the "Difficult To Shop For" holiday thread

My father-in-law is supremely difficult to shop for. Among other things, he looooves hitting the pre-Christmas sales and buying all sorts of things for himself :smack: right before the fucking holidays. Also, he has every tool known to man already, and more books and other reading material than he likely has a lifespan left for. (I don’t mean that to be morbid - the man is hale and hearty. But their house is stuffed with books already.)

So it’s time for the annual “what the hell are we getting your father” conversations with Mr. Horseshoe.

But, enough about us. :smiley: Tell me about your “hard to shop for” people in your life. Success stories? Catastrophic failures? Tried-and-true fallbacks?

My husband. World’s most difficult person to buy for. He’s disabled, so that rules out anything to do with hobbies or sport. He has a huge flat screen TV and a bazillion DVDs. A blue ray player. New computer. iPad and iPod. Either I’ve bought him all his electronic presents or he buys them for himself.

I’ll probably end up buying him a few more DVDs this year but I hate doing that - it’s as if I haven’t bothered to think of anything. I have bothered but I simply can’t come up with any ideas.

My wife.

I can’t buy her clothes, because if I do, its the wrong size/color/style/whatever.

It she actually ASKS for something, and I get it for her, she doesn’t use it. For years she wanted a sewing machine. I got her one for her birthday, she uses it maybe once a year. Last year she wanted a big, free-standing jewelery cabinet. I got it for her, she loaded it up, but doesn’t wear the stuff thats in it, so it just sits collecting dust.

Years ago she wanted a Salad Shooter. I got her one. She has not used it ONE SINGLE TIME since I got it, probably 8 or 9 years ago now. Still in the original box, in the back of a cupboard.

Am not looking forward to doing Xmas shopping for her.

My dad. His list (we always pass around Christmas lists to use as inspiration) was, literally, jeans, shirts, socks (a bit more specific than that, but not very). Last year he wanted a Kobo ereader, which I got him, along with giving him the thousands of ebooks I have (we have similar tastes in reading materials).

This year? Mom got him jeans and shirts. I’m getting him wine, and if I have enough time, Danish cookies or shortbread.

I’m probably the hardest one to shop for in my immediate family. I tend to buy myself the things I want, and if I don’t, they’re something hard to get. And I don’t have room for a bunch of stuff. But I try to give a good Christmas list.

I’m the hard to shop for one in my family. This year I’m trying something different by asking people to consider replacing one of the gifts with a donation to some animal rescues and sanctuaries that I support. That’s something that we can all feel good about, since the truth is that I don’t really need more “stuff”. Any chance your hard to shop for folks would appreciate something like that?

(Though I did also intentionally avoid buying some small items that I would like to have so people can buy something for me to unwrap on the actual day).

Does she complain about your gift-giving ability? Because if she doesn’t, I wouldn’t worry about it. Some people want certain gifts, even if they’re not going to use them. I have received gifts that I was very happy to get, and appreciated very much, that I never removed from the box.

Example: One year my parents gave my brother a new toaster oven. It was very cool looking, and I wished I had one like it. So the next year, I asked for a cool new toaster oven, and I received it. I was very happy about that. But my old toaster oven is still serviceable (if you ignore the rust around the edges, and the fact that the door handle fell off several years ago), and I don’t really need a new toaster oven. So the new, cool gift toaster oven sits in a corner of my kitchen, still in its unopened box, and over the years has gradually become a piece of kitchen furniture, used to hold boxes of cereal and tea. You might think that this was a bad gift. But I don’t think so at all. I appreciate it very much. I just don’t use it. Maybe someday my old toaster oven will fail, and I’ll be glad to have it.

I’d get your wife what she asks for, and not worry too much about whether it gets used.

Both my dad and myself are awful. A few weeks ago my sister asked me why I was so special that I don’t have to give the family a list of stuff I want for Christmas. My response was that it’s not like I have some list and I’m keeping it a secret, there just isn’t anything I’m looking for at the moment and I do try to find things to let people buy me (and I always feel guilty about that). What I usually do is just pick two stores and tell everyone to get me gift cards for those two places. I found that if I say “Oh, just get me gift cards to Best Buy, Home Depot, Lowes, Target, Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon, etc” Then I wind up with about $10 to each place, but if I pick one or two places I might be able to combine them to get something useful when I’m ready.

As for my dad, for the last few years I’ve been trying to get my 3 siblings organized enough to each throw down enough money that we can get him an internet capable DVD player or Boxee and a subscription to Netflix so instead of him filling up their TiVo with reruns of whatever random show he’s into* he can pick something out on Netflix Instant and watch it at his leisure, in order.

