Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything
Every year for the past 20 years or so, I have exchanged gifts with my extended family including my parents and in-laws, who are now in their 80s. They've accumulated what they need and want but I still enjoy finding a special gift for each of them. Here are gift ideas for the person who has or seems to have everything. (See also: 31 Gifts That Keep On Giving)
Though their pantries and freezers are often full, there's still room (or will be) for special treats, which aren't necessarily sweets but easy-to-prepare snacks or meals. Since my folks on both sides have wrestled with some health issues, I try to be sensitive but festive. Here are some ideas:
- Fresh nuts such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds. For the past few years, I've ordered in bulk from Atwell Pecan Co. in Georgia, which also has an online retail store with fancier, pricier gifts.
- Sugar-free chocolate. This gift may not sound like fun but can be great for those who must endure family get-togethers involving lots of sweets without indulging themselves. I've sampled and enjoyed sugar-free Turtles (caramel, pecan, and chocolate) and Dove creamy chocolates; now, I see that Hershey's has introduced a sugar-free line.
- Homemade entrees for the freezer. Moravian chicken pies are popular in my area and great to have on hand when you don't feel like cooking a meal. You can make chicken pies and casseroles, or buy them from caterers. In my area, there are several independently run shops that carry frozen-to-go homemade dishes. A good but generally less thrifty choice is to purchase prepared foods from franchise operations such as Dream Dinners or HoneyBaked Ham. (See also: 7 Savory Food Gifts)
Often the people who have everything have a closet full of clothes. But they are just as likely not to take the time to go shopping when clothes wear out, or trends change, or new technical fabrics are introduced. They might especially enjoy clothing with these features:
- warm but washable, non-shrinking wool socks or sweaters
- breathable but water-resistant rain jackets
- soft, durable organic cotton sleepwear or loungewear
- moisture-wicking shirts for workouts (or rehab sessions)
- warm but not bulky sweaters or coats
It took me several years to find the perfect type of gift for my mother-in-law. I stumbled upon this idea when I found out that she had taken to reading books by Nicholas Sparks, many of which are based in North Carolina where we live.
Though I'd been giving books to my nieces and nephews for years (#3 and #4 on my 25 great gifts for $5 or less list), I hadn't considered books for those who have nearly everything. To keep the books from becoming clutter, welcome sharing among friends and family members.
Cash, Checks, or Gift Cards
My parents and in-laws would probably consider a cash or check an odd gift but my grandmother enjoyed receiving checks for her birthday and Christmas. Though I don't necessarily recommend this practice, she treated my checks as mini-emergency funds: she didn't cash them until she needed to pay for an unexpected expense. Now that I think of it, she may not have had a traditional checking account so this arrangement may have been suited for her style of saving and spending.
Gift cards for a favorite store or restaurant give the recipients permission to spend money on themselves. My depression-era family members rarely go out to dinner but they probably would use a gift card. Check for card terms such as dormancy or inactivity fees that reduce the value of the card if it isn't used for a while; or just make sure that the recipient uses the card in the next six months or so.
I've noticed that grandparents get lots of photos of their grandchildren but don't always get an equal number of frames. If there are photos stuck inside frames or unusual places around the house, buy a nice frame or frames. Photo albums can be useful as well though I've found that some people don't really like to sit down and sort through loads and loads of old pictures.
Last year, my mom and mother-in-law both received digital frames. Before then, I never really understood why anyone would want such a item. But when I saw how much they enjoyed watching the picture show, I realized how cool this gift could be, especially if you can get one on sale as my nephew did.
By using my imagination, persistence, and some decent Internet search skills, I've also found some nearly perfect gifts for people who seem to have it all. One year, I got an ornament of the exact type of aircraft that my brother-in-law flies as a hobby (the name didn't stick with me but apparently the type was critically important to him) from My Pilot Store. Hard-to-get tickets to a UNC basketball game or Broadway play, though much more expensive than the airplane ornament, could also be a nice surprise.
One of the most endearing and meaningful gifts was one from my niece's boyfriend (now her husband) to her grandfather, a World War II veteran and former member of the U.S. Army Air Corps: a USA flag that had accompanied my nephew-in-law on an overseas mission during his service with the United States Air Force.
You can spend less than $15 on a great gift or much, much more. For frugal options, try fresh nuts, simple frames, books, and homemade meals. For more costly items on a tight budget, consider a family or group gift.
Do you have great gift ideas for those who seem to have everything? Share them in your comments.