What should I buy to help remember my grandma?
July 10, 2007 1:24 PM   Subscribe

My grandma recently gave me $500 to buy something lasting to remember her by. My first thought was watch, but I have a watch, so I am hoping for good suggestions of lasting items in that price range (I like ebay). I would like something unique, but maybe there is something that all men should own that I am just not thinking of.
posted by ouchitburns to Shopping (41 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by shivohum at 1:30 PM on July 10, 2007

You have a watch, but do you have a watch that will last for the rest of your life, will look and perform great the whole time, and never lose its beauty and meaning? If not, I say get a watch like THAT.
posted by tristeza at 1:31 PM on July 10, 2007

If I were you I would do something cool with her instead of buying something.
Maybe buy a nice camera if you don't already have one and take your grandma out to a really nice lunch or dinner as well as a show of something she likes with the rest of the money. Get lots of pictures and enjoy the day; frame the best one to give to her as well as one for yourself.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:33 PM on July 10, 2007

Get a Grandma tattoo. Either her name, her picture, or some piece of wisdom she passed along to you.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:36 PM on July 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

You could get a really good straight razor and boar bristle brush for shaving.

However, this is meant to be a memento to remind you of your grandmother, so I'd say find something she is interested in and get something suitable (if she likes photography, buy an antique camera from about the time she got into it, or even just from whenever she was in her 20's or about your age).

You could also browse the art/paintings available on ebay or various other art websites (I'm sure the main metafilter page has some good leads in its archives) and find one that you think does a good job of capturing her personality/style/etc.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 1:37 PM on July 10, 2007

Spend $100 on a memento-- fine candlesticks, jewelry, whatever. It's not about monetary value, it's about the endurance of your connection to her.

With the remaining $400+, you could change the landscape of others' faces forever in her name.
posted by hermitosis at 1:45 PM on July 10, 2007 [3 favorites]

Don't toss out the watch idea. Maybe a pocket watch even. It won't be your daily watch, so you can display it on your mantle or some other place of honor when you are not wearing it. Make sure to have it engraved. When people notice your great watch, either on you or your mantle, you can tell people about your wonderful grandmother.
posted by The Deej at 1:46 PM on July 10, 2007

Signet ring?
posted by Loto at 1:48 PM on July 10, 2007

Get a really nice edition of Leaves of Grass and read Song of Myself.
posted by mattbucher at 1:50 PM on July 10, 2007

Find some beautiful old photos of her, have them restored and properly/archivally framed? Shadowbox framing for any momentos?

I like the idea of spending the money on creating a fantastic memory...box tickets to the opera? Afternoon tea at the Plaza? Hot air balloon ride?
posted by availablelight at 1:53 PM on July 10, 2007

Signet ring?

posted by briank at 1:59 PM on July 10, 2007

For my college graduation, my dad got me a suit, 3-piece, traditional style, wool, charcoal gray, light pinstripe, tailored to fit perfectly. Just today, I had to take it in for alteration. Oh, yeah, I graduated in 1988. A fine suit is what I'd recommend.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:00 PM on July 10, 2007

Seconding the advice to follow your grandmother's interests. My grandma was a bird watcher, so if my grandma was making me that offer I would ask for binoculars. If your grandma is a hunter or murderer you could get a gun. etc.
posted by crazycanuck at 2:21 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

I dunno, get or do something meaningful for yourself. When my grandfather left me some money, I bought a ~$500 guitar because I knew it would be something I would value and use. It's probably not the nicest guitar I'll ever own, but I've really spent a lot of time with it and when I think back on how I have grown creatively I know he's been a part of that. Something you'll pick up over and over again seems like the way to go.
posted by Post-it Goat at 2:22 PM on July 10, 2007

Any big events coming up? My grandpa did something similar right before he died and we ended up putting the money towards our wedding bands.

We had also considered a nice cedar chest.

There are some good ideas above, but I'd suggest narrowing the list down to things you'll use on a pretty frequent basis. Cuff links, for example, are a good idea, unless you're the type of person who never wears them. They won't be such a reminder in that case.
posted by chndrcks at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2007

In 1992 my grandma gave me some money (under $100) and with it I bought an iguana. Every time I see my Boba Fett, I think of grandma. YMMV.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:39 PM on July 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

Invest it. It can become the gift money that never ends.
posted by spec80 at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2007

I'd say artwork. It's the kind of thing we generally don't think to spend money on, but always enjoy once it's in our home. And if there is a piece that in some way evokes memories of her while still being interesting to you, it's perfect.

