Mother’s Day may be a manufactured holiday designed to sell greeting cards, but you can’t just not participate on principle — at least, not now that you refer to someone in your life as “the mother of my child.” Here are 21 gift ideas that run the gamut from books to jewelry to bath and body to home decor, any one of which should leave you in good standing for the next year (or at least the duration of May 10th). There are also a few curated selections from 4 women who have built small empires on the backs of their good taste: Soraya Darabi of Zady, Cricket’s Circle founder Rachel Blumenthal, and Galyn Bernard And Christina Carbonell, Co-Founders Of Primary. (Some of their picks are pretty specific to their own neighborhoods — unless you also can get artisanal cotton candy from an ice cream truck nearby — but maybe they’ll jar loose a few cool, unexpected ideas of your own.) There are even a few greeting card ideas because, face it, those guys won. You’re all in this Mother’s Day.
Girl In A Band, By Kim Gordon, $20
If she thinks the 90s were the best musical decade (and who are you to argue?) then Sonic Youth founder Kim Gordon might already be one of her heroes. If that’s not true yet, it will be after she reads this lyrical memoir of marriage, motherhood, and rock.
Bébé Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting, By Pamela Druckerman, $15
It’s like the Crib Notes version of The New York Times bestselling parenting book Bringing Up Bébé, but written by the actual author. These 100 insights will give her 100 excuses to explain that she’s raising your kid “like the French do.”
Dept. Of Speculation, By Jenny Offill, $10
This tale of a couple navigating the pitfalls of marriage and kids was named 2014 Book Of The Year by The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, and more. She’ll tear through it in one sitting, which is good because that’s probably all the free time she has.
Pioneers Of The Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World, By Angella M. Nazarian, $34
Remind her how much she inspires you with this celebration of 20 of the world’s most inspiring women — everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Estée Lauder (also women whose names don’t start with “E”). In other words, it’s the mom version of this book you should buy your kids.
Things You Can Make Her Own
‘Slice Of Life: 7 Generations’ Custom Family Tree Print, $120
Family first — specifically your family, which occupies the bullseye of this concentric-ringed interpretation of your family tree. It’s a modern twist on an old classic and costs less than a year chasing leaves on Ancestry.com.
K Studio Family Tote, $48 and up
Anyone can hold their family close to the heart, but what about over the shoulder? Pick the funky stick figure that looks like you, mom, and kid (and your fish, if you must), add it to your bag, and … boom … it’s like you’re always there to help with the groceries.
Custom Family Portrait Illustration, $65
A photo is always a nice gift, but you can do better. Send your family photo to designer My Little Buffalo and she’ll send you back an adorable digital illustration that you can print as many times as you have mothers, mothers-in-law, and grandmothers.
Clare V Petit Fannypack, $193
Don’t question the fanny pack’s inexplicable comeback as a fashion accessory — welcome it. Because a Mother’s Day gift that does double duty as a hands-free purse while making her feel like a little kid again is worth its weight in My Little Ponies.
Cuyana Personalized Travel Case Set, $95
A large case for travel-sized toiletries and a small one for essentials, available in 11 colors with optional monogramming. Even if she travels a fraction of the amount she used to, she should still be able to do it in style.
Banjo And Matilda Silk And Cashmere Blend Travel Set, $355
Not to be too judgmental, but if you let her cozy up under that pill-ridden thing they hand out before the plane takes off, you’re kind of blowing it. Banjo And Matilda can help, with this blanket and eye mask that’s so nice, she’ll use it even when she’s not on an airplane.
The Jewelry Box
Loren Stewart Gold Safety Pin Earrings, $275
These 14k gold earrings aren’t just stylish and unique; they’ll also be useful in keeping your kids clothing together when you can’t replace it because you spent that portion of the month’s budget on these stylish and unique earrings.
Leigh ID Necklace By Sarah Chloe, $128
Here’s an easy Mother’s Day win: a necklace with your kid’s name on it so she can always carry the kid everywhere without actually having to carry the kid anywhere.
Tiny Black Diamond Solitaire Ring By Satomi Kawakita, $190
There may have been a time when buying her a ring was a decision fraught with all sorts of subtext. If you’re past that time, congratulations! You can now buy nice understated jobs like this one without worry. If you’re not past that time, then maybe don’t buy her this ring.
