Design

Gift Guide #3: Your Mom (or Mother Figure) Who Makes the Best Cheesy Pasta and Has a Million Inside Jokes With Your Kids.

Everlane pink sweater

Sweater, $95, made of super soft alpaca that doesn’t pill. (Also, buttery socks, $10.)

Food52 cake stand

Beautiful cake stand, from $34, because, as Julia Child said, “a party without cake is just a meeting.”

Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming

Becoming, $15, Michelle Obama’s funny, brilliant new memoir that lives up to the hype.

Leesa pillow

The world’s most comfortable pillow, from $125, which I want to give to everyone I know. It has a removable layer so it can be thick or thin; and one side is always COOL TO THE TOUCH.

Neck hammock

Neck hammock, $50, which attaches to a doorknob, releases tension and feels like the best part of a massage.

Grandparent and grandchild penpal kit

Grandparent + grandchild penpal kit, $24, with eight adorable fill-in notes to make her heart sing.

honeycomb ice cream

Six pints of Van Leeuwen ice cream, $89, including their famous honeycomb (with crunchy bits!).

A lavender plant, $45, to make her home smell like a French meadow.

Keap candle

When Alex and I went to dinner a couple weeks ago, the restaurant was burning this candle in the restroom, and we couldn’t get over it. It was incredibly refreshing, like mint, cucumber and freshly cut green stems. $39.

Donation to Girls on the Run, which empowers girls to forge their own paths, through community, conversations and running.

Jean Goddard

A framed photo of the two of you, from $65. xoxo

P.S. The 2016 gift guide for moms, the 2017 gift guide for moms, and the 2018 gift guide so far.

  1. Isabelle says...

    This is just a suggestion (and nothing to do with this great gift guide!) but I really wish you’d do a series for women who are not close to their mothers. I feel like it’s much more common than many of us think. My mother is a classic narcissist and it’s the biggest hole/sorrow in my life.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      isabelle, thank you so much for your lovely note, and for sharing. that sounds really hard. i have a lot of friends who are in similar situations and would love to do a post on this. we’ll get working on it. thank you so much. xo

    • Savannah says...

      In your same boat, Isabelle. Holidays make it especially hard.

  2. t says...

    Great, great gift ideas, thank you! That photo of you and your mom made me tear up remembering how insanely difficult is was for me the first year of parenting twins. She looks so at peace.

  3. Elisabeth says...

    Can we talk about your mom’s wallpaper?? (All the heart eyes)

  4. Elizabeth says...

    This is for Kathy about the mini Keap candle sets – If you click on the link and scroll all the way down you’ll see on the left “Certified B Corporation” and to the right of that you’ll see two lists – you want to click on the “Try” entry – they have two different 4 candle options for $12 – or you can get both sets for $24.

    • Maggie says...

      Elizabeth – Thank you so much for sharing this information! I wasn’t ready to commit to just one and now I’ll get to smell all of them, then probably order more for presents. It looks like you get a credit towards a future purchase when you order the “Try” sets. Thank you!

    • Kathy says...

      Thank you, Elizabeth!!!

  5. Karissa says...

    Jo: do you know what books are on the nightstand in the photo of your mom holding you? So curious!!! Love this photo!!

    • T says...

      I think it says “Baby and Child Care” and I would guess it is Benjamin Spock from a quick google.

  6. Colleen says...

    Yes yes yes to Girls on the Run! I just wrapped up my fourth season coaching at an elementary school in Atlanta and couldn’t recommend it more as an organization worthy of your time or money.

    • Jessie-Rae says...

      I want to second this! I’ve been a coach for 8 years in Wisconsin and it’s such a worthy organization and makes such an impact on the lives of its participants.

  7. Libbynan says...

    I gave my mom a lavender plant last Christmas. She says it’s her best present ever, but be aware that if given proper care they will GROW! Mom has had to repot hers twice already. Having said that, they do smell lovely.

    • Jeanna says...