Ebay works for artwork, just leave room to spend a lot of money on framing. I picked up something from a popular regional artist a few years ago for only $50, but then spent $250 on framing. It's my favorite household item.
posted by saffry at 3:05 PM on July 10, 2007

Our grandparents are all gone, and just recently we buried my wife's dad, her last remaining parent.

Stuff is just stuff. Spend the money on making a memory with your grandmother.

- as much of a family reunion as you can put together, and hire a photographer to take a sh!tload of pictures and some portraits
- try to find out what your grandmother's top unfulfilled wish is, and make it happen
- research your complete family tree. Interview your grandmother about as many of your ancestors as you can. Videotape or record the interviews. Pay Ken Burns to edit it and create montages ;) Show it on PBS.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:22 PM on July 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

A tie.. but a bloody good one.
posted by wackybrit at 3:32 PM on July 10, 2007

Go out and buy the best watch you can with the money. You might have a watch right now, but you don't have a special $500 watch that you treated yourself to, paid for by your grandmother. IMO nothing comes close to a watch for a real special keepsake, but you might also consider a nice ring or chain as mentioned above, or a fountain pen if you do a lot of writing.
posted by fire&wings at 3:34 PM on July 10, 2007

Buy a bottle of the latest Chateau Margaux release and hold onto it for 40 years. Then open it and drink to her memory.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:39 PM on July 10, 2007

Thirding the signet ring. Its the type of thing that you pass down for a long time, one of the best imho. For $500 you'll be able to get a very detailed one. A nice, classic shaving set would be a great use of $100 or so of that, though.
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:36 PM on July 10, 2007

I agree with the suggestions that you spend part of the money on a tangible thing, as requested by your grandmother, and then part of it on a nice event with her, if possible -- a lovely dinner out, just the two of you. I understand the notion that "stuff is just stuff," but presumably your grand wants you to have something material, that will survive her.

For that, maybe a set of well-made locket cufflinks in gold or sterling silver, which you could fill with a tiny black & white photo of her in her youth? (A quick Google found some at Red Envelope but I wasn't super-impressed with those, I'm sure better are available)

Some of those can even be monogrammed, so if you and she share a family name you could have the monogram engraved on the cufflinks. You could easily drop $250 on that project, between getting the photo printed and ordering the cufflinks (and possibly buying yourself a nice French cuff shirt if you need one). And be sure to mention to her that you can pass those on, as well -- a family heirloom-to-be. I bet that would please her.

Of course, this suggestion assumes that your grandmother is still alive. Your original post wasn't specific, but could be interpreted that she recently left it you via a bequest -- in which case, my heartfelt condolences... and I recommend instead that you buy something like the aforementioned guitar or iguana, that you wouldn't ordinarily get for yourself but which will bring you joy. Giving a grandchild joy is practically a grandma's raison d'être.

I don't like the signet ring idea. It's one thing to buy something that flashy because you need it and can use it. But no one really needs to seal and authenticate a document in wax anymore, so having a ring made for it is sort of naff. And actually wearing it... shudder.
posted by pineapple at 4:44 PM on July 10, 2007

When my grandmother passed away in Jan 2000 (at the ripe age of 96), I was left with $2,000 inheritance. She had about 6 kids and they all had between 2 and 6 kids, and so on. Still, I originally thought to buy a new computer cause I was in need of one at the time, but realized it wouldn't last long.

So, I bought a Gibson Les Paul. Cherry red. Black pick guard and silver hardware. Cost me about $700 out the door. I still don't know how to play it very well, but it's been my motivation to learn guitar over the years. And, one day I can pass it on to my kids if/when I have kids.

