that they're bad ideas because they're wonderful ideas. However, I don't have that kind of relationship with Mum. There's too much history I'm still not able to let go of and would be uncomfortable doing something like that.
posted by deborah at 1:33 PM on March 9, 2005

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