Design

Gift Guide #4: Your Mom (or Mother Figure) Who Makes the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies and Just Learned How to Text Emojis.

Handblown Carafe

Handblown glass carafe, from $84; or this $15 cutie.

Best chocolate chip cookies by Tara O'Brady

A batch of homemade cookies, just like she taught you.

Cozy cardigan

A soft cardigan she can cuddle up in all winter, $74. (Plus, a pretty necklace.)

John Derian plate from Catbird

A lovely plate to cradle her jewelry and brighten up the bedroom, $50.

Pasta seasonal subscription

Seasonal 100% organic pasta subscription, starting at $65 for three months. They come in cool shapes, and some are flavored (like beet, porcini mushroom, even chili pepper!).

Smitten Kitchen Every Day cookbook

Two of the year’s best cookbooks: Smitten Kitchen Every Day, $21, or The Dinner Plan, $20.

Fingerprint bookmark band

Fingerprint bookmark band, $7, so she knows just where she stopped.

Mama necklace by Erica Weiner

Beautiful necklace, $85. (This is really sweet, too.)

Rifle Paper cards

Vintage blossoms card set, $16, so you can be pen pals.

Charlotte Tilbury face mask

The face mask all your friends are buzzing about, $22. It takes just 15 minutes and you’re glowing afterward. (Would be fun to do with a group!)

Emily McDowell Fight the Patriarchy Mug

A mug that she agrees with, $18.

Ilhan Omar

A donation in her name to She Should Run, a non-partisan organization helping women become political candidates. (Because we need more women like Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota legislator who last year became the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office.)

P.S. The 2015 gift guide for moms, the 2016 gift guide for moms, and the 2017 gift guide so far.

(Carafe and pasta photos by Julia Gartland, Rocky Luten and Bobbi Lin for Food52. Cookie batter photo by Tara O’Brady.)

  1. Maggie Jones says...

    Hey! Look who you posted about last year! Ilhan Omar!!

  2. Maria says...

    Any chance you’d be willing to toss together a gift guide for day care providers? I’m sure they can only handle so many Yankee Candles and Starbucks gift cards tied to a mug with a child’s face on it…

    • Anon says...

      My Mom does day care, and I can tell you she LOVES anything spa-like! Mani, pedi, massage, hair. Something rewarding :)

  3. Pssst: I just launched my shop of new and vintage homewares. I think it has some great pieces for all the women in our lives :)

    thepastiche.com/the-shop

  4. Anna says...

    I was so interested (and touched, moved, saddened) to read the comments on this post about mothers. I love that readers really do seem to have supportive and thoughtful conversations in the comments on this site.

    I also saw your response comment, Joanna, and noticed that you updated the title of this post to include “mother figures.” It makes me curious to know more about your editorial team’s philosophy and strategies regarding all things content and tone. It must be hard to run a blog–you have the readership and scrutiny of a big media company, but you’re a small team; you have a successful business, but an often quite intimate/personal tone and relationship with readers. How do you decide when to edit or remove posts, how much to feature your editors and contributors versus Joanna’s voice, what the right balance of light and serious is? It might be a long shot to think you’d pull away the curtain here, but I’d be totally interested, and I wonder if other readers would be too, to read more about how you handle media strategy as a blog. And please know that none of this is criticism, just curiosity–I read this blog daily because, almost always, I find what you write and the way you interact with the world to be refreshing, intelligent, kind, generous, gentle, and sharp. xoxo

  5. Last year in one of the gift guides (maybe for moms?) there was a calendar benefitting an organization called Room to Grow. I bought it for all the women in my family (including myself) and love it! Do you know if they plan to do another calendar this year? I’ve tried looking online but can’t find a thing.

  6. All of these gifts are absolutely perfect. Thank you for sharing!

    Christina

  7. That blue glass would be perfect for my mom! Thank you for the gift guide

  8. I came here to say that I love the Mama pendant and sent the link to my husband as a gift suggestion. My boys are both in elementary school, but they still call me Mama and I love it. I know that won’t last, and it would be nice to have a memento to remember this time.

    I was also very touched by so many of the comments regarding mothers. I am in a somewhat similar boat, and it can be a very lonely situation. It’s nice that this comment section is a safe place where readers can share their thoughts so honestly. Thank you for that.

  9. Emily says...

    I love your gift guides! Do you think you could do one for teens/high school aged kids? I have teenage cousins and even though I’m only in my 20s, I have a hard time thinking of good presents for them.

    Thank you!
    -Emily

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea, thank you!

