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Way Better Than Flowers: Personalized Gifts for Mom

When it comes to Mother's Day, think sentimental, customizable and personal!

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A mom is really just a person who's got your back, and so Mother's Day can mean a whole lot of things to a bunch of different people. Make sure all the important women in your life get recognized this year with cute, personalized gifts. Maybe even consider sending them a Chatbook to show how much you care (wink, wink). “People are afraid to give gifts to anyone because they fear judgment,” says Aileen Avery, author ofGift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving. “And then you’re talking about your mother? We crave our mothers’ approval, so we put pressure on ourselves to make it perfect.” These small, but significant gestures will make the women in your life smile. Here are some super cute, sentimental gifts to share this Mother's Day...

Juxtapose then and now

For her mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, Aileen combed through old photos and found a picture of her mother-in-law holding her son (Aileen’s husband) when he was a baby. She then paired it with a photo of her mother-in-law holding her grandsons in the same pose, and put the photos together for the front page of a photo book. “When she opened it, she started crying, and honestly tears can be one of those moments when you’re like, ‘I did it!’” Aileen says. For a DIY Mother’s Day gift idea, locate and scan photos of your mother with you or your siblings as children. You can visually re-create the photos in a number of ways: surreptitiously pose her with your own children in the same manner, or re-enact the scene with you and your children to show her that the maternal thread lives on. If you can find photos of her with her mother, even better. 

Pick a theme

Vacations you’ve taken together, vacations she’s taken without you, a picture of where she went on her honeymoon. Meals she’s cooked for you, meals you’ve cooked for her, meals you’ve cooked together. A close-up photo of a book she read to you as a child; photos of your children reading those same books; photos of her at her favorite literary destination. You get the idea: Think of something she loves, then find ways to incorporate that subject into images of the people she adores (including herself!). You’ll emerge with a personalized gift for mom that she’ll love.

Celebrate the woman alongside the mother

One of the best gifts you can give your mother on her birthday is a recognition of her other selves. “She’s your mother, but she’s not only your mother,” Aileen says. “She’s a sister, a friend, a co-worker; maybe she’s an artist or a business owner. Women are multifaceted, and their children should celebrate that.” Gather photos from parts of her life outside of the home for a customized photo book, and include a note that lets her know what you’ve learned by observing her holistic presence in the world.

Get poetic

A custom photo book is, ahem, custom. But if you want to take your personalized gift for your mom deeper, include a handwritten note. If you’re a writer by nature, you’re probably doing this anyway for the women in your life. But you don’t have to be a Brontë sister to craft a message that will make her heart sing. Try this minimalist message: Pick three words that will forever make you think of her or three adjectives that you’d use to describe her. Write them in bold marker on a piece of paper of her favorite color, then snap a photo of it and include that picture as the first or last image in the book. You can also include a blank page in your photo book, then handwrite a note on the page before giving it to her. It’s a unique gift for Mother’s Day—or anytime, really.

Make it a team effort

The best gift for your mother on her birthday might be the gift of seeing how others view her. “People don’t always think to say kind things directly to a person they love because it can feel awkward,” Aileen says. Absorb that awkwardness yourself by asking people in her life to send you their favorite photos of them together, along with a sentence or two about what they appreciate about her. Arrange the custom photo book by each contributor, beginning each “chapter” with a text page containing the quote—easy to do with the Chatbooks text page function.

No matter what approach you take to a photo book for your mother, trust that you know her in a way nobody else on the planet could. “Every mother is different,” Aileen says. “But if you’re paying attention and can touch into that emotional aspect of the mother-child connection, whatever gift you choose is going to be right.”

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