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The Verge’s 2021 holiday gift guide for moms

Gift ideas that go beyond the flower bouquet

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Illustration by Richard Parry

If you were to ask your mom what she wants for the holidays, she’ll likely tell you “nothing” — followed by something equally unhelpful like “your happiness.” That’s because moms can be loving, selfless superheroes who often prioritize the needs of their loved ones over their own. While admirable, that also means you’re not going to get much help from them when it comes to buying the perfect gift, especially if you want to beat the upcoming shipping deadlines and pick something out that will arrive on time.

Thankfully, we’ve gathered plenty of great presents you can surprise your mom with. We've included a monthly candle subscription for those in need of some relaxation ($10), as well as a transparent pot for saplings ($30) and an annual pass that allows for unfettered access to our national parks ($80). And for the fitness enthusiast, we opted for the Apple Watch SE ($270), a smartwatch that is — lucky for you — more affordable than other Apple wearables.

Below, you’ll find other gifts that cater to all kinds of budgets and passions, ranging from books and instant cameras to Apple’s latest desktop. Peruse the list and see if there’s anything on here that might resonate with your mom this holiday season.

price range:

JanSport Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack

JanSport is known for making some pretty classic backpacks, but did you know it also makes fanny packs? The Fifth Avenue Fanny Pack sports two pockets and comes in a collection of prints and colorful designs, so your mom can strut down the street wearing a simple black bag around her waist or a camo pack slung across her back.
Price: $17 to $20

Chemex glass coffee maker

For many, coffee is a necessity if there ever was one. Thankfully, Chemex's glass pour-over carafe is capable of churning out six cups of balanced, flavorful coffee in a single go. It's even included in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. How's that for classic?
Price: $45

Google Nest Hub (second-gen)

Google's latest Nest Hub shares plenty of functionality with other smart displays, but it shines when it comes to sleep tracking and its ability to act as a cloud-connected digital photo frame, allowing you to relive those pandemic road trips on a seven-inch display that automatically adjusts to ambient lighting conditions.
Price: $60

Apple Watch SE

If the newfangled Apple Watch Series 7 is out of your price range, last year's Apple Watch SE might fit the bill. While it doesn’t feature an always-on display or blood oxygen monitoring, it does boast quick performance, reliable battery life, and the best smartwatch software around for far less than Apple's latest wearable.
Price: $229+

2021 Apple iMac

If your mom doesn't mind a desktop, Apple's latest iMac is hard to beat. The sleek and stylish computer features Apple’s lightning-quick M1 processor, as well as a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, a sharp 4.5K Retina display, and improved speakers. The assorted fun colors are just a bonus.
Price: $1,259+

Red Velvet cupcake kit

If your mom enjoys baking, why not gift her something sweet she can make on her own? Red Velvet's delicious kit comes with all the ingredients you need to make a batch of red velvet cocoa cupcakes, along with 18 oven-safe cupcake cups and a disposable piping bag. Plus, 20 percent of sales go toward the women’s health charity Bright Pink.
Price: $32

Women's Winter Fleece Robe

L.L. Bean's seasonal fleece robes don't exactly scream "chic." They're extremely cozy, though, and available in a range of muted colors and sizes that should accommodate most body types.
Price: $79 to $89

Gardener's Harvest Basket

Uncommon Goods' sturdy gardener's hardwood basket is all about versatility. You can use it to ferry radishes and rainbow chard from your veggie plot to your kitchen, haul produce at the farmer's market, or carry wood about your home. And when you're done, you can just hose it down in the backyard.
Price: $50 to $65

National Parks annual pass

Visiting more than one national park in the US can get expensive, which is why an annual pass is the way to go. It provides entry to 63 national parks and more than 2,000 recreation areas throughout the US for a year, so your mom doesn't have to pay every time she wants to go leaf peeping in Acadia.
Price: $80

Luna weighted blanket

Keep your mom warm and relaxed with these breathable weighted blankets, which come in a variety of colors and patterns ranging from light gray to lavender. Just keep in mind that, depending on which size you buy, the cotton blankets can weigh anywhere between five and 15 pounds.
Price: $70+

Ilse Supernova coffee

Everyone deserves a damn fine cup of coffee every so often, and Ilse — a specialty roaster out of Stamford, Connecticut — delivers exactly that. Many of its blends are sweet and subtle, whether sourced from Ethiopia or Honduras, with the seasonal Supernova blend representing that balance roaster Lucas Smith seems to strike so well.
Price: $18

