Give Great Gifts to a Mom

frugal gifts, christmas gifts

When I was 8 years old, my dad and I went Christmas shopping to get gifts for my mom.  We walked around Williamsburg’s outlet mall and I headed into an antique shop to find the perfect present for her.  I made my selection and proudly showed it to my dad. I was so excited and knew she was going to love the gift I chose.  My dad (apparently) didn’t want to burst my bubble, so let me bring the gift home, wrap it, and give it to my mom.

Christmas morning, she opened her gift.  You’ll never guess what it was.  She wouldn’t have either.

It was a washboard.  As in, do all your laundry by hand, one piece of clothing at a time by rubbing it along a washboard and then hang it on the line to dry. No, she didn’t need a new way to wash her clothes.  It was 1994 and we had a washing machine of our own. But, for some reason, I thought this – of all the presents in the world – was the present my mom needed most.

We still laugh about that gift and, amazingly, my mom has made great use of it.  I think she still has it! She swears she loves it and it’s one of her favorite gifts ever.  She hung it in the laundry room with one of her own baby outfits draped over it.  She says it helps encourage her to be thankful for the way she gets to do laundry.  As she sees the washboard hanging on the wall, she says the chore of doing laundry doesn’t seem so bad.  It reminds her to be grateful for her washer and dryer.  And, it reminds her of her sweet 8-year-old daughter who innocently chose the most random gift ever, sure her mommy would love it.

All that to say, buying gifts for moms is hard.  Not everyone has the talent for buying gifts as amazing as a washboard that revolutionizes the way her mom does laundry…

Now that I’m a mom myself, I must confess – shopping for me isn’t any easier than it was shopping for my own mom was when I was growing up. I don’t especially want gifts that are tied to the fact that I’m a mom, but most of my days are spent being mom, so it’s hard for me to think of gifts I’d like that aren’t related to that job title.

Thankfully, I have some great gift givers in my life who have found fabulous gifts to give me year after year.  And, I’ve had some fun researching things that I might like to receive myself.  I hope it helps you as you make your own wish list or buy gifts for that special mom in your life:

christmas gifts, frugal gifts

Books – I think we can all agree books about discipline and potty training don’t make a great gift for moms, but a book she’ll find fun, interesting, or encouraging could be. I cannot recommend Loving the Little Years ($9.60) highly enough. If there’s a mom of little ones in your life who hasn’t read this book yet, it would make an awesome gift. I found it to be a great encouragement and full of practical tips…mostly concerning my heart as a parent. I also loved reading The Help ($12.99 for the Kindle).

Gift certificate for a pedicure – Time away in a quiet spa and pretty toes to boot!

At-home Spa Kit – Almost as good as a pedicure at the spa is a kit that includes all the stuff she’d need for a pedicure at home.  You could get her some bubble bath, a loofah, homemade sugar scrub, nail polish (I like OPI nail polish the best), and candles. Package it up in a cute basket and she’s all set for an evening of relaxing and pampering herself.

Gift certificate to a coffee shop – Whether it’s Starbucks or a local coffee shop, mom will love the chance for a quick midday pick-me-up, or the chance to read alone or chat with a friend in a coffee shop. Bonus points if you can help her get a couple hours there too.

Foodie/Chef gift – I posted my ideas of gifts for chefs/foodies a few weeks ago and a lot of these would make great gifts for a mom. I’m especially thinking of an apron, cake decorating kit, or cookie decorating kit.

Fancy Chocolate – Just for her. Neuhaus (which is Belgian) is my favorite… like this Neuhaus Le Carré Origin Dark Chocolate Squares for $24. Yum. It’s one of those things that’s expensive enough that I’d never buy it for myself, but inexpensive enough to make it a fairly frugal gift.

Crafty gift – Check out my list of gift ideas for a crafty lady for all sorts of gift ideas for a craft-loving mom.

Fun stationary – Stores like TJ Maxx always have cute stationary at a good price, or you could consider making your own.  You can check out my cards board on Pinterest for some simple homemade card ideas.

