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Gift Ideas for Adults

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Holidays and Special Events > Gift Ideas for Adults


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Mom turning 70--gift ideas?

Nov 2012

Hi! My mom is turning 70 in December. I don't know what to give her for her birthday. She has money and plenty of stuff. Any ideas for a DIY project that I can do in two months? Any ideas? Nicole


For my mom, my sister and I had a similar challenge. When she turned 60, we promised her a spa day. When she turned 65, we promised wine tasting. By the time she turned 70, we hadn't paid off either one...so we ''bought'' a house in Sonoma for the weekend at an auction and took her there and went to a spa, went wine tasting and hung out. Doing the activity together was really fun! I know that a weekend like this is likely over the top (we were covering 10 years of b-days), but perhaps some sort of activity? Hope you have fun!
What we did for my mom's 50th might be nice - we sent a letter out to all her friends and family (that we knew of) and requested they send a letter or memento to us so we could create a keepsake book for her. Of course, we got very few back compared with what we sent, but enough that it was still a very sweet gesture and she loved it! At 70 I imagine your mom would love something like this, the grandkids could draw a picture, write a story or share a memory, adults could do the same or even provide a small keepsake from some memory they shared. L
When my mom turned 70, I put together a book of letters, notes and drawings from her children, daughters-in-law and sons-in-law and grandchildren. She loved it. Carrie
For my mom's 70th birthday, I'm planning to rent a big house somewhere and invite her close girlfriends to spend the weekend with us. But if I didn't have the funds to do that, I would create a picture book for her. My mom make one from our wedding using her Apple computer. But there are a lot of other options out there if you don't have a Mac. These books look great and everyone loves them. anon
Consider giving her an experience instead of a thing, something you and/or your family can do with her and enjoy together. It doesn't have to be fancy - we took my mother to Stinson beach, had lunch at a restaurant there. She loves going to the ocean but is beyond going on her own. Or go with her to something she enjoys - the ballet, a museum. Or make a real nice dinner for her at your home and invite a friend of hers. I'm all done with gifts that are purchased and wrapped, we already have so many useless things! Jane
How about a nice book full of family pictures? For all of the parents in both my and my husband's families, that sort of thing is a hands-down favorite. If you have photos in electronic form, you can usually make such a book online and order copies with the size, cover, etc. that you want. Karen
My mom is also 70 and she loves using her ipad. That may or may not be an option.....or she might have one. Since you said DIY, my instant thought was photo books. I have no idea what pictures or stories of her life you may have access to but that could be a great idea. Or saving a bunch of photos on a usb stick and loading them up on an ipad she has and showing her how to do a slideshow so she could set it on a desk and turn it on when she wanted to. Good luck!
My children did the most wonderful things for my 70th birthday:

Each arranged his/her schedule and traveled home so that we could all be together. They divvied up the courses and served me a fabulous meal (and cleaned up afterward.) Even without a lovingly cooked meal, their presence still would have meant the world.

Their personalized gifts were promises to do specific things with me, activities that I love but don't do alone anymore. These promises were accompanied by small token gifts, items that would be useful, some amusing, when we eventually did these activities.

If you can do nothing else, spend some time enjoying your mother's company, doing things she loves with her. That's worth EVERYTHING. Seventy plus


For my father's 75th I'm making a book of photos and quotes from his family & friends. I asked them to contribute a quote -- one thing they love about him or a birthday wish for him, and a photo from past or present. Anon
Flamenco dance classes. I began classes at 70 & am loving it. Best to dance while you still can.
You might want to check out 11stories. They do beautiful, custom books to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, etc - they interview your mom about her life stories and create a book with her words, treasured photos, etc. You can see some examples at www.11stories.com adam
I've been watching the suggestions for a birthday gift to give a senior with interest. Here's my two cents, both as a daughter and a gift-giving professional.

