How to shop for your in-laws

By: Tara Nolan

Author: Canadian Living


How to shop for your in-laws

By: Tara Nolan

It's that time of year again. A time that strikes fear in the heart of many a gift-giver. Shopping for the in-laws.

And no two are alike. In-laws come in different ages and have diverse tastes, which can make finding a perfect present a stress-ridden feat. But fear not, brave soul. Read on for some ideas and inspiration to make this year's purchase a successful one. Good luck with your important mission!

Take notes
If you have had the opportunity to really get to know your in-laws, think of their interests. Is your father-in-law into woodworking? Does quilting take up a lot of your mother-in-law's time? "It's always a safe bet to buy something that relates to a hobby," recommend savvy shoppers Kristina Matisic and Anna Wallner from W Network's The Shopping Bags. "But the sure way to win over your in-laws is to make it a habit to write notes throughout the year of items they've admired or talked about," they say. "People are always so touched when you show you've been listening."

Figure out their tastes
That is what Michelle Keeble of Pefferlaw, Ont., is going to focus on this year. She admits that shopping for her in-laws that first year was tough, but now that she has become more familiar with their tastes and has learned what they're into, she is better able to select something she knows they'll enjoy. For her father-in-law, Keeble is going to check out Green Shag (, for their classic cufflink designs. For her mother-in-law, she will consider adding to her costume jewelry collection or purchasing scrapbooking supplies for her newest hobby from a store such as Canadian online retailer Scrapbooks by Design (

Looking for a hobby-related gift?
Try hobby stores, estate sales, flea markets or antique stores for that precious gem that relates to a particular passion. Or head online and bid for a treasure on eBay. Use a service like PayPal to protect yourself, says Matisic. Also, check return policies and make sure there is time for delivery -- especially if items are coming across the border.

Survive that first Christmas
So this is your first time. Don't sweat it. There are many gift-giving ideas appropriate for this nerve-racking occasion. Your first source of help? Your significant other. Only he or she can give you insight into what the parents like.

No-fail gift ideas:
1. Go for a gift basket
Gift baskets are a reliable option because they can be customized to suit each parent's interests. A few online stores that will put together that perfect basket include Urban Fare ( Nutcracker Sweet ( and The Sweet Basket (

But you can also make your own. This should definitely earn you points! Pick a theme and purchase your supplies -– basket, plastic, ribbon, etc. -- at a craft supply store like Michaels or Loomis Art Store.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find holiday gift ideas for the grandparents on your list on page 2

2. Ideas for proud grandparents
Grandkids are Get Out of Jail Free cards. Include them somehow in your gift idea -- you can't go wrong!

Consider these options:
• Any handmade present created by your children.

Black's has some really neat photo gift options like blankets and decorative plates. All you need to place an order is your favourite family photo -- and a credit card.

• Consider creating something yourself, like a calendar of family pics, an heirloom cookbook or a slide-show DVD of memorable moments.

3. Ask them to create a wish list
If holidays with the in-laws are old hat and you are close and comfortable, why not have them tell you what they really want to see under the tree? "Ask your in-laws to create a Christmas wish list, just like children do. It has worked really well for me," suggests Rebecca Feth-Suprun of Simcoe, Ont. Many online retailers, like the ones below, offer wish lists on their sites.

• Golf Town:
• Sears:
• or Indigo Books & Music:

4. Donate to charity
For the in-laws who have everything and who won't miss a tangible gift, make a donation in their name to a charity you know is close to their heart. Many organizations, such as the David Suzuki Foundation and War Child Canada, accept online donations. You could also contribute to a local food bank or shelter to help make someone else's Christmas special.

No time to shop? No problem!
When in doubt, gift certificates can still show you care. After all, who doesn't like picking out a little treat for themselves after the holiday rush?

Check these out:
• Does your dad-in-law have an old collection of records? Help him get started on a digital music collection with money toward an online music store. Popular services include iTunes and Puretracks.

• Give them a night out. Try Cineplex Entertainment for a movie package, Ticketmaster for theatre or concert tickets, or a gift certificate for their favourite restaurant.

• With an HBC gift card, you can shop at several stores, including Home Outfitters, Designer Depot and The Bay.

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How to shop for your in-laws