Christmas Wish List Headache
November 28, 2012 12:03 PM   Subscribe

[Xmas gift filter] My mother wants to know what I want for Xmas. I am out of ideas - and there are a few issues regarding shopping & shipping.

I am a mid-30s woman living in a major UK city. My parents live in Denmark and shipping costs are really high Denmark -> UK. I am notoriously bad of thinking of things I'd like. I have an Amazon wish list which works really well for friends and UK-based family, but my mother loves shopping for presents in person.

+ I don't wear jewellery or perfume.
+ I don't dare ask for clothes after a certain incident involving a pink jumper size XXXL. I usually ask for PJs but I have about eight or nine sets now.
+ I love books but the ones I want to read are not available in Danish bookshops (plus books are heavy).
+ I used to ask for yarn, but I have way too much now (and not enough time to knit it all).
+ Gift certificates are "not fun" according to my mum and it's also difficult for my parents to buy UK high street vouchers.
+ I enjoy cooking but have all the fancy kitchenware I could possibly want.
+ I have a very low tolerance for gadgets.
+ My mum adores big brand-names and struggles with the whole handmade movement, so there is that to consider too.
+ My parents live in rural Denmark but will happily shop in Copenhagen, if necessary.
+ Budget? Roughly $100-200.

Some recent (and great) presents from friends include: fabric, hand-embroidered purse, quirky tote bag, a literary tea towel and gig tickets. None of which really translate into a fun shopping experience for my parents and I'm nervous about what they might buy (cf. the pink jumper incident).

Any ideas? Help me think outside the box here.
posted by kariebookish to Shopping (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Board games? Soaps? Socks? Danish foodstuffs that are unavailable in the UK?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:05 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm asking for high quality towels this year... the high quality ones are rarely too ugly and then hey, nice towels.
posted by brainmouse at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about panties and/or hosiery? They're fun to shop for, you'll definitely need more at some point, and with size/rough style specifications, it should be hard for your mom to go too far wrong.
posted by Bardolph at 12:08 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like the high-end towels idea. Also, quality bedsheets or a really great bathrobe.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:12 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hi, I think your mom and my mom are the same person. I've conditioned her, now I get a check. She whinges, but it's what I want.

How about a nice handbag? Look on line for styles and brands that you like, send her photos, SKU numbers, etc.

Consumables are great. Magazines are good. So are X of the month clubs. Fruit, steaks, etc.

Renewal of your TV License? Netflix subscription?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2012

Etsy Denmark! Do you need art? Because I love this and this. Also, even department stores are stocking hand-milled soaps these days, and you can keep asking for it year after year because you know - it's soap, you'll use it. Also nice soap is a joy to use, for real.

Alternatively, I'm assuming the big retailers are online and that you can browse them, so you could make very specific suggestions to your mum if that would work.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2012

I second quality bed sheets.
posted by rachums at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2012

Hmm, you're worried about providing a "fun shopping experience" for your parents. Really takes the fun out of receiving a gift, no? How about, "Mom, I'm at a point in my life where I really have enough stuff. I know you don't like giving gift certificates, but I would honestly prefer those to any physical items. So here's what I propose: go online and find an interesting restaurant/bar/whatever place near me, get me a gift certificate there, and I'll go, take pictures of myself and friend/s.o./whomever enjoying it, and next time we get together/skype/whyever I'll tell you all about it."
posted by disconnect at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

A nicely framed photograph from your childhood or of your parents when they were young?

If it doesn't match your home decor, you can always put it on your desk at office.
posted by tinymegalo at 12:31 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is a trip to see Mom or vice versa possible? Memories make the best gifts!

If not possible, linens and towels of higher quality than you would indulge yourself with normally sound like a great gift idea. Get those high-thread count sheets, those scrumptiously fluffy towels. Make sure to call your Mom and thank her again each time the weather turns cold and you pull out the fuzzy slippers or comfy spa robe she gifted you.

Alternatively, I like Christmas ornaments for gifts. They don't take up much room because you only display them for the holidays; they are hand-picked by the giver just for you so are quite personal (knitting, cooking, literary seem to be good themes for you); and every time you take one out to hang on your Christmas tree, you'll think of the person who gave it to you.

Again, memories = the best gifts!
posted by misha at 12:34 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Someone just gave me fleece sheets like these that I did not want at all and they have turned out to be the best thing in the entire world. They are somehow cozy without being too warm, which is an issue for me with sleeping. I'm giving them to a bunch of people this Christmas whether they want them or not.
posted by something something at 12:36 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here in the US we have various charitable organizations where you can 'adopt' a kid for Christmas --- they'll give you a broad outline, something like 'Boy, age 8, loves Transformers and green sneakers size 7', then you go get the kid a gift. Would your mother be open to that? "Mom, I have everything I need or want, but here's a kid you can shop for: it would make me happy and you can go crazy!"
posted by easily confused at 12:37 PM on November 28, 2012

Also, meant to add: you can find lovely hand-made, blown glass, and custom ornaments almost anywhere. The more unusual they are, the more collectible and treasured over the years.

