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mother s day gift guide

Family

Moms share the best—and worst—gifts they've ever received for Mother's Day

May this serve as inspiration, or as a cautionary tale, for gift-givers this year.

Does mom really need more cleaning supplies? Probably not.

Mother’s Day is drawing near, and for many gift givers that means rolling out the box mix pancake breakfast in bed or making a clumsy, yet sentimental handmade trinket.

But how do moms actually feel about the presents they’ve received on their special day? Online parenting resource BabyCenter asked, and moms of all kinds answered.

Below are some gifts that brought moms to tears—both tears of joy, and of, well, the other kind. May this list act as a source of inspiration or a humorous cautionary tale for well-intentioned partners and kiddos trying to celebrate Mom.

Let’s start off with some of the worst gifts…


"A toilet-bowl brush set and cleaning supplies."

— Anonymous

"A set of pots."

— Mildred, Canada

"A vacuum cleaner and breakfast in bed way too early."

— Karen, California

"My husband decided to go out of state on Mother's Day weekend, and it wasn't just for business. I was seven months pregnant with our second child."

— Rose, Michigan

"An apron."

— Carolyn

"A screen door."

— Kristin, Wisconsin

In general, cooking, cleaning and basic household supplies are a big no-no, unless mom has shown a specific interest in receiving them as gifts. Sure, practical gifts are great, but there are already too many overworked moms whose identity in the family is far too enmeshed with their ability to take on the domestic labor. There’s so much more to Mom than that, and Mother’s Day is an opportunity to recognize that.

mothers day

This is the face of a mom who does not want to clean or cook on Mother's Day. Please and thank you.

Photo credit: Canva

Also, please don’t be this spouse:

"I asked my husband what we should do for my first Mother's Day. He looked a bit perplexed and said, 'Well, you're not my mother.'"

— Mollie, California

Or…

"My husband gave me the honor of keeping the flower that I bought for his mother!"

— Jennifer, North Carolina

Or…

"My husband gave me a card emblazoned with heart-shaped egg yolks on top of shattered shells that read, 'Thanks for donating your eggs.'"

— Mary, Maryland

Yikes And now, onto the best Mother’s Day gifts…

mothers day gift ideas

These gifts actually take mom into consideration.

Photo credit: Canva

"A picture frame that talks. My husband found a picture of our 3-year-old son and helped him record the message, 'I love you, Mommy.'"

— Anne, New York

"Gift certificates to a local spa."

— Susan, Canada

"A bottle of good scotch."

— Naomi, California

"My beautiful baby boy! He was born at 5:02 am last Mother's Day. And this Mother's Day, he took his first steps."

— Els-Mommy

"My daughter decorated a flower pot at preschool and then planted a flower in it. That flower is still growing beautifully, as is the child who planted it."

— Tracey, Canada

"The time my 3-year-old son slept until noon! I had a Sunday morning to myself to read the newspaper and drink my coffee while listening to him quietly sleeping."

— Sandra, Delaware

"On my first Mother's Day, my husband gave me a mother-and-baby charm with our daughter's birthstone in it. After our second daughter was born, he gave me another Mother's Day charm with both of our children's birthstones in it. I'm now pregnant with my third child, and am hoping for a third charm."

— Jodi, Michigan

"An ad in 'Newsday' wishing me a happy first Mother's Day."

— Tracy, New York

"A picture collage of my son's first year."

— Dee, Texas

mothers day gift guide

Celebrate your unique bond with mom with a unique gift.

Photo credit: Canva

"A ruby ring."

— Terry, Illinois

"A shirt with my 22-month-old daughter's handprints and footprints."

— Amber, Florida

"A gift certificate for a weekend learn-to-surf clinic for women. Getting to spend a weekend having fun in the water was such a treat (and a killer workout)."

— Nancy, California

"A bright, homemade bracelet made of mix-and-match beads. I wore it all day, and I still have it in my jewelry box."

— Mildred, Canada

It’s easy to see why these choices were winners. They either give mom a much needed break or give her a memento to cherish. These are clearly intended to make her feel special and appreciated.

But just like no two moms are alike, there is no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to getting the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Thankfully, Leah Rocketto, BabyCenter’s associate commerce director, provided a few pointers.

First, gift etiquette differs between gift givers. For partners, gifts should “show appreciation, support, and acknowledgment of her transition into motherhood.” That can range from the sentimental, like a piece of jewelry with her baby’s birth stone, to something that encourages self-care, like an at-home back massager. It all depends on what mom wants as an individual. And Baby Center assures that “she won’t be mad if you ask for hints or suggestions!”

As for children looking to get mom a gift, the possibilities are endless, as long as they represent the unique bond shared between the two. Handmade crafts are totally welcome, as long as they come from the heart.

mothers day 2024

No two moms are alike. So there is no one-size-fits all approach when it comes to Mother's Day gifts.

Photo credit: Canva

There’s also the different stages of motherhood to consider, be it mothers-in-law, grandmothers, and moms of 3+ kids as well as new moms. Here’s what Rocketto suggests:

Mother-in-law: What you give your mother-in-law will vary depending on your relationship with her. If you’re not super close but still want to celebrate her, a card and flowers are a safe bet and will do just fine. If you’re closer, you can gift her an experience, like dinner at her favorite restaurant or a spa day for the two of you.

Grandmother: You can’t go wrong with a sentimental angle. A craft from her grandchild never disappoints, like an artistic rendition of a family tree from her grandchildren which can be a fun way to get them to create something that also leaves a lasting reminder for grandma of her family's love and legacy. If you want to add something from you, consider a piece of art or jewelry that acknowledges her transition from mother to grandmother. A plaque featuring the names and birth flowers of her children and grandchildren, for example, or a piece of jewelry with her grandchildren’s initials, are great options. You can also tap into nostalgia with a family photo album or scrapbook with doodles and notes from her grandchild in the margins.

New mom: First and foremost, do not give a new mom (or any mom) something for her child. This is, after all, a day to celebrate and show appreciation for her. Again, sentimental and customizable gifts will always win. A necklace with her baby’s birthstone, a bouquet of her baby’s birth flowers, or even a keepsake frame with a photo alongside her baby’s handprint or footprint. And while a trip to the spa or a night out are also good ideas, be mindful of the fact that not all new moms can easily schedule time outside of the house.

Gift-giving, when done thoughtfully, is a wonderful way to make someone feel truly loved. Hopefully this little guide helps you make the mom in your life experience that.