Ten Perfect (and Eco-Friendly) Mother's Day Gift Ideas

by - Monday, April 24, 2017


mother's day gift

Mother's Day is sneaking up soon. It always kind of catches us by surprise, and it can be easy to get caught up in a rush to buy something. But if you want to gift your mother (or the mother of your kiddos) a gift that is special and shows just how much you appreciate that person, you want to give yourself a little time. I asked moms on Facebook what gifts they had most loved, and many talked about the thoughtfulness of their partner's or children's presents. It's clear that they appreciate the time and love put into the gifts far more than money. This sounds like saccharine nonsense, but it is the truth, and it should motivate us to think about gifting differently.

When you look up mother's day gifts, a few things pop up over and over again. I notice after doing this research that there are a lot of mugs and coffee cups out there. Oh, I get it. Moms are tired. Does anyone actually need more mugs? Does the world? There are already so many in secondhand stores waiting for homes.  When can we call it good on mugs? If you really think your mother has a thirst problem, get a cool reusable travel mug instead of yet another well-meaning but irrelevant mug.

Buying gifts that really don't mean much to you and have no use for her does more than just make a lame holiday. Humans at this moment are inundated with way too much stuff. It is destructive to our lives, our money, and our planet. We have a lot of gifting holidays, so if we focus on giving gifts that will get use or not create waste, we can keep things out of landfills and take care of the planet for future generations.

 Buying eco-friendly gifts doesn't mean you have to get her a hemp basket or some incense to burn. It may mean you don't have to buy anything at all. Buy fewer gifts- think one great gift, not a couple of lame ones. Buy things used- you can find so much furniture, kitchen stuff and accessories secondhand. Check consignment first. Look at what you can get local or what you can make yourself (she will love it). Shifting our paradigm about shopping can make our lives better without disrupting the things we love about it. Your mom wants a happy life for you, so do better for the environment in her honor, because a healthy planet makes for a healthy life.

retro photo of mother with her children

1. Finally Do Something with those Pictures (or Videos)


Perfect for most moms and grandmas

Most moms have tons of pictures of their kids sitting somewhere, but most of us aren't as great at doing things with them. If you are at a loss, or you are an adult child trying to come up with something special but low cost for your mom, consider a photo or video gift.

My mom has a photo wall for all her kids and grandkids. It has two lonely pictures up on it. My goal for this year is to order her some prints of her favorite pictures and memories so she can finally finish it. Check out minted and Artifact Uprising for prints. They are a little more expensive, but they are great quality and they will last. Bonus- you can get prints on recycled paper from both.  I also took lots of old pictures and put them into albums for her as a gift as well, if you think she has enough pictures but not enough organization.

Want to do videos instead? With current technology, ur videos are checkered through our phones and pictures instead of being all on one vhs, memories bookended by weird bird videos (our parents were all nature cinematographers? Why couldn't they resist the birds?). One of the best gifts you can give is to just get all those little snippets into one place. The Boy combines all our little videos from the previous year into one long home movie. It's an amazing gift, only costs him time, and I will love them forever.


Ok, I am going to pause our regularly scheduled listicle to point out that experience gifts for Mother's Day fall into two distinct and opposite categories. First, you have the women who want to relax away from the daily labor of their children. Other moms want to have a "quality time" moment of togetherness. A mom can be both, but not at the same time. So you have to assess where they are at.

grandmother with her grandbabies

2. A Day worth Remembering


Perfect for the mom who has everything and just wants to hang out with you

I do not mean memorable because of just how long you waited for brunch. It's Mother's Day. Everyone is going to brunch. Please, save yourself from the agony of a restaurant brunch. Instead, what about making her lunch all together? Do something really special or fun (or just a big buffet of her favorites) and make a day out of it. It may be more work, but it sounds like a pretty fun day, especially if you can work together.

Go on a (miniature) road trip. How about loading people into the car and just going on a little adventure? Bonus points if you go somewhere your mom loves. For my first mother's day, we just went driving and landed where we landed. I loved it. Nothing too fancy or fussy, but a really sweet day.

Have a game day in her honor. Set up some sort of big prize and play all of her favorite games with her favorite snacks nearby.

Do a craft for her with your handprints or artwork, but do it all together. Moms like to be creative too, and this way she can remember the happy day when she looks at it.