I love the idea of the ''memories'' book BUT as one of eight siblings, I know how difficult it can be to pull together. We gave my mom one when she turned 80, but it was largely my sister's love of scrapbooking that made it happen. Another way to approach such a book is to start with family photographs - holidays, trips, events, etc. - with small captions identifying the people and places in the picture. MUCH easier to put together, especially if you use a service to scan the photos to CD first. Enlarge the photos if poor vision is an issue. (Plus digital printing means copies are easy to make for other family members.)

The second thought is that many seniors really don't *want* stuff - if anything, the river of material goods has reversed itself out of their homes after, say, age 60. When I'm asked for gift ideas for seniors, I want to know a couple of things: gender, favorite foods, dietary restrictions, and style of decor (traditional, modern, nautical, cats, whatever). Then I combine their favorite best-quality delicacies with a plate, platter, bowl, premium kitchen towel, etc. - some small item that's useful and/or an upgrade to an existing item they now own and use. That way, they still have a reminder of your thoughtfulness long after the goodies are gone.

My mom is 81 now, and I'm *that* kid who sends her the best treats I can find from Northern CA - fine olive oil + vinegar, nuts and fruits, cheese + breadsticks, caramels, chocolate sauce, even custom soaps... and I found out my gifts are the only ones she doesn't share! Go Mom, LOL!


Present for a birthday party for a colleague

Nov 2010

I grew up in another country and I am trying to learn what is culturally appropriate in the US. I was invited to a birthday party for a male colleague who I really respect, and would like to know what is appropriate to bring as a birthday gift. I understand it might be different from what we used to do where I grew up. I am a female, most of my colleagues are males, we all are physicians. Is it appropriate to bring a gift card for a store or restaurant? For what amount of money? I do not know the taste of the birthday person very well and I have never been on a birthday party of a male colleague. What to buy for a 45 or so years old man? Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated always learning


Some gifts that are might be appropriate for an adult you don't know well:
A house plant
A fruit basket
A couple of jars are nice jam wrapped together
A nice bottle of wine (if he is a wine drinker)
If he is someone you work with, a small gift related to work is also appropriate:
A fancy clipboard
A canister to hold pens, etc.

If the event is at his home, it is also polite to ask if you can bring anything, like dessert or other dish or beverage. (This is not necessary if the event is at a restaurant or is catered.) Gifts are hard


You sound like a very kind and considerate person who anyone would enjoy having as a colleague! What I would do is talk to another female colleague and tell her exactly what you wrote in your query----you'd like to bring something but you don't know what is appropriate. Ask her (and maybe another female colleague as well) what they would do (or will do) in such a situation. I think that, for example, a really nice bottle of wine could be an appropriate gift if you can find out whether he prefers red or white. Go to a wine store and ask someone there to suggest a good $25.00 bottle. Or a bottle of champagne. With a nice card, of course. If your female colleagues know what his hobbies are, you could think about a gift card although that may be a little awkward in terms of the amount. Is there an author you love who has a new book out? A new book could be nice if he likes to read. Men are harder to buy for anyway so it's not as easy as a female colleague but i'd keep it on that level---wine or a book---something he'd enjoy but not too personal (like cologne). I know how it feels to be foreign and not know the expectations; my experience is that being honest with others and asking their advice is the best way to go. Hope you enjoy the party!!!! good luck
In a work setting, IF a present is given, it is often a group present. Everyone donates and one person colects the funds and buys a gift. Ask around to see if a group gift is planned. If not, tell a trusted co-worker your situation (from another culture, need help understanding the norm here) and ask what is typically done in your particular work setting. Each oiffice is different. If all else fails, a $25 to $40 bottle of wine in a gift might work, if they drink. anon
I recently relocated too. I actually used a coach who specializes in Life Transition Coaching. It was a wonderful experience and she supported and assisted me in positive ways. I am very happy with my move and I am very happy with my new locattion. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to talk more about any of this. Rachel
I would NOT give a gift card -- I think that is not appropriate for a colleague (for a subordinate or your niece, yes). I don't think gifts are expected, but you should bring something, like a bottle of wine. I wouldn't spend more than $40 since you don't know him very well. It tends to make people uncomfortable if you are not good friends and you get something too extravagent. But then again, you may want to ask your other colleagues what they are bringing. Have fun! -anon
A book! You can leave the gift receipt inside so that he can always exchange it. I think any book by Atul Gawande would be a great idea for a doctor. http://www.amazon.com/Better-Surgeons-Performance-Atul-Gawande/dp/B001KBY82Y/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3 enjoy

Original present for dad's 75th birthday?