That fits in very well with Mom's love of designer type stuff AND your own taste for not having gadgety, trendy stuff cluttering up your house.

They are also light-weight (though sometimes fragile!) for shipping, another plus.
posted by misha at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I enjoy cooking but have all the fancy kitchenware I could possibly want.

You're me! And after several years of receiving silly one-use cooking gadgets I didn't want or need, I have started to specify that if people wanna buy cooking-related presents for me, they should buy fancy INGREDIENTS like sauces or spices. Stuff I can use up and don't have to keep in my kitchen forever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:46 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Because I live abroad I'd rather avoid the "Mum, I don't need stuff. Donate to charity/give me a voucher for a lovely dinner" because Xmas shopping is about my mum creating memories for herself rather than anything else. I'd just prefer to receive stuff I'd like rather than another bejewelled candlestick/pink jumper.

I am loving the bath robe idea and the towels. I'd love to ask for board games, but English-languaged ones are hard to find unless you hit the hardcore geeky shops in Copenhagen.

Keep 'em coming!
posted by kariebookish at 12:57 PM on November 28, 2012

A good "theme" is to try to think of something that you have but for which you could feasibly enjoy an upgrade; ideally something that has lots of choices of types and features so it requires some decision-making and comparison shopping that you then don't have to do, but your mom would enjoy doing. So, like towels or bathrobe as already suggested, maybe a nice insulated coffee mug (so many choices: size! material! design!); workout wear (performance tights? expensive yoga pants?); a pen or pencil set (again, choices for her to make! useful! small to ship!).
posted by gubenuj at 1:11 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Upscale makeup? Stuff like face lotions and mascara or lip gloss samplers? They have a Sephora in Copenhagen right?
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:23 PM on November 28, 2012

You don't do perfume but what about facial products - the whole cleanser-toner-moisturizer routine?

I don't wear jewelry normally, but I was surprised to find that when I inherited I nice ring from my grandmother, I do wear it. Maybe she'd surprise you with good taste, if you described it well: "I'd like a watch in gold-tone with a bangle-type band, preferably without rhinestones or crystals", "I'd like a pair of smallish opal earrings"

Tablecloth/napkin/napkinrings set? (with a reminder of your table size and a photo of the dining area)

Ask for things that you already use, but with upgraded quality: cashmere gloves, smartwool socks, etc, and don't be afraid to specify "neutral colors or blue, size L", and by the way here is a convenient email you can print out with the measurements for every part of my body, and my dining table, and my bed.

Like gubenuj says, pick a theme that has some flexibility but also some boundaries, and describe what you want to do: "here is a photo of me wearing my winter coat that I just ripped the lining of; I'd like something kind of similar (shape/color/material) in size X" or "I'm looking for a longsleeved sweater size M that's got a neckline like (picture or picture) and comes down to a length like (picture), in a color like (black, grey, picture, or picture) and ideally it would be at least 50% wool." Something where you know more or less what you want, but you haven't had the time/energy to shop around and find it.

My dad/stepmom ask me what I want, and I have to do this. Working off an Amazon list was kind of dull at first because it's kind of boring to get exactly what you ask for (oh, look, a Land's End crewneck sweater size 10 in LoganHeather! who would have guessed?) One thing that works is to come up with as many of these gift ideas as possible, and let her shop more openendedly and give me whatever she found a good match for; then I get something that I asked for but I don't know exactly what it's going to be.
posted by aimedwander at 1:35 PM on November 28, 2012

Because I live abroad I'd rather avoid the "Mum, I don't need stuff. Donate to charity/give me a voucher for a lovely dinner" because Xmas shopping is about my mum creating memories for herself rather than anything else. I'd just prefer to receive stuff I'd like rather than another bejewelled candlestick/pink jumper.

If this issue is about her shopping enjoyment rather than your enjoyment of the thing, then why not let her get you all the pink jumpers in the world? Then just donate them to charity after sending Mum an effusive thank you note.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cashmere or leather gloves
Tiny techy gadget - great earbuds, high-capacity flash drive
Stationery, maybe engraved with your monogram
Spices or teas
Wallet or passport holder
Silk pillowcases
posted by lakeroon at 1:59 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

A nice belt or scarf or other accessory like that; you could give a nudge about what kind of thing you need (eg, work-appropriate, brown leather, gold hardware; silk scarf that would go with white blouse and navy blazer).
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:49 PM on November 28, 2012

Chocolate: a nice big box of fancy chocolates. And if you want to make your coworkers extremely appreciative, take the box in to share.
posted by easily confused at 3:37 PM on November 28, 2012

How about something from Royal Copenhagen? It's always nice to have a matched tea set and their things are so nice.
posted by bq at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2012

Georg Jensen. If I had a relative in Denmark who was anxious to buy me a fancy designer something, I would probably ask for these cheese knives. They have some terribly lovely vases and other doodads, too.
posted by apparently at 6:05 PM on November 28, 2012

Table linens - with some advice about colour and size.

Gloves - (e)mail her a photo or outline of your hand for sizing?

Love the photo idea - maybe a photo book she organizes online (is that something you'll make/give to her?)
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 6:59 PM on November 28, 2012

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