It's only marriage number 2; I should do better than a card, right?
June 12, 2011 11:36 AM   Subscribe

My father (a widower) is getting remarried quite soon. Can you help me come up with an appropriate, ideally "experience-based" wedding gift for somewhere in the vicinity of southern Ohio? Perhaps even one that isn't going to break the bank? Because if not, I'm sorely tempted to go the "really nice card" route.

I saw this thread from a couple months ago, and the feedback there was quite helpful, though I'm not sure if it's directly applicable to my situation. That question was about a no-fanfare courtroom marriage, whereas my father and his fiancé are having an honest-to-goodness wedding, albeit what they've described as an "informal" one at their home. Still, it's jacket and tie, with a guest list, etc. I'm assuming that an actual wedding gift of some sort is the way to go.

They quite clearly don't need things. They're consolidating houses, and my father is getting rid of most of what I grew up with (which, you know, is how these things often play out), and he already owns a special refrigerator just for wine, so I'm pretty sure if there was some item he really wanted, he could just get it himself. I'm not steadily employed right now, and I've already shelled out $800 for the flight down, plus heaven knows what for the wedding attire I was recently informed that I would need, and I'm pretty close to tapped at this point. I did my big, "welcome to the family" gift-giving overture at Christmas, but it's pretty clear that we're not so much welcoming a new family member as my younger brother and I are being politely ushered to the side (this genuinely isn't a source of rancor, but it leaves me disinclined to be too extravagant with the gift business henceforth).

They're a moderately active couple in their early sixties, fairly outdoorsy, regular cyclists, both amateur photographers, both academics; they have, like, nine cats between the two of them; they own special plates just for putting candles on. In short, except for the cat thing, their lifestyle is utterly mystifying to me. Also, I don't know the first thing about southern Ohio or what there is to do there, and I probably can't spend more than, like, a couple hundred dollars, which seems insufficient for a day of zip-lining from hot air balloons at the alpaca farm or whatever "buying an experience" is supposed to mean these days. They're both involved in some local charity work, but making a donation in someone's honor seems more funerary than nuptial, doesn't it?

Help? I can turn out a seriously nice card, but I'm concerned that this won't be sufficient.
posted by wreckingball to Human Relations (15 answers total)
I'm confused. Is this a question about what gift you should give your father and stepmother for their impending matrimony? Or is this a question about your feelings around the entire situation?

If it's the former, you've provided entirely too much context for the latter -- we need more information about what they are like, not how you feel about them.
posted by Think_Long at 11:50 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two bottles of nice wine (in the $45/bottle range).
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:55 AM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Wine seems like a great idea - maybe go for a local winery if you want to play up the Southern Ohio aspect? If they like spirits, I'd also suggest OYO vodka or whiskey?

Past that, do they like to cook out? Given that it's summer, maybe get a freezer package of really good grass fed steaks they could enjoy together.
posted by BZArcher at 11:59 AM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Think_Long, I'm honestly not sure what kind of additional information you'd need. They're a pair of not-far-off-from-retirement-age academics who like cycling, taking photographs, and cats. To that all I can really think add is that they take a lot of day trips (to engage in cycling and photograph-taking, but also to alpaca farms—there's one near to where they live—and artists colonies, wineries, and things of that nature).

The wine tip is a good one (consumables hadn't occurred to me), though they're both pretty serious about the stuff and I would assume know all the local options quite well, while I know nothing about wine at all. Still, the worst that could happen is that they'll know I tried and failed to choose something good. My dad's fiancé doesn't eat meat, so the steaks are out, but the food angle seems to be one worth pursuing.

Thanks for the help so far.
posted by wreckingball at 12:17 PM on June 12, 2011

Any chance you can take a look in their wine fridge and snap a few digital pictures of the wine labels while they're busy elsewhere?

Another idea: why not put together a nice bike pannier-friendly picnic set? A lot of that can sourced at a thrift shop (cheap!) and requires more of a time-investment than a financial one.
posted by smirkette at 12:25 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh hey, the picnic set idea is a sweet one, and it's something I could put together where I live and then maybe flesh further out once I'm in Ohio.
posted by wreckingball at 12:30 PM on June 12, 2011

Maybe, as they don't really need anything, a nice large donation to their local cat rescue/shelter in their names, in honor of their marriage? As a cat lover myself, I'd be touched if someone did something like that for me.
posted by tully_monster at 12:59 PM on June 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

They're both involved in some local charity work, but making a donation in someone's honor seems more funerary than nuptial, doesn't it?

Heck nooooo!!!! This is what I think I'd do in your situation. Also a couple of people made charitable donations in my name at my wedding. I thought it was nice.
posted by pupstocks at 1:20 PM on June 12, 2011

One or two bottles of nice wine and the card. That's all you need.
posted by safetyfork at 1:32 PM on June 12, 2011

Not sure what part of southern Ohio they're in, but if they're cyclists, they may be interested in visiting Brown County/Ripley and seeing some of the Underground Railroad sites there. You could package up a gift certificate to a B & B (perhaps this one?) with a map of the local UGRR routes (map has a few loops of different lengths) and perhaps a book about the area or the UGRR in general if they might be into that. I'd recommend Bound for Cannan for a general intro to the UGRR or Beyond the River for something specific to southern Ohio.
posted by BlooPen at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2011

Get wine local to your own area. Or just in general, bring something special or local to your area as it sounds like they would know their own scene pretty well. Or check out some summer art markets (in your area) and get them something arty with a cat and/or bicycle theme.

Also "a day of zip-lining from hot air balloons at the alpaca farm" sounds freaking amazing! Maybe you should just save up for that!
posted by smartypantz at 2:35 PM on June 12, 2011

Could you get them a night at a B&B in Yellow Springs (boutiques, and hiking), or Red River Gorge in Kentucky?
posted by salvia at 4:13 PM on June 12, 2011

When my dad remarried, I took pictures of their five dogs, added my own and my brothers and photoshoped them into a picture of dogs playing cards - symbolizing the new blended family on the animal level. They really liked it, especially my father's new wife. It cost next to nothing but it took a fair amount of time once I got them to send me photos of all the dogs. With nine cats you could probably do something artistically interesting and frame it.
posted by metahawk at 5:21 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my father remarried a few years ago (in his late fifties), he and my now step mother asked people to donate to charity in their name and provided guests with a list of charities they support.
posted by brookeb at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2011

You say they are amateur photographers. Have they ever sent you nice photos they have taken - maybe of the cats? If you have high enough resolution copies, you could get a photo or two printed and framed. One of them, or one of the cats, or one of their new house or something.
posted by lollusc at 6:34 PM on June 12, 2011

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