50+ Gift Ideas for In-Laws, Parents, and Other Tough People On Your List

gift ideas for the tough people on your list

In-laws, parents, gifts for an entire family, teacher gifts, neighbor gifts — they’re all tough to shop for! This list has over 50 gift ideas for those tough people on your list. Trust me, you’ll find something!


I’ve been sharing lots of gift guides this month (find them here if you missed them!), and today we’re talking about the best gifts for the TOUGH people on your list!

I’m talking in-laws, parents, neighbors, co-workers, teachers…we’re covering all those tough ones!

Gift ideas for your in-laws, parents, and other tough people on your list

40 fantastic gift ideas for in-laws and parents

What do you get the people who have everything, need nothing, and buy themselves whatever they need whenever they want? I asked for your suggestions and you helped me compile a KILLER list of 30+ ideas!

  • Family Picture Calendar. This is the gift we give my mother in law every year — we put photos each month that represent the season (Christmas/snowy pictures in December, fourth of July pictures in July, etc). She loves seeing the new pictures of the grandkids every month! Shutterfly is an easy site to use, and they’ll build it for you, or you can completely customize it!
  • Monthly Subscription Box. We did this for my father in law last year and it’s a fun gift that keeps giving! We got him a snack one that sends different kinds of unique and fun snacks each month, but there are also candy boxes, boxes for hobbies, and basically any other kind of box you can think of. The possibilities are endless!
  • Date Night Package. Keep your parents or in-laws dating! Put together a fun date with a dinner gift card, movie tickets, a treat to make, or whatever else you’d like.
  • Framed Picture of your family or grandkids. I love Framebridge because you can just send them your photo and they’ll frame and send it to you so you have a beautiful custom frame!
  • Portable Charger. This is great for in-laws that travel a lot, or are just on the go! And this is the highest rated charger out there — I’ve heard amazing things!
  • Personalized return label stamp. I’ve always wanted one of these — it would get so much use!
  • Murder Mystery Dinner Theater tickets. If your parents are into this kind of thing, it would make such a fun night out!
  • Cutting board in the shape of their home state. These can be used as serving platters, cheese boards, or a cutting boards. And they’re really affordable!
  • “Yard of the month” sign. This is a fun idea that a reader submitted — her father in law works very hard in his garden, so they got him a cute “Yard of the Month” sign to hang in his garden!
  • A charm bracelet with charms to represent each child or grandchild! Add a new charm for each grandbaby. Every grandma would love this.
  • Give an “In Honor Of” gift and donate to a non-profit organization that reminds you of them!
  • Omaha Steaks box, or another meal delivery service. Cooking for two people isn’t quite as fun, so give them a meal delivery service — it’s something they’ll actually use!
  • Lessons to learn a new skill. I love the idea of helping your in-laws or parents learn new things as they move toward or through retirement. Pitch in with your siblings to give them a year of tennis, cooking, dancing, golf, cookie decorating, art lessons, or any other lesson they’ve mentioned wanting to do their whole lives!
  • Ancestry DNA kit. This is such a cool and thoughtful gift to help your parents or in-laws learn more about their heritage!
  • Photobook with grandkids. I love Mixbook books (and I shared a 50% off coupon HERE!), and these will be a treasure for grandparents. I also love Chatbooks cause they’re small and so easy to put together!
  • Clocks set to the time zone of each child. My parents got these when their kids were living in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and England! They made little plaques that hang under each one with the location name, and each clock was set to the location’s time zone! Simple clocks like these are perfect.
  • Make a customized book about your family — Last year I learned about these ones from FourBears, and with the stories and information you submit, they create a children’s book about your family stories. This would be such a treasure to keep at Grandma and Grandpa’s house to learn more about their history, or their parents history!
  • I Chart You genealogy chart — these are gorgeous family trees that are unlike anything I’ve seen. They’re works of art and so beautiful!
  • Photo coasters with pictures of grandkids or family — you could hand make them with this tutorial, or buy them here!
  • Commission a painting of the home your family grew up in – I did this for my parents one year and it’s so special!
  • Digitized home videosLegacyBox is an awesome system that does it all for you!
  • A special and unforgettable experience: one reader said she and her siblings pitched in to buy her father in law a ride in a world war one airplane!
  • Subscription to Audible. The gift that keeps on giving! And you know I love audiobooks.
  • Season tickets to a local broadway theater or sporting events. I’m all about experience gifts, and this is a great way to get your parents to go out and have fun together.
  • StoryWorth book. This is a special book with weekly prompts to help your parents (or grandparents, or whomever) write their memoirs.
  • Sew a REALLY long tablecloth that fits tables put together or a table with extra extenders so that everyone can sit together for family dinners! I love this idea for big families!
  • Museum passes for them and the grandkids. A great way to get them to spend time with the grandchildren!
  • Echo Dot, Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
  • At home group date night box for when they invite friends over. Include nuts and candies and a fun card or board game!
  • An electric cooler for their car to store their drinks or any medicine that needs to be cool.
  • A gift certificate for a family photo session.
  • A fresh wreath for their door – you can order them online here and it’s delivered to their door! This is great for the Mother-in-law who has everything!
  • A special “leftovers” basket for the Christmas or Thanksgiving hostess. Include a really good loaf of bread, cheese, fancy mustard, fresh herbs, etc, that they can eat with leftover ham or turkey from the holiday dinner. Include a little yummy smelling soap or candle too if you want! Tip: if you’re flying to their house, pack a foldable fabric basket to pack it in. If you’re driving, bring a nice wicker basket.
  • Give a Christmas ornament that represents an adventure or experience you had with your parents during the year. Example: if your daughter went to a ballet performance with grandma, get a ballerina ornament. If you went on a trip to the beach together, get a starfish or seashell ornament.
  • Paint a picture of a tree and have everyone stamp their thumb prints on it to make the leaves. Frame it, and continue to add more leaves as more grandchildren come. This is such a fun idea for larger families!
  • An engraved necklace with someone special’s handwriting engraved on it. The reader who submitted this idea used the signature from an old card from her mother-in-law’s deceased mother, so her MIL had a little piece of her mom around her neck. SO sweet, right?
  • Letterfolk board. It’s a felt board with little plastic letters you use to spell anything. It’s a fun way to display quotes or announcements, or little happy greetings. It would make a great mother in law or mom gift! Another alternative is a Lightbox!
  • A cute cookie jar filled with homemade cookies! This jar is simple and pretty and can be dressed up with a pretty red bow for Christmas.
  • Digital Picture Frame. These are cool cause you can upload pictures of the grandkids from anywhere in the world — perfect for grandparents who live out of state and want to see your adventures or day to day activites!
  • Send them on a food tour of their city. This is a fun way to help them explore their area and try some new restaurants.


