Gifts for my better half.
August 29, 2011 5:13 AM   Subscribe

"Thinking of You" gifts for my wife - what are your suggestions?

I've been trying to surprise my wife on a semi-regular basis with gifts (small - usually under $20 to free) just to let her know that I'm thinking of her. The problem is that I'm running out of ideas - and I don't want to "water down" the idea of flowers/chocolates/cards for her so that they lose their effect for special occasions or special screw-ups on my part.

So, I was curious if you could think of any under-$20 quirky, neat, cool things I could give her to let her know she's always on my mind? I need ideas outside of the date night/clean the house/massage realm, as those are taken care of.

If it helps, her interests are cooking, reading, 'mellow' music (think Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz), the Indianapolis Colts, our two-year-old son and Paul Rudd. Not necessarily in that order. She's also a middle-school guidance counselor (which I think deserves a Medal of Honor, but alas - those cannot be purchased easily for under $20).
posted by po822000 to Grab Bag (32 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Zyliss Five in One Opener - because you want to be able to help her open those tight jars and lids, even when you can't be there to do it for her.
posted by AnnaRat at 5:23 AM on August 29, 2011

After she goes to bed one night, cue up a favorite song of hers (or one special to the two of you) on her car radio with a post it note that says "I'm thinking of you - have a wonderful day." Make her a mix tape. Go to the mall and have photos of you taken with your son; frame one for her.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:31 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

One year for Valentine's Day, I hid small paper hearts around the house and in my husband's work bag for him to find during the day. He was still finding some a couple of days later!
posted by ElleElle at 5:43 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Notes. Lots of notes. Hide them in interesting places, like the coin compartment of her wallet or on top of the sun visor of the car.

Buy a couple of cheap Indianapolis Colts souvenirs and mix them in with stuff she already has; for example, add a Colts key chain to her car keys, or a pen on her desk, and tape a little note to the item.

Get some cute candy items (I love candy necklaces) and stash them in her purse with notes "written" by your son, such as "I'm sweet on my mommy". Or buy her a box of Red Hots and write her a note that says, "Honey, you are a smokin' babe" or whatever she likes to hear from you. Get a candy ring pop and put a sticker on it that says, "Sweetie, will you marry me again?" Or some wax lips with a note saying, "thinking of you makes me smile".

How about a voice memo key chain - record you or your son saying something funny or encouraging and change it now and then so she'll keep checking it. Or record one line of a poem at a time every day.

Order a few inexpensive but cheery cooking gadgets or school supplies from Pylones and wrap them individually. Hang one from her rear-view mirror to find on a Monday morning, or stash one in her lunch bag.

Some morning when your son wakes you up early, let her sleep in. You guys go outside and write her some love notes with sidewalk chalk. Be sure to take a few pictures before the rain washes it away.

Write a sign that says "I love you Mommy" and have your son hold it up. Take a picture with your wife's cell phone and set it as the background. Change it often. Next week it could say, "we're cooking dinner tonight and it's going to be a surprise" or "don't eat dessert at lunch, we're all going out for ice cream tonight".

Hopefully this will inspire you to come up with a few new ideas. I can't give you any more or your wife will want to run off with me.
posted by Kangaroo at 5:47 AM on August 29, 2011 [12 favorites]

How about trying something a little different? Surprise her by leaping out of a cupboard shouting "BAAAH!"
posted by devnull at 5:49 AM on August 29, 2011 [13 favorites]

Even nicer than a gift: read to her at bedtime. Enjoy the process of picking prose or poetry that is meaningful, romantic, funny or just fun.
posted by Dragonness at 6:08 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dude, go old school and make her a mixed CD. Don't just throw songs on a CD, but seriously go all out. Figure out a theme and build the mix around that. Make liner notes and a cover and everything.
posted by TheBones at 6:26 AM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: You should do what I did and leave small, corny notes all over the house. (I got some 3x5 notecards, cut them in half, and wrote/doodled my message on the small piece. Then hid them in his clean underpants and shirt pockets for him to find/be surprised by later.)
posted by phunniemee at 6:37 AM on August 29, 2011

A gift card to her favorite local bookstore? That also gives her some relaxing me time out of the house, as she gets to wander and browse.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:53 AM on August 29, 2011

Perhaps splurge on some gourmet version of some basic cooking ingredient she loves -- a spice, oil, tea, etc.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:56 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest close observation of her preferences and just doing favours is truly quite a gift, unless you're very certain that her currency is small items. But I'm also not a person who likes "things", because especially if they're small and inexpensive, the accumulation over time and the attempt to load them with sentiment would soon lead to clutter and decisions when to discard and more things to manage - though if she is a big fan of this method, then please disregard. I'm not an unsentimental jerk - but my husband used to do this when we were dating and it was great in one way, but it always felt as if he were performing the role instead of really knowing my heart. But if she's busy and her job is stressful, time to cook and time to read and time to enjoy music and time to enjoy the game or the movie is what might make the biggest impression. Is there a class she's dying to take that she's hesitating on because wrangling babysitting is a pain? Does she get out with the girls enough? Date nights are great, but who makes all the plans and arranges the sitter?

