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 simply to give her something she’ll actually use and doesn’t already have — you might even impress her along the way. But to help you pick out presents more easily, 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 scoured 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 an extra-cozy bathrobe and an ache-relieving foot massager to adorable fruit-shaped candles and a five-pound gummy bear. Each of the presents below is available on Amazon for quick shipping, and sorted by price so you can stick to a specific budget.

Have a more specific gifting question? Try our new gift search tool here!

Under $25

For the mother-in-law who’s never seen without a sweater

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 doesn’t leave the house without earrings on

Madewell Mop Flower Studs

These understated studs look much more expensive than they are — and the mother-of-pearl finish gives them a subtle shine.

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

Instead of a regular claw clip, get her a more comfortable “yoga” clip that won’t poke her head when she lies down. This one comes with a mother-of-pearl-like finish and its own ribboned drawstring bag.

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 leaves her nails au naturel

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

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

$25 for 10

All hail the power of snail mucin for glowing skin. This set contains ten sheet masks infused with our favorite moisturizing essence.

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’s hobby hunting

This travel watercolor set comes with a mixing palette on the lid, a brush, and 12 shades — including lemon, crimson, and burnt sienna — so she can take it with her and bust it out whenever the inspiration strikes.

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’s a toast snob

No more burned fingers with a toast tong. The beak on this charming duck-shaped one will hold her sourdough slices tight.

For the mother-in-law who likes to host

Scented candles are a nonstarter for a dinner party — but these adorable fruit-shaped ones are unscented and could double as a conversation-starting centerpiece.

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

So she can can enjoy her gourmet sandwiches and top-tier pasta salad with no risk of a soggy bottom.

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 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

The little space heater has 11 different temperature settings — as well as a cooling-fan mode just in case.

For the mother-in-law who takes marathon baths

On using these bath salts after a very cold day, designer Rosie Assoulin says, “It feels like you did more than just a 30-minute soak.”

For the mother-in-law who’s knotty

Thera Cane Massager

Our resident exercise expert uses this as a recovery tool and swears it relieves knots better than any of the electric massagers he’s tried.

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 always summering somewhere

This foldable sun hat won’t take up too much room in her carry-on. It comes with a bow in the back and a chin strap to keep it in place on windy days.

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

This architectural acrylic file holder doubles as a place to organize her back issues of Vogue.

For the mother-in-law whose purse is a bottomless pit

These delightful orange-patterned pouches can hold everything from lipsticks to chargers.

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.

For the mother-in-law who DIYs everything

It might not be the most glamorous gift, but it’ll make life for the pegboard-installing, craft-making mother-in-law a whole lot easier. (And artist Laila Gohar depends on this glue gun for her own projects.)

For the mother-in-law with an insatiable sweet tooth

Delight her with a five-pound sliceable gummy bear that’s roughly equivalent to 1,400 regular-size gummy bears. It comes in shark, snake, and octopus forms as well.

For the mother-in-law who hears every last bump in the night

Get her a sound machine so she can toggle between calming fan sounds and white noise to help her sleep more soundly. This LectroFan is a favorite of comedian Samantha Irby and actress Eva Mendes.

Under $100

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

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 always orders extra ice

This countertop ice machine will let her rid her freezer of annoying, half-empty trays and is short enough to sit under most kitchen cabinets.

For the mother-in-law who dines by candlelight

These striking candleholders become an objet d’art when tucked together.

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’s incapable of traveling light

For squeezing in that one last thing: Get her this sturdy backpack. It folds down flat to toss into another bag or straps onto the handles of a suitcase.

For the mother-in-law whose Crocs are on their last legs

If these are comfortable enough for restaurant workers who stand for hours on their shifts, they’ll be comfortable enough for her. Daryl Nuhn, owner of Prima Brooklyn, says the clogs have “amazing arch support.”

For the mother-in-law whose UGGs are on their last legs

Subus are like puffer jackets for the feet, so they’ll keep her toes extra toasty.

For the mother-in-law who soaks

Brooklinen Super-Plush Robe

It’s the fluffiest bathrobe I’ve ever had — and is so absorbent I never need an extra towel.

For the mother-in-law who’s always stifling a yawn

If she’s new to the weighted-blanket-scape, Luna’s latest launch “has a bit more heft to it than your standard fuzzy coverlet,” according to Strategist writer Lauren Ro.

For the mother-in-law who dyes her grays

Noted redhead Jessica Chastain uses this deep-conditioning hair mask — which works for damaged, colored, and bleached strands — on her ends, keeping the cream on overnight. “It’s all about the moisture, and I like what it does in terms of giving me a little bit of shine,” she says.

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


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

Under $200

For the mother-in-law who does her own brows

Upgrade her vanity with a lighted makeup mirror. Fashion writer Cortne Bonilla says this nice-looking one from Fancii is an invaluable tool for tweezing.

For the mother-in-law who worries about wrinkles

The little facial wand works wonders for fine lines and dark circles. After using the Solawave for over a year, author Diksha Basu says her skin has never looked better.

For the mother-in-law who likes her tea piping hot

This no-frills electric kettle has just a simple on-off switch — and can heat water in less than a minute.

For the mother-in-law who doesn’t sit down


Instead of a one-time-only massage gift certificate, go for a use-it-whenever foot massager. The Miko comes with a wireless remote, has an optional heat feature, and can ease her muscles with five pressure settings and multiple massage styles.

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 a Spotify shuffle.

Over $200

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

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

For the mother-in-law who’s the first to get a glass

She can keep her wines chilled with this sommelier-approved cooler, which has LED lights on the inside so she can tell her bottles of Sancerre and Pinot Grigio apart.

For the mother-in-law whose knives have lost their edge

Refresh her kitchen with this knife set from Wüsthof (which counts Ina Garten and Gordon Ramsay as fans). It comes with a paring knife, chef’s knife, and serrated knife — the only three you really need, according to Strategist kitchen and dining writer Emma Wartzman — plus kitchen shears, a honing steel for sharpening, and a block to store the whole lot.

For the mother-in-law who always schedules the family photos

This digital photo frame can be set on a table or mounted on the wall to display a whole album’s worth of her treasured group shots.

For the mother-in-law who’s all about optimization


She can skim her notifications and track her blood pressure, sleep cycle, daily steps, and more with the best smartwatch on the market.

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.

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, ultraflattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

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