A kicky umbrella, anything Elena Ferrante, and other gifts your mom will love, courtesy of our editors.
Odette New York Studs from Steven Alan
Things my mom loves: stripes, bright colors, tying a cardigan around her shoulders, well-crafted nearly flat shoes. She’s preppy without being too Lilly Pulitzer about it, and she likes a good retail experience, so I felt like I was performing a good deed (okay, we’re talking about my mother — I was performing a mitzvah) when I introduced her to Steven Alan, Brooklyn’s own master of stripes and flats. The jewelry is particularly to her taste, since it’s all very simple and understated. I especially like these lapis studs by Odette New York – and I think she would too. And although they’re small, that Yves Klein blue packs a punch.
$160 at Steven Alan
Sense and Sensibility: The Screenplay and Diaries
A few years ago, in the grips of a perfectly normal obsession with Jane Austen movies, I stumbled on Emma Thompson’s set diaries from her time writing and starring in Sense and Sensibility. Dishy, witty, and with just enough British restraint, this is the perfect gift for a mom who loves costume dramas, or maybe just had fun watching The Great British Bake Off one time. I gave a copy to my mom, and she kept texting quotes from the book to me for months afterward. Then I realized I could give copies to other people’s moms, and to friends of mine, and to former professors. Every single person has loved the book. In fact, it is possible that Emma Thompson’s set diaries are too good of a gift. Use the power well.
$18 at Amazon
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker, Electric Titan
When I bought my parents their first Nespresso machine, I didn’t know it would become the all-time-greatest family gift, one that would inspire them to buy a steady stream of new machines, and something they’d also give as a gift. But I’d say it took all of a day for them to get completely hooked on the little multicolored capsules that, with a push of a button, whir and churn and deliver a fine — not great, but fine — shot of espresso in the “intensity” of your choosing. And the pods, when you need refills, can be delivered right to your house. Anyway, Mom loves it, especially with a little warm milk for a kind of makeshift latte. When she recently visited New York and stayed at my place, I woke up and offered her a cup of single-origin beans from somewhere-or-another, lovingly cold-brewed overnight and mixed with just enough milk. She took a sip and looked at my own Nespresso machine. I knew what coffee she really wanted — and it only took about 20 seconds to make it happen.
$184 at Macy’s
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (boxed set, Kindle Edition)
This may seem terribly basic, but a year ago I bought my mom the first two novels in the Neapolitan series by Elena Ferrante and I couldn’t be more surprised to learn that Ferrante is Mom-approved. She would text me details from the lives of Lila and Elena as if they were people we knew, and I would occasionally have to stop to make sure they weren’t. Maybe it’s a mother-daughter thing, or maybe it’s because my great-grandparents are from Naples, but the Neapolitan novels ended up being a verified hit with my mom. She didn’t wait for me to get her the final two books in the series, but thanks to a box set that came out last October, you can deliver them to your mama all in one go.
$40 at Amazon
The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante (on Kindle)
My mom has a master’s in English and reads more than any person I’ve ever met. We are in a book club for two that doesn’t meet formally. I love a book, I tell her to read it. She loves a book, she tells me to read it. We discuss. For months I haven’t been able to shut up about these epic novels about life in postwar Naples and the friendship between two women. I would have given her my hard copies but she’s been practicing the KonMari method since before I was born and would never want a stack of books, so she reads the Kindle editions.
$10 each at Amazon
Wild Medicine Crystal Soap
I’ll just say it: I don’t know your mom. But I do know that almost no one doesn’t like soap, and even fewer people don’t like crystals. Remember those candles you’d burn down that had little gifts inside when the wax melted? This is like that, but the soapier, more beautiful version that has beneficial essential oils and healing crystals, and exfoliates. You can pick a soap based on your mom’s personality, or if your mom is kind of all over the place, like mine, you can get her a few!
$22 at Urban Outfitters
Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook
My mother is converting to Judaism sometime later this year. Despite technically being an Episcopalian of Scot-Irish descent, she’s long been obsessed with Jewry, and for some reason, she’s decided to make it official. That’s why I’m thinking about getting her a copy of Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook. My sister and I were raised in the Jewish tradition (our dad is 100 percent Jewish, but still struggled to compete with our mom’s unofficial Jewishness), so we know as well as anyone that food is the cornerstone of any Israelite celebration. This guide is chockfull of holiday recipes from various branches of Judaism — North African, Eastern European, contemporary American — and written in lighthearted, cozy prose. If your mom is Jewish or just Jew-ish, this’ll make a great addition to her culinary library.
$24 at Amazon
I plan to buy my mom a mixer because every single time I’m home, we are baking. Whether it’s a holiday and we’re making cakes for dessert, or just making cookies for fun, it’s something we’ve always done together and bonded over. This KitchenAid mixer (it’s the version my mom has commented on when we’ve been out shopping together) will make it a lot easier to get the batter going so I can spend more time licking the bowl.
$450 at Macy’s
Frank Lloyd Wright “Tree of Life” Umbrella
My mom loves Frank Lloyd Wright. She has lamps, books, and bookmarks all bearing the architect’s designs. She’s been to Fallingwater and other houses he designed whose names I don’t even know. So last year I got her this umbrella because, duh, and also because printed umbrellas are a small joy on dreary days. Umbrellas with paintings on them are cool, too, I guess, but the neutral colors here will match almost anything.
$36 at Amazon
The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook, by Salma Hage
One of my favorite things to do whenever I head back home to Detroit is eat Middle Eastern food with my mom. We catch up on work, family, and really everything while sharing plates of mjuderah, eggplant salad, fresh juices, and the most delicious garlic spreads at places we’ve been going to since I was a child. Salma Hage’s new book, a follow-up to her best seller, The Lebanese Kitchen, presents my mom (a lifelong healthy eater and brand-new vegetarian) the opportunity and challenge of re-creating some of our favorite dishes, entirely meatless now, or any of the 150 recipes in the book, with the enjoyment of eating at home. And, since I don’t make it home as much as I would like, I plan to get a copy, too, so we can compare notes and still share a Middle Eastern meal, now over the phone.
$34 at Amazon
Tata Harper Aromatic Stress Treatment
My mother loves a tiny little scent to carry around in her purse, and this year, I am going to get her a small bottle of Tata Harper’s Aromatic Stress Treatment. It’s about the size of a tube of Chapstick, and sits next to my computer screen. Approximately three times a day, when I’m feeling fidgety and anxious, I rub a little bit of this on my wrists, inhale it, smile, and then keep on working. I inherited my fidgety anxiousness from her, and I think she will love it.
$80 at Bergdorf Goodman