gifts they might actually want

A Gift for Every Type of Mother-in-Law

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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Finding a gift for your mother-in-law shouldn’t send you into a tizzy. A foolproof plan is just to give her something she’ll actually use and doesn’t already have — you might even impress her along the way. But to make your gift-giving go as smooth as possible, I’ve rounded up a number of the best gifts for mothers-in-law, for any occasion, be it a birthday or the holidays. To make this list, I searched through our archives for surefire “won’t-returnables” to suit every type of MIL, whether she’s a world traveler, an adventurous home cook, a wine snob, or a neat freak. You’ll find everything from a clothes steamer used by Uma Thurman’s stylist to a pair of delightful deco bookends I’ve been eyeing for myself. I also did my due diligence to unearth some Amazon gems, including a sculptural Scandinavian bread basket. And speaking of Amazon: Every item here is available there for your convenience and sorted by price to make your gift-buying as budget conscious as possible.

Under $25

For the mother-in-law who’s a card sharp


If she’s tired of Uno, try this game, which is ”a mix of probability, luck, and being able to read your opponents.”

For the mother-in-law who never lets her hair down

Upgrade her standard claw clip with a more comfortable “yoga” clip that won’t poke her scalp. This pretty blush-pink version is made in France and oh so stylish.

For the mother-in-law who leaves her nails au naturel

This nail strengthener — a dupe of Dior’s for half the price — will keep her tips in top shape. Plus, it comes in the sheerest colors (like strawberry rhubarb and orange marmalade) for a hint of a manicure.

For the mother-in-law who wakes up tangled

This frizz-taming silk pillowcase has been a longtime best seller with Strategist readers, and beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton says it makes her feel as if she’s “sleeping in a luxurious hotel.”

For the mother-in-law who lives for sweater season

$14 for 12

These sweet-smelling lavender sachets — which also come in scents like honeysuckle and lemon verbena — will help keep her cashmere fresh and moth-free.

For the mother-in-law who can never find her readers

This nifty organizer holds six pairs of frames and folds up nice and compact.

For the mother-in-law who’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking

A minimalist cookbook stand to keep her place while she makes coq au vin — or for the New York Times Cooking recipe she has saved on an iPad.

For the mother-in-law who packs a mean picnic

So she can have somewhere to sit on her next outing, with no risk of a soggy bottom.

For the mother-in-law who’s a magazine hoarder

She can organize her back issues of Vogue between these Deco-inspired bookends.

For the mother-in-law who’s a plant parent

This fancy-looking philodendron, which is named after the famous Hermès handbag, will give her houseplant jungle some flair.

For the mother-in-law who likes it kitschy

This sunny knickknack can serve as a pencil cup or bud vase.

For the mother-in-law who runs ten degrees hotter than everyone else

“On full blast, it stops a stream of face sweat in its tracks before it even has a chance to get into my eyes,” says Strategist writer Dominique Pariso of this powerful portable fan.

Under $50

For the mother-in-law who runs ten degrees colder than everyone else

With their fuzzy, furry insides, these are a step up from the standard pair of socksNew York senior editor Jessica Silvester gifted them to all her aunts one year, and they were a huge hit.

For the mother-in-law who’s a porch sitter

These faux-paper lanterns look like delicate lace but feature a stainless-steel frame and waterproof and UV-resistant fabric, so she won’t have to worry about them during a drizzle.

For the mother-in-law who’s knotty

This curvy, knobby massage tool — a favorite of director Daniel Kwan and author Ottessa Moshfegh — will help release tension in hard-to-reach spots.

For the mother-in-law who takes her whiskey neat

These Glencairn glasses are as classic as they come, with an elegant tulip shape for sipping a single malt.

For the mother-in-law who doesn’t believe in store-bought

The milk-glass cake stand, a work of art in itself, will let her put her baked goods on a pedestal.

Under $100

For the mother-in-law who’s disgusted by grocery-store basil

AeroGarden Sprout

The Sprout can grow three plants at a time — and it’s much more low-maintenance than starting an herb garden from scratch.

For the mother-in-law who’s incapable of traveling light

The “Mary Poppins of duffels” can be stuffed into a suitcase as well.

For the mother-in-law who’s too wired

Once plugged into the plane’s headphone jack, this handy doodad can connect AirPods to the screen on the back of a seat.

For the mother-in-law who even presses her sheets

It’s the same steamer that Uma Thurman’s stylist uses, and I’m a total convert — it makes clothes look like they just came back from the dry cleaners.

For the mother-in-law who keeps her counters pristine

These coasters are rather eye-catching, in a Surrealist sort of way.

For the mother-in-law who’s into Nordic architecture

From Danish design house Georg Jensen, this sculptural bowl will make her fruit look like a still life.

For the mother-in-law who doesn’t have time for a spa day

This mud mask feels like a sheet mask, overnight mask, and firming mask all in one. My own mom has loved it since the ’80s, and now I use it too.

Under $200

For the mother-in-law who insists on family photos

Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio loves Aura’s digital picture frames because she and her family members — including her mother-in-law — can all remotely add photos to one another’s frames, creating “a private mini-social network that is blissfully Zuckerberg-free.”

For the mother-in-law who just got back from Barcelona

This paella pan will help her get those crispy edges just right.

For the mother-in-law who buys peppercorns in bulk

It’s the status pepper mill right now, as seen on chef Molly Baz’s Instagram.

For the mother-in-law who’s into moody music

JBL Pulse 5

The mesmerizing lava lamp of a speaker syncs its patterns to the music that’s playing, explains Strategist tech writer Jordan McMahon, to add some ambience to her Spotify shuffle.

For the mother-in-law who runs her own wine club

These colorful wineglasses — which come in shades of pink and purple — will be the talk of her next tasting.

For the mother-in-law who always brings a hot dish

This attractive and table-ready Le Creuset is the perfect vessel for serving everything from lasagna to green-bean casserole.

Over $200

For the mother-in-law who’s always multitasking

The Airstrait is one of Dyson’s latest innovations — it will simultaneously blow-dry and straighten her hair.

For the mother-in-law who hosts movie night

AAXA P7 Pico Projector

For being a mini-projector that’s small enough to fit into your hand, the P7 has an impressive resolution so she can re-create the theater experience at home.

For the mother-in-law who’s the first to take a shot

Update her stovetop maker to a proper espresso machine — this one is a dependable entry-level model.You can’t go wrong with dependable Breville, and Kyle Ramage, co-owner of Black & White Coffee Roasters, praises this espresso machine as “a great entry model.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

A Gift for Every Type of Mother-in-Law