Granted, you could go with almost anything "keepsake" like. But I think musical instruments are far more functional - and a guitar is a very common instrument, so it's something that's likely to actually get some usage.
posted by revmitcz at 4:44 PM on July 10, 2007

blue chip stock -- and hope for many happy returns!
posted by peace_love_hope at 4:52 PM on July 10, 2007

If she's still alive, you could take her to an antiques store and pick something out together.

pineapple: it really depends on your family. For families that have come to the US not-so-long-ago from countries where heritage is more important than it is here, starting something like a signet ring can be a tie to that more than anything. ymmv, of course :)
posted by devilsbrigade at 4:52 PM on July 10, 2007

Have a personal biography written and made into a book. (I don't know the cost of this, though.)
posted by jeri at 4:59 PM on July 10, 2007

If not a watch, maybe a clock? You'd still be using it decades from now and it won't go out of style.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2007

A variation on MrMoonPie's suggestion - how about a tuxedo - where you know that every occasion you wear it will likely be memorable, and the added significance of the link to your grandmother will thereby be firmly etched in (hopefully good) memories.
posted by birdsquared at 5:45 PM on July 10, 2007

it really depends on your family. For families that have come to the US not-so-long-ago from countries where heritage is more important than it is here, starting something like a signet ring can be a tie to that more than anything.

I guess so. I don't see where a patriarchal and obsolete piece of jewelry worn by heads of state as an outward reminder of authority and wealth is somehow a significant gesture toward the strong family heritage of an immigrant culture. If one hailed from a royal family, a signet ring would be passed down as an heirloom piece and not purchased new. But, yes, mmmv.
posted by pineapple at 5:57 PM on July 10, 2007

A coin of her birthyear, preferably of her birth-place if not US, in a protective case, etc.
posted by TomMelee at 7:24 PM on July 10, 2007

Or, really professional photos of the two of you together. Or, professional photos and a day trip to someplace fun. Awesome grandmas are hard to come by---make it something you'll cherish.
posted by TomMelee at 7:25 PM on July 10, 2007

i third the nice watch idea. engrave it with a word or line of poetry that reminds you of her. invest the rest.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:38 PM on July 10, 2007

I really like the clock idea, if you already have a watch you like. Could be a desk clock or wall clock, depending on preferences. Maybe have her help you pick it out (if your styles/tastes are at all similar, that is).

Also second the idea of only spending part of the money, and spending at least a portion of it on something with her. Or, if you have a little cash on hand (i.e. you're not a college student / starving artist / etc.) spend the money the way she wants you to, AND, separately, on your own dime, do something special with her.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:43 PM on July 10, 2007

i'm going with art too…it's something that is lovely when you see in a home but you just don't see it often enough.
posted by violetk at 9:50 PM on July 10, 2007

This may be odd, but how about some trees? In the city where I used to live, you could have a tree planted with a plaque (with any words of your choosing) by the city for $100. You could choose to have it planted in any of the city's parks or on the grounds of the local museum.

If something like that existed where you live, it would be kind of cool to pick out 2 or 3 trees and have them planted in the local parks. If you chose long-lived species like oaks, your great-grandchildren could visit them as a rememberance.

I second doing something special with your grandma with some of the money.
posted by Ostara at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2007

No one's mentioned a nice pen yet...I remember receiving one from Cross and one from Tiffany for my bat mitzvah
posted by brujita at 10:05 PM on July 10, 2007

A good fountain pen would be nice. Maybe a vintage one similar to what your Grandmother used when she was younger. $100-200 buys you a very nice vintage pen. The trouble is, this will lead to an addiction that will cost you thousands. :)

I second everyone who said the money doesn't matter, though. I have a $30 bird feeder that I remember my Grandmother by - she always loved to feed and watch birds, even to the end, and every time a bird visits it I remember her.

I'm going to go fill it now.
posted by mmoncur at 12:00 AM on July 11, 2007

Find a potter you really like and buy a matched set of two handmade stoneware mugs, or take your grandmother shopping for said mugs, have a long tea with your grandmother, ever after, when you have your morning coffee, think of her (plus you'll have a spare!).
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:42 AM on July 11, 2007

You could also be on the lookout for (or commission) a really nice box. I know that sounds lame, but it could be something in which to put the watch you already have. My dad has a beautiful mahogany box made by a relative of his. It sits on top of his dresser and he keeps things like his old military medals, one of my baby teeth, a lock of my mom's hair, etc. in it. I guess a "keepsake box" is what I'm trying to describe.

And if the box costs less than $500, you could buy a fountain pen to put in it too. (I'm a total pen junkie and long for a really nice fountain pen, but daren't treat myself to one. Too lavish.)
posted by 100watts at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2007

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