Slate has relationships with various online retailers. If you buy something through our links, Slate may earn an affiliate commission. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. All prices were up to date at the time of publication.
Quarantine for moms of young kids bears a slight resemblance to postpartum life without all the hormones: You’re stuck inside, anxiety is high, the child care can be relentless, and time to yourself is precious. For moms of adult children, the time to oneself may be too great—the seemingly endless days replete with isolation and worry about far-flung family members. This Mother’s Day, all moms could use an extra bit of TLC. We’ve combed our archives to unearth some past favorite gift ideas that are perfect to help Mom indulge in a little bit of pampering. (Check out our companion gift guide for the mom who might prefer more practical yet still delightful treats.)
Winter may be behind us, but dry, cracked skin remains, due to our necessary but incessant hand-washing. Your mom may need some heavy duty salve, but she’d get some pleasure interspersing use of the high-octane stuff with a lovely, fancy hand lotion. “I first received this hand cream as a gift, but now that I have experienced it, it has become a staple of mine,” commerce associate Cleo Levin says of Compagnie de Provence hand creams, which she reports absorb “right into your hands leaving no trace of grease.” Slate regional sales director Erika Anderson loves FarmHouse Fresh Hand Cream, which she calls “luxury in a tube.”
Candles can seem like an incredibly overpriced frivolity until you’ve experienced how effectively their calming scents and subtle glow can positively envelop your space. Slate’s favorite candles include those from Diptyque (Baies scent), Voluspa (Prosecco Rose scent), and Nest (all scents are delicious, but Sicilian Tangerine and Bamboo particularly so). These are an extravagance, but trust us when we say your mom will enjoy them.
Every now and then, it’s nice to change out of the sweatpants, get dressed, and feel like oneself in the Before Times. And if Mom regularly complains about how she looks over Zoom, some new makeup might be a welcome treat. Staff writer Christina Cauterucci sprung for Marc Jacobs highliner gel eye crayon eyeliner for her wedding, and “now that I’ve tried it, I’ll never go back.” She likes the shade (Stone)Fox 58, which she calls “shimmery but not over the top.” Former Slatester Inkoo Kang raves about Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine Oil-in-Stick Lipstick: “Yes, the name sounds mildly gross, but every aspect of it, from the way its weight presses into my hand when I hold it, to the way it lasts lightly on my lips, feels like a brush with luxuriousness.”
With everyone’s sleep being disrupted these days, who couldn’t use a little help to feel more refreshed? Staff writer Shannon Palus calls these under-eye masks “a great gift for the self-care enthusiast who has everything. Like so much of skin care, whether the serum does anything is sort of a mystery to me—but I don’t care because it feels soothing on my skin, especially after a day that involved crying and/or general stress.”
The shower may be Mom’s sole refuge right now. Behind a locked door, the gushing water diffuses her baby’s cry, a sibling squabble, or her partner’s loud conference calls. Care and Feeding columnist Jamilah Lemieux says, “This durable speaker will allow you to enhance the quality of your sacred solo time with some of your favorite tunes.”
Everyone’s walking more, with neighborhood strolls and local runs being some of our only outdoor outlets. Why not treat Mom to some extra-nice socks? Palus, an avid runner, recommends Balega Comfort socks: “Thick squishy socks sure are nice. Especially if they are neon yellow or pink.”
It can be tough to buy clothes for another person, but Slate staff writer Rachelle Hampton swears by this Amazon dress, which she’s recommended to many friends and co-workers. What’s so great about it? “In movement, it does actually make you want to frolic in a meadow like a Disney princess. It’s impossible not to twirl in it, just to see the skirt flare out,” she writes. It’s a great choice for the optimistic mom, who’s looking ahead to brighter days when we can venture out again: “The Milumia maxi is a chameleon, blending in perfectly to any situation from work to parties to the beach, and it’s also one of those items that receives boundless compliments in whatever scenario you chose to wear it to.”
If the mom in your life is the sort who gets solace from cooking, treat her to some fresh spices and high-end olive oil. Slate podcasts’ Asha Saluja says, “Burlap & Barrel’s spices are an absolutely worthy splurge,” and Slate Studios project manager Meryl Devulder says L’Estornell is “the ultimate olive-y olive oil [that] truly elevates any loaf of bread or plain salad.”
Every day in quarantine is an emotional roller coaster, and Mom could probably use a private outlet for her feelings. Or she simply may want to chronicle this unique time in history. Staff writer Heather Schwedel sings the praises of Rifle notebooks, saying that after sticking with the habit of writing in a journal, “I decided to reward myself by buying the kind of special, fancy journal I always covet at stationery stores but had always considered an impractical expense.”
Sitting all day at a subpar home office chair, or with her laptop on a couch, is probably exacerbating Mom’s muscle aches and back pain. Lemieux recommends this massage chair pad as a quick route to relief.