As much as little gifts are always appreciated, I'm a proponent of actions that make every day life easier, and routines to look forward to and little stresses relieved. A note or a hug and kind words are plenty, and are easy to respond to - and hearing "I took care of the parking pass" is a freaking thrill. I don't know if your wife is of a similar mindset. Yes, clean houses and massages are what's usually thought of, but it goes beyond that, and little gift items would exhaust my ability to be genuinely grateful and respond appropriately so as to be careful of the giver's feelings; and then I'd have to find homes for them and then care for them. Consumables are great and not just for special occasions - don't discount flowers and chocolates more often, because you know - the Mars/Venus thing - it's all one point, right? And, most of us don't really fall for doghouse roses anyway - it's the self-recrimination that smells so sweet.

If I empty the dishwasher, and my fingers squeak on the dry glasses, I'll have the heebie jeebies for days - so mrgood does that. I like that mrgood takes littlestgood out every Saturday morning so I can have a sleep-in or read a bit, and they bring back the paper, along with a latte from my favourite coffee shop and a ginger cookie, and after a week of morning wranglings, I love being able to count on that. I love when he tops us up to full tank of gas. Surprise wine with dinner makes me happy if he gathers it's been a long day or can tell I've put extra effort into what's on the menu. I love it when he takes the dog out or handles the back yard poop scoop, when that's "my" job. Carrying the laundry down to the laundry room for me is something I'm always pleased by. Every Thursday he's arranged to be late to work to get littlestgood going so I can leave early to volunteer at the Breakfast Club at school. He never books a band practice or meeting for Thursday nights so I can always say to any friend "Pick any Thursday for dinner and drinks, I'm always free."

It's the sincere attention, not the item that matters.
posted by peagood at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2011 [22 favorites]

A candle and a bath bomb in a scent she likes.

A pretty bookmark (homemade or otherwise) tucked into the new paperback she's wanting to read next.

An antique tea cup and saucer filled with her favorite hard candies or chocolates.

Make or buy blank notecards featuring artwork by her favorite artist.

Write a really bad, over the top poem in Burma-Shave style, and hang them from the bedroom to the front door (or vice-versa), so she can read them on the way out or in.
posted by faineant at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2011

Ask her friends for ideas. Not only will you get some good suggestions, they might also go back to her and gush about how thoughtful you are (= twice the warm fuzzies).
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 7:21 AM on August 29, 2011

Hold open doors for her, place your hand in the small of her back when she is going up or down stairs, always walk on the street side, pull out her chair, use your fingers to slide rogue hair behind her ears, dude just pause and look at her with a smile on your face periodically. Objects aren't important.
posted by Jayed at 7:23 AM on August 29, 2011 [7 favorites]

There are lots of fun kitchen gadgets available for $20 or less - things that I would never buy on my own but would appreciate having. Even better if you can think of witty notes to go with them.
posted by quodlibet at 7:26 AM on August 29, 2011

Hair slides or ties from cute, hand-made type stores
A fat fashion or shelter magazine
Make some paper sculptures or origami with your son to leave by her bedside
Arrange cheap/Ikea fairy lights into a love heart on the wall and turn them on before she comes home.
Write out a love poem for her [eg e.e. cummings' i carry your heart] on nice paper, or using poetry fridge magnets
Arrange simple groceries she uses into a smiley face
Write 'I love you' on the corner of the bathroom mirror with a pale candle, so that she can read it when she has a steamy shower

[And waaaaaay out of your budget, but my friends love these when I've organised them for their birthday/xmas - cushion covers with a photo of your choice printed on them. There's probably cheaper options out there of the same idea.]
posted by honey-barbara at 7:28 AM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: Earlier this year I got a pad of Post-It Notes and spent a few hours writing love notes to my wife. Some were silly, some were purposefully corny, but most were just expressions of love, expressions of thanks, or descriptions of why I thought she was great. Then I stuck them all over the house and she found them over the next several days (and a couple over the next couple of weeks).