  10. These are such great mum ideas. I’d love to receive them and my mum would just prefer I bring her over food and face cream lol.
    x. Total Awkward

  11. Joanna says...

    As I read through these comments, I am floored that most have tormented or no relationship with their moms. It makes me sad to read this. We should all, or at least most of us, have a wonderful, loving mom. Where have I been living?!
    I love my mom and even though she passed several years ago, I miss her almost every day. She was always there fo me with her soft, gently soul. She was tall and beautiful, smart and talented and above all, loving.
    I love your gift guide, Joanna. I think the book mark is fantastic and plan to buy some for my book club members. And, those face masks would be fun to do with my daughters.

  12. Caro says...

    Thank you for adding ‘mother figure’ to the gift guide. Firstly because families don’t always need to have mothers and (a personal) secondly because my own mother has been sick for the past few years and it’s made me painfully aware of her mortality. During her illness, holidays and excessive references to mothers in ads, posters, and campaigns tend to inspire more sadness than happiness. But I found this ‘mother figure’ a little comforting. And maybe the wording in the title wasn’t very deliberate but it’s appreciated anyway!

  13. Emmie says...

    Yes, our parents have everything they need, make a donation in their name! I do it frequently and my mom loves it. Equal Rights Advocates, Equal Justice Initiative, etc.

  14. m.cam says...

    The vintage blossom cards reminded me that Rifle Paper Company has a limited edition line with Chat Books: https://chatbooks.com/rifle-paper-co/ They would make great stocking stuffers…either with photos or to share your favorite recipes <3

  15. Gaby says...

    I’d never noticed until now that Charlotte Tillbury’s product design looks a lot like the front of the Marauder’s Map. Love this list!

  16. Sarah says...

    Love this list! Kind of want the cardigan for myself. Thanks for the ideas.

  17. Joanna says...

    If I’m a mother, can I buy those for myself? :) My son is 3 so I guess I’d have to choose on his behalf… ;) I absolutely love all the suggestions!

  18. Alice says...

    Getting a different mug from that range for my friend for her birthday. So perfect!

    A U.K. alternative to She Should Run is The Parliament Project. They run workshops country wide and have a fun & inspiring postcard (digital or physical) you can send to encourage women you know into politics.

    http://www.parliamentproject.co.uk.

    Disclaimer: i know one of the women who set it up but regardless, it’s an amazing endeavour, led by amazing women!

    • Kim says...

      I love that carafe- thanks for pointing it out!

  19. Emily says...

    Does anyone else have a mother that’s not very loving like mine? All these feel good “my mother is so amazing” posts make me so sad for what I don’t have. Kind of a downer.

    • Celeste says...

      My mom’s been gone for 20 years, Emily. It’s normal to feel that way. Hugs.

    • Briana says...

      I’m with you Emily, in a way. My mom passed away 3 months ago and this will be my first Christmas without her :( This post definitely gave me a twinge of sadness. But so does everything that reminds me of her, which is a lot of things! I’m sorry about your mom…my mother was always loving but also very self-absorbed and flawed. I found it helpful to focus on the things I did love about her and seek the maternal figure I was looking for elsewhere…in my grandmother, aunts, a neighbor, my mother-in-law….

    • Hannah says...

      I think I’m with you here. I deeply love my mother and she’s given me so much. However, adult me has finally realized that the two of us have a truly difficult relationship and it’s not healthy to pretend we do. I can’t spend time with her or speak to her on the phone. She can’t come into my home because she makes hurtful comments (“what a dump!” “you’re jealous of your sisters because they became doctors and have nicer things”) and immediately forgets but I reel from the sting of them endlessly. I appreciate her but she isn’t perfect. Not having a mother that I can connect makes me feel so lonely and unprepared for life things (I’m 32) and looking back, I was unprepared for a lot of things. I don’t know how to say what I’m saying! I’m lucky & privileged to have her but also, I don’t really ‘have’ her, too.

    • Abesha1 says...

      Yes. You are not alone…

      Sometimes on a post like this, you can think of someone who HAS mothered you in a loving way, and tell them in a specific way, how much you love them for it.

    • Laura C. says...

      Me too. My mom has had a hard life, but her expectations on me are that I was a different person. At least that’s what I feel. I feel sad too when I see these posts, Emily.
      Once for her birthday I gave her a spa circuit and it expired before she could go. She just didn’t know that it had a expire date, she wss waiting for a friend to go with her or just forgot about it. I felt very sad for that.

    • S. says...

      I feel the same way. Somehow none of these gifts represent my relationship with my mother. :( Christmas used to be a real downer until I had my own children.

    • Hilde says...

