Gift Guide

peonies make a beautiful Mother's Day gift
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14 Extra Special Mother's Day Gifts For The (Newly) Empty Nest Mom

This will be my first Mother’s Day since my daughter went to college and it better be good!

This year, Mother’s Day feels rather momentous for me — almost as momentous as that very first year I celebrated as a mom, with my brand new 2-month-old baby girl in my arms. It’s been 18 years since that lovely and bewildering May, somehow!, and now this Mother’s Day will arrive just as that same baby’s first year of college is wrapping up. I’ve survived my first school year with an empty nest, and darn if I don’t think this Mother’s Day should be a bit of a blowout!

Of course, the absolute best present will be my daughter home for the summer. It just so happens that we’re moving her back out of the dorm the Saturday before Mother’s Day! But if anyone’s wondering what else to get me —or any mom who spent most of the autumn crying and sadly pouring over baby photos (where does the time goooooo?) —well, may I suggest something from the below list? Newly empty nest moms have been through a lot, and we deserve some treats.

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One-of-a-kind glam

My college girl and I went to the Bite Beauty Lip Lab in Soho over spring break and had the best time creating our own custom lipstick shades. In addition to working with a Lip Lab technician to blend up our own colors (so fun from start to finish — including seeing how they mix it up and pour the final color into the tube, then freeze it!), we each chose a custom scent, and even had the packaging engraved with our new shade names. I choose “THREE NINETEEN” for my daughter’s birthday; she went with “Spicy Pisces.”

If you don’t live near a Lip Lab location, the same service is available virtually.

A bouquet of ice cream!

It amazes me that we live in a world where it is possible to ship ice cream. And if you have not tried Salt & Straw, now is the time, friends. Order their pints of month for May, “Flower Power,” and get six scrumptious flavors, including two new ones: Pistachio Rose Water w/ Strawberry Mochi and Saffron & Honey w/Crystalized Flower Petals. You can find one of Salt & Straw’s 27 locations or ship the entire Flower Power collection right to Mom’s home, where I hear they pair nicely with the latest season of Bridgerton.

A beautiful custom bangle

Just because her babies aren’t little doesn’t mean she’s outgrown mommy jewelry. This beautiful bangle from Sarah Chloe is an understated but meaningful and beautiful way to keep her babies’ names close, and the diamonds add just the right amount of bling.

Fancy pj’s from a beloved brand

For fans of all things Rifle Paper (like me), Summersalt’s collab with the brand makes bedtime a luxe and pretty affair. Made of silky soft, 100% recycled charmeuse, these jammies have contrast piping, a hidden tie inside, and... wait for it... pockets! Take $20 off with code DREAM20.

Another great choice from Rifle Paper: their pretty enamel cuff bracelets, which run from $36 to $48.I’m partial to the “menagerie” design.

The most amazing cookie on Earth

Funny Face bakery is actually a brilliant go-to for literally any holiday / gifting need. If you’re in the mood to go whole hog, check out this Got It From My Mama starter pack. Or maybe the mom on your list is more of an Uncuh Jams fan? The possibilities are endless.

A very cool bag

One advantage to being footloose and fancy free is not having to schlep anyone else’s stuff around! You can wear this 100% leather bag from sustainable brand Baobab Roots as a clutch, crossbody, or wristlet. It’s actually quite practical, but the metal spike studs take it into a cooler level, whether you’re heading out for a night on the town or your Target run.

I also like the smaller, spike-less version for the minimalist at heart.

A beautiful (and doable) DIY project

I absolutely love receiving flowers, and in fact often buy them for myself. Bouquet Box is a fun twist on a floral gift because the receiver does the actual flower arranging, too — it’s obviously more time consuming, but extremely pleasant and satisfying way to spend an hour or two. Each delivery comes complete with all of the flowers, greenery, and tools needed to create a glorious arrangement, including a reusable vase, lid, and a quite nice pair of shears for snipping. You can work from the how-to card that comes in the box, and/or watch a customized video for instructions.

A chic & versatile dress

She may be used to perusing Aritzia because of her college girl’s wish list, but now a cute and wearable pick from the ultra-chic brand will definitely brighten her day. This linen wrap dress comes in white or blue, and is just the ticket for getting reacquainted with the bottomless brunches of yesteryear.

A truly deluxe book subscription

Starting at $82/month, Sweet Reads will send your recipient a box a month filled with treats in the theme of the month’s book. Each box comes complete with items connected to your novel’s storyline/setting/characters, including “ a delicious drink to set the mood, a sweet treat to enjoy while reading, and a card explaining the choice of novel and how the items connect.”

You can do three, six, or 12 month-long subscriptions, or you can buy one box to try it out.

Stylish kicks that go with everything

Will Keds ever go out of style? No, no they will not. These leather slip-ons are a very nice upgrade to the Keds we wore running around on the playground, both when our kids were little and when we were little kids! Luxe leather and nice details like the embroidered eyelets — plus handy pull-tabs for slipping off and on — make these shoes a sure fire go-to.

Earrings one can wear whilst napping

I can’t sleep with regular earrings poking me, but a nap earring... with a flat back... now you’re talkin’! These push pin style earrings are made from in implant grade titanium, so they should be safe for sensitive skin. And, though they have the same flat backs as earrings designed for cartilage piercings, they’re made in a 20g thickness (i.e., the same as traditional earrings), so they're specifically designed for lobe piercings.

A decadent bottle of wine

When’s the last time you had a truly extraordinary glass of wine? This is a splurge for sure, and equally delicious in the bath with some night cheese and Netflix, or accompanying a scrumptious meal (that someone else cooks).

Extremely luxurious and excellent night cream

Boy, do I love this stuff! As an editor, I get to try a loooooooot of beauty and skin care products, and Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Cream is one of my all-time favorites. It’s not cheap: the travel size is $45 and a 50ml jar is $145, but it’s worth the splurge. A little goes a long way.

A cozy throw

One advantage to having the house to oneself is no one stealing the good blankets when it’s time to cozy up and spend some quality time with Netflix. This luxurious blanket made from pre-shrunk cotton is a great option for the mom who needs an upgrade. It’s also great for the beach!

Finally, one last idea is a whole bunch of flowers. I don’t mean one bouquet, I mean go to Trader Joe’s or Costco and buy a cart-full of inexpensive beauties. The more the merrier, so it feels like a truly lavish gesture. You cannot go wrong.