mother's day 2023

The Best Gifts for Long-Distance Moms

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

As someone whose mom lives overseas, I find Mother’s Day to be bittersweet — while I’m sad she’s not around to hang out with, the holiday presents a perfect opportunity to do some of my very best gifting. Whether she lives across state lines or in a different country, a thoughtful gift will, of course, remind your faraway mom of you whenever she turns to it, which is always the next best thing to being there. To help you find that special something, I’ve rounded up 34 gift ideas (including subscription gifts, gadgets that’ll make emails and FaceTime sessions easier, and the latest and greatest smart photo frames and printers) for every type of long-distance mom, whether she’s upstate, on the West Coast, or on another continent. Mother’s Day 2023 falls this coming Sunday, but the majority of these gifts will still arrive before then via Amazon Prime if you act quickly. For more inspiration, find the rest of our Mother’s Day gift ideas right here.

For the mom who doesn’t do Instagram

If she’s lucky enough to be off social media, here’s a digital frame that will keep mom up-to-date with family photos — you and your siblings can contribute images through an easy-to-use app.

For the mom who’s coming to visit soon

Travelers in the know won’t board a plane without this fleecy, scarflike travel pillow, nor should your mom.

For the mom who misses New York

Remind her of that special trip she took to visit you in the city with this candle from Homesick — or pick another state-inspired scent that’ll trigger happy memories you two have shared.

For the mom who FaceTimes you every day

If your mom keeps in touch with you and the rest of the family via video chat, she deserves the best and easiest-to-use headphones. We’ve tested plenty of them, and AirPods are always a safe bet for smartphone use.

For the mom who emails you every day

Blue-light-blocking glasses are thought to help prevent headaches and migraines that come with too much screen time. If Mom enjoys Zooming and FaceTiming with you, she might appreciate this stylish tortoiseshell pair of reading glasses that we’ve named the very best blue-light readers you can buy, owing to their stylish design and solid frames.

For the mom who sends you TikToks every day

This superlong, ten-foot charging cable is one of our most reliably life-changing gift recommendations, and it means Mom’s Instagram and TikTok sessions will never have to end.

For the mom who sends you crossword clues every day

Photo: retailer

As all real crossword fans know, the Wednesday puzzle hits that sweet spot of being neither too tricky nor too simple to solve over a morning cup of coffee. Which makes for a fun collaborative experience if you two tend to text each other clues.

For the mom who prefers physical photos

If she’s tech savvy but nostalgic, we’re big fans of this delightfully clunky photo printer, which turns smartphone photos into old-school Polaroids.

For the mom who prefers framed physical photos

Reba McEntire told us that these little square prints (hung in frames using an adhesive strip that can easily be detached and moved around the house) are her go-to gifts for family members.

For the mom who prefers physical letters

Kaweco Sport made our top 100 best pens list for a reason: It writes smoothly and feels satisfyingly chunky in the hand. While a fountain pen would make for a more traditional gift, this more versatile ballpoint will suit moms of all calligraphy levels.

For the long-distance mom who is also a long-distance grandma

If Mom lives far away from not only you but your own kids, this grandparent-approved “paper time capsule” with back-and-forth prompts will make the pen-pal process easy so she can keep in touch with her grandchildren.

For the mom you haven’t hugged in a while

From $152

If you recently moved back to your own place after spending much of the past year back home, there’s a chance Mom is feeling tender about becoming an empty nester again. This (cool enough for summer) weighted blanket from our guide of the best ones to give should help replicate a good old hug year-round.

For the mom you haven’t gotten coffee with in a while

Our favorite coffee subscription club makes it easy (and not overwhelming) to access a massive range of U.S. roasters working with about 450 different coffees.

For the mom you haven’t gotten a drink with in a while

This non-syrupy amaro is one of Molly Baz’s eight favorite things — she says it’s perfect for summer spritzes and cocktails, and also has a “lightness that makes it so much easier to drink on the rocks straight up.”

For the mom who’s more into tea

This monthly membership entitles your mom to 12 months of loose-leaf single-origin teas from around the world, with each arriving alongside a postcard detailing the history of the plantation country.

For the anxious mom

Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, assures us that she’s tried almost every THC gummy on earth. While some of them will “make you want to party,” these ones are her best recommendation for a solid night’s sleep.

For the anxious mom whose home state hasn’t legalized it yet

Whether she’s missing you or simply worried about the world at large, this soothing lavender-scented stick (which Strategist contributor and mom Sara Gaynes Levy dubbed “Ambien without the side effects”) will help her get some rest and relaxation.