Don’t know what to gift your neighbors? Try these three great gift ideas!

I think homemade goodies are the best kind of neighbor gifts. They’re inexpensive and thoughtful and everyone loves a little homemade something. You could just do a plate of cookies, but here are three other winner ideas.

  • Cinnamon bread. I make this for our neighbors and friends and Philip’s employees every year and it’s always a hit. I eat an entire loaf on my own every year. Plus it’s really easy to make in bulk so you can make a bunch at once!
  • Homemade vanilla. My sister does this for her neighbors each year and I love this idea. People get SO many treats at Christmas time, so this is a little something they’ll use all year.
  • Stovetop potpourri. Everyone loves their house to smell amazing a Christmas time, and this is a perfect little homemade potpourri kit you can toss together and pass out so all of your houses can smell amazing together!

12 gift ideas if you’re giving a gift to an entire family

As families grow, I think a lot of families do gifts from one entire family to the other entire family. It can be tough to come up with a gift that works for the whole family, so here are a few ideas!

  • Bowling gift certificate. Everyone loves a bowling night, and it’s a perfect for a family with children of any age!
  • New movie and popcorn. Gift them their own family movie night!
  • Netflix Subscription. If they don’t have one already, this would be a great gift that they’ll use constantly!
  • Movie theater tickets and candy. Or if they’re movie theater kinds of people, pack them some snacks they can stow away in a purse, and tickets to a matinee!
  • Lawn games: try lawn bowling, bocce ball or croquet, or even giant jenga!
  • Ice Cream maker. I LOVE making homemade ice cream with my family. This is a great gift that everyone will benefit from! I have this maker and it’s fantastic.
  • Family Video Game. On the weekends you can find us in our upstairs family room playing Wii. A new game is a fun gift that will bring the family together for a fun night! Super popular ones are Just Dance, Super Mario, Wii Sports Resort, and we got Donkey Kong last year and we LOVE it.
  • Pizza Stone and your favorite pizza combinations. Every Friday is pizza night in our house, and making homemade pizza is so fun. Gifting a family a pizza stone will up their pizza making game, and it’d be fun to have your kids share their favorite pizza combinations with their cousins!
  • Museum pass. Choose a museum, aquarium, zoo, local pool, or something similar in their area and get them an annual pass or a day pass for the whole family!
  • Fondue Pot. Fondue is definitely a family kind of food, and a fondue pot with some ingredients to make their own dessert or cheese fondue would be so fun!
  • Your favorite family games: we love Apples to Apples, Pie Face, Yahtzee, or even simple card games like Sleeping Queens (for younger families!). There are tons more fun games out there — I’ve heard hilarious things about Watch Ya’ Mouth too!
  • A family book. When Harry Potter came out, we gifted the first book to each family on my mom and dad’s side. For younger families, you could gift a novel that the parents could read to the kids, and for families with older kids you could give them a book they’ll all read separately and then can discuss! My mom’s blog has tons of good book ideas — she has read aloud to my siblings and me our whole lives, so she’s an expert. Any of her suggestions would be great!

Don’t forget the teachers! These three gift ideas are guaranteed wins.

This is always a tough one for people, but I think it’s cause we overthink it. Here are three no-fail ideas!

  • Gift cards, gift cards, gift cards. I’ve heard from MANY teachers that this is the thing they’d like more than anything. They spend so much of their own money on things for their classrooms, so having money to spend just on themselves is so appreciated.
  • Classroom supplies. As I said before, they often spend their own money on things for their classroom, so if you gift some, that takes a lot off their plate! And if you’re not sure what the classroom needs, you can ask the classroom mom, or the teacher’s assistant, or even the teacher in an offhand way so she doesn’t know why you’re asking.
  • Treats.  Chocolate, caramel apples, candy…anything! Treats are always a good option.


You might also like…


  1. Katie says:

    Love these ideas! I’m definitely going to be looking into the one about having someone do a painting of their house! thanks for sharing!

  2. Rosemary Longmore says:

    So many good ideas! Thank you!

  3. Lori says:

    This is fantastic, Merrick!! Thanks so much!!!

  4. Beth says:

    I totally just ordered the portable charger for my brother who is moving and doesn’t need more stuff but loves gadgets. PErfect!! And i’m doing the genealogy chart for my in-laws (and maybe myself too). Thank you so much!

  5. Emily says:

    Hi! I have made your cinnamon bread a few times and love it! I just went to find the recipe and it isn’t there anymore.

  6. Mindy Jollie says:

    I love all of your ideas like getting them photobooks or digitized home videos or even season tickets to an event venue. My father-in-law is a really high-level lawyer and it’s really hard to shop for him. I’ve been thinking about getting him a nice fountain pen or a set of customized cufflinks. It’s so hard to know what they’ll like sometimes!

Leave a Reply