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How To Buy Something She Actually Wants For Mother’s Day


No one wants to fail on Mother’s Day. That lovely woman who brought you or your children into the world deserves a thoughtful gift on her big day, and this year you’re going to give it to her.

Let’s be honest: you’ve given her a lot of uninspiring gifts. Dish towels, cheap candles, Bath and Body Works products . . . for shame! Follow the budget-friendly gift guide below and watch her eyes light up when she opens your present. Yes, you can order it all online.

You should, however, expend a bit more effort than entering your credit card for the woman who carried you in her womb. Before we get to the goods, let’s take a moment to consider the most important part of Mother’s Day gift-giving: the card. Too often an afterthought, mothers know this is the real prize.

Fathers should require their small children to devote an inordinate amount of time creating a mini-masterpiece for their moms using their best crayons, paints, and colored pencils. Older children should create something equally thoughtful: a poem, an acrostic, or their own work of art extolling the virtues of their dear mother. Husbands and adult children should take the time to find a tasteful card.

Want to really impress her? Eschew the saccharine Mother’s Day cards in the drug-store aisle and buy a tasteful blank card where you can write your own thoughtful message. Attach a favorite photo of your own for a personalized treasure she’ll keep on her bedside table for weeks.

Now, the gifts.

Mother’s Day Gifts Under $50

I picked up this pretty nautical necklace from Spartina 449, an up-and-coming South Carolina accessories designer, in a boutique in Savannah this spring. The Sea Star Bauble on a 36” long chain is lightweight, made of 18-karat gold plate and crystal, and goes with everything. It’s the perfect no-fuss summer accessory. $48.

A touch of this Chanel lip gloss atop her favorite lipstick adds a perfect hint of sparkle. Pair it with a matching Chanel compact mirror, a makeup bag staple. $30 for lip gloss. $42 for the compact mirror.

Speaking of makeup-bag necessities, this vintage-inspired perfume atomizer is the perfect size. And you can have her initial engraved on top for free. $29 on sale. tassel

This is genius. No more looking through tangled cords when she needs to charge her iPhone or iPad. Belkin has hidden lightning-to-USB cables in this pretty leather tassel, ready to clip to her purse or bag. Pretty colors, too! $29.

My friend Peggy Noonan packs a career’s worth of great writing into her recent collection, “The Time of Our Lives,” where she offers her distinctively feminine insight on a host of fascinating characters and events. Peggy is an amazing storyteller: She’s smart, witty, and cuts to the heart of her every subject. Your mom is guaranteed to laugh and cry and absolutely fall in love with Peggy’s voice. $20.52 plus free shipping.

Mother’s Day Gifts Under $100

Flowers and plants are always lovely gifts, but skip the big florists with the 1-800 numbers and try out newcomer Terrain. I recently visited their flagship, a complex of naturalist greenhouses in suburban Philadelphia, and was captivated by its bucolic beauty. Terrain’s bouquets are fresh and natural, and if she’s drawn to miniatures, their terrariums are to-die-for (and they basically take care of themselves). I came home with two. $68 for a 20-stem bouquet plus free shipping with code SPRINGFREE.plant

$98 for this metallic edge bubble terrarium, with many more (and cheaper) options on their website. Plants additional. Add a strand of these tiny stargazer lights to put inside for a magical effect. And remember, it all ships for free using code SPRINGFREE. Shop for them here.

Missing “Downton Abbey”? Get her a subscription to Acorn TV. She can keep up to date on 1,800 hours of British television, plus 60 exclusive shows. She can even watch on her iPhone or iPad. Endorsed by my own mother. $4.99 per month.

Frame a beautiful candid photo or piece of her child’s art using Framebridge. This service could not be easier. Simply upload a photo from your phone or computer (or send a hard copy in a pre-paid envelope), and they will return it to you in the frame of your choice. Simple as that. Consider creating a gallery wall for her by adding a framed piece every year—or talking your siblings into doing the same. $79 will cover a mat and frame for most 8x5s. Instagram minis available from $39, including shipping.

Every woman of every age looks great in a white cotton tunic like this one from Ralph Lauren. $79.50 plus free shipping with code MOM16.flipflop

These jelly flip-flops by Melissa are absolutely adorable. I own them in several colors already, but the new black and tortoiseshell pair will be my next purchase. $79.95 plus free shipping.

Who wouldn’t love to have this rustic blue-green pitcher for lemonade, iced tea, or sangria over the next few months? It’s plastic, so it’s safe for use outdoors, but it looks just like glass. Add at least half a dozen matching short wine glasses, which fit neatly into the dishwasher after the party. Beautiful, practical, and no fuss. $48 for the pitcher, $8 per glass plus free shipping.

Mother’s Day Gifts Under $150

Every woman needs a crossbody bag, and this little number from Anthropologie does the trick. It’s perfect for travel; she’ll look positively European when she’s hands-free on summer vacation. I love the earthy color selection. $128 plus free shipping.

Stylish storage for eyeglasses? Yes please! The OYOBox will put her specs on display and comes in multiple sizes and colors. The mini fits four pairs and will suffice for most. $135. Buy it here.bags

This dipped canvas beach tote from Mark and Graham will be her new favorite, even if she’s nowhere near the water. Brown leather accents and gold hardware give it a polished look (the yellow is my favorite, but readers know how I feel about yellow this year). Personalize it for free with her full monogram in a contrasting hue. Pro tip: Tuck the ingredients for her new favorite summer drink, the aperol spritz, inside its roomy interior. A set of these highballs wouldn’t hurt, either. $149.