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Buying Christmas Gifts for the Hard-to-Buy-For: What Do You Do?

Yes, it's still a little early to think about Christmas shopping. I understand. But it's coming up soon. And we all know that one person who is extremely hard to buy for. What do you do?

I will make no apology for this edition of our weekly "Conversation Starter." I'm selfishly motivated by the need for your help. And I don't care that Halloween is still three days away. Or that Christmas is still nearly two months off.

We need all the time we can get.

See, here's the problem: My father is in his early 70s; my father-in-law is in his early 80s. If anything, they're trying to get rid of things.

What do you buy for the hard-to-buy-for? What do you do to make the Christmas merry for the folks who seem to have everything, don't need anything or who won't let themselves get pinned down?

Here's another stumper for you: My son is 17. He's a drama kid, a singer, a World of Warcraft fanatic. He is every bit as hard to buy for as my family on the other end of the age spectrum. I hate to tell you how many gifts he's received that went unopened and ignored, only to be returned months later.

I've heard the suggestion of making a donation on a person's behalf to a worthy charity, and I like it, and I may do it. And while my son might very well appreciate it, it's hardly the sort of thing a teenager covets under the tree.

What's your strategy for these people? How do you approach gift-giving for the hard-to-buy-for?

Bob Nickles October 29, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I really enjoyed reading everyone's suggestions -- and I'll admit that despite my reservations about starting those Christmas conversations early, I did find myaself sympathizing with the author. So I'll chime in. I always have to check myself when I feel a little anxious about gift giving. Am I just feeling obligated and don't want to mess something up? If so, I have to take care of that feeling before buying anything. Some of my worst gift decisions have come under that kind of pressure! But if I'm feeling otherwise, say, wanting more connection with a person I care about, then I tend to give that feeling free reign. It usually leads me to spend more quality time with the person in question, which almost always gives me bright ideas and important data for future gift-giving. Consumable gifts and/or gifts that lead to memories tend to rise to the top of my list, once I get my feelings in line. Books or appliances that increase self-sufficiency tend to sink lower on the list because they tend to be used alone, and today many of us spend much of our time alone anyway. Best of luck in your process. Hopefully the "sleuthing" will be just as meaningful (if not more so) than the gift itself. Because let's face it, a gift is only as great as the relationship that produced it.
Bill Williams November 01, 2012 at 06:21 PM
We had a stained glass window made. It gave them privacy and beauty all at once. You can pick it out yourself or get a gift certificate.
Frances Aubuchon November 01, 2012 at 09:43 PM
For the teenager give a gas card for his car or clothing gift card to favorite store . For parents or older person give a picture video by using pictures starting with baby picture , then wedding picture and then put each child and pictures of graduation of weddings , when they were a baby and put all their kids and families. You put all the pictures to songs that mean something to them . At the end put a letter in the video telling them how much you love them and how much they mean to you all . Have all the names of the people in the family at the end of the letter . There are places that make these videos . You need to do a google search for PICTURE VIDEOS
RegalT62 November 01, 2012 at 10:40 PM
We once gave my husband's Grandmother a "Memory Jar". We filled a glass jar with typed (in large font) "memories" each member of our family had of times with her. For example, I remember her always answering my kids saying "are we there yet" with "we are closer every minute". My husband and kids thought up times at her house, favorite foods she made, etc. We had 52 memories for her to read, one each week for a year. She sat and read all of them right then! We all laughed and talked about the memories for hours. The next year, she asked for more "memories" so others in the extended family made more She loved that gift more than any we've ever given her!
Dawn S. December 07, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Go to Biffybag.com and your problem will be solved. It is a disposable toilet and it makes perect sense. Pure genious.

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