1st christmas gift for daughter-in law.
November 28, 2021 6:29 PM   Subscribe

My son is engaged to marry a wonderful woman next fall. I would like to give her a Christmas gift that welcomes her to the family. But I've only met her a few times.

I had an idea but she probably will not be changing her last name ( I had thought of giving her a gold stylized monogram pendant that has been used traditionally by our family) and he also said she does not wear jewelry. So I am back at square 1. They live out of state and we've only met a few times. What else would be a good gift from a future mother-in-law?
posted by southeastyetagain to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you asked your son where your family traditions and your future daughter-in-law's interests might intersect?

Are there any activities, hobbies, interests, etc that your son shares with her that you could recognize, like "I know that this is a gift I know you and my son will enjoy together, which shows that I welcome you and your interests to our family!" Recognizing that they are their own unit that you respect and appreciate goes a long way. Personal family traditions can come later.
posted by erst at 6:50 PM on November 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I was about to say the opposite of erst! If there is a tradition or activity that is important to your family, whatever equipment she would need in order to fully participate. I think the message would just be "we're thrilled you're becoming a part of our family" and this visit will be an opportunity to show interest in who she is and who they are as a couple in actual conversation.
posted by Viola Swamp at 6:57 PM on November 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best holiday gift I've gotten from a partner's mom was pajamas, both because it was part of their family tradition (new pajamas on Christmas eve) and because the implied message was "please feel comfortable here." Even minus the tradition, something cozy could be a nice move.
posted by babelfish at 7:12 PM on November 28, 2021 [23 favorites]

Can you give the gold stylized monogram pendant that has been used traditionally by your family with a single initial, for her first name?
posted by nathaole at 7:20 PM on November 28, 2021 [7 favorites]

How about a digital photo frame, preloaded by you both with several family photos from over the years, and a photo of the two of them, which you could ask your son to give you for this purpose? Of course she'll use the frame as she wishes in addition to whatever you load into it.
You also could ask for pics of them, for your own home, if you already display family photos. It would be nice for her to see herself included whenever they eventually visit.
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 7:23 PM on November 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

My husband's mom gave me some Christmas ornaments that my husband made when he was little. If you've kept anything like that she would likely treasure it. I also like the suggestion of a frame and photos or something cozy.

It's so wonderful that you're asking this. Your son's fiancee is very lucky to have such a warm welcome.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:32 PM on November 28, 2021 [13 favorites]

Best answer: My mother-in-law was a phenomenal and enthusiastic gift-giver, and I think the thing that struck me most early on was not how on point her gifts were but that they were fundamentally things she'd have given to her own children. I received nerdy toys because her son and I both liked science fiction and he was into them so maybe I was too! Her daughter liked cozy wool things, and maybe I did too! Her best friend's kid had studied something similar to me and we both got books related to it! Etc. It was always very earnest and I could understand the logic that inspired each, and how what she was feeling her way towards was "who are you?" just as she'd have done with her own children when they were little and new to her. I know that's not super helpful as a Thing you go buy, but maybe it helps with framing this? You don't need the one perfect gift: this is the beginning of a long relationship, and you'll get to know one another better as time goes on, so for now it's fine to give something that connects with whatever you do know about her and shows your interest in her as a new person in your life.
posted by teremala at 8:08 PM on November 28, 2021 [41 favorites]

First off, don't worry too much about it.

My mother-in-law doesn't quite get it right with me - gifts are usually kind of strange, designed for hobbies I'll never take up. But she tries.

I find the odd gifts a charming quirk of hers.

Ask your son what her interests are, and what she uses regularly. If she isn't a jewelry person, you could still get something monogrammed with her first initial that reflects her interests. Then explain a monogram is a welcome tradition.

You could give a well-made robe, a a tote, etc.
posted by champers at 3:34 AM on November 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

A lovely Christmas ornament?
posted by evilmomlady at 4:01 AM on November 29, 2021

Agree about the traditions thing - new members of our family get a knitted christmas stocking with their name on it, for instance. Christmas ornaments are also big welcome to the family gifts here. If they are having a traditional wedding, maybe something that would be used at the wedding - champagne flutes or cake cutting stuff.

Depending on where they live, winter cozy things are good too. Nice gloves. A good lap blanket. A favorite board game the family played (my parents gave my husband parcheesi).