Sept 2007

Anyone have suggestions for an original gift for a dad who insists on nothing major, does NOT want a big party (we are going to respect this and just do family BBQ), and really is somewhat of an introvert so doesn't have a lot of his own friends, outside of my mom. Just want to do something a little special in addition to our family BBQ. Thanks! anon


For my father's 70th birthday, I got a very nice looking blank journal and took it to a family event. I got all of his sisters and brothers still living and as many nieces and nephews to sign it with birthday wishes and special notes. They all lived in a different part of the country from him and so he only saw them maybe once a year or so. They loved being asked to do it, and he loved the gift. Other kinds of memory books I have seen done ask people to send photos and/or notes and then you assemble them into a journal. For my father-in-law's 80th we bought a photo mat and had the family sign in, then we took a family picture at the party and got it framed with the mat. These are all fairly simple, not expensive, but very, very personal and special. People might not need or want another ''thing'' but they often want to know how much they are loved and have something to remember people by. anon
For my parents 50th wedding anniversary, we hired a professional photographer and had the whole family pose for a formal portrait. It was their idea and the only gift they wanted. They hung it in the front hallway of their home where they could see it every day and show it off to friends and family. Ann
How about hiring a photographer to come out to the BBQ and do a family portrait? My in-laws are hard to shop for, and they loved this as a 40th anniversary present! Kristine
For one of my mom's major birthdays, we contacted everyone we could think of to write something to or about her. Memories, funny stories, how she had influenced them, etc. Then we bound them all into a book with a nice cover. She cherished this, and it wasn't a lot of work for anyone. anon
Something personal, like going through old family photos and putting together an album, or creating a video with music and a slideshow type presentation would be a couple of ideas you might consider. I did a dvd slideshow with 60's music for a school reunion of my very alternative 60's private school (I got alumni, teachers and parents to send me photos) - it was a huge hit. Good luck! Melanie
I've never given this, but I've read about a 'journal jar.' You find an attractive vessel and fill it with fortune size slips of paper with questions on it that allow the recipient to share their past/family history. You can provide a beautiful empty book and pen, or promise to bind the wordprocessed results. Questions range from ''How did your parents meet?'' to ''Who was your best friend when you were nine?'' etc. If you attribute the questions that kids think up it can give the writer an 'audience' which may help them let go and write. Another idea is to have family members decorate a platter or set of dishes at a ceramic studio, or to have them decorate quilt squares and produce a wallhanging or quilt. The latter get the kids involved which can be touching even for those who 'don't want a fuss.' Jessica
How about something personal that lets him know how much he means to you? Maybe a scrapbook of family photos through the years with various family members writing in captions of special memories; or a video where family members tell favorite ''dad'' stories; or a slide show (high tech or low tech) with live or recorded narration. Or if your family isn't into media, just a collection of stories, best wishes and family jokes could work. This could be as simple as asking each family member to contribute one favorite memory and putting them all together. Have a great party!
We took our mother for a weekend at The Homestead Hotel in VA (that is where she lives). It's very upscale and has wonderful amenities. It was just two nights and we had a wonderful birthday dinner celebration and then during the day we took her for a falconry experience, high tea and a swim in the natural spring pools. It was low key which she wanted but she was thrilled to also be treated like a princess.

