Any present ideas for a woman turning 60?
September 1, 2011 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Looking for gift ideas for my mom's 60th birthday. She likes U of M (but is overloaded there), gardening and conservation, travel, and men's choirs (but may be overloaded there, too).

My mom is a very driven type of woman with a wide social circle. She likes to be involved in a lot of activities (church is a big one). She's a huge gardener and was thinking of doing some conservation landscaping this fall.

She's also huge into the University of Michigan and men's choirs, especially the University of Michigan's men's choir, but my dad said she's about topped out there in the presents department.

She's a fan of traveling as well, but I'm afraid I can't provide much in that area since I don't really have money to fund any cool trips.

With these incredibly vague categories, can someone suggest good presents? Alternatively, maybe books or inspirational-type stuff aimed towards the older, still very active woman?

Budget on my part is pretty darn limited. Extremely darn limited.

(We've never been too close which is why I'm at such a loss here, but I still want to acknowledge this big milestone.)
posted by schroedinger to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
Not really related to U of M, but what about sponsoring trees in celebration of her birthday at the Arbor Day Foundation? For $60, you can have 60 trees planted in a national forest. People like trees.
posted by katinka-katinka at 2:35 PM on September 1, 2011

She could always go visit them later!
posted by katinka-katinka at 2:35 PM on September 1, 2011

What plant hardiness zone does she live in? I could give you some fun plant recommendations with that information.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:44 PM on September 1, 2011

The tree is a good idea!

She's in hardiness zone 6B.
posted by schroedinger at 2:46 PM on September 1, 2011

Here are some bulbs which can be planted in the fall and enjoyed in the spring.

Eremurus himalaicus. These are tall - like a meter and up - and spectacular. They look great interspersed with other plants and provide some spiky punctuation to your garden.

Tulipa orphanidea flava. These species tulips are lovely in drifts - they have great color and, unlike the Darwin tulips, don't look like a clumsy child's drawing of a flower.

Tulip 'Angelique'. A peony flowering tulip that just lasts and lasts. It is a real confection, so if your mother doesn't like frothy, she might not like this. It is a late flowering tulip.

Last year I bought my parents a selection of alliums and dropped by to plant them all. Since she's the gardener here, why not get her a soil knife (aka hori hori; I actually have a slightly different one that I love, but I bought it at Home Depot or Lowes and have no idea how to find it again. It has a blue handle but no identifying information.) and a few different allium.

Some of my favorites:
aflatunense 'Purple Sensation'
moly 'Jeannine'

If you get them in quantity, and plant them in groups according to type, they'll provide you/her with a display for the entire summer.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2011

There are all sorts of nifty gardening accessories out there. If that is a possibility you could peruse the aisles of Home Depot or Lowes until something strikes you.
posted by JXBeach at 3:22 PM on September 1, 2011

Does she live close enough to Ann Arbor where tickets to one of the choirs would work? I seem to recall that the a capella groups (maybe Amazin' Blue?) could be hired for private gigs too.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2011

What is your dad giving her? Maybe there is something you could tag onto that -- zB, if he's giving her a subscription to a choir series, you could get her the accompanying CDs.

Also, even though you are looking for low-budget options, I am going to toss out Road Scholar/Elderhostel. They have lots of super cool trips (everything from an Impressionism Along the Seine cruise to Trekking in Nepal to Crime Scene Investigation in Las Vegas), many of them less than $600 including all meals. Your mom sounds like the kind of energetic/social person who might get a lot out of their programs.
posted by apparently at 5:06 PM on September 1, 2011

For my parents' 35th anniversary, I solicited notes from their friends and families congratulating them on the milestone and then put them together in a book for them to read. Your mom might really enjoy hearing from people she hasn't heard from in a while and the main cost to you is a scrapbook to put them all together.
posted by Leezie at 5:36 PM on September 1, 2011

How about some sun jars? I'm making them for my Mother-in-law this Christmas to put in the garden.
posted by yb2006shasta at 6:01 PM on September 1, 2011

Could you maybe buy her an experience instead of an object?

To give you some ideas my mother who just turned 70, has on her various important birthdays been. Paragliding, abseiling, on a Harley Davidson Bike tour, on an ultra light flight. My Dad had similar experiences including aerobatics in an airplane . They in return paid for me to go skydiving for my 30th. She is coming to visit me in the US in a week or so and we are hoping to take her Hot Air Ballooning as a delayed 70th present.

Now some of these aren't cheap things to do I was lucky that the whole family would chip in so no one person bore all the cost, but there are lots of options out there that are much more reasonable price wise depending on where you are located. Spend a day with her and take her on a tour of a famous garden in your area. Does your local botanical gardens do behind the scenes tours or classes? Take her somewhere beautiful, maybe a park or garden for a lovely picnic where you have made all her favourite foods. A lovely leather bound gardening diary.
posted by wwax at 5:50 AM on September 2, 2011

Maybe a membership to Matthei Botanical Garden?
posted by violette at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2011

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