- Rose Kennedy For the AJC
When your adult child gets married, you double the holiday fun if you're lucky. But you also multiply the gift-giving quandaries.
After all, you've had a whole lifetime to get to know your child's gift preferences. Working another person into the equation can be an occasion for advice-column-level misunderstandings, burst budgets and a new family tradition of re-gifting. As they noted at Grandparents.com, "Even seemingly harmless, well-intentioned gifts can come off as loaded with innuendo."
Care to avoid all that? With some careful planning and heightened sensitivity, you can give couples gifts that will bring glad tidings to your child and the spouse. You may even save a little money.
Here are 20 inspiring couples gifts for married children:
Night out/night in offerings: If you've heard your child or in-law longing for more date nights, make it happen. But only after some careful consulting with at least one half of the couple. Then bring out your best date-night encouragement. A few examples include (1) a gift card for five nights at the bar that hosts their favorite trivia night; (2) a gift card to a movie theater that offers recliner seating and the biggest blockbusters; (3) a Visa card in the exact amount they need to hire their favorite babysitter; or (4) an Uber gift card so they can leave the driving to someone else and just relax on their date.
If the couple in question is more likely to savor a night in, consider (5) a subscription to the classic cable station's TMC Wine Club that includes hand-selected, high-quality wines (a few of them movie-themed) paired with movie-viewing suggestions by the film-loving folks at TCM.
Gifts for the couple on a budget: There is no bigger thorn in a recipient's side than getting knickknacks when each month's budget involves struggling to pay for basics like the water bill. To give a gift that doesn't humiliate or pity but still recognizes that the couple is working on limited means, consider practical but luxurious gifts like (6) new tires, (7) a gift card to an upscale grocery store like Whole Foods or (8) lots of ones and fives with instructions to take them on a spree to their favorite flea market or junk store. If their budget won't allow for many luxuries, a great choice is (9) an Amazon Prime membership, which combines practicality with wallet-friendly entertainment. You can opt for three or 12 months, and your child and his or her spouse will get free two-day shipping on millions of items. They can also read Kindle books, watch movies and television shows on Prime Video and stream songs.
Also, consider giving the couple something luxurious to look forward to this spring with (10) a gift card to a local nursery for plants for the garden or shrubs for added curb appeal. If you imagine they'll need it, a corresponding gift card for someone to work in the yard or to build them a raised bed for vegetables will not go amiss. Just be sure to include an add-on houseplant or a pot of forced bulbs from the same greenhouse so they don't feel like Christmas passed them by.
With all gifts for someone on a budget, you should try to make the gifts less utilitarian by adding something festive to the package: a sample of candy or flowers from the specialty grocery store, for example, or a new CD to listen to in the truck. And double-check that you're not giving anything that would involve an extra expenditure for them, like a restaurant gift card that doesn't include the tip.
Edible and potable inspirations: Many a couple gift has been solved with food. But is the recipient really eating your offering? Make sure your child and in-law will revel in the foods you send as Christmas gifts, instead of thinking ho-ho-hum. Delicacies from foodie landmarks across the country beat the heck out of those so-called "gift baskets" with generic packages, some of them oddly-spiced teas or crackers even the food bank can't accept at holiday's end.
A few classic choices for wonderful food gifts include (9) Ghirardelli chocolate right from the source in San Francisco (the company offers some sweet flat-rate shipping deals), (11) farm-cured country bacon shipped right from where they've been hand curing and trimming it since 1947, Benton's in Madisonville, Tennessee., or unmatchable (12) fresh bagels (and lox, sure, if they want) from Zabar's in New York City. For the foodies who cook, try an assembly of regional specialty ingredients instead of those last-minute pickups from the local gourmet store. Two good choices: (13) a collection of dried heirloom beans or chiles from Southern California's Rancho Gordo, which specializes in New World specialty food, or (14) a selection of flours or other dry ingredients from Norwich, Vermont-based King Arthur Flour, which was founded in 1790.
Another idea in the "everyone loves to eat" category is the omnipresent restaurant gift card, but with a twist. Give them a card for a restaurant they like or will like, and then tack on a cookbook they can use at home to recreate their experience. For example, go for (15) the comfort food favorite Cracker Barrel and add the cookbook A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen by Dora Charles so they can start cooking up a Southern food storm at home if they like.
As for the potent potables, consider a local craft brewery near your kids' house. Get (16) a growler – hipster talk for refillable container – filled with a favorite craft brew and then some gift cards from the same place so they can come back for fill-ups. This is the time it's super important to make sure you talk up the idea with one or both of "the kids" so you can get something they'll both love. Find some breweries in their area for consideration by consulting Craft Beer.com.
Last but not least: You can always resort to tried-and-true couple favorites, as long as you're careful to take into account both halves of the couple's taste. Choices here include (17) a scuba-diving or (18) zip line package or even tickets to (19) a Broadway show. And most any couple will love (20) a couple's massage, once they get used to the idea. If you're feeling extra generous, schedule it while they're visiting you for the holidays and offer to babysit. That way, you can scope out the deal for yourself and your mate, too!
And if you haven't found something to give your child and his or her spouse for Christmas on this list, please peruse a second list: the what-not-to-get suggestions daughters-in-law from Grandparents.com. The items that make that list include exercise equipment, parenting guides, underwear and political or other self-help books.