It depends on what kind of a man your father is. A once in a lifetime experience, such as the above stated falconry, was truly amazing! That is one suggestion, but there are other things you could find with a little imagination. Unless you really want to go more low key.....

if he is a grandfather, get a pitcher or a serving dish and have all the grandkids do hand prints in different colors with their names and ages and then fire and glaze it. You can do this at any of the pottery art places all over the place. It's simple, yet nostalgic and sentimental. anon


How about a donation to a good cause-like to help people in Darfur. We have so much in this country, and that would mean something to someone else as well. m
I just ordered pillowcases with my kids photos on them and they are the cutest darn things. You could take a group family photo and have it put on a pillow case for about $20 at kodakgallery.com. It sounds weird, but when I put the cases on and put the pillows on my bed I laughed so hard. It was hilarious to see my kids huge, smiling faces staring back at me. I thought it would be a great gift. Maybe your dad would too! A in Alameda
I would highly recommend making him a photo book on Shutterfly. If you have family pictures, either old or recent, and you can upload them from your digital camera/ computer onto the Shutterfly website, the rest is really fun and easy. Choose a nice, maybe leatherbound photo book where you can pick and choose which pictures you want, in any order. You decide how many pictures go on each page, and can choose to write text also, if you like. I've made many photo books for many people in the past few years, for all different occasions, and people LOVE LOVE LOVE getting this heirloom-type, very personalized gift. heidilee
For his 80th, my father-in-law was completely tickled by a gift of a DNA analysis! He's always been somewhat obsessed by family history and frustrated that he couldn't trace his paternal line beyond 4 generations. So I arranged for a DNA kit from Family Tree DNA, www.familytreedna.com. Since all four of his kids chipped in, we went for testing both maternal and paternal lines, with the maximal number of genetic markers, for $489 (''YDNA67 & MtDNAPlus''), but you could just do a minimal number of markers from either line for about $129.

The results assign him to an ancestral ''haplogroup''. My father-in-law was happy to find that his recent paternal origins pointed to Scotland, as suspected, and before that a likelihood of Viking origin. So he's running around in kilt and helmet...

Another option is to join the National Geographic ''Genographic Project'' http://www.nationalgeographic.com/genographic. For $99, your father would have his Y-DNA tested (the minimal number of markers, 12), and also get a DVD, map and other goodies. If the results are intriguing, he can pay a fee to bring his data over to the Family Tree DNA project (which uses the same lab) and have more Y-DNA markers tested, and/or his maternal line.

For my father-in-law, this was a particularly meaningful, if somewhat poignant gift, making him feeling connected to his ancestry and to history. Unfortunately he has yet to find close genetic relations who share his last name, thus solving his genealogical dead end. On the other hand, my brother's results yielded distant cousins in Switzerland, confirming our family history.

If your father is curious about more than just his paternal or maternal line, but wants some clue as to what his particular ''mix'' is....such as wanting to check out a family story that his mother's paternal grandfather was Cherokee, or that his father's maternal ancestry is from Ghana, both of which would not be found in his Y-DNA or mtDNA, since these are zig-zag branches (male to female to male, etc)...you could order an ''autosomal DNA'' test from DNATribes, AncestrybyDNA or FamilyTreeDNA. These are purported to give you some indication of genetic ''admixture'', comparing the results with world populations. There is some controversy about the reliability of these results but it's fun to speculate. You can also hone in on specific areas of origin for European or African DNA through sub-tests at AncestrybyDNA or AfricanAncestry.com

If you choose to do this and have any questions about interpreting the results or taking it further, feel free to contact me - with the caution that I do this strictly as an amateur and am not a genetic genealogist by training. Natasha Beery natashabeery@earthlink.net


My father is turning 80 in October, so we were going through the same problem; he is adamant about not receiving ''things'' and never wants my brother and I to spend money.

So I decided that we all, including the grandkids, would put together a booklet called ''Why We're Glad You Were Born.'' It's just a jumble of the meaningful as well as the silly, ie: ''You taught me how to whistle,'' ''You were a role model in what to look for in a husband,'' etc.

