Gift Ideas for Your In-Laws

by sockii

While it can be hard enough to buy gifts for your own family, getting them for your in-laws can be even more difficult! Here are some ideas for making gift-giving easier.

How well do you know your partner's family? If the answer is "not very", you might find it difficult or anxiety-laden when it's time to buy those "extended" family members gifts. Whether for Christmas, a birthday or other celebration, gift-giving can be tricky with in-laws whom you may only see a few times a year at family celebrations, or are perhaps just getting to know if you're in a relatively new relationship.

Whether you're already married or perhaps just becoming better acquainted with your boyfriend or girlfriend's mother, father, siblings or nephews, here are some tips on picking out gifts that are likely to be appreciated. There are no guarantees but a thoughtful gift can show your spouse's family members that you appreciate them, too, and perhaps help build better extended family ties.

Read on to explore Gift Ideas for Your In-Laws!

A Few Do's and Don'ts When Gift Shopping for the In-Laws

Some things to remember before you hit the malls, or start shopping on-line

christmas tree

  • DO ask your partner their opinion on a gift idea before spending the money! Don't buy a nice bottle of wine or liquor gift basket if your in-laws are non-drinkers (or worse, recovering alcoholics!) Or a nut-laden candy tray if someone in the family has severe peanut allergies. Your partner should know his or her family well enough to give you suggestions on gift items that would be appreciated, and nice to receive directly from you instead of as a jointly-given gift from "the two of us."
  • DO try to be creative and inspired. Even if the main part of your gift is a gift card or certificate, try to add something small and handcrafted to the gift, like a holiday ornament, sweets that you've made yourself, or simply a thoughtful card with your own personal message included.
  • DO "snoop" around to see if any of your in-laws have a public gift list to view on Amazon, or perhaps "likes" listed in their Facebook profile. These can help give you some ideas of the things they like and would appreciate as a thoughtful gift to their tastes and needs.
  • DO think twice before buying clothing-related gifts. Certain items like scarves, hats, gloves, socks and robes can be thoughtful and useful for just about anyone. But do you really know what kind of clothing items they like to wear - fabrics they find comfortable versus unpleasant, casual versus professional, colorful versus muted? Do you have any idea what size they wear, and might it be taken as an insult if you got them an extra-large if they actually wear a medium? Sure, there's always exchanges, but that can be a hassle to deal with and might just end up meaning that expensive cashmere sweater you bought ends up getting donated to Goodwill or sitting in a closet for years until the moths eat it.
  • DON'T look to buy your in-laws approval with an overly-expensive gift. It shouldn't be about spending hundreds of dollars on something they may or may not like just to try to get them to like you.
  • DON'T get overly-techie gifts for your spouse's parents unless you know they've truly embraced the computer age. While some older folks are wonderfully tech-savvy, some (like my mother, for instance, and she's just past 60) can barely work a fax machine and surf the web. Although she loves to read, she would not be quick to embrace a Kindle or other such device, and it would sit around like an expensive paperweight in her house.
  • DON'T pick too impersonal a gift - like just an American Express Gift Card, a stuffed animal wearing a holiday hat, or one of those cheap bath & body gift sets from the local drug store. Try to show that you've at least put some thought into the gift and weren't just in a rush at the last minute to find anything just to have a gift to give.

Image source

A Few Sample Gift Ideas

Gifts that could appeal to almost any family...or give you inspiration!
Family Tree Metal Collage Frame

This is a clever gift idea that your in-laws can use to showcase their entire family. Get it as a gift, and fill one or two frames with your own pictures...let the in-laws take care of the rest!

Framed Photos of You, Your Partner and Family

Personalized items that share family memories

On one hand, this might seem a bit egotistical: giving photographs of yourself to someone for Christmas?!

But some in-laws may not get to see their children - or grandchildren - as often as they like. You can keep family ties close by giving family snapshots or staged portrait shots as gifts in beautiful (perhaps personalized) frames. You can even look into making personalized Christmas tree ornaments and other gift items on sites such as CafePress or Zazzle.

This elegant photo collage frame is a great way to share memorable photos of your family with your in-laws.

Here's a clever photo ornament idea - one that stores up to 58 different photos digitally and displays them in a slide-show format! This would be great for a grandparent who would love to see (and show off) photos off their favorite grandkids.

How About a Scrapbook?

Feeling crafty? Why not try something like this...

Check out the beautiful anniversary scrapbook this youtube video spotlights that someone made for their in-laws. If you have access to some of their old photographs, maybe you can create something beautiful and personalized like this, too.