“You Are My Mom, You Are Crazy” Mug, $13
Yes, you’re responsible for ensuring she receives a gift from her kid, even if her kid hasn’t mastered the word “Mom,” let alone the selection and purchase and wrapping of a present. Here’s a quick, charming (and, most importantly, cheap) way to check that box.
World’s Greatest Mom Collection, By Mouth, $80
If she has a sweet tooth, ditch the cliched chocolate and go with this carefully curated box from the foodies at Mouth — unless you think she won’t like handmade caramels and raspberry pate de fruit heart, in which case a Hershey bar is probably fine.
Vitamix S30 Personal Blender, $399
The S30 lets her make pro-level smoothies without the sink-filling, countertop devouring size of a pro-level smoothie machine. The only problem is that there probably won’t be any left for you.
3D Printed Roses, $65 (Half Dozen)
Short of a scale replica of the night you met, these roses are about the only way to put “romantic” and “3D printed” in the same sentence. Sixty five bucks is a little steep for 6 roses, but at least they’ll last.
Polaroid Zip Instant Mobile Printer, $129
If she prefers to like and share photos the old-fashioned way — or she just has no patience for teaching her Grandma how to use Instagram — this pocket-sized instant printer can wirelessly create prints from her phone in less than a minute.
Tory Burch for Fitbit, $175
If she loves her wearable tech but complains about having to actually wear the tech, Tory Burch’s ingenious bracelet will hide her Fitbit in a piece of jewelry she’d wear anyway. The fact that it’s counting her steps while she’s showing it off is just a bonus.
Cone, By Aether, $399
Cone bills itself as the first music player that “listens to your requests, picks up on your habits, and learns your tastes to create the perfect soundtrack for any mood or moment.” At least someone listens around here.
Fig + Yarrow Bath And Body Kit, $88
It’s entirely possible that you have plenty of bubble bath on hand at this point, so just a quick reminder that it’s not for her. Fig + Yarrow’s collection of handmade body indulgences is adult appropriate, because (among other things) it comes in scents like Sea/Woods and Coffee/Meadow.
Rukimo ‘Lana’ Room Shoes, $82
Slippers as a Mother’s Day gift get a bad rap — they’re up there with ties on Father’s Day. But really nice slippers are amazing. If you think she’ll be disappointed by the Lana room shoes, that’s even better, because it will make the look on her face when she puts them on that much better.
‘Sex Bomb’ Bath Bomb By Lush, $7
Dropping this in the bath triggers an aphrodisiac explosion of jasmine, fizzy soya milk, clary sage, and ylang ylang. Not bad for less than $10, and definitely better than a hand-drawn coupon promising your own version of a “sexplosion.”
Mother’s Day Cards
I Love You I Love You Card, $6
A handwritten card that says “I love you” is really the best card of all. But, if you’re really lazy, a card with “I love you” printed on it a whole bunch of times is ok, too.
Mom You’re Lovely Card, $5
Beautiful and understated, just like she is (if she’s not, you should probably consider a different card).
Thanks For Giving Birth To Me Card, $5
Remember that mug you’re going to buy for her that’s “from your kid?” This is the card you put with it.
Bomb Diggity Mother’s Day Greeting Card, $5
Because nothing says “Mother’s Day” like giggling explosives.
Carefully Curated Picks From Women With Exceptional Taste
Soraya Darabi, Founder Of Zady
A retail response to the socially and environmentally dubious “fast fashion” model advanced by the H&Ms of the world, Zady’s products are produced to last, sourced to promote fair trade, and selected by people like Darabi, who know more about what looks great than you do.
Rachel Blumenthal, Founder Of Cricket’s Circle
Blumenthal honed her aesthetic and sartorial sensibilities at Yves Saint Laurent and her own jewelry brand Rachel Leigh (one of Oprah’s “Favorite Things”) before becoming a mom inspired her to launch a site devoted to moms. You could say Mother’s Day is in her wheelhouse.
Galyn Bernard And Christina Carbonell, Co-Founders Of Primary
Primary is a new online clothing shop devoted to high quality basics for babies and toddlers at a reasonable price. When it comes to their Mother’s Days picks, Bernard and Carbonell stick with the classics as well — just in slightly larger sizes (and with a bit more alcohol).