Smirly cheese board and knife set

Cheese boards are very much an adult gift, but for the giftee looking to (safely) entertain over the holidays, they remain a great way to class up the place. Smirly's flexible bamboo set gives you a host of serving options, with pull-out drawers, a separate snack tray, a utensil set, and a wine opener.
Price: $67

Purist insulated mug

We know: there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a water bottle. Thankfully, Purist Collective’s bottles stand out in a couple of key areas. Not only are they vacuum sealed and double walled, but they feature interchangeable lids and a glass interior, meaning they’ll shed that bitter coffee taste when washed.
Price: $38 to $40

Fujifilm Instax Square SQ1

Not everything has to live on the 'gram. With Fujifilm's colorful Square SQ1, you can capture and print square portraits of your cat, friends, or anything your heart desires in a matter of minutes. The one-touch selfie mode and mirror just gives it a 21st-century twist on the classic Polaroid cameras your mom grew up with.
Price: $100 to $120

Areaware Large Gradient Puzzle

The past year has made puzzle masters out of many of us, but who’s to say the trend can’t continue moving forward? Areaware’s clean, gradient puzzle represents a good middle ground for those looking for a challenge. The 1,000-piece jigsaw starts off relatively easy but becomes more challenging at the edges where the differences in hue become all but indistinguishable.
Price: $35

Anker PowerPort III Nano charger

If your mom is traveling this holiday season, a good-quality iPhone charger will be a much appreciated gift. This Anker charger is small enough that you can easily lug it around and is capable of fast charging some of the latest iPhone models – including the iPhone 13 lineup.
Price: $14

Kiriko Classic Bandana

Proving that bandanas come in more than just paisley, Kiriko's classic bandana comes in a wide variety of styles and prints that are classy as hell. With bandanas that look — and feel — this good, you'll be finding new excuses to wear one every day.
Price: $45

The Drunken Botanist

Author Amy Stewart knows a thing or two about plants — and alcohol, for that matter. Her fun and informative sixth book examines some of the most common alcoholic staples throughout the world through a horticultural lens, delving into the natural ingredients that make drinks like the Manhattan, well, a Manhattan. It even includes 50-odd cocktail recipes, making it a great gift for the self-proclaimed mixologist in your life.
Price: $14

The Disney Bundle

People contain multitudes, and thus, cannot be satisfied by just one streaming service. If your mom is not already overwhelmed with subscriptions, the Disney Bundle is a go-to offer that packages Disney Plus, Hulu, and ESPN Plus in a single service.
Price: $14

Purelis bath bombs (30-pack)

Few things are as relaxing as a warm bath, and the right bath bombs can make the occasion even more zen. Purelis makes some of the better, budget-friendly sets, like this assorted pack which features 30 handmade bombs that are made using natural ingredients and essential oils.
Price: $31

Bombas ankle socks

Nothing tops comfort, whether you're out and about or just getting cozy at home. And while the holidays are often referred to as sweater weather, you can't forget about comfy sock weather. The Bombas ankle socks bring the right combination of warmth, flexibility, and durability, complete with extra arch support.
Price: $13

Vellabox candles

Everyone could use a good pick-me-up, especially someone who has been raising a kid during a pandemic. Vellabox's high-quality candles are a great, affordable gesture that come in an array of luxury and seasonal scents, along with hand lotion, a loofah, and other surprise gifts.
Price: $12+

Apple AirPods (third-gen)

Whether listening at home or while on a run, the latest pair of AirPods make a great gift for music lovers. Apple's third-gen wireless headphones are sweat and water resistant, provide improved sound, and offer support for features like spatial audio, which makes listening to select content a more immersive experience. They’re even compatible with Apple’s MagSafe charging system, much like the iPhone 12 and 13.
Price: $169 to $179

Sculpd Pottery Kit

There is something undeniably attractive about making something with your hands in a world of increasingly intangible goods. The Sculpd Pottery Kit dares you to channel your inner Patrick Swayze with this easy DIY kit. Handling a lump of terra cotta is always a good time, even if you end up with a bad piece of modern art.
Price: $65

Lumos Ultra bike helmet

The Lumos Ultra is not the shoddy, Kickstarter-backed bike helmets that proliferated the platform in its early days. It's sleek and lightweight, with integrated lights on the front and back, as well as turn signals your mom can activate using an Apple Watch or the included remote.
Price: $120

Acorn Vase

Flowers are a nice touch, but there's something about growing a plant yourself that's far more rewarding. Ilex Studio's Acorn Vase isn't so much a vase as it is a transparent glass pot with a chamber situated at the top, one that lets you watch your oakling grow from seed to stem.
Price: $30 to $35