      I need help with this! I would love to grow lavender (and give it confidently as a gift, haha) but my attempts have been in vain. Does your mom have any secrets to share? Window placement? Watering? Help!

  8. Marie says...

    Thank you for adding “or Mother Figure.”

    :)

  9. Hanna says...

    Yay! Girls on the Run is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve both coached (volunteered) with them and worked for a council for 2 years. It’s very evidence-based, and a wonderful program.

    Tip: each geographical region has their own chapter. If you want your dollars to go directly into your community, you can find your local council here:
    https://www.girlsontherun.org/Find-a-Council

  10. Elizabeth says...

    Such a great gift guide! When looking over Keap I saw that you can get mini-sets of their candles so that you can try the scents before investing in a large candle and they are so reasonably priced I’m going to use them to make advent calendars for my daughter and a few close friends. And one of the days is going to include a temp tattoo for Girls on the Run and I’m going to donate to their closest council in their name on that day. I’m so excited about these calendars – they are really putting me into the Christmas spirit – and this gift guide totally inspired them. Thanks, COJ!

    • Kathy says...

      I didn’t see that they offer mini-sets! I even looked to see if that was an option! Where did you see that on the site?

    • Meg says...

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth! I’m so intrigued by the candle scents. I just ordered mini-sets to try out, too. I found them under the “try” link at the bottom of the page (second column under login).

  11. Hannah says...

    I’m wearing the Everlane Alpaca crew as I read this and it really is the most cozy sweater I own. Well worth the price.

  12. Sasha L says...

    My husband and I both suffer from back pain and have been contemplating buying an inversion board, where you have upside down and your spine decompresses. This neck hammock intrigues me too! Can any pain sufferers share their experiences with it? Thanks you!

    • Lydia says...

      Hi Sasha, I don’t usually post but saw your comment and wanted to share my experience and opinion. I think inversion boards are in almost all cases a bad idea. Since you are upside down and there is no contact with the floor you are not just decompressing your spine but also stretching out your ligaments and fascia. It is a huge amount of pressure on your joints and ligaments to keep you together hanging upside down without any pressure coming from the floor (like if you are in a handstand). There are other ways to decompress your spine without causing so much possible other harm. A thing I do is lie on the floor with my head on a 2-3 inch book (to keep my cervical curve intact) and then have my feet on the floor, so back and pelvis can release. I am an Alexander Technique teacher and this is my opinion from studying how the body functions and slowly recovering from chronic back pain. Hope this helps!

  13. Maggie says...

    Love these ideas! On a separate note, I’m a student at UVa and saw Lucy was here recently! I just missed the event, and so wish I had had the chance to meet her and send a hug your way.

  14. Alice says...

    Oh my gosh I LOVE that you’ve included Keap here- Stephen, who commented above, is my friend from university’s brother!!!

    And that neck pillow looks AMAZING, but am I the only one who would live in fear of it slipping and their head just smashing into the floor?!

    • Georgina says...

      Ha, this is exactly what I thought! I feel I could never truly relax into it…

    • Owl says...

      I thought: make sure that door is locked tight! What if someone opened the door! Could be a terrible injury!

  15. Andrea says...

    that penpal kit! all my mom wants is more time with her grandchildren (and children, but let’s be honest) and this seems like the perfect thing for when they are apart.

    thank you for putting together these thoughtful lists!

  16. Jess. says...

    Also, does your mom want to share her recipe for cheesy pasta?

  17. Amanda says...

    So you don’t assume everyone has a mother, but you do assume everyone is a mother? I guess you’re trying to tell me that as a 41 year woman, that happens to not have children, this blog isn’t for me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, not at all! i hope it doesn’t come across that way. i just base these gift guides around my own relationships (hence the specific titles), so they end up reflecting my life situation, but people can take or leave what fits into their own life, for sure. we actually have a big post coming up very soon about women who are childless by choice, and i hope you enjoy it. we spoke to many, many amazing women, and i can’t wait to read the comments, too. thank you so much. xoxo

    • A says...