*For example, right now, he’s watching Boston Legal and something else. He has their TiVo set to record ten episodes of each before it stops. Then my sisters get mad because it knocks out all of their shows (“Well, buy your own Tivo”)

One possible gift for difficult to buy for people is a coin. It can be a coin from a special year - their birthday, their anniversary, their kids’ birthdays. Or a pretty silver coin with something fun on the front of it. There are also silver “rounds” that look like coins, my brother has one with a classic (1964?) Mustang on it.

Many people like getting a gold coin as a gift, but that’s become very expensive. A few years ago, when gold wasn’t so high, my brother bought my dad an ancient Roman coin. It was very fun and unexpected.

My husband is impossible. He’s an enormous geek, but so picky about his electronics that no one else can buy anything for him without him picking it out.

AND his birthday is 3 days after Christmas, so I have to do the impossible twice in a short period.

What do you buy for someone who’s in a wheelchair when not in bed, in the middle of dementia, and diabetic?

So far I’ve got slippers and possibly a nightgown for my mom. Maybe a small plant and picture of my dog. She still remembers liking those.

Lancia, I agree with SpoilerVirgen, you’re three for three on your wife’s gifts.

My best at gift giving was finding everything ever recorded by the Smothers Bros. My mom loved them but could never find anything but a Best Of tape. I haunted eBay, had them turned into CDs, and got her tickets to their show in Vegas.

Basically, I took one thing and ran with it, further than she would or could herself. So maybe I’ll get Alex Trebec slippers for her this year! :wink:

Well, I think you’re on the right track. Pretty things to look at. Like art books of beautiful photos of flowers and landscapes or animals. You can look at those over and over and still find something to appreciate. Maybe a subscription to satellite radio so she can listen to a station that plays a certain kind of music she’d like to hear? Like the all-show tunes channel or whatever she likes.

My dad is a person who seems to not want presents. He loads up his Amazon wish list with history books he wants to read. And I always get him one or two… but my real line of attack is in consumables. Something that, even if he bought for himself, would eventually be gone. Nice scotch is good. A cheese and summer sausage box. Good maple syrup. Stuff like that.

I’m the hard one to shop for in my extended family. The year I brought up “hey, make a donation to X in my name” you would have thought I’d murdered somebody because “OMG WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO OPEN CHRISTMAS DAAAAAY???”

We now draw names on Thanksgiving for Secret Santas. Each of us sends out a “Santa Can Give Me” mass email, the point being that there HAS to be SOMETHING out there somebody can get you.

My list is pitiful this year. I ended up asking for new slippers, a couple of books, and gift cards. In all seriousness, there is nothing I need nor want unless somebody wants to foot the bill for all my impending house repairs :shrug:

I’m the difficult one. I’ve been told by family member that my habit of listing things for the household is not Christmassy, I’m supposed to list things for me. Okay, so I list things I want for me: a GC to a wonderful little sewing shop I frequent, or a tea available only at another little shop, or a specific brand of candles that you have to go to their specific store to buy. Then I get nagged for not listing stuff they can buy at Target.

What I don’t get is I am at least specific and none of the stores are miles away - the sewing shop is closer than Target for most of my family (and much less busy). I list the brand and flavor of tea I like. I list the scent and type of candles I like and that store is also quite close to all of us. OTOH, I got my b-i-l this year. His list? Slippers. No size, no type, nothing. Just slippers.

Oh I found the most wonderful little item that I added to my husbands and both kids piles this year. It’s called Sugru and it’s a moldable putty that drys to a flexible silicone. So hubby the electronics geek, daughter the artist and son the backpacker will all use it diffferently but I’m pretty sure that each of them will use it. And it was less than $20 each for a multipack of different colours.

[quote=“Ashes_Ashes, post:10, topic:606257”]

What do you buy for someone who’s in a wheelchair when not in bed, in the middle of dementia, and diabetic?

So far I’ve got slippers and possibly a nightgown for my mom. Maybe a small plant and picture of my dog. She still remembers liking those.

I’ve read that studies have been done showing that people with dementia often enjoy listening to music that they remember from when they were younger.

Also, you could get her a calendar, or if she (or you) have any photos not in an album, you could try that.

Sorry, I’m still learning how to use the “quote” feature, and obviously I haven’t figured it out yet.

I bought proof sets for the year of each families birth off of ebay one year and it went over very well.

Both of my parents.

They will get on my (and my brother and sister’s) cases to get them lists of what we want, yet they never do the same. I can’t get my mom jewelry, because I know my dad will always get her something shiny. I can’t get her any “domestic” stuff because years ago she said never to get her things like that, aside from maybe some small kitchen utensils as stocking stuffers to replace those that broke or got lost the pat year.

My dad likes photography and golf, but typically gets things for himself when he wants, so by the time X-mas rolls around, what can i get him?

So typically they get rather impersonal gift cards.

Wow. That stuff looks cool. (But I need more supplies for projects that I won’t get to like a hole in the head…)