General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Let's say you're the girlfriend. What kind of small, friendly gift would you like to receive from your SO's mother?

Asked by Jeruba (51640points) December 16th, 2010

I’d like to think of something small but charming for someone we don’t know too well yet, showing warmth but not undue familiarity and not putting any pressure on their young relationship.

If you’d been seeing your SO for only a few months and had no future plans at this point, and had a positive but not too involved relationship with his family, and you were going to be around their home during the holidays, what would be a nice but modest gift that you would feel pleased and comfortable receiving from his parents?

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51 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

scarf, gloves, coasters

augustlan's avatar

You can almost never go wrong with a book, as long as it’s not on a hot-topic issue. When I didn’t yet know my husband’s sons very well, I gave each of them a silly book (The Darwin Awards) for Christmas, along with a another book chosen specifically geared to what I did know about each of them as individuals.

SamIAm's avatar

I’ve gotten some really great gifts from boyfriend’s families—like @YARNLADY mentioned, lots of scarves, and gloves. Small charm bracelets, pretty key chains, a great cookbook, journal with a pretty pen, picture frame with a pic of the two who are dating together, if you have any sort of “famous” recipe (like cake or cookies) – you could get a mason jar and put all the ingredients in it with a nice card, and wrap it nicely… maybe with a set of measuring spoons or something! So many options… yay!

deni's avatar

My boyfriends mom got me a scarf for my birthday this year….it ended up being my favorite! She did well. I was very impressed. Plus you can always use a scarf. And for last Christmas they got me a really pretty frame and a book on ANCIENT DISCOVERIES. Awesome. Books, frames, scarves. Yes.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

A nice candle is usually a safe bet. I like the framed pic of the couple idea mentioned by @Samantha_Rae .

Once I was the semi-new girlfriend and received thong underwear and a handwritten cookbook of all of my boyfriends favorite recipes that his mom makes so that I could make them for him. Don’t do either of those, ha!

Scooby's avatar

I’d spoil the hell out of her, after all what makes her happy will make your son happy, I’d get to know her a little better, so I had a better idea of what would be a useful gift Idea …go shopping together, have lunch etc.. Speaking of books, how about the kamasutra to break the ice,,, you never said how old they are!? Nothing says acceptance more IMO :-/

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

I was first going to say a cat lol ;)
But let’s see….she’s new…stationery like from Cranes, with her 3initials that show effort on your part but not pushy or overboard
Almost boring at the same time…just in case.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

Oh there are great ideas here…framed picture, things using photos are always greatly appreciated…

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

A simple Nativity!
I would personally LOVE it…and I’m a giftee ;)

cazzie's avatar

Yeah… something small, but thoughtful, like if she’s a tea drinker, an assortment of special teas. If you live in a cold climate, scarves, wrist warmers (you can find some excellent stuff made of yarn at and things are all handmade and for quick delivery, you can sort sellers by choosing ‘Local’ to where you live) If she’s a girly-girl, what about a selection of lipbalms with flavour and a hint of colour in them. (I really like Lancome’s Juicy Tubes) Books are a good idea if she’s a reader, but a light hearted coffee table book might be a better choice than trying to guess what she likes to read.

(and I just found one for my husband there…... how cool is THAT!) Happy shopping.

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chyna's avatar

If they have a tree up, maybe an ornament would be nice.

nicobanks's avatar

Wow, I’m surprised to see scarves are such a hit! I invariably receive a scarf every other Christmas (from different people, of course), and I have never, ever liked or used a single one of them. I appreciate the thought and all, but I already have a scarf I like. None of the scarves I’ve been given match my other winter apparel.

I think if you’re going to buy someone a scarf or mitts or whatever other Christmas apparel, at least take a look at what they already wear and try to match them.

But if I were in this position, I would give gourmet chocolates, or a Christmas tree ornament, or a nice bottle of sparkling wine, or home baked goodies, or bath/beauty products – something that can either be eaten/used or where duplication doesn’t matter (like with the ornament).

nicobanks's avatar

You should never give a pet as a present unless you know the person wants and expects it. Pets are big responsibilities. It’s not very kind to give someone a gift of responsibilities!

Plus, if they aren’t up for it, that animal – a living being with feelings and needs – will suffer, or else be given up. Animal shelters often receive an influx of animals after holidays for exactly this reason. Not only are animals in shelters not cared for in an ideal way (of course they’re fed and groomed etc. but they’re also kept in small cages with minimal social interaction), but the majority of them will be killed just to make room for more animals.

If you want to give an animal, make it a plush, chocolate, or marzipan!

marinelife's avatar

What about a pair of earrings?

janbb's avatar

I got a cute felt hat for her this year and had gotten a pair of earrings in the past. Another year, I got her a little summer pocketbook.