      Oh my goodness. Where to start? The gift guide titles are ALWAYS written in this way – they relate to specific members of Joanna’s family, with quirky jokes about their characters (her dad being like James Bond, etc). But the gifts themselves don’t have to be for a mother, sister, brother – you can apply them to whomever you might wish to buy for in your own life.

      The bigger question: why am I bothering to respond to someone who flares up with such anger and victimhood about something so innocuous? I write this as a woman who struggled with infertility for years but would never begrudge Joanna, on her own blog, DARING TO MENTION HER OWN CHILDREN. Are you seriously in a rage because not every word in a personal blog is tailored specifically to your own life experiences?

      No, wait, that’s not the bigger question. The bigger question is, Joanna, how the heck do you remain so gracious in the face of such petulant comments? Hats off to you. I could not do it. Oh and I am totally going for the candle.

    • Sasha L says...

      Amanda, I’m confused. Can you tell more about how the post assumes everyone is a mother? I went back and re-read, I just don’t understand where you see the assumption?

      Did you mean it’s assuming we all HAVE a mother? I get that. Because technically speaking, we do. But the title even says “or mother figure”, and it’s simply meant to be a guide for a mom, or other lady like a mom, Grandma, Aunt, sister, or even a male gift receiver would enjoy many of the items. Perhaps motherhood itself is painful? Hugs to all those who experience that. And big hugs especially to Joanna and team for teetering on the brink of sainthood with their unending patience for commenters. I aspire to 10% of your unfailing graciousness.

    • Julie says...

      Ok. A shortlist of every type of person in your life that you could consider a motherly figure who might like a motherly gift: literally AN-Y-ONE.

    • Tracey says...

      Amanda, I get your hurt. It feels so alien to be without children (by choice or otherwise) and especially at this time of year when everyone is all “Christmas is for the kids”, well no, Christmas is for me too. Joanna and team have been interviewing over the last few weeks for a post on women who chose to live without having children so maybe don’t give up hope just yet.

    • t says...

      Hi Amanda, big, big hugs to you. I can see why it is confusing since Joanna included “or Mother Figure” in her title when we a) specifically know she makes these titles personal to herself and yet b) she has a mother. I am thinking she put this list together with both her mother and another mother figure in mind? Or maybe she was trying to be inclusive on this title for those sensitive to not having a mother and it just didn’t cross her mind to do the same with her kid gift guide. Regardless I hear your pain and send you hugs and see where you were coming from.

      Joanna, your response (as always) was so full of warmth and grace and I think we all know that you fully support women who struggle with infertility, those who struggle with wanting children but feel their circumstances don’t support it, and those who aren’t sure what they want. And of course we know that you understand and respect women who choose not to have children. Basically you welcome all women (and men) readers.

      The holiday season can be such a roller coaster.

  18. What wonderful ideas! Joanna – what are those big books on your mama’s nightstand? Very curious. Such a gorgeous snapshot.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m not sure! i’ll ask her if she remembers!

  19. Miranda says...

    Please – more recommendations for sweaters that don’t pill!!

    • molly says...

      Yes, please! I have a few that I love that don’t, but many more that do. And, if they are in the $50 range, even more lovable.

  20. Colleen S. says...

    I could have used that neck hammock a few months back, when I injured my neck in my sleep. Coming into my mid-thirties has been a trip of ways I can injure myself without trying.

  21. Nikki B says...

    YES TO GIRLS ON THE RUN! I’m a teacher in an urban school district, this program is life changing for some of our girls. I LOVE it. Please please please support them :)

  22. i don’t know when i started but I give my mom a planner for christmas every year. she loves it and i love giving her something i know she uses all year. and picking one out is always fun!

  23. shannon says...

    Basically…just do the last one for your mama! What a gorgeous photo! ♥️

  24. Amy says...

    Damn I love your gift guides.

