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If you’re like me and are in a semi new-ish relationship, the upcoming gift-giving season that’s looming in the near future is yet another source of the holiday seasons endless opportunities to induce major anxiety — especially when you’re trying to find the best gift for a boyfriend’s mom. While I certainly don’t know her well enough to give her something sentimental or overly sweet (I mean, I’ve met her once), I also don’t want to meet her for the second time next month empty-handed. Because, manners. On the other hand, I’m still in the probation period, so to speak, so I’m admittedly in borderline panic mode by the thought of having to make a good impression — and without coming off too overbearing and well, looking desperate. Hunting for a suitable and likable present — regardless of what stage the relationship is in — is downright daunting.
While I’m certainly not a dating expert, or even slightly informed on this type of protocol (or…etiquette?), I would assume that if you’ve never met his mom or have only been a couple of Hinge dates with the dude, pocket that cash for yourself and wait a bit to offer holiday gifts. I mean, you don’t want to scare him away, either. With that being said, if you do feel like gifting your (potentially) future mother-in-law is an appropriate move, there are plenty of gift ideas that won’t instantly divulge your perhaps, overzealous attempt to earn her approval, but will still show her you put a little thought into it — even if you have absolutely zero clue what she’s into to.
Sure, you could always settle for the universally acceptable (albeit generic) appeal of a gift card or pretty floral arrangement, but why not be a bit more creative and show her just what a cool GF her son is dating? Presents are just material objects, but they definitely do offer a glimpse into your personality and have the potential to show off your ultra-refined taste, so why not win her over her with your tightly curated gift choice? Anyway, if you’re totally stuck, we’ve highlighted a few fool-proof options that will help you win your boo’s mom over with minimal effort.
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I get it — a candle may sound like an utterly basic choice, but a Diptyque candle is a luxury staple that a lot of people probably wouldn’t buy for themselves. After all, that’s kind of the spirit of gifting, and there’s not one scent that doesn’t smell incredible. Really, you can’t go wrong.
Winc Wine Subscription
If your love’s mom enjoys the vino as much as you do, a wine subscription gift card (or even just a nice bottle) is a fabulous and holiday-friendly gesture. This is an especially safe bet for someone you haven’t met. Just make sure they like wine, and confirm their preference with your guy.
Erno Laszlo Merry & Bright-Eyed Gift Set
This limited-edition trio of eye pampering goodies make for the perfect mother-of-the-S.O gift no matter how long you’ve been dating. Erno Laszlo’s best-selling eye masks and gel cream are expertly paired with a silk sleeping mask to soothe and treat to help reduce the appearance of fine lines, puffiness and dark circles.
A game-changing Pop Socket that she may or may not have known existed is going to rock her world. Plus, why not make it customizable with a picture of her son or daughter or pet?
Slip Beauty Sleep Eye Mask
When you’re really drawing a blank, a silk sleeping mask is a safe bet that looks like you actually put some thought into it — even if you most certainly did not. Everyone appreciates the luxury of sleeping with a silk accessory, and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
Mighty Paw Smart Bell
A sure-fire gift if all else fails is to gift her pet. It’s impersonal enough, but also shows that you know how much she cares about her pup or cat. Plus this smart gadget is actually useful.
Fortune & Frame Fortune Cookie Locket Necklace
If you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks and risk being a tad bit sentimental (sometimes this pays off, guys), Fortune & Frame’s mantra infused lockets are an excellent choice. The fortune cookie style is meaningful but novel enough to come off as playful — not overbearing.
Casper Weighted Blanket
Weighted blankets are so underrated, and most baby boomers aren’t hip to the fad. Give her the gift that will open her eyes to what comfort and warmth is with a stress-reducing weighted blanket.
Artis Holiday Gift Set
While gifting your guy’s mom with a makeup brush may sound odd, trust me, these game-changing brushes are truly worth every penny and they’re the one item missing from your routine that you had no idea you needed in your life. I could wax poetic all day about these brushes, and she will too once she tries them out.
Seriously you guys, these are the softest sweatpants/pajamas/WFH bottoms I’ve ever worn in my life, and your S.O.’s mom will definitely agree with me.
Kendra Scott Sophee Crystal Drop Earrings
Sure, gifting his or her mom with fine jewelry or diamonds may be a bit much, but a chic pair of contemporary earrings feels appropriate and thoughtful.
Iridescent Wine Glasses, Set of 4
I first stumbled upon these gorgeous highlighter-like wine glasses at my sister’s house and have been obsessed ever since. Giving your partner’s mom a basic set of wine glasses that she probably already has is boring, but these opalized alternatives are a whimsical treat.
Odacite Crystal Contour Gua Sha Rose Quartz
For the skincare buff (ask your S.O. in advance, BTW in case she is certainly not) will love the luxe and contour defining properties of a Gua Shae facial massager. They not only help define the angles of your face, but they also promote lymphatic drainage and look pretty on a vanity table.
Quip Toothbrush Set
Okay, so a toothbrush isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you’re trying to charm your S.O.’s mom with a gift. But, if you’ve ever tried the super-luxe Quip toothbrush, you get it. It’s not only chic AF, but it also performs. Their newly launched holiday gift set (or just the stand-alone brush, if you’re on a budget) is a super non-awkward option that she’ll actually use.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve gifted these gorgeous agate cheese platters to several people over the years (including my step-mom) and I’ve never gotten a complaint or feigned sense of joy upon opening the package. They’re super chic and also functional.
The Comfy Hoodie
For the moms with a good sense of humor and a new-found obsession with the Netflix and chill craze, this slightly goofy gift is a non-threatening delight that will get a laugh or two, but will also be used on the daily. Trust me.
A version of this article was originally published in November 2019.