My Mom Is Impossible to Shop for—Here's What I'm Giving Her This Year

From an unbelievably soft cardigan to a gorgeous silk scarf, they're sure to get her seal of approval.
By Nina Huang
December 10, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Credit: awaytravel.com/nordstrom.com

What do you get someone who wants for nothing? That has been a question I’ve struggled to answer most of my life. As an avid gift giver, I find tracking down the perfect present for my family to be a joy, especially during the holiday season. My sister? Simple—something gorgeous and fun that’ll stand out in her living room, like Rifle Paper Co.’s new puzzles. My brother? Even easier—a Nintendo Switch game or a classic jacket from Carhartt that I know he’ll enjoy for years to come. 

But when it comes to my mom, things get a whole lot trickier. 

You see, my 59-year-old mom is nearly impossible to shop for. She doesn’t care for anything ostentatious or gaudy with no practicality, and she’s not usually the type of person to go beyond her comfort zone. As she would say, she “likes what [she] likes,” so finding something she’ll enjoy without it being a total bore can be difficult. 

To avoid last-minute scrambling, I started planning early this year. Over the past few months, I compiled a list of things that my mom might like. From the softest cardigan I’ve ever touched to Coravin’s special wine preservation system that any wine enthusiast would appreciate, I’ve successfully narrowed it down to 13 options that I know will put a smile on her face—and may put one on your mom’s, too. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who knows someone who’s challenging to shop for, so hopefully my gift guide will save you a lot of time this year. Check out the items below before the holiday shipping deadlines are over. 

Credit: nordstrom.com

$114; nordstrom.com

My love for Barefoot Dreams is well-documented at this point: From ultra-soft throws to unbelievably comfy socks, the brand’s products are some of the coziest things I’ve ever owned. Since my mom prefers comfort over flashiness when it comes to fashion, this classic cardigan is perfect for her. It’s so soft that even my sister has requested one for Christmas, and the elegant design makes it a must-have basic. 

Credit: nordstrom.com

$34; macys.com

Since my mom’s birthday is close to Christmas, our family likes to celebrate both special days with one big party. Social distancing rules won’t make that possible this year, so I’m buying this Anecdote candle that smells like “friendly pours and holiday cheer”—or red wine and cinnamon—to bring back memories of those jolly gatherings. 

Credit: nordstrom.com

$70; nordstrom.com

Called “the very best” by Nordstrom reviewers who have used Shiseido products for decades, this smoothing eye cream reduces under-eye wrinkles and crow’s feet—something that bothers my nearly 60-year-old mom more than she cares to admit. It’s infused with the brand’s signature ReNeura Technology and Kombu-Bounce Complex, the latter of which is an algae formulation that serves as a natural wrinkle filler. Plus, it contains the anti-aging super ingredient squalene, which provides tons of hydration for my mom’s dry skin.  

Credit: girlfriend.com

$128; girlfriend.com

My sister bought my mom a fuzzy fleece years ago, only to love it so much that she ended up stealing it back for herself. That’s why I’ll be adding Girlfriend Collective’s full-zip fleece jacket to my cart. Not only is it warm, but it’s also made from 59 recycled plastic bottles, which will surely earn my eco-minded mom’s seal of approval. 

Credit: riflepaperco.com

$98; riflepaperco.com

While my mom’s style can be described as simple yet elegant, this beautiful silk scarf from Rifle Paper Co. is guaranteed to be her go-to when she wants to add a dose of luxury to her outfit. It even comes wrapped in a beautiful gift box with gold foil. 

Credit: thesill.com

$45; thesill.com

Having a vegetable and herb garden in our home has given my mom a green thumb, and this tiny Hoya Heart Duo is just about the cutest plant gift I’ve ever seen. Since they come in a two-pack, I plan on keeping one for myself and giving one to my mom. It’ll surely brighten up my window sill and I hope it does the same for her’s.  

Credit: spanx.com

$138; spanx.com

Spanx’s Perfect Black Pant is legendary at this point, and it even has the approval of Oprah, who listed it as one of her favorite things in 2019. With their flattering and comfortable design, these pants are just about the best classic black bottoms on the market. They’re almost guaranteed to become my mom’s favorite piece of clothing. 

Credit: madeincookware.com

$59; madeincookware.com

Made In’s incredibly popular cookware and kitchenware are beloved in the culinary world, and reviewers have raved about these wine glasses that are designed to aerate your wine. Made in Italy, the brand’s red wine glasses are resistant to breakage and scratches, and are easy to hold. They’re perfect for my wine-loving mom, who appreciates both a good sip and a good glass. 

Credit: nordstrom.com

$69; nordstrom.com

Not only does my mom love a good glass of wine, but she’s also a coffee enthusiast who can’t start her day without a pour-over. It’s her favorite morning ritual, so Fellow’s Stagg [X] Pour Over Set is an ideal gift for coffee lovers like her. The vacuum-insulated dripper preserves a stable water temperature while brewing, and its steeper slope allows for more contact between the hot water and the ground coffee, making for a smooth, strong sip. 

Credit: nordstrom.com

$20; nordstrom.com

My mom’s hands, like mine, are usually unbearably dry in the winter months, so I always make sure to pass along any good hand cream I come across. The best I’ve tried (and I've tried a lot) is from Nécessaire, whose version is so soft, creamy, and ultra-hydrating that it’s the only one capable of keeping my dry hands moisturized without causing a greasy feel. 

Credit: getvinebox.com

$95; getvinebox.com

Going on a wine tour across Europe has been my mom’s dream for years, but since most international travel plans are on indefinite pause for the time being, I’m getting this Vinebox tasting set of European wines as a temporary fix. It includes seven reds and two whites from regions in France and Spain, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the box is gift-ready with gorgeous gold decoration. 

Credit: awaytravel.com

$195; awaytravel.com

My mom always carries an inordinate amount of things around, from letters and small packages to her wallet, iPad, and water bottle. So to help keep things organized, I’m turning to Away’s Mini Everywhere Bag, which can easily fit her many essentials. Designed with a removable shoulder strap and hidden interior zipper pockets, this versatile bag might finally reduce the clutter. It even comes with a detachable key clip, which is perfect for the mom who’s always losing her keys. 

Credit: coravin.com

$200 (was $400); amazon.com

My siblings and I are so sure that my mom will love Coravin’s wine preservation system, we actually fought over who gets to give it to her this year. It’s the ultimate present for wine lovers, especially someone like my mom who likes to enjoy a glass at dinner but can never finish a whole bottle on her own. The Coravin needle pierces the bottle’s cork, which expands back into place when the needle is removed, essentially re-sealing the bottle. Any wine that’s poured out is replaced with argon gas included in the kit, so no oxygen ever enters the bottle, allowing the wine to stay super fresh. The Model Six is the most luxurious from Coravin’s line, and with my mom turning 60 this year, we wanted to give her the best of the best.