In addition to making your wife feel good, the process could be good for you too. I say I love you to my family all the time, but really sitting down and thinking about all of the reasons why I love them (and how lucky I am to have them in my life) is a nice exercise.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:40 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: nthing hiding little post-its. They can have pretty much anything on them. Last year, I did a series of (really bad) drawings in the twelve days leading up to Christmas, and by about day four, the Mrs. was actually eager to see where I had hidden the next one every morning. She also thought it was a really sweet endeavor.
posted by Gilbert at 8:02 AM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: Nthing the idea of hiding notes. I'm already jealous of her.
posted by maryr at 8:03 AM on August 29, 2011

Best answer: People who are telling you that gifts aren't important aren't wrong, but they aren't right. Different people feel love in different ways. My boyfriend could care less if I get him little gifts, but he absolutely needs affection. I love gifts, but I feel especially neglected when he doesn't tell me how much he cares. Only you know what your wife needs. If she feels good when you give her gifts, you should give them!
posted by 200burritos at 8:09 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

You can never go wrong with earrings. Check out places like Etsy - they don't have to be expensive to be awesome.
posted by corn_bread at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2011

Sorry to double post, but this occurred to me right as a I hit enter. It's hard to see how appealing these things would be to your wife, because it largely depends on how dorky she is, but ThinkGeek has some amazing stuff for less than $20.
posted by corn_bread at 9:12 AM on August 29, 2011

Lounging socks - it's so nice to put these on in the evening after a long day. Can't vouch for this brand but they look good.
posted by jshort at 9:24 AM on August 29, 2011

Do things like - a tube of moisturizing cream, with the promise of a foot rub when you guys go to bed that night. A new hair brush, and brush her hair and give her a scalp massage. Things she might need, but are special because she didn't have to get them for herself. Her favorite candy, or maybe a more special version of it (a few really good chocolates, etc.) Do things that save her irritation - take her car to fill it with gas, but bring it back washed and vacuumed, maybe even with the oil changed. I'm completely with the people who are encouraging you to find things that aren't so much "stuff" as they are ways to show that you know her, that you're paying attention :) Good for you for wanting to do this! :)
posted by lemniskate at 9:43 AM on August 29, 2011

i gotta go with peagood ... things that would be nice "surprise" gifts for me would be along the lines of taking care of something i normally take care of (scooping the litterboxes, unloading the dishwasher, putting away the clean laundy). DOING something for me is better than GETTING something for me.
posted by oh really at 9:52 AM on August 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think notes can be longer term than just a few days of hiding. For several years, Mr. Epps left me a note every morning that he had to leave for work before I got up. So, not every day, but many days of notes each week, for, oh maybe three or four years. I still have them in (tucked into a candyland lunchbox). (Now, he's more in the wake-up-early-with-Li'l-Epps mode.)

So, a small note each morning for the next year. Or an email at lunchtime every day. They don't have to be original, just sincere.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I feel strangely compelled to defend myself, though: I definitely feel like I'm pretty good at the little things, I'm just looking for ways to go above my normal routine for her.

These "gifts" are definitely not to replace the everyday love and affection I have for her - only augment it.
posted by po822000 at 12:00 PM on August 29, 2011

As quodlibet's suggested, little kitchen gadgets are awesome for those of us who love to cook. Every time I use a small tool that I received as a gift, I think of the person who gave it to me.

If she brown-bags her lunch, make her lunch for her. If you include carrots in her salad, or just to snack on, take a few extra minutes to slice them into rounds, and shape the rounds into flowers or hearts. It's corny and it will make her smile.

I'm also very jealous of her.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 2:54 PM on August 29, 2011

I can recommend these books. Open to a random page, voila. Somebody ought to load them all into an app that chooses one at random on random days, with links to suppliers ('Click here to have XYZ Co deliver Romantic MacGuffin #665 to your sweetheart now!'). That somebody would be very rich. That somebody won't be me.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:24 PM on August 29, 2011

Grar - a link would help.

X Ways To Be Romantic
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:25 PM on August 29, 2011

(And when it gets cold, put her towel / robe in the dryer while she's in the shower, and put a hot water bottle in the bed. Also, the standing-behind-her Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore-in-Ghost thing works with folding laundry.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:44 PM on August 29, 2011

Does she like cheese? Bring home some unusual, special cheeses from the local deli, so that after dinner you can have a "cheese course" with a glass of fine red wine. This, to me, is pure romance, but I am a bit of a fromage-o-phile. And by a bit, i mean a lot.
posted by greenish at 9:53 AM on August 30, 2011

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