Headphones – Headphones make an awesome gift for a mom who might like to get some quiet time. As I type this, I’m listening to music through headphones while my amazing husband gets breakfast together for the girls and gives me some alone time… all while I sit in the same room as everyone else. (Yes, I’m very spoiled!)  My friend Hannah raves about these Sony In-Ear Headphones, saying they “changed her life… The key is in the silicone part – it’s comfy and cancels out noise.” Isn’t that pink fun?! And, they’re only $12.50 on Amazon, but she says they’re similar to the more expensive Brookstone ones.

Monogram mug – Hannah also recommended adorable monogram mugs from anthropologie. She works there and said they’re a very popular gift and almost never get returned. They have two types, both of which I think are adorable – this one for $6 and this one for $8.

Jewelry – My favorite place to buy cute but inexpensive jewelry is Forever 21. You can get a great necklace for less than $8!

Vera Bradley keychain – Really, anything Vera Bradley is fun, but most of her stuff is not suitable for the “… on a bare-bones budget” part of this series. Something like this Vera Bradley Clip Zip ID wallet or a more basic keychain would be a fun gift, but the shipping fees from buying online make this a better gift to buy at Hallmark or another brick-and-mortar store.

Gloves– I love my  Isotoner gloves. My dad got me these for Christmas over ten years ago (yikes!) and they are comfortable, warm, and still in perfect condition even though they’re the only ones I’ll wear. Amazon has them for $17 as part of their pre-winter sale.

Electronics Case – You could either find a fun case for an iPad, iPhone, or Kindle on etsy or make your own. I posted my tutorial here.

Magazine Subscriptions – I love reading magazines. They feel much easier for me to get through than a full book.  And, this is a gift that keeps on giving all year! My top magazine recommendations for moms are:

(Each of those prices is for an annual subscription.)

Circa Notebooks from Levenger – This notebook is fully customizable. The book functions like a spiral-bound notebook, but the pages can be removed or rearranged and Levenger sells all sorts of pages for the Circa – to do list pages, calendar pages, blank pages, grid-lined pages, and more. I’d recommend starting with the Circa Starter Kit that’s $16 for an 8 1/2″  x 11″ notebook kit.

frugal gifts, christmas gifts

Scout-brand Bag – My mother-in-law got me this Scout bag for Mother’s Day and I use it as a beach bag. It’s awesome – it’s durable, just the right size, and wipes clean easily. It’s $43.37, but Amazon has tons of cute, quality Scout bags including this El Deano Tote for $22.50 and this Scout Daytripper Everyday Tote for $14.99.

[Note: I included prices for some of these items, but they’re subject to change. If you purchase through my amazon affiliate links, you’ll be helping to support Thanks!]

I hope these gift ideas help you find the perfect gift for your own wish list or for the moms you love.  Check out the other lists I’ve made for “Give Great Gifts on a Bare-Bones Budget” and subscribe to stay up to date!

Do you have any other ideas for gifts that moms would love? Ever given a gift as random as a washboard? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Linked up to: five days five ways, At the Picket Fence, Life as Mom, I Heart Naptime, & Shabby Nest.

9 thoughts on “Give Great Gifts to a Mom

  1. Thaleia@something2offer November 16, 2012 / 4:13 pm

    Great ideas and suggestions. Love the variety of gift ideas you presented and the variety of prices. Makes it a little easier on those with no or almost no budget to think about gift giving!


    • sara November 18, 2012 / 6:56 pm

      I’m so glad you found it helpful! And, yes, I hear ya about the no or almost no budget! 🙂


  2. Jamie at Prepared to Eat November 16, 2012 / 10:56 pm

    Hey there, followed you over from The Shabby Nest linkie. 🙂 I think your story is hilarious, especially because I would totally love a washboard, but for using as a decoration like your Mom did. lol This is a great list! I have a couple of moms on my list of people to buy for this year, so I’m pinning this so I remember it when I’m ready to shop. (I’m a procrastinator!)


    • sara November 18, 2012 / 6:56 pm

      Haha! I’ve thought about getting one for my own laundry room too! Thanks for stopping by & for pinning it 🙂


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