When my mother-in-law turned 80, I made a "gift tree" hung with ball ornaments (they were clear and split so they opened up) with different denomination bills totaling $80 inside. This was so much nicer than just a card with money . . . she had a blast opening the balls to see what was inside... and I don't know that she ever really noticed that the total was $80 - the same as her age. I was able to find what I needed at Michaels.
Rhonda, it's been my experience with my in-laws and other relatives who have hit that milestone that they don't necessarily want anything tangible, unless it's something that could be of meaning to the family. At least that's how it was with my family.
Does he have a large or close family? Perhaps a very nice dinner out with everyone. That's what we did for my FIL's 85th. How about putting together a small memory book? I've seen many lovely journals...perhaps one may be filled with special written remembrances from you and your DH, and anyone else you might like to add. I also like Susan's idea of the gift tree.
I wish your FIL a very happy 80th! How nice of you to mark the date with a thoughtful and meaningful gift.
I have the same problem...on June 18th my mother is having her 106th birthday, and I'm running out of gift ideas. She always loved sweaters, but on her 100th birthday we have her a huge party with all her family.
My mother and her sisters and brother planned an early birthday party for my Grandmother's 80th birthday. Her birthday was actually in November, but they had the party in August to make it easier for travellers. My grandmother was totally against it at first, didn't want the fuss, but by the time the party arrived she was involved in planning. Then they did the same thing for her 90th birthday.
And in the strangest coincidence she received 90 birthday cards, the last one arriving a couple of weeks after her birthday.
Another suggestion, if your father-in-law enjoys sports or music or theatre, a concert or sporting event or show together with a dinner makes a special night out.