Basically, it was when I started thinking about how old he's getting and that he might be gone soon, and all the things you say in appreciation at a funeral. Why not tell him now? We are going to have it printed up and (inexpensively) bound. We know for sure he's going to love it and bawl like a baby! _ Happy birthday to your dad, too


My husband who is in his 80b80>Special gift for my mom's 80th birthdays was recently given a subscription to The New Yorker. I donb80>Special gift for my mom's 80th birthdayt know when he has enjoyed a gift so much. When it comes, he immediately looks at the cartoons, the political columns, etc. If your father has some specific interests, see if there is a magazine he might really like & get him a subscription to it. If he likes movies at home get him a subscription to something good like Netflix. We donb80>Special gift for my mom's 80th birthdayt have much time to watch TV, but have many friends who love being able to pick out exactely what they want. You could also (depending on what you want to spend) get your parents gift certificates to restaurants they have wanted to try. That is always fun. By getting a gift that works over a period of time, you all extend the fun of giving your dad a special gift. lila
My sister just gave my stepfather the full length New York Times from the day he was born for his 70th birthday. It was a great present...quite fun to look at all the ads and the costs of various things. She found it on http://www.rarenewspapers.com/ Anon
If your dad is anything like mine, he is a tough one to get gifts for. I'm thinking of getting mine a digital frame that i can load with photos of his grandkids etc. You transfer photos onto a card and into the frame, and he has a slide show without having to do anything; it's good even if he's computer illiterate. They seem to range from $90 to a few hundred (search google or amazon for 'digital frames'), depending on the size, memory and features. Then i'll be able to change his slideshow when i visit. anon
Well, this may not be original, but it worked for my father, who also said ''I don't want anything!'' when he recently turned 70. My sister and I made $70 donations to two or three different organizations that we knew he cared about. He liked this a lot. Good luck and happy birthday to your father! Anon.
Sometimes a special outing is a great gift. Is your Dad a veteran or a history buff? The USS Hornet in Alameda (WW II aircraft carrier) is a historic landmark. They have an Apollo I exhibit there too. We've taken my Dad there twice and it's filled with historic exhibits. A real treat to have someone who lived through these things give you their perspective.

Does he like model railroads or trains? Walnut Creek has a great model railroad exhibit and the steam trains at Tilden Park are very low key and fun, and you can do a picnic there too.

Does he like classic cars? The Blackhawk Auto Museum has an amazing collection and there are some great restarants just steps away. Also it's totally indoors, handicap accessable (if he's not in the best of health) air conditioned and you can be in and out in a couple of hours. Maybe brainstorm with your mom on some old hobbies or interests of his and plan a special day. Good luck!


How about a photo album or a scrapbook that collects family and other memories and milestones from over the years? You can do it the old-fashioned way (cut and paste) or use an online service (snapfish.com is one of many out there) to which you upload photos and create an album or scrapbook that the service then prints and binds for you.

Or, put together a slideshow of photos on CD. It can be very basic or you can add music and captions. Even more high-tech? Have someone put together old home movies and more current video. anon


Okay, maybe this is not the most original idea in the world, but how about a family photo in a nice frame? If the family will be together for the BBQ, you could hire a photographer to come there and get a portrait of all of you, or you could organize everyone go to one of those Sears/JCPenney/PicturePeople type studios. Do one with just you and your siblings, or one with you, your siblings, spouses and kids together, or get your mom & dad in the portrait too if it doesn't have to be a surprise.

Another photo-related idea is to put together a nice photo album or have old home videos consolidated into something that he might enjoy watching. L


I heard about a unique idea for a b-day gift/party for someone that has everything. Instead of a party, organize a service day with close family and friends doing something in honor of Dad for a cause that he cares about (e.g. cleaning up a park, serving meals at a shelter, planting trees, etc.) I thought it was a cool idea and I am considering organizing something similar for my dad's upcoming 60th b-day. Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I'm sure he will appreciate it as it is the thought that matters. mindy
In reading between the lines I recognized that you and I have someting in common re: gifts and fathers, so wanted to respond. There are surpise-loving gift givers like you and me, and there are people who simply want what they want, like our fathers. Your father doesn't want a big party, and hasn't asked for any gift. He probably has recognized the gift he has already, his family and the time they spend with him. Relish it as he does. As an idea, simply ensuring everyone gives him a big hig and spends three minutes talking to him alone may be the best gift he could want.

