When you're just out of range of your mum's neighbour's Wi-Fi signal this over the holiday season, you might want to have the Wi-Fire Range Extender USB signal booster on hand. We haven't tried it ourselves, but a poster at the Cool Tools web site says:
I was in a remote Alabama campground and their little access point was perhaps a few hundred feet away. With the internal Wi-Fi adaptor in my Thinkpad (it's Mac/PC compatible), no go. With the Wi-Fire aimed carefully I got a solid, workable signal. I just rotate it around until I get the best signal.
The Wi-Fire Range Extender will set you back 80 bucks, and looks like a stocking stuffer that could make the geek in your life very happy.