Food Gift Baskets: An Easy Gift Idea for the In-Laws

Gifts with a little something for (almost) everyone

Gift baskets are almost always a safe bet, especially ones with an assortment of items to please any taste: cheese, cookies, fruit, sausage, jams, etc. Of course, don't go too generic; try to pick a basket that you believe reflects the tastes and preferences of your in-laws. If you know they are healthy eaters, for instance, a fruit and nut basket would be a better choice than one of candies and chocolate. There are so many different styles to choose from, here are just a few tempting examples available currently at Amazon:

Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Grand Edition Gourmet Food and Snacks Gift Basket, Medium

Impress friends, family or valued clients with this classic and elegant gift basket filled to overflowing with a grand selection of gourmet goodies. With a combination of deligh...

View on Amazon

Godiva Chocolatier Signature Basket with Classic Ribbon, 7 Count

These are a few of our favorite things, tied with our classic gold and brown ribbon.

View on Amazon

Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Mama Mia Grand Italian Pasta Feast Gourmet Food Gift Basket

Inspired by the delicious flavors of artisan handmade pasta, the mama mia. Italian feast gift basket provides some of our favorite varieties of pasta mama's best that combine to...

View on Amazon

4.65 lb Gourmet Italian Meat Lovers Gift Basket

Battistoni, an artisan producer of the best tasting premium dry-cured specialty meats, is offering this taste tour of Old World Italy right in your own home. The specially selec...

View on Amazon

Golden State Fruit Gourmet Abundance Gift Basket

This festive basket of mango, 2 comic pears, a red pear, 2 brae burn apple and granny smith apple, a fruit in season, plus 2 navel orange and three mandarins are accompanied by ...

View on Amazon

Mega Delectable Artisan Crafted Gift Basket

If you are looking to send that Mega gift to someone who really deserves, look no further. This Basket will really impress. Our Belgian Chocolate covered Sandwich Cookies are so...

View on Amazon

Restaurant Gift Cards or Certificates

Who doesn't enjoy dining out?

Gift cards might seem like a "cop out" gift, but restaurant gift cards are generally well appreciated by almost anyone. If you know your spouse's parents like a particular restaurant near their home, get a nice-sized gift card so they can enjoy a relaxing dinner out some night. Or, get them an assortment of $25-50 gift cards to several different restaurants so they can keep them handy wherever they may be, or to try somewhere too. Today you can also get gift cards which can be used at a number of different establishments as well. 

If you want to make it more personal, enclose a note with the gift cards saying you'd enjoy joining them for dinner on one of those "nights out" as a chance to get to know each other better.

You can easily shop for many chain restaurant gift cards on Amazon, making your gift giving even easier! These are all great choices since they have locations almost anywhere - unless you happen to know your in-laws are "foodie snobs" who hate chains. In which case, they can always gift along those cards to someone else, so it's never a waste of money.

Cinema Gift Cards for Your In-Laws

For the in-laws who love the movies

Most people enjoy going out to see the movies every now and then, but it certainly can be a pricey entertainment these days. So why not gift your in-laws to some movie gift certificates? Just be sure to chose a cinema chain that is located near where they live.

A "Personal" Gift Card or Offer for the In-Laws

Offer your services at the things you know best

Money is tight these days for everyone, so here's a gift idea that can cost you little, except for your time, and also allow you the chance to get closer to your in-laws as well. Are you particularly knowledgeable or skillful in a particular field or activity? Then offer your services in that field in a handmade "Gift certificate" or special invitation.

For instance, if you're a content writer for the web, or knowledgeable in web design, offer to create a website for your mother-in-law, father-in-law, etc. It could be a webpage promoting their business (like the one I designed for my own partner's medical practice.) It could be a HubPage spotlighting their hobbies or crafts - especially useful if that person is into trying to sell merchandise on Etsy or build a home business of their own. Or it could simply be a fun personal site or blog, that the person just needs a little help designing and setting up on their own.

Are you good with photo imaging and graphics? Offer to help digitize the family's photo collection so it can be shared and preserved for future generations. An artist? Offer to paint or draw a family portrait - or even a pet portrait, as these are very popular today!

A good cook? Invite them all to a special dinner party in the future in your own home - a great opportunity to build family relations. An avid gardener? Offer to tend to their spring garden, or perhaps create a new seasonal garden or flower bed for them come the summertime. Do your brother-in-law and sister-in-law have young children? Offer to give them a weekend off by having the kids stay at your place, or even just a day off by taking the children to a nearby theme park or kids' activity.

Think creatively at what skills and knowledge you have to share - the possibilities are as endless as your unique talents.

More In-Law Gift Guides

Other articles on the web tackling this tricky topic

Still need more advice? Check out the links below.

Updated: 09/22/2015, sockii
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