Birthday present for Mom (80th year edition)
July 7, 2018 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I don't have a clue what to give my mom for her 80th birthday. Every time I think about it I put it to the back of my mind but I can't procrastinate forever!

My mom turns 80 in August. We are meeting my parents in Las Vegas for a couple of days to celebrate, she *really* likes to play the slots. Past birthdays I've given her gift cards, clothes, jewelry, flowers, gift food...usually acknowledged with an enthusiastic thank you, followed by something like "you shouldn't have!" or "that must have been expensive." (if she doesn't say it then my dad usually will). I just don't know what to do this time, it's hard to know what she really wants or likes, and there's that weird passive-aggressive thing between my mom and dad that I just hate, like she's not worthy of receiving something nice.

We'll of course pick up the bill for the birthday dinner (the dinner is a whole other issue probably worthy of a separate question. How do I get my mom to order an expensive entree for herself rather than splitting the most inexpensive thing on the menu with my dad?). I feel like us being there to celebrate with her is what she wants most, but any ideas for something else I can get her are much appreciated.
posted by plasticpalacealice to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Tickets to a show? An experience to enjoy, like the dinner, rather than a tangible gift, might take some of the passive-aggressiveness veneer off.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:33 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]

"You shouldn't have" etc. sound like standard parental responses when getting gifts, at least to me. But that's not going to give you a gift idea.

As Iris said, experience gifts are good. Something slot-themed if she really enjoys playing slots?

Do you often do birthdays / holidays together? Do you have a lot of pictures? Putting together a photo album of your time together could be pretty nice.

For people who have "everything" I try to go for something that has meaning, like the photo album or experience, or music or a book that they'd enjoy.
posted by jzb at 10:42 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

For the bill, buy a gift card to the restaurant in advance, and say that you won it or that your co-worker gave it to you. Then, from the beginning of the meal, everyone knows that they "have to" spend a certain amount in order to make the gift card worth it.
posted by xo at 10:55 AM on July 7 [7 favorites]

As one gets older and American portions get larger splitting an entree seems entirely understandable. I am a very active healthy 76 YO and splitting the entree is not that unusual--now the dessert, that is a different matter. I think it is almost imposible for my children to select gifts and I encourage them to either donate to a cause or forgo it--Really, what do I need except time spent with friends/family, good memories and experiences. I would much rather go for a good swim with my daughter and grandson than receive a new swim suit I can order with a click. Time, shared experiences, memories. I might also mention I guard my time and how I spend it zealously. Accepting parents at face value without expecting them to be different is a gift in itself. BTW--I say this assuming their "need" for things is met and they are reasonably comfortable. Real needs can be met through gifts in understated ways.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:05 AM on July 7 [12 favorites]

For the dinner, you could choose a restaurant that has a prix fixe menu, if there's one available. Or, a Chinese-style meal where entrees are shared. Or, book a private room and tell her the menu's been arranged in advance so there's no ordering to be done (sometimes this can be done without the private room, but just arranged in advance with the restaurant). Or: get a catered meal done at your house or some other locale, so there's nothing for her to order.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:13 AM on July 7

Pick your dad's brain. Find out what dessert you mom loves, that she hasn't had in years (everybody has one of these). Find out what place in Las Vegas serves this; I assume Vegas has all the foods. Take her there for dessert.
posted by jessicapierce at 11:47 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]

slip her $100 to play on the slots and say “Don’t tell Dad”
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:09 PM on July 7 [13 favorites]

^ best answer, I think. Your 80-year old mom doesn't need one more thing/object/item in her life.
posted by BostonTerrier at 1:41 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

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