Mother's Day Gifts, Simplified

upgrade | book | consumable | frequently used | accessory | want | reusable | home good

One of the few Mother's Days I clearly remember getting something for my mom was when I was 12. (I know, I feel horrible about it. I blame that we didn't do much for holidays.)

My sister and I had spent a couple weeks traveling along the East coast (Kansas to Virginia and down to Florida) with my grandparents in their motor home. We would be meeting back up with our family in Georgia for my brother's high school graduation. We had a blast with Grandma and Grandpa, and saw and learned so much. But I looked forward to being with my parents again.

We would see them on Mother's Day weekend. My sister and I wanted to do something really special for mom, so we searched for something we knew she loved: Liz Claiborne perfume. (The stuff that originated the year I was born.) She probably already had a bottle not yet used (and maybe even had moved on from it), but we wanted to get her something special. And that was special.

She seemed surprised and thankful. But after-the-fact, I realize we could have been a little more original or at least intuitive. And maybe as mothers (or whoever it is receiving the gift), we could all be a little more open about what we want and need and make this gift-giving thing easier on others.

We know it's the thought that counts. But aspiring-minimalists also know that those thoughts often translate to guilt in keeping things we don't want or need. Likely not the giver's intention, but a common by-product of gift-giving nonetheless.

As Mother's Day approaches, here are some simple ideas and categories that might lead you to that perfect gift (playing loose with the descriptor perfect) that mom (or sister or daughter or good friend or mentor or neighbor) just might use and love.

Finding the Perfect Minimalist Gift

What you may not realize is that minimalists (and attempting minimalists) are actually pretty easy to buy for. Mainly because, they often quit (or at least slow down) buying for themselves, while still having plenty they want, need and use.

Here's how to get started finding that perfect gift...

1 | Listen. Or look at her Pinterest boards. And look for ideas in one of the following categories: reusable, consumable, frequently used, luxury (wouldn't buy herself), want, need, reading material, experience, charitable. See examples below.

2 | Whatever can be homemade, secondhand, fair trade, or raise funds for a good cause in these categories--even better. At least for this momma ;)

3 | Give and detach. There is always a possibility that a gift will lose it's appeal, become outdated, or no longer fit with the receiver's wants/needs. Don't put guilt on the receiver to forever keep a gift.

Minimalist Mother's Day Gift Ideas


Unless you're Bea Johnson and already have all the reusable products you need, we all could use reusable alternatives for our disposable products. Does she have unpaper towels/cloth napkins, zippered snack bags, a water cup, mesh produce bags, or fold-up shopping bags? Reusable products are great packaged up into a gift and likely would be used again and again. (I love the large Starbucks cup my husband got for my birthday.)


This category is great for minimalists, those you don't know well, and anyone you're not sure what to get. It's also a perfect area to give handmade, if you're opting for that route. Candles, bath salts, chocolate or baked treats (all with or without recipe tags) are just a few ideas. If the receiver especially enjoys green goods, then even homemade cleaning products packaged up nicely might be a special gift.

Hobby or Frequently Used

We all have frequently used items for hobbies or otherwise, that either ware out or get used up quickly. For me, this is journals. I write everyday and have a specific type (spiral-bound without lines) that I use and wouldn't mind a couple back-ups at the ready.


Everybody has something they would love to have (whether need or want), but is a little more extravagant than they feel comfortable buying for themselves. For me, this is woodwick candles. They're a special treat that I don't normally buy for myself. A massage or spa day, gift card to a fancy restaurant, or leather bag (instead of canvas) might also fit in this category. It's a good idea to be sure of their feelings on the gift, or even get their input before purchasing. (Unless you have a gift receipt and make it clear they're free to exchange it as they wish.)


This is probably the largest category, but one of the hardest to nail down. Pinterest and past conversations are helpful here. The subcategories here are endless. Women everywhere (even extremely minimalist ones) have a clothing item, home good, accessory or other item they really want. If you're not sure, then avoid this category because if it's not top of their wish list, these are the items that would likely end up in the outbox. Something in my wishlist that most wouldn't guess: air filtering plants.


Does she need an upgrade on a phone, camera or computer? Maybe she needs a good case for an electronic she already owns? An aspiring minimalist or strict budget-keeper might appreciate a replacement for a worn-out item, or needed kitchen utensils, reusables, or homegoods that would benefit the whole family.

Reading Material

I made this a category all its own because even "non-readers" have something they'd love to read--even if it's a subscription to a favorite magazine. (Perhaps e-versions for the green-conscious?) A "to-read" Pinterest board would be the ideal place to look. If the receiver is a library-goer, then find a book that's not available through the local library. Several books on my list aren't available at the library, and I would love to get them to read and pass on. (This is also a great category for regifting.)


What is something the receiver doesn't get to enjoy often enough? Maybe a massage, facial or spa day. A photo session with her family (and no complaining). A family outing to the zoo, a movie or a pottery painting session. Even coupons like an at-home massage, day off cleaning, or laundry pass. You can plan it for her special day, or give her a certificate for a future time.


Is there something dear to the receiver's heart that she'd love to contribute to? It could be a donation in her name and tell her about it (I'd save this for those you know would appreciate it), or buy a scarf or bag or t-shirt that donates a percentage of (or all) proceeds to that cause. All sorts of purchases can be found to benefit all sorts of needs.


This month I'm sharing simplicity, simplified. See full list of posts here, and join me in not over-thinking it.