Seelix's avatar

What about a gift card? Talk to your son, see what she likes. If she’s a reader, a gift card from a bookstore. If she’s a coffee lover, a gift card from Starbucks. If she’s a clotheshorse, a gift card from a clothing store. A gift card for the movies is always good – and takes care of the cost of a date :)

I don’t know how much you’re thinking of spending, but $20 at a bookstore or clothing store is enough to get something, and even $10 at a coffee shop will take care of a few visits.

gailcalled's avatar

There are wonderful organic edibles. A pyramid of Scottish shortbread, Giardhelli sweetened cocoa and strawberry preserves is nice. Wrap them in a new dishtowel and fasten with a wooden clothespin.

To me a gift card is akin to simply giving her a $20 bill.

JLeslie's avatar

A cosmetic gift like Mac lip glosses. The department stores have towers of gift packs from each vendor.

Scarf and gloves are good as suggested above if the climate is right.


T-shirt from a vendor I like.

GingerMinx's avatar

Your best bet is to talk to your son and ask him, he is more likely to know what she would enjoy. Having looked over the gifts others have suggested, I personally would not be interested in most of them. Cosmetics and beauty products are risky as if they have sensitive skin or do not use any it is wasted. Food, like chocolates seem great but is she diabetic? Or maybe allergic? Personally, I never wear, scarves, hats or gloves, and I like very little in the way of jewelry. I would ask your son.

Anemone's avatar

I think that tickets to a show or other event could be a nice gift. If you want to get really fancy, a gift certifiate to a nice (or nice-ish) restaurant could be a nice complement to show tickets.

SamIAm's avatar

I’m going to vote no on the giftcard… it’s too impersonal. You’re better off getting her a book, or sweater, etc… and letting her return it if she doesn’t like it. It’s all about the thought you put into gifts, and anyone can get a giftcard (my dad does this every year, he gives me money, and yeah it’s nice to have the cash but it always makes me wish he’d put a little more energy into my gifts when I go all out for everyone’s. Although, one year he got me giftcards to a few places and that was really helpful and nice – he knew I would get a lot of use out of them)

nicobanks's avatar

@Samantha_Rae Gift cards can be quite personal if you put some thought into the store and what you know of the recipient. Like, buying a musician a card for their favourite supply store, or a Tim Horton’s card if you know she has a Tim’s coffee every morning, etc. I don’t really see how giving someone a sweater with the receipt so they can exchange it is any more personal than a thoughtful gift card?

SamIAm's avatar

@nicobanks: If you can find out what her favorite color is and pick a sweater in that color – I think that’s thoughtful. Yes, getting a really specific giftcard isn’t bad either—like I said, when my dad got me a Dunkin’ giftcard, it was so nice and helpful. But getting a general giftcard to say Simon malls or to a restaurant, isn’t as much. I should have clarified.

nicobanks's avatar

@Samantha_Rae Yeah, that’s true. And I guess I’m sensitive about clothing. Or picky. Or both. Basically, the times I’ve received clothing I like is extremely, extremely rare. I can’t actually think of an example.

Kayak8's avatar

I can’t improve on any of the above suggestions but I do think that if I were dating your son and knew you were his mother, a thoughtful journal with a nice pen would appeal to me in an extremely favorable way (coming from a writer).

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! I’ve found some good ideas here that I can draw on in the future.

Both sons are in their mid-twenties. The older one’s girlfriend is in school on the East Coast, and we’ve met her and seen her only for an hour or so in the midst of what was for her a short, stressful trip, so there’s been no opportunity yet to get to know her. The younger one’s girlfriend has been around our house a lot, but she seems shy about talking about herself, and it’s hard to gauge what she’s interested in. So I’m aiming for something that does show some thought and warmth but is still relatively noncommittal so they don’t feel crowded by parental expectations.

I am wary of buying anything as personal as clothing or cosmetics, and I’d like to keep the gifts on par, but one of these young women is very elegant, polished, and sophisticated and the other is casual, laid back, and low key, and there is nothing I can think of that would suit them both. (One looks like a professional model even when she’s wearing a bathrobe, and the other wears jeans and sweats and doesn’t use makeup.) Also, the local one doesn’t need cold-weather gear here in California, and the long-distance one won’t want to add anything bulky to her suitcase.

I think the book idea might work best. One is a busy graduate student and the other doesn’t seem like much of a reader, but I think I can find something to appeal to each of them.

GingerMinx's avatar

@Jeruba You sound like a very thoughtful mum.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Gift card with a note handwritten from you, something like, _“it’s nice to know you, welcome…”.

