How to buy Christmas gifts your mom will actually love

I asked a bunch of mothers what they actually want this year. Here's what they said.

Me time for Mom.
(Image credit: iStock)

All year long, I look after everyone else's needs, from my husband to our son to our extended family. It's all the little details I have to remember that take the most toll on my emotional well-being and make me feel depleted. I am the one who remembers the dental appointments and the school events, who plans the meals and replenishes the cleaning supplies. So by the time Christmas rolls around, I think I'm due for a little spoiling. After all, without me, that Christmas tree would still be in a box in the basement storage room, those toys would still be at the store, and those Christmas cookies you like so much would just be a group of unassembled ingredients.

So for Christmas this year, why not treat me a little? At least, please don't give me a "mom" gift — you know, something made by my kid, something that will deposit sprinkles of glitter all over the house that I will still be vacuuming up in April. I used to work in a daycare, so I know that chances are, the adult helper made it anyway. So I'll ooh and ahh and put it on the fridge, but please, please get me something good, too.

Don't I deserve it? And doesn't the mom in your life deserve it?

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So, here's a little secret: Ask us what we want for Christmas, and we'll tell you. Of course, the answer will differ for every mom, which is why it's so important for you to ask. But if you're struggling to choose a gift for the mom in your life, take a look at this list, compiled by real moms, and you won't go far wrong:

Subscription boxes

The appeal of subscription boxes is that they keep giving all year round. Moms can feel undervalued and underappreciated, so having a package that arrives monthly or seasonally can make her feel special even after the tinsel has been put away. My favorite is Trendsend by Evereve, which is the first fashion subscription box designed just for moms. A stylist will select a range of clothing items comprising of two or three complete outfits from a questionnaire you fill in with your preferences. Then you have a few days to try on everything and simply return what you don't want to keep. I love it because every season I get some beautiful new clothes delivered right to my door and I can avoid the horror of communal fitting rooms!

Something for the home

I have a Lorena Canal rug next to my bed, and rubbing my toes into the soft pile first thing in the morning sets me up for the day. Best of all? It's washable so my kid can't ruin it for me even if he tries! Don't buy mom something she needs — a mop won't cut it — but a luxury home item she has been coveting? That's something she might just want. One mom old me she has her heart set on a new Dyson vacuum cleaner.

Something she is passionate about

Buying mom a gift that reflects her interests shows her you're a good listener. My passion is travel, so I am hoping to receive hardworking hiking and travel essentials, like a Pioneer 8 hip pack from North St. Bags, a pair of vintage aviator inspired Julbo sunglasses, or a beautifully crafted Opinel knife for any wilderness emergency I might face. Another mom confided that she really wants season tickets to the ballet. You won't know unless you ask!

Concierge and cleaning services

Meal delivery services or a team of maids on call could be the greatest gift mom receives this year. Catherine, a mom from Los Angeles, told me she wants a meal service, or personal chef once a week, while Amanda from Virginia would appreciate "a full house scrubbing by someone — not me."

I personally would love the cleaning or grocery shopping taken care of, but be warned: Some moms could find this gift insulting. You know your mom best, so just tread carefully.

Beauty products or spa visits

Christmas is a good time to ask for things you wouldn't ordinarily buy for yourself, and many moms struggle to find the time to take care of themselves. So it makes sense that being pampered was at the top of many moms' wish lists. Karine, a mother from Quebec, even asked for a new hair iron. I am hoping for some luxury skincare, myself.

Gifts of time

At least half of the moms I spoke to said that what they really want this year is time alone. So maybe just quietly back away from her, and take the kids with you. Alex, from Toronto, wants a slightly unrealistic gift this year: "Time to read all of the books." Another mom told me she's just looking for "appreciation."

As we get closer to the holiday season, and kids start writing their letters to Santa, maybe mom should be writing one of her own and circulating it far and wide! And if not, at least ask her what she really wants and make an effort to fulfill her holiday wishes.

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Fiona Tapp

Fiona Tapp is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has been featured at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post,, SheKnows, and others. She is an expert in the field of pedagogy, a teacher of 13 years, and master's degree holder in education. She writes about a variety of topics including parenting, education, and travel writing. Fiona is a Brit abroad, and when she's not writing, she enjoys thunderstorms and making play dough cars with her toddler.