My Dad is my best friend. He is active, many friends, and loves his grandchildren! He turns 75 in two days. He'll be pretty much alone though, and no party. My Mom has to go overseas this week to watch over her dying brother (a priest, himself alone). Earlier this summer I had tried to plan a party for my Dad, but my Mom counseled against it. The BDays don't mean so much to them now, and tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the death of my brother, a painful reminder of time. I only wish we could have a small family BBQ! Enjoy the time with your Dad, and pay attention to his joy.


We hired a professional photographer to come for my Dad's 75th just to take one big photo of the entire group. We had a large print made and framed and my father loved it. Ann

Special gift for my mom's 80th birthday

August 2005

I would like to give my mother a special gift this fall to celebrate her 80th birthday. She has hinted broadly that her preferred gift would be for me to plan and host a large 'surprise' party for her, but my financial circumstances (we live on one moderate income), parental resonsibilities (I have a toddler and a preschooler), and geographic issues (she lives in SoCal) make that impossible. I know that she'll be disappointed by this. After reading responses to an earlier BPN posting, I considered having a quilt made from pieces of fabric that I would provide to her friends and ask them to decorate in a way that symbolized their relationship with her. But she has been depressed since my father's death seven years ago, and I'm worried that having this quilt would only deepen her depression each time one of those friends passes away. I'm wondering whether anyone in the large and thoughtful BPN community has other ideas for a gift that can celebrate this important milestone without reminding her of the painful losses she has incurred along the way. (And yes, I have urged her many times to seek therapy for her depression, but so far to no avail.) j.


I don't know how big your family is, but one nice thing might be to get the children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, friends, etc. to make a video that you can present to her at a nice, but intimate, dinner party, and then all watch together. A good friend of mine did this for her mother. In their case, there were several grandchildren, ranging in age from 7 to 20, and with the help of their parents, each grandchild produced a segment (cute, idiosyncratic mini-skits). These were then edited together and capped with a final scene where they all wish her a happy birthday and blow her a kiss. The nice thing about it was it gave her a sense of the future, what she's given to the world, and how much she is loved. If there aren't enough grandchildren, I think the same thing can be accomplished with other members of the family, and friends. It was a huge success, with grandma and everyone laughing and crying at the same time. Everyone ended up wanting copies for themselves... hoping this helps
My mother just had her 80th birthday. She lives in central California, and like you, it wasn't practical financially or timewise for me to go there and host a party with her friends. Instead, I asked her to come visit me and I invited some of my friends for a circle honoring her. I had a piece of bamboo I'd cut years ago that had a lot of character to use as a staff and I asked everyone to bring something small to tie on the staff. We decorated a comfortable chair for her - she was a bit shy at first to be the center of attention, but she relaxed and got into it. Each person tied their gift onto the staff with ribbons and yarn and shared what they appreciated about her or what they wished for her. It was really very simple, but beautiful and she did feel honored. The staff was a magical creation that held all these well wishes. She told some wonderful stories about her life -- stories I'd never heard -- and her granddaughter videotaped. Afterwards, we shared a potluck meal. My friend hosted us because my home is very small. I was amazed to see how something so simple could lead to interactions very deep and loving. Good luck in creating something meaningful your mother. It can be simple and doesn't have to cost a lot. My friends were grateful to have the opportunity to honor my mother with me and get to know her better. Claudia
Are you sure it is really impossible to give your mom a party? You don't have to break the bank to give her what she wants. She is clearly depressed and at 80, you don't know how many opportunities you'll have to make her that happy. I don't want to make you feel bad, but if you can phone friends and family who live near her and arrange an informal potluck at one of their houses, it wouldn't have to take too much effort and it would be priceless for her. She's saying that's what she wants for her ''special present''; I would just find a way to make it happen. At her age, she doesn't want any more stuff, no matter how personal. She just wants the ones she loves around her making her feel special. As for your little ones, let them know you're working on a birthday party for grandma! They need to learn now how important it is to make the people in their lives feel truly loved. -- Wish I still had parents to celebrate with
If my 80 year old mother wanted a party for her birthday, I would do it no matter what, but I think you're thinking it has to be fancy, when it doesn't. It's really not that expensive to rent a place for an evening, there are community centers that rent space out (off the top of my head, try Live Oak Park, El Cerrito community center, for starters), and if you had a potluck, while you provide some food, drinks (non-alcoholic is fine), and a beautiful cake, while friends/family bring other dishes to share your mother would have a lovely party. Decorations can come very cheap via Paper Outlet on San Pablo Ave in Berkeley, and you can get lots of inexpensive drinks, etc. at Grocery Outlet. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be a commemoration of your mother's long life!