Kardamom's avatar

A home made quickbread (pumpkin or gingerbread)

This neato real ceramic coffee mug that looks like a paper Starbucks style cup like “this“ from Cost Plus Imports with a package of some type of “Xmas Blend” coffee or tea.

A poinsettia plant in one of those pretty new colors like these

Scooby's avatar

Ka-ching!!!, great minds think alike, you can wrap the lube in a separate parcel, two gifts for the price of one! ;-) they’ll love it, well done Mom!!!

Haleth's avatar

Whenever I’m not sure what to get someone, I usually get them something edible or drinkable, like a box of chocolates. Which girlfriend is the one who’s traveling? It’s hard to tell from your last post. You could get a small piece of jewelery or a nice compact mirror for the elegant girlfriend.

You said that cosmetics are too personal and that the laid-back girlfriend doesn’t use them, but Burt’s Bees or L’Occitaine always have nice travel-sized sets during the holidays. Burt’s Bees is more cosmetics and lotion, but L’Occitaine is more general bath products, like soap or bath salts. I’m a pretty casual girl in my early 20s, and I’d appreciate a gift from a more “natural” company like either of these. When I’m not sure what to get another girl my age, we usually exchange gifts along the line of perfume, soap, or lotion. It’s great that you’re putting so much thought into their presents.

klutzaroo's avatar

Nice key rings, like Fossil, or silver earrings are what I’m selling a ton of for daughter in laws and such.

Jeruba's avatar

@Haleth, the tall, stunning beauty is the graduate student on the East Coast. The one in jeans and hooded sweatshirts is the local one. Each is charming in her own way, and I like them both. I’d like to show them a pressure-free affectionate welcome.

When and if they become daughters-in-law, or look like they’re headed that way, I’ll choose much more personal items. I hope this question is still here with all your great answers.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Do you have a SPROUTS market where you live? They carry hand made soaps that are so wonderful, I’ve not seen the like since I was a kid. My mom gives them as gifts to me, my sister, my sister’s friends, co workers and such. I wish I knew the brand so I could Google it but it’s a rectangular bar about ½ inch thich, grooved and most fragrances have bits of flowers, bark, spices and stuff embedded in them. They’re wrapped with a sleeve of dark plain paper and tied with raffia. Even my bf loved this when he got one as a holiday gift last year and he’s not one for foo-foo scents.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The soap brand is called, Beyond The Picket Fence.

cazzie's avatar


you mean this stuff? She’s on Etsy.

You can’t beat well made, hand made, cold process soap. smile (I haven’t made enough stock this Xmas and am nearly completely out of stock)

JLeslie's avatar

Are any of them into a particular type of food? A cookbook maybe? Vegetarian, Italian, or even Sandra Lee with her semi home made might be good for people in their 20’s.

Going to the mall is a good idea if you can go off peak hours. All sorts of gift ideas, maybe Brookstone for a gadget?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

It doesn’t really matter, I would hardly imagine she’d be able to get me something I like. A gift card in a mug would do.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My bf’s mom & dad gave us real wax scented column candles that have a battery operated bulb in the shape of a small wick inside as a housewarming present. These things are GREAT! I would like that as a gift from anyone (I’m female).

Kardamom's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I LOVE those candles!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Kardamom: No more worrying about wax on the tabletop, plant shelves, fabric runners or… things catching fire if they get knocked over by animals. They smell sooooo good too.

JLeslie's avatar

@Neizvestnaya Where do I find these candles?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@JLeslie: I’m told mine came for Target.

Crossroadsgrl's avatar

My soon to be ex MIL just sent me a gift card…which would seem impersonal but she knew where to get it from, thought if me when I filed for our divorce, and really has made my Christmas. It’s the THOUGHT you put in that will count, and you’ve already done that :)

Kardamom's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve seen the flameless candles (by the way, they are real wax, but they have a battery operated fake flickering device down inside them that looks very realistic) at Target, Walmart and even Big Lots. They probably have them at most of the big department stores, but they’re a lot cheaper at the other places I listed. I think you’ll love them!

JLeslie's avatar

@Kardamom @Neizvestnaya Thank you. I have a thing about candles. More accurately I have a thing about fire. But, I don’t want a fake candle, but those sound like they might look realistic.

Kardamom's avatar

Here are a few examples of what they look like here and here and here and here

Jeruba's avatar

Let’s not wander too far from the topic, ok? This question is in General. I appreciate the suggestion, but flameless candles are not for me. My son makes his own real and very beautiful candles, and to me there is no substitute for the warmth of a flame.

Kardamom's avatar

@Jeruba sorry about that. How about a set of pretty, blank note cards like these or these

Or a little gift basket with miniature ice cream bowls like these with a jar of fancy ice cream topping like this

Or an individual teapot like this

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