      Me too. Expecting goodness and normality from your mother seems strange to me. I’m about to become a mother myself and love the thought that my daughter one day might think it a great idea to buy her mother face masks to do together – haha. Even though my own mother is an unapproachable and self centered woman who does not partipate in society, I can be a caring and giving mom. If it wasn’t for these posts, I don’t think I would have known such mums even exist.

    • Alice says...

      A bit. Mine certainly never taught me to bake cookies or tells me she loves me. But there are other amazing women I love who are loving in return. So I try to focus on them!

    • Clarissa says...

      Emily, I’m feeling for you. My own mum is very cool but many of my close friends have complicated relationships with either their mother or father and I know this can be extra tough during holiday season. It’s too complex to give any advice, but just wanted to let you know that you are absolutely not alone.

    • raising hand. i recall many a homemade cards thrown out, and other randoms eventually being put in yard sales. <3

    • Amanda G says...

      Right there with you, Emily! Don’t worry, you are DEFINITELY not alone, but yeah it’s pretty hard :(

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so sorry, emily! i agree, it was kind of bad timing that i wrote about my mom’s parenting move on monday, and then the gift guide was slated for tuesday. i definitely didn’t mean to make anyone feel upset, and i’m sorry about that. we’re actually working on a post about difficult relationships with mothers; i have many friends who have tough/disappointing moms and some very interesting stories and things they’ve done to help get through that. thank you so much for your note.

    • Thank you so much for putting this here. I also have a “tense” relationship (mostly low contact) with my mum. It’s just the best way. I love reading these gift guides though the holidays do make it a little on-the-nose and force us to come face to face with our own family shortcomings. Joanna and crew, thank you for creating a community that can come together like this just in the comments section. I hope everyone finds a way to feel loved this holiday season and surround themselves with the happiness and security we all deserve,

    • Regina says...

      I’ll raise my hand for having a challenging relationship with my mother, too! Can I get a HELL YES?! I read each of these comments and have an identical example of my own. It’s always comforting to hear other women have similar issues with their mothers. Friends with awesome moms often seem uncomfortable or just sad when I mention how lucky they are. I pity the random people who are in the greeting card aisle with me picking out a mother’s day card (“why is this always so hard??!?!”). Huge props to the COJ team for being aware of our perspectives and working on a post to address the complexities of certain mother/daughter relationships. I found my difficulties with my mom deeply impacted my desire to have children and added to my disappointment when I didn’t have a daughter myself. Part of me wished for a daughter so I could mother her as I wish I had been mothered myself. Even as 35-year-old woman, I’m surprised at how often I find myself feeling sad about my own mom: watching Bad Moms 2, hearing a friend mention her weekend plans with her mom, etc. Thanks to COJ and all the commenters who help us feel like we’re all in this together.

    • Emma says...

      I have had to heal from childhood abuse and learn to “parent” myself with kindness and love. I wanted to share that reading your blog, Joanna, including stories about your mother, is one of the ways I have learned to understand what a good mother feels like, so thank you xo

    • Lisa says...

      I hear you Emily. Same thing here – I also have a complex relationship with my mother, which is unlikely to be “fixed” so these kind of posts always make me feel a bit sad. And that’s not even going into my (non) relationship with my father which is a whole lifetime of therapy’s worth of issues. I’m a mother now, and I read somewhere that as a parent you have the chance to repeat or repair the parent / child relationship with your own children. I’m going for repairing, and trying so hard to not make the same mistakes that my parents made. It’s still hard though, because I know that ultimately, regardless of the other amazing relationships in my life (my husband, my children, friends, my in laws), those relationships with my mother and father cannot be replaced and it’s just something I have to live with missing out on.

      But thanks CoJ team for also acknowledging that not everyone has a great relationship with their parents.

    • Carrie says...

      Sorry Emily, I feel the same about my dad. It’s really hard during the holidays because the expectations are so warm and fuzzy. And I truly do feel that way about my life….just.. not about my dad. I try to forget about him. I am counting my blessings and trying to focus on how grateful I am for everything I have!

  20. Kassie says...

    All of the Emily McDowell mugs are spot on. I want them for myself!

  21. Catie says...

    Love these ideas! A little devastated that mug is now sold out (!), but they have some other excellent options over at their web shop :)

  22. Sarah says...

    Oh no, the mug is already sold out! (I was going to send my husband an email with a link that said *CHRISTMAS–HINT HINT WINK WINK*)

    Also, love the plug for She Should Run! A great alternative to material gifts!

  23. Lily says...

    The mom gift is my fave ever year! I am a grandmother at heart ;-)