Sure, it’s always the thought that counts. But sometimes that thought goes to the next level. We polled Real Simple’s readers and staffers on the Mother’s Day gifts that have stood out over the years.

By Liz Steelman
Updated March 30, 2016
Vstock LLC / Getty Images
Vstock LLC / Getty Images

Mother's Day Bouquet

The best gift I ever received for Mother’s Day was a simply decorated mason jar, filled with 21 folded slips of pastel paper on which my 21 year-old daughter had written things she loved about me. For instance: “I am grateful for your strength. You are my rock,” and “I love how funny you are—even when you aren’t trying to be funny.” The label on the top of the mason jar says “21 Things I Love About You.” I read and re-read the notes all year long, especially when I feel like a less-than-perfect mom.

—Meg Ebenhahn Ebner, via Facebook


The best Mother’s Day gift I got goes back to when my kids were in nursery school. At their school, the children would make a card for Mom that was essentially a crude, Mad Lib-style declaration of love. There were fill-in-the-blank answers for sentences that began with things like “My mom looks prettiest when...” or “I know my mom loves me when she...” Of course, there were always unintentionally hilarious answers. My favorite? One year my son wrote: “My mom makes the best... hot dogs.” Hot dogs! I mean, couldn’t he have said, I don’t know, organic mac and cheese?!? It was slightly mortifying, and not really even true, but apparently straight from his little hot-dog-loving heart.

—Kristin van Ogtrop, editor of Real Simple


One year my husband packed up all the kids and took them to his mom’s house for Mother’s Day. At first I was mad because I wanted to spend the day with my kids, but then I realized that the silence was the best gift I could get. I was overwhelmed by a very clingy baby and her very talkative sister. I hadn’t had a moment to myself in months. It was actually a breath of fresh air, and I spent the day reading and relaxing.

—Susan Smith, via Facebook


My stepdaughter, then 6, gave me a ring. She purchased it at a school fair... with the change she found around the house! I still have it in my jewelry box.

—Feli Pardo, Real Simple editorial producer


My three grown daughters sent their father and me for a night at a fancy hotel where they joined us for a pizza party—just like when we would go on vacations. Then next morning they met us at the hotel, gave me a beautiful new outfit, and took us to brunch. While waiting in line, we struck up a conversation with a couple with young children. The mother complimented my outfit. When I told her it was part of my Mother’s Day gift she sighed and said she was not expecting much from her little ones. I told her that I proudly wore lots of macaroni necklaces before I got to this level!

—Beth Borza, via Facebook


My husband surprised me with a special Mother’s Day brunch at the Brooklyn Museum that included a special fashion tour in the museum. I thought it was so special and thoughtful.

—Victoria Sanchez-Lincoln, Real Simple fashion editor


When my son was in first grade, he brought me a lovely hand decorated card. It said, “I love my mom because she’s the best at mixed challenge math!” I immediately teared up and laughed. What my little boy didn’t know was how hard I struggled with math as a child. He believed I was great at math. I felt so special about a subject that had caused me so much pain.

—Jennifer Frisch, via Facebook


My favorite tradition is spending a lazy morning with my family, and eating a big breakfast at home. In the afternoon my husband takes over so I can go have a date with a mom friend. We usually treat ourselves to a massage and then a wonderful meal.

—Lori Leibovich, editor of


My best gift has been the start of a mother/daughter journal with my daughter at about age 8. It is a double-sided journal. She started from the front and I from the back. We agreed to not read the letters until an agreed upon time. It’s our little time capsule to each other.

—Ana Wilson, via Facebook

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Still not sure what to get your mom? We’ve put together 42 of the best fun, functional and heartfelt Mother’s Day gifts to show mom how much you appreciate her.