My mother in law is excellent at giving me practical things that are much nicer than I would buy for myself - like bath towels. Towels might not be the right thing, but nice cookware or knives if she likes to cook could be (I think of the people who gave me my favorite frying pan every time I use it, 17 years later!)
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:50 AM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

"We love you just the way you are" said Fred Rogers, and the gift should say the same.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:37 AM on November 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

If you're a shoes-off family - two pairs of slippers (monogram optional), one for her to use at home and one that will be "her slippers" in your house. Or some other way to mark "her place" in the family.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:19 AM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Monogram pendant with the initial of her surname! It shows you respect her for keeping her name, and also that you welcome her into your family tradition.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 6:54 AM on November 29, 2021 [17 favorites]

If they're coming to visit you over the holidays, I think a generous gesture would be to buy the couple a nice giftcard to a local attraction (museum, theme park, something your son loves?) or a great local restaurant gift card. Something that lets them know you want them to have fun during the visit, and that they may appreciate a nice date out together. I would also ask her what some of her favorite snacks or drinks are (or ask your son what she likes) and make sure you have them available to her. Those two things would singal to her that you want her to have a nice time and you're thinking of her needs. (And yes, this is said by a person who has learned to bring snacks when I visit in-laws, because their fridge is usually empty - no, not because of finances, they have more $ than me - but otherwise I get very hungry at their house!)

A nice gift could be a cashmere scarf or maybe nice gloves, or some other kind of accessory from a nice local boutique. Maybe paired with a copy of a book you enjoyed, if you know that she likes reading. I personally don't especially care for ornaments as gifts, but if it that's a traditional gift in your family, you could decorate the package with an ornament. I'd avoid jewlery and monograms since you know she doesn't like jewelry and the monogram is tricky without knowing her initials, so why risk it?
posted by areaperson at 7:25 AM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Seconding the pyjamas, especially if you gift matching ones to other family members.
posted by foxtongue at 8:08 AM on November 29, 2021

Everyone likes a Yeti thermos, they're a nice thing you wouldn't buy for yourself.
posted by greatalleycat at 8:33 AM on November 29, 2021

A beautiful warm bathrobe might be better than warms pjs, because it works to cover up that sexy lingerie she may wear- if she wears anything at all- when she shares a bed with your kid. Wholesome warm pjs send a message that hanky panky is not supposed to happen under your roof.
posted by mareli at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

My husband and I have been together ten years (four years married this week!) and I can tell you that I remember absolutely not at all what my future mother in law gave me the first Christmas we spent all together and I would consider us to be quite close today. So I agree that nailing this right out of the gate isn't critical. And I would go even farther to suggest not taking it too hard if she doesn't enthusiastically "like" the gift (unless she is terrifically ungracious about it).
posted by sm1tten at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2021

You said No jewelry but a strand of pearls is always good to have on hand for opera tickets / wedding / baptism etc etc. no one would ever buy for themselves or wear on a daily basis but great once you have them.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:01 PM on November 29, 2021

My MIL wouldn't give me the family margarita recipe until I was officially married in. Are there any family recipes that could be gifted? (though maybe double check if she likes cooking?)
posted by magnetsphere at 4:17 PM on November 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think you're so thoughtful and kind and that will shine through! I totally agree on avoiding jewelry if that's not her thing: I love jewelry and I love thoughtful gifts but almost no one, except for my mom and not even all the time, truly understands my taste; I resent or at least dread getting jewelry from most people except maybe a crafty friend or intimate partner. Just to put this perspective out there!

I agree on waiting for the monogrammed family item because, while incredibly thoughtful and perhaps highly appreciated by her one day, right now it could feel passive aggressive since she's probably keeping her name. (Also good for you for not seeing that choice of hers as any reflection on you or your family.)

I suggest avoiding any clothing of any sort because the wrong size or style could feel like a personal slight. You're not the sexy police nor the sexy provocateur so by all means avoid that!

Like others have said, as you get to know her better, future gifting will likely be much easier. I think a gift card for a restaurant or shop she enjoys would be perfect along with a note where you express how happy you are that she's now part of your family. If I were she, that part of the gift would be my absolute favorite! I know for one of my sisters, the favorite "gift" from her mother-in-law is how much her MIL gushes about her, that the mom is so happy her son chose her and how much the mom genuinely likes her. (Confusing nouns and pronouns there but you get what I mean!) My sister is not a gushy person nor someone who normally likes gushing but, after having had some partners whose moms were not supportive, that positivity is so nice.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:45 PM on November 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

A high-end scarf that's comfortable, hypoallergenic, and in a color such as grey that goes with a lot of other clothes, would be nice -- especially if you can also manage matching mittens/gloves!

Since they live in a different state, maybe you could give her a piece of equipment that will help you communicate (via phone, videocalls, etc.) more easily in the future, indicating that you're looking forward to staying in touch? You can find out from your son whether she already has headphones, a lap desk, etc. If you do this I think you should probably also accompany it with a more classic gift such as an upscale blanket.
posted by brainwane at 10:50 AM on November 30, 2021

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