Meaningful Mother’s Day Gifts

mother baby image

We all tried not to cry during P&G’s “Thank You Mom” commercial during the Olympics last year, which won an Emmy for shifting the focus off the sponsored athletes and onto the women behind them. We heard a moving perspective about motherhood and mental illness after the Sandy Hook shooting in December, and related with a mother’s stream of consciousness after the Boston Marathon bombing.  Visual art has been paying tribute to motherhood for hundreds of years, and tweets are capturing the challenges of parenthood in the 21st century in 140 characters or less.

Mother’s Day is around the corner, and we have Julia Howard Rowe and Ms. Anna Jarvis to thank for it. Rowe advocated for an official celebration of Mother’s Day in Boston with the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, and then Jarvis’ passion led President Woodrow Wilson to declare Mother’s Day a national holiday 44 years later.

Although flowers are the most common gift given to mothers on this day, a recent survey of about 1,000 American mothers revealed that flowers are actually fifth on their wish lists, with the top request at “something handmade.” But you don’t have to be the DIY kind to give something heartfelt and unique on May 12.  Here are ten modern and meaningful ideas that don’t require craft supplies or carnations:

1. The Homestead Basket

homestead basketFor $73, Tamworth Lyceum in New Hampshire offers this tribute to homemakers, including a 3 pack of field notes and a pencil, scout pocket book novels, Tales of the White Mountains, a hardcover journal, and a mason jar and cuppow wide mouth mason lid.


2. Maptotes

brooklyn-wine-toteThis is a great gift if you and your siblings live in different cities. You can each get your mom a grocery or wine tote from your respective places of residence, and fill them up with local wine or delicacies – whichever she likes better.


3. IRC Gifts for Women and Girls around the world

irc gifts for women and girls

For anywhere between $24 and $192, you can partner with IRC on behalf of your mom to provide school clothing in Kenya’s Dadaab’s refugee camp, safe deliveries for women in war torn regions, and small business training for female entrepreneurs in Libera.

4. Hand-carved Grey Shimmer Wood Printed Journal from India

grey shimmer wood journalMost mothers would welcome another journal, and Raven and Lily ensures that the proceeds from this 100% eco-friendly option goes to fund literacy programs for the marginalized women and children in Northern India where  they’re made.


5. Gather Journal & Cook Set

gather journal and cook setIf your mom loves to cook, this modern set pairs one of Studio Patro’s most popular tea towels with the “Traces” issue of Gather Journal, a new food and recipe magazine created by Michele Outland and Fiorella Valdesolo to inspire cooks everywhere.


6. Hand Woven Stripe Scarf from Ethiopia

salem_s_5_window_coral366x366aFor just $24, you can give your mom a hand-woven and hand-signed scarf made by a fellow mother in Addis Adeba, Ethiopia, through Full Circle Exchange, a social enterprise brand dedicated to bridging the gap between consumers and artisans so that women and their families  in the world’s poorest countries can rise above poverty through sustainable economic relationships.

7. Collectible hardcover books

Literary_Mom Mama I love you by William Saroyan, My Mother’s House and Sido by Colette, and Gifts of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh are three collectible classics with great covers, and about motherhood to boot.

8. A Sewing Machine for women in Afghanistan, Kosovo and DR Congo

sewing-machine If your mother was a whiz on the sewing machine, you can pay it forward by purchasing a $75 machine on her behalf through Women for Women International and help women in war torn countries start small home tailoring businesses.


9. Personalized Natural Wood Bath Caddy

wood caddyWhether your mom is already good at relaxing in the tub, or you think she could get better at it, this bath caddy from Red Envelope makes the effort worth the (hot water) wait.


10. Customized Gold Rectangle Necklace

gold_rectangle_necklace_01If you have one or two siblings, this personalized necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs could be a meaningful way for you to get close to your mom’s heart.