Do a project you know she wants done in the house. Help paint a room or fix a cabinet or any such thing. It may not be perfect for every mom, but working as a team is fun and making her quality of life a bit is even better.

Go to her favorite museum. Her favorite park. Her favorite block of town. You don't have to travel the world, think of a place she is happy and plan a day around it.

3. Something Relaxing... For Her


Perfect for the Mom who has toddlers or is sick of your crap already

It's baffling just how much mother's day gift ideas are just "spa day" "massage" "soap." No offense to all you other moms out there, but exactly how stinky are you? Giving the mom in your life a chance to relax is great, but you have to know who she is to get this right. If you want to give a thoughtful gift, think about it.

If you give me a gift that says "in a week, a stranger will rub on you while Enya plays," I am going to wind up to power punch somebody. If you tell another mom she has to go on a hike, she might have the same reaction. On the other hand, for another mother, that might be perfect!

Other ideas for relaxation or self-care gifts:

-  A Netflix subscription OR a subscription to Amazon Prime. Something that promises chill time.
-  A gift card for movie tickets. There is something pretty awesome about sitting in the dark, watching a movie, and not worrying about anyone else's needs.
-  A new pile of books (you can get more and have a more positive environmental impact by buying them used)
-  Art Supplies

Or take care of something off her list (pick something she does or hates doing):

- Make a book of coupons for things you could do for her for the house. Cleaning, painting, dishes, a week of laundry (ooh, that's good). Mix in some coupons for hugs, movie nights, etc. Amazing gift that cost you 0 dollars.

- Don't live nearby? You could also hire a cleaning lady. Go in with siblings and have one come 2 or 3 times a year. That deep clean is even better for her when she doesn't have to do it.

- Get meals delivered. Or commit to bringing her dinner once a month. Or making dinner if you are ambitious. Say you will do the cooking every Sunday for a year. That's an awesome gift, and you may even learn something!

sleeper memory bear
from Nestling Kids

4. Reuse those Little Sleepers

Perfect for- Moms of little babies or missing their little babies

I am always agonizing about how much of my babies' little clothes to keep. It's hard to set something in a box to never get use again, but they feel like such treasures. Plus, every person on this green Earth will tell you how fast it goes, so you want to remember when they were little and didn't smell like puberty.

I think these bears, made out of sleepers, are such a sweet and thoughtful gift. Perfect if you are a newish parent shopping for your toddler's mother. Alsoo might be very sweet for grandma gifts. I love this one from Mem's Memories, though they are pretty big. Nestling Kids make all sorts of animals, and they seem like the right size to have as a little treasure.

Hey The Boy, you could do this for me and I would love it. Such a sweet gift.

personalized drawing necklace from brittanyleighjewelry
from BrittanyLeighJewelry


5. Jewelry that's Truly Personal


I mostly think Mother's Day jewelry is a dangerous Kay Jeweler's kind of game. No one needs another heart-shaped necklace. No one.

But the nice thing is that we live in the time of Etsy, so you can find epically cool and thoughtful gifts that will really speak to her experience as a mom and her particular hoodlums. Those Etsy wizards can personalize anything, so there are of course a million good options, but here are a few of my favorites.

personalized mother's day necklaces
Play it Again Sam makes these gorgeous personalized cameos necklaces (they have earrings too). Such a traditional idea used in a sentimental way with completely modern style. This is a win, people. 

personalized drawing necklace for mother's day

CaitlynMinimalist makes my favorite of the drawing into jewelry pieces. I love these. They also make handwriting ones

pea pod bracelet for mother's day gift

Someone bought me one of these gorgeous pea in a pod bracelets from vintagestampjewels (or another store like them). I never figured out where it came from, but I love it. Sweet without being heavy-handed.

nightstand organizer for mother's day gift
from ClassicCoastalIndust

6. Keep Life Organized

Perfect for the techie Mom, a soon to be mom, or Mom desperate to get organized

Sometimes electronics gifts get overly focused on the dads, but female parental units also have to charge their phone. If you think your mom would actually use something like this, I love these bedside "valets" (this one from PaybacksaBeach) where she could keep all of her electronics and nightstand stuff organized.

