You know you have a woman like this on your shopping list. For most of us, it’s a mother or mother-in-law. My top suggestion for women of this ilk is to buy something “collectible” or “novelty” that will take them by surprise. Keep your ears out for hobbies and passions that you can play into. On the “collectibles” front, I have given in the past figurines from LLadro (Etsy often has mint-condition pieces for much less) and Herend (you can also find good condition Herend pieces on Etsy!); sterling silver charms that map to specific interests, milestones, and spirit animals; and pieces of china that either belong to a beloved pattern or china label (i.e., Ginori 1735!) or help round out a specific collection (i.e., my MIL collects oyster plates, and you can find fabulous vintage styles at 1st Dibs!). And on the novelty front: who can resist a new pair of etched coupes or a personalized set of packing cubes or a pearl-encrusted compact?! I mean! Pure fun. I tried to keep this guide reasonable, with most items $100-ish or less, but there are a few collectible-type scores that cost a bit more. (Still, everything is under $250.)
Below, some gifts along these lines.
+Maison Balzac pink carafe. The kind of think you’d never know you needed…but who wouldn’t want this on her bedside table?!
+Chantecaille pearl-topped highlighter. I mean! The ultimate novelty gift for a beauty lover who already has it all. I bought this for one of the ladies on my shopping list this year. It was too gorgeous to pass up. They also have a blush that is $35 less but I find blushes are a little more specific to skintone and felt it was easier to go with a universal highlighter. Pro tip: if you’ve never ordered from Olivela before, you can get these products for 10% off by entering code OLIVELA at check out. Free ship, too!
+Ana Marie Ortega flower necklace. A pretty and unique little bauble to throw into the mix!
+Herend box. Also love their little animal figurines — especially the elephant! You can often find these in great condition on Etsy for less, but it depends on the giftee. Sometimes better to buy direct from the source, with the box and tags and all that. Other people — like my mother — enjoy the vintage! She volunteers at a consignment shop whose proceeds benefit a wonderful cause, The Christ Child Opportunity Shop, and gets a thrill out of finding new homes for beautiful things. So I know she would enjoy a vintage score!
+Vibi Venezia furlanes. A bit more personal (you’ll have to know her shoe size), but these are such fabulous everyday shoes. Great for putzing around the home, quick trips to the grocery, etc.
+Tiffany purse pen. There is something about receiving the little blue box around the holidays that makes my heart sing. My mom has given pens (Montblanc, usually) to some of her sons-in-law, to my father, to my brother at important occasions and they are forever gifts. Mr. Magpie gave me a beautiful pen a few years ago that I use daily!
+Smythson notebooks. A favorite gift of mine to give. Timeless, elegant. Great for marking a milestone or mapping to someone’s interests. This one says “Ideas and Inspirations” and would be great for a creative!
+Spiral candles. A fun upgrade to her taper candle collection.
+John Derian 1,000 Piece Puzzle. For a puzzling enthusiast — this one is gorgeous!
+Personalized packing cubes. She might already have a set, but are they monogrammed?!? A great gift for a traveler. Plus, even though we now have tons of packing cubes, I always find a need for one more…
+XO Jewelry Round. My mom gifted me a jewelry round like this in my teens and I still use it to this day, and not just for travel! It’s a great way to stow jewelry even within the drawers of a jewelry chest.
+Ingeglas ornaments. Get her a couple of the feathered bird ornaments for her trees! My MIL loves Inge-glas and would be tickled by these.
+Etsy is a treasure trove for sterling silver charms, and I adore this sterling silver baby shoe charm for a new grandmother or mother. I generally use price as a proxy for quality — if a trinket costs under $15, it’s probably not the best quality or level of detailing. You can find really good charms in the $30-$50 range. If you’re after gold (which cost more, BTW), check out Charm Co. This golden pram for a new mom! (Pricey but beyond!)
+La Double J porcelain jar. A fun trinket for a vanity.
+Lily & Bean bag. These are impossibly chic Hermes-inspired bags at a great price. A fun surprise!
+A delicious bottle of champagne (have always loved the cursive on Pol Roger’s bottles) and one of these must-have champagne stoppers. Mr. Magpie gave me one of them in my stocking a few years ago and it is SO handy. If you drink only a part of a bottle one night, this will keep it bubbly until the next night, and also keeps it effervescent between pours. Must-have!
+Champagne coupes. Even if she has a cabinet full of crystal, these are just so fun and unusual that she’s bound to make space for them.
+Mrs. Alice placemats and napkins. Even if she’s flush with table linens, these will be a welcome new addition. These come in several colors and are ultra-elegant.
+Ginori 1735 mug — ticks the “collectible” box and will likely impress a woman who loves fine china. The pattern is gorgeous! These are all hand-painted in Italy. Would treasure one myself! I also love these jaunty Themis Z patterned teacups.
+Assouline flower coffee table book. I also gave this to my MIL one year. (Are you sensing a theme?! She is so difficult to shop for — she has everything and is highly discerning, too! She loved this book and it’s gorgeous to leave out/style on a shelf.)
Not seen above but worth a gander:
+Lake Pajamas. I mean, show me a woman who wouldn’t love an extra pair of fabulous pajamas. These are a great pricepoint, ultra-soft, and will soon become your new favorite thing if you’ve never tried them. I gave these to my MIL and her sister this past year and just a few weeks ago, my MIL’s sister wrote to me out of the blue and said: “I just love those pajamas. I can’t wait for them to come out of the wash.”
+Statement headband — love these HHH ones and this slim velvet bow one from Lele Sadoughi (both around $50). If you’re a headband-lover, you’ll enjoy an extra to throw into the rotation, and these brands are fantastic.
+Custom silhouette of a child. We gave this as a gift to my MIL a few years back to celebrate the birth of her first grandchild!
+Theodora Warre diamond and gold hoops. At $222, not as expensive as you’d think, but a true wear-forever pair.
+Beauty lovers: Westman Atelier stick trio (even if she has some of their products, she’ll enjoy having a few purse-sized versions to carry with her on the go!); Gucci eye palette (the styling alone is gorgeous);
+Sophie Bille Brahe jewelry box. A gorgeous home for her favorite jewels.
+Elizabeth Lake cocktail napkins. I feel as though cocktail napkins are a little bit boring to give for some reason — they’re pretty to look at but rather impersonal. I would make an exception for these, which are just SO fun.
+Caspari playing cards. If she’s into cards, a perfect stocking stuffer/surprise!
+Six pack of Laundress detergents. Treat her to a year of luxury-smelling laundry. This is the kind of thing you could only give to a mom or close friend who you know would cherish the indulgence, but wow! I would love this!
+Copper garden basket. For a gardening enthusiast — chic way to carry her daily haul inside rather than juggling between palms (as Mr. Magpie does).
If you’re still running dry, consider a food gift. My Dad is the most difficult-to-shop-for man on the planet and we’ve resigned to just sending him big orders of Jeni’s ice cream each Christmas, because he loves ice cream after dinner. These Charbonnel et Walker truffle boxes are beautiful gifts, too!
P.S. More great gifts here.
P.P.S. Notes on living in New York City.
P.P.P.S. On building friendships through motherhood.