Tuesday, 8 December 2009

How to Choose the Perfect Present for the Mother-in-Law........


Finding the perfect present for the mother-in-law can be a really tricky task because you will probably, unless you get on with her exceptionally well, be judged on what you give, whatever it is, and whether you get it right or not. And I know these things.

Mine is now 89, and we've definitely had our ups and downs (more of the latter in the past, more of the former recently, thank goodness.) She's all there, controlling, indomitable and still travelling the world teaching Ikebana -
this is one of her books.

We've actually reached the stage where what I give her doesn't really matter, she usually stays with us over Christmas, and whatever I choose gets left here because she lives just outside DC in the wilds of Hollywood Maryland and doesn't want to carry stuff backwards and forwards.

Moving back to the point, and through around twenty-five years of experience, I can say for certain that you have to be very careful here, but I'm sure you already know that.

If you want to be clever, without having to put a great deal of effort into it, it's the same formula as finding a gift for anyone, which is not about how much you spend money-wise, but totally about how much thought you put into it.

I always say there's a trick to giving gifts. Do a quick analysis of the person concerned, whoever it is. Their style, the colours they like, the type of fragrance, music, books etc and jot it all down plus, extremely importantly, hobbies or sports (the latter not usually applying to the ma-in-law). Then buy something appropriate. If they're classic in style, then follow that. If contemporary, then go that way.

The difference is a bit like that between a Kelly Hoppen candle for a contemporary, minimalistic, neutral loving person and one by Penhaligon's, for a classic, colour wearing, floral fragrance one.

Mother-in-laws are no different to anyone else (apart from the possible stress factor), put them into the gift-giving perfect present selection think tank, come out with a few answers, and then feel smug because you can see that they didn't think you were that clever. Do I sound defensive here? Maybe, just a little, but you're probably no different.

By the way, if this sounds like a long drawn out process, it isn't, you'll be amazed at how quickly you can do it and your brief analysis will last for all the other gifts you give to the same person.

Take a look at The Gift Book if you want lots more ideas about what to buy for everyone. In the back there's a section where you can store your notes about each person.