Shopping for the hard-to-gift
December 22, 2011 12:43 PM   Subscribe

[gift idea filter] Trying to buy a gift for my daughter-in-law, who is a lovely girl (28) whom I do not know very well.

She comes from a more advantaged background than my family, which makes the search a little more challenging. For example, when she graduated from business school last year, and I asked her for some gift ideas, after some prodding (like, "if you don't tell me what you want, you're getting a brief case!"), she suggested a $500 bookcase. More than I've ever paid, but as a librarian, I love that she wanted a bookcase, so that's what we got her. In the past, I've given her a Garmin, yoga workout clothes (recommended by her mother), and a urban leisure bike. She and my son have traveled around the world, for business and pleasure, so maybe some great cool travel gift ideas? I know it's last minute, so thanks in advance for any suggestions.
posted by crepeMyrtle to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a great site for travel items:

Also, EMS stores has great non-wrinkle sport wear that are great for traveling.

Happy Holidays!!
posted by Yellow at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2011

Drats, that link didn't work. Here it is again: Flight
posted by Yellow at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

How about a boardgame? I'll recommend Puerto Rico or Settlers of Catan. You can probably fine them at your local hobby or comic store.
posted by backwards guitar at 12:57 PM on December 22, 2011

Do you know her reading tastes? Picking out a couple of books could be a nice complement to the shelf you got her before.
posted by mlle valentine at 1:04 PM on December 22, 2011

Well, if she reads and travels, she could probably use an e-book reader for on the go. Nothing is a bigger pain in the ass than finding out the one or two books you managed to cram into your carry-on aren't as thrilling (or lengthy) as you thought they would be and getting stuck between a SkyMall catalog or sitcom reruns for the remainder of the flight.
posted by griphus at 1:10 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thinking up good ideas for gifts is hard, even for people you know well. I think cash is a terrible gift. You can't just buy your way out of the gift conundrum. Even worse are gift cards - they're just like cash, but with limitations.

Sit down and think about your daughter-in-law for a few minutes. Make one of those brainstorming diagrams they teach you at business seminars. What does she spend her time doing? What does she like? What's she like?

If that doesn't give you any good ideas, try this: Try to predict what she'll like to do in the future. What could be a natural outgrowth of what she's like now?

In summation, a good gift is the product of some careful thought about a person. Also, don't give cash. Also, don't give one of those Lexuses with the giant bows. Good luck.
posted by boghead at 1:14 PM on December 22, 2011

oh, books! of course :o) Now that she's graduated, she does have more time to read, so yay, thanks for reminding me of the obvious solution. I believe my son is getting her a Kindle, so that opens some gift ideas too, like a travel-ready case from REI...
thanks for all the recommendations. @boghead -- but that's hard! Okay, I'll brainstorm some and see if there is a gift idea in there somewhere.
thanks, guys and gals of the green
posted by crepeMyrtle at 1:24 PM on December 22, 2011

Paul Theroux has some good travel books she might enjoy. I also really liked Ian Frazier's Travels in Siberia.

If your son is getting her a Kindle, you might get her an Amazon gift card so she can load it up with books of her choosing.
posted by something something at 1:31 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

My in-laws gave me one of those Pandora charm bracelets last year for Christmas (I was 29). It wasn't anything that I would buy myself, but it was lovely and I treasure it! Now for every birthday/Christmas/gift giving event, they give me a charm or 2 to go along with it. It's very thoughtful, and I love how the charms they choose for me tell me who they think I am. I am not a jewelry person at all, and I rarely wear it, but it truly is one of my most cherished gifts!
posted by katypickle at 1:51 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Out of left field, but my MIL gave me a hobo international purse ( years ago and (1) I loved it even though I'm not really a purse person and (2) my friends agreed she was the coolest MIL ever. I roughly fit your description of your daughter-in-law.
posted by n'muakolo at 1:57 PM on December 22, 2011

Does she have an iPhone or similar sized phone? This has been a pretty well-received gift for a few people I know. It's basically a stylish wallet for iPhone / cash / cards with a wrist strap for when you don't want to carry a purse.
posted by true at 1:58 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Such great ideas! Yes, she's got an iPhone -- cool idea. And Pandora, lovely idea (and answer to future gift situations). Woah, hobo doesn't mean what I expected :o)
posted by crepeMyrtle at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2011

Ryszard Kapuscinski's Travels With Herodotus is a beautiful novel/memoir of a global traveler and perfect for any well-read woman who values a global world view. It would be an especially touching gift if you also get her something practical from Flight001.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:40 PM on December 22, 2011

Cashmere travel accessories, maybe? Such as socks, or a wrap?
posted by scody at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2011

You might find some ideas for world travellers at National Geographic Store.
posted by leigh1 at 5:15 PM on December 22, 2011

I also love the store Flight 001 for travel stuff, and I think she could probably exchange the gift if it were slightly off the mark. (I'm also a youngish traveling woman, though not quite as young as your DIL.)
posted by Ollie at 5:35 PM on December 22, 2011

I would second the Hobo bag. I fit your daughter-in-law's description to a t, and I would have peed myself if I received a Hobo handbag or wallet.

Also on the board game theme, Pandemic would be a lot of fun, particularly if she and your son have down time alone together frequently.

Be careful with the Pandora bracelet. Depending on how well you know her, your selection of charms may be a great way to pick out meaningful items and create connection or may be a semi-frequent reminder of how little you know her. (The latter is how that would go over with my and my in-laws, unfortunately. I hope it would be the former!)
posted by emkelley at 7:45 PM on December 22, 2011

I am going to go out on a limb here, not knowing the details or your budget, but hope that you or someone may find it useful. If she travels often, it may make sense to get an year's worth of Airport lounge access.

Priority Pass, which is one of the largest independent services worldwide, costs about $400 for the top membership program, while the second tier plan costs about $249 for 10 free visits (and then $27 per visit). In both plans, guests can be invited for $27 each time.

I know I could do with one, but I don't travel that often to make this worthwhile.
posted by theobserver at 10:18 PM on December 22, 2011

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful suggestions. I bought my DIL a copy of Travels with Herodotus, and some clothes from her favorite local yoga studio (which she can return if I got the wrong size or color). Her birthday is in March, so I'll be able to get her something else from this list then. Thanks again to everyone!
posted by crepeMyrtle at 10:31 AM on December 28, 2011

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