Alternatively, you could have a wonderful picnic party at one of our local parks -- Again, Live Oak, Tilden Park (call them to reserve space), Ohlone Park, Rose Street Park -- those are in Berkeley, but surely you could find a nice park to take a picnic near you or your mom. Again, you could do potluck, or just make it very simple.

I helped my son cater an appetizers-only event for 100 + people, and we did it for around $300 -- and that was FANCY stuff -- If you only invite 25 - 50 people you could do simple finger type foods which wouldn't cost that much.

A couple of ideas for gifts (your quilt idea is great, but having been a part of one of those ''gifts'', I'd say no thanks! I hated having to design a quilt patch, and ended up hiring someone else to do it for me - which was expensive. I had NO idea what the heck I was supposed to do!)

Have people bring a written poem story, memory, or something about your mother or her life to the party and have them bound into a book. At the party, each person (or those who wish to), could share the piece they've written by reading it aloud.

Create a photo collage of older and recent photos that she can hang on her wall.

Your mother is only 80 once, and you don't know how much longer she'll be here. If she wants a party, please, have a party for her! It doesn't have to be fancy, and you don't have to have catered food, and you don't have to invited the hundreds of people she probably knows. Make is festive, make it personal, and most of all, make it for her. You'll both appreciate it.

If you do pursue the party, and would like some ideas for relatively simple food for a nice party, please email me. I've got many ideas that have worked well for parties on a budget. heather


Gift for my sister's 50th birthday

June 2003

Hi, My psychologist sister 50th birthday is coming up and I'm stumped for a gift. She concentrates professionally on holocaust victims and is a talented singer. She also resides overseas so that a smaller item is preferable. Any ideas would be muchly appreciated! Thanks! Noa


How about an MP3 player with lots of memory? You would have to find out what kind of computer she has. Maybe it's just because I want one, but I think these gadgets are one of the neatest things. They are extremely small and light and can hold an enormous amount of music which one can listen to anywhere. Irene
If your sister is a singer (as I am), she will no doubt enjoy receiving a CD of other wonderful singers that she is not familiar with. Someone once gave me an Eva Cassidy CD and now I own the entire collection. Eva died of cancer at a young age (early 30s?) and never signed a recording contract. However, her parents found her home recordings and released them after she died. She became more successful after her death than anyone could have imagined and her voice is like an angel. If you don't want to go with one artist, you could also make your sister a collection and create the cover art yourself with simple tools on your home computer. It's a nice gift, because it will be homemade and something you took time to do, as well as something that will touch her musician's spirit.
I just turned 50 and the present I wanted was a nice dinner out with my family. This sounds dorky but it was special, and something I can remember for a long time. My college kid came home for the weekend, the kids put on dressy clothes that they would not wear under any other circumstances, and we all went to Chez Panisse downstairs on a weekend night. Everyone was on their best behavior. It was great!
Signed, I don't look 50 so I'm not giving my name!
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