All I want is for you to be happy – a gift guide for Mom

Everyone is looking for a comprehensive gift guide that will help them find the perfect gift for Mom and Grandma and Aunt Susan. The nice ladies at the office better get something, too, or your life will definitely be more difficult next year! There’s no way to list everything that would be suitable for all the people on your list, but you might remember just a couple of things before you tear out your hair trying to decide:

1. It really is the thought that counts as long as you aren’t cheap, tacky, or offensive. A gift of candy, cheese, candles, soaps, chocolates, or better yet, a gift certificate wrapped in a candy box, is the perfect gift for the majority of your miscellaneous list. No one expects a personal, handpicked gift from the neighbor or the cubicle mate. Save that agony for Mom or Dad.

2. Creative idea: Buy the same thing for everyone on your list. Make small changes in size or color or style, but pick a theme or a gift and stick to it. That will cover about 90% of your shopping. Team sportswear, auto gadgets, iPod cases, puzzle books – maybe you could be the guy who gives everyone on his list scissors every year. Different kinds, different styles – but scissors. Now everyone he loves has scissors for every room in their home.

3. Seasonal themed gifts work, too. Not everything has to be useful. Women spend a lot of time and money trying to find decorative items for their home, and you could make it easier with soap or lotion dispensers, small towels, or figurines for the areas of the house that guests use the most.

4. Don’t get too personal with co-workers or couples you socialize with. No matter how much time you spend together, don’t display any intimate knowledge you might have that would need public explanation. A good rule of thumb might be to stay away from things that touch. No jewelry, no clothing (except funny shirts or hats), no expensive perfumes. Never, never, never give an item so personal that it would embarrass someone to open it in public. Even as a joke. Undergarments, explicit books or magazines, toys that can be misconstrued are not funny, even as a joke. Save them for your brothers.

The items below just happen to be on my personal wish list. And while I’m a Mom, my children know how much I love gift cards for book stores, travel, home improvement and restaurants. So the showcase here is meant to help you with the lovely ladies on your list. It’s not complete, because I couldn’t find Fannie May chocolates. If you know me, and love me $20 worth, send vanilla buttercreams with dark chocolate coatings.

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