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The Best Gifts For Mothers-In-Law
(And Other Perplexing Types)

The trick to this one—and contributing editor CYNTHIA KLING should know, as she learned the hard way by having a gift handed back to her—is to put more thought than money into your present. No last-minute grabs for this tricky group! Here, a cheat sheet for ensuring a big win.

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Never Enough Pictures

A Lucite frame with their child's photo in it? You'll score tons of brownie points. Crate & Barrel, $15.95 & Up

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Organizer That Doubles as a Centerpiece

No one ever has enough trays at this time of year, but this lacquered one would also look gorgeous holding a vase of silver-sprayed leaves on a white tablecloth. West Elm, $25-$32

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Alvin, The Helpful Chipmunk

This bushy-tailed friend will hold open the door for family, friends, and even the pooch. Terrain, $28

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Starry Night

This orb is actually a cunning nightlight for those dark winter nights when everybody starts to stumble. J Schatz, $185

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Illuminated Salt & Pepper

If you've been on a picnic and can't see how much salt you've put on the salad, you'll immediately get the genius of these battery-powered mills with small lights on them. They're perfect for someone who is watching their blood pressure, too. Amazon, £17.99

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The Queen Bee's Cup

They say that monogramming started with the royalty: The head of the family will never lose her mug when she's got her monogram on it. At this price, you can stock her entire cabinet. C. Wonder, $10

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The Elegant Container

Any art lover—or neatnik—will love this handmade and lacquered Mondrian Pencil Box. MOCA Store, $95

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A Drawer of Flowers

Lavender isn't just a wonderful scent, it's supposed to keep bugs away. These sachets are great in the underwear drawer and also in suitcases, to keep them smelling fresh. Anthropologie, $38 for three

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The Right Cards

Order these and your mother-in-law will definitely impress her bridge friends. Tiffany, $30/2 Packs

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The Neighborhood Vintner

Order a dozen of these wine labels, soak and remove the label from a case of decent plonk, and present your MIL with her own house vintage. They cost about $1.17 per label, and they'll get them to you in just a couple of days. My Own Labels, $1.17/each

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Best Friends

These notepads were created by a woman who had simply run out of ideas for her mother. Send a photo to picpads.com, follow their simple instructions, and you'll get two notepads in about two weeks. Pic Pads, $22.95 & Up

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Sculptural String

Is there anything chicer and more useful for gardening, gift-wrapping or tying up the recycling? Hen & Hammock, £4.90

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Old Fashioned Tree Trimmings

The point of a decorate-the-tree party is to get a collection going. Wow the hostess with these 12 different glass-blown ornaments. Vermont Country Store, $19.95

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Foodie's Delight

All Italians know the secret of truffle butter: They spread this condiment on crackers for instant hors d'oeuvres, throw it on pasta for sauce, and melt it into mashed potatoes to get that indescribable flavor at a fraction of the cost of a single truffle. This particular butter comes from Brett Olignetti who sources food for America's top chefs. Artisanal Foods, $18

 
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