  25. Becky says...

    Julia Child was a genius.
    Donations are a great idea.
    We make a donation in my grandmothers name for Christmas and birthdays. Always to an animal shelter. She grew up on a farm before moving to the city. At 94, soon to be 95, she wants very little and is too generous with what she has.

    • Mrs Z says...

      YES! Giving to help homeless animals!

  26. Elizabeth says...

    Yay for Girls on the Run! One of my favorite organizations!!

  27. Wow, Jo and team we are blown away and tickled pink to be chosen as one of your featured gifts. This means the world to a small business like ours. We’re excited to introduce ourselves, our scents and our ethos to those of your wonderful readers who enjoy scented candles!

    From our small team in Brooklyn to yours, a warm and heartfelt thank you. Wishing you all a bright and wonderful winter ahead.

    Stephen / Keap Candles owner

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I have smelled 8 gazillion candles over the past thirty-something years and this one REALLY stood out. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Danielle says...

      I also found out about Keap in a restaurant bathroom. The pine tree one made the bathroom in Simon and the Whale smell amazing. I went to the hotel’s gift shop but they didn’t carry your candel! So I told my MIL that’s what I want for Xmas!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Hahaha small restaurant bathroom world!

    • Elizabeth R says...

      What scent is in the Simon and Whale bathroom?

    • Cait says...

      Just signed up for the subscription! Scent has become a huge part of relaxing after workdays for me, so it was a no-brainer to get yummy smelling, natural candles and support a small business! Thanks for the great recommendations, as always, COJ team!

    • Samantha says...

      I also bought the Keap candle after smelling it in the Simon and the Whale bathroom! Like, actually, on the subway platform on the way home after dinner. It’s the Wood Cabin scent and it’s amazing!

    • t says...

      Oh my gosh I love everything about this community.

  28. Lori says...

    That book on the nightstand in the photo with your mom made my heart swell a million sizes.

    • Elizabeth R says...

      What book is it? I can not quite make out the title.

  29. Emily says...

    Love this list. FYI the neck hammock seems to be $48 instead of $18?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, just changed the price — it keeps switching around, maybe because of third-party sellers? will keep watching, thank you so much!

    • Greta says...

      I just ordered the neck hammock! I hope it works, I need a neck relief badly!

  30. Roxanne says...

    That neck hammock looks *incredible,* but the link you shared lists it as $50, just FYI! :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      the price keeps going up and down, it’s so strange! will switch it back. thank you! xoox

  31. Meg says...

    Ok I am really intrigued by the Leesa pillow. Someone who owns it – what does the quilted side feel like? Is is weird and lumpy since the quilting is sewn into squares??

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i actually sleep only on the other side (because the other side is the cold one). but i’ll try it out tonight and let you know!

    • Carly says...

      Meg – if you’re curious, I own the other Leesa pillow (memory foam option) and it’s AMAZING. I haven’t been the biggest fan of memory foam in the past, but this pillow is perfect and I’ve been sleeping soundly ever since I started using it.

    • It is not lumpy! It nestles you so nicely. I own it and love it. (I’m also a side sleeper)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, melanie! i agree now :) i tried it out last night and it was SO soft and comfortable. and the other side is still cold, so it feels good when your arms are wrapped around it. if you can’t tell, i really really love this pillow, lol.

    • Meg says...

      Thanks for the replies you guys! I think I need to treat myself to this pillow :)

  32. Laura C. says...

    I want all of these. Great job CoJ team, very thoughtful gifts. Thank you.

  33. E says...

    Love these gift guides, as always. But as a new mom I am VERY ready for the post about your relationship with your mom — growing up, as a teen, now. It’s so sweet and you obviously have such mutual love and friendship, which is not something I can say about my mom.

    Would love to hear from her, from you, from Lucy. How did that happen? Did she make mistakes?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a great question, E! i’d love to do a post on that. we definitely had some teenage angst, as kids do, but i’m sure she’d have some advice to share after having raised three kids. and congratulations on your little one!