Another great gift idea in this vein? Organization stuff of any kind. I know as a mom of still very small children, I feel like my life has been taken over by stuff and the mess this stuff makes. All the time. Get a beautiful basket from Colonial Mills for toys or odds and ends. Get closet organization- I have a whole post of options!

Lastly, you could think about getting her a bag. Mom bags are a great and powerful thing. You can find tons of spacious mom type bags at consignment stores or Thred Up. Depending on your budget, my absolute favorites are from Artifact Bag Company, which make totes just waiting to be mom bags. No matter what, you can find a great tote on Etsy (175,000 options). I also love these roomy purses from Valhallabrooklyn.

Don't have a ton of money but want to do something really nice for your mom? Go through your stuff and donate everything you no longer want or use. Debulk the ever growing pile of stuff that she faces down everyday, and maybe even clean something when you are done! Being an adult is the worst, and she does it so you don't have to, so take a turn and give her a few less things to pick up.

a family garden for mother's day

7. Buy Her Plants, then Help Plant Them

For the moms with a green thumb

If your mom is a gardener, start a garden together. I used to think this was a weird sexist thing, that moms liked to garden, but I get it now. If I clean the house, my kids can mess it up before I am finished. But if I weed, they can't unweed. Haha, suckas! Eat that morning glory and crazy toddler! Sweet teeny steps of progress that can't be instantly undone! Nurturing is a myth- this is the true appeal.

Gardening and growing things come up, because Mother's Day is in the middle of planting season. Lean in. Buy a few cool plants or see what she needs. Buy her flowers, but ones she can plant and look at forever.One of my friends planted a rose bush for her mother on Mother's Day and it is still in bloom every year 13 years later. How cool is that?

You could bring a picnic or even pair the day with a few gardening gifts (or buy a couple of plants for her). Depending on what she likes, you could buy her heirloom seeds or a fruit tree. The most important part is to spend that quality time with her putting it into action.

No garden to speak of? Maybe go plant some trees nearby! You can help make the air cleaner and all work as a team. Sounds like a great day to me.


8. Make Something

Paint her garden rocks or little dolls. Knit or crochet her a blanket. Buy beads and string her a necklace. Make a collage of photographs. Make a card with the bub's handprint. At a loss- look at pinterest. You will find something that you can do. Anything is good. It will make her so happy. Just make something.


9. Make the World a Teeny Bit Better (in her Honor)


For the Mom who has everything and wants everything good for you

Becoming a mother radically shifted how I saw the world. Specifically, I became super aware of just how much work there is to do to make it a place I want my sons to live in (and it feels even worse now). I am going to safely guess I am not the only one. If your mom has what she needs, why not make her breakfast and give the money you would have spent to a charity she cares about instead? I am more than a little obsessed with trees- my sons could give 100 bucks a year to the Arbor Day foundation in my honor, and enough Mother's Days in, they would have gifted a lot of money!

Want to try another cool idea? Check your neighborhood shelters and groups for women to see what they need. Maybe you could do a collection with your friends and their families to help out mother's who don't have much support. You could all do it in your own mothers' honor. You give her more by showing her that you will help other people, being good citizens and making the world a little better. I spend a good chunk of every day with someone else's bodily fluids on me, but it makes me just glow when I see my toddler be kind or friendly to his brother, his dad, his friends, or basically anyone he comes into contact with. He gives me hope, because he shows me he is good. If you are grown and want to please your mama, being a kind person and loving your siblings are two of the best gifts you can give her. Just figure out a way to do that and make her some pancakes. You nailed it, friend.



10. Just Show Up and Be Happy About It

Perfect for Moms with Adult Children

I asked moms on Facebook what their favorite mother's day gift was, and the most frequent answer from moms with adult children was time together. Being together. Having their kids come to church with them or come home for a visit. Which really makes you think... why are we all jerks that ignore our mothers? Get on it people, but on this day, do it with joy and purpose. It just goes to show that showing up really is the best gift of all. And there is no wrapping to end up in a landfill.



Happy Mother's Day to you and yours! If you want more shopping tips, check out the Giant List of Shopping Lists.

You May Also Like

2 comments

  1. totally adore the sleeper idea, especially with those lumber jack sleepers. such a great idea

    ReplyDelete