For the mom who’d rather sniff real flowers

When we looked for the best Mother’s Day flowers to buy online, these magnolia plants stood out for their sweet scent as well as symbolism. Most bouquets will last for a couple weeks at most, but with some patient care and attention, a flowering tree can grow and flourish for years to come.

For the mom whose cooking you miss

The AeroGarden Sprout comes highly recommended by Strategist writer Erin Schwartz, who says this ultracompact indoor garden will nonetheless produce “a prodigious quantity” of basil, parsley, and dill.

For the mom whose baking you miss

This very giftable Bundt pan is a favorite of chef Vallery Lomas, who calls it not only beautiful but also “well constructed and reliable.”

For the mom whose grilling you miss

Award-winning competitive pitmaster and founder of Girls Can Grill Christie Vanover says that “having a good set of heat gloves is so important when grilling or working with live fire,” but she notes it can be challenging to find a pair for petite hands. She’s found that the small-medium option of these Barebones gloves “is ideal for women” with a comfortable fit, good heat protection, and plenty of dexterity for wielding hot tools and trays.

For the Northeast mom

If she has been complaining about April showers and windy days, this fitted, durable jacket is suitable for everything from “hiking, backpacking, and travel” to “everyday use,” according to outdoors expert Holly Johnson. Its lightweight material also makes it super-easy to stuff in a bag should the sun come out.

For the mom out west

BioLite FirePit+

If Mom loves her wide-open spaces but has the anxiety of an East Coaster when it comes to kindling a fire, the BioLite FirePit was built, in the words of contributor James Lynch, to “make even the most inept fire builder look like Prometheus himself.” According to Lynch, it’s compact, easy to use, and easy to clean, with “basically no smoke,” meaning Mom can comfortably enjoy a night of stargazing around it without smelling like a smokehouse. If she likes to grill, Lynch adds that he has made hamburgers, steaks, and grilled veggies on this, too.

For the mom in Alaska

While her days are longer and brighter up there this time of year, the northern state is known to have more dark days in a row than any other. To help, contributor Alison Freer told us about this neat-looking lamp. She has been “turning it on and basking in its light from about 7 to 8 a.m. every morning” while sipping coffee and reading emails, and finds “that it actually does have an effect on the rest of my day — it’s exactly like sitting outside with your face turned toward the full morning sun.” When mom’s not using it, the lamp looks cool enough to leave out on a table or can fold flat for easy storage.

For the Arizona mom

From $15

That famous dry heat is on its way to her front door, but Weleda’s nourishing Skin Food — a Strategist staple we write about again and again — will help her beat it by softening skin from head to toe (it works just as well on the face as it does on the body as it does on the feet). It’s so effective that Sweetbitter author Stephanie Danler told us she keeps separate tubes in her bedroom, car, and purse.

For the southern mom

A cooler would be a great gift to make those summer spells on her porch longer and loungier, whether she’s drinking Champagne or sweet tea. Reviewers praise this sleek stainless-steel cooler for the way it “cools down warm wine fast, and makes cool wine colder.”

For the RV mom

Photo: Retailer

For moms on the road, these expert-recommended chairs have all the bells and whistles you could ever need when setting up at the RV park. As a bonus, there’s one for Dad, too.

For the mom you miss going on spa days with

Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla and her mom both swear by this ’80s mud mask from Italian princess-founded skin-care company Borghese. Basically a luxe Tuscan vacation in a jar, one application of this thick green goop will leave all complexions “shiny, smooth, and better than they looked before,” says Pardilla.

For the mom you miss going to the movies with

$15 for 2

If movie nights were your thing back home, set up a FaceTime date and send her some of this seasoning (what author Jenny Han calls “the secret to movie-theater popcorn at home”) to recreate that AMC experience.

For the mom you miss going running with

New York features editor Katy Schneider uses this sleek storage belt from Nike to turn errands into an aerobic workout, and it’s ideal for moms on the go, too.

For the mom who always asks what you’re reading

For $20 a month, you can send your mom a new book to read — and because she gets to pick it out from a curated selection each time, there’s no chance of buying her something that’s already on her shelf.

For the mom who reads more than you do

If she’s already onto the New Yorker, a Paris Review subscription is another way to refresh her reading list. And the fact that it’s quarterly rather than bimonthly makes it a little easier to keep up with, as actress Judy Greer points out.

For the empty-nester mom

Because she deserves a break, here’s a plant baby that doesn’t require too much nurturing.

For the not quite empty-nester mom

This fluffy, doughnut-shaped dog bed comes recommended by several members of the Strategist team, including senior writer Liza Corsillo, whose dog, Uli, “spends hours snoozing on it every day.”

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 acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Best Gifts for Long-Distance Moms