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19 best gifts for your mother-in-law that are bound to impress her

From award winning reads to a bottle of vino, you can’t go wrong with these failsafe ideas

Emma Henderson
Thursday 16 December 2021 11:38
<p>Forget anything naff or novelty – treat her to something she’ll actually want, but might not buy herself</p>

Forget anything naff or novelty – treat her to something she’ll actually want, but might not buy herself

No matter if it’s been years or weeks knowing her, finding the perfect gift for your mother-in-law (or to be!) needs to be a thoughtful affair. If you’ve recently only just been introduced, chances are, you need to impress the matriarch of the family to seal the deal and get the final approval. And a well chosen gift for her birthday or other celebration can help with that.

But as much as we love a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or a cracking box of chocolates, we’ve steered away from such traditional gifts here. Of course, they have their place as wonderful pick me ups, but we wanted to think more outside of the box.

Forget anything naff or novelty, instead take the time to find out what she really likes. The best presents are, after all, something she’s unlikely going to buy herself. Whether it’s her birthday, Christmas, an anniversary or "just because", we’ve got something in this list.

From the likes of beautiful photo frames to gorgeous smelling candles and bigger gifts for Christmas and birthdays from you and your partner that are pure luxury, we’ve got plenty of ideas to treat the mother-in-law in your life.

How we tested

Many of the items and brands on our list are products we return to time and time again, and have been failsafe gifts for us for sometime, such as Elizabeth Scarlett and T2’s tea. Other new launches we’ve tested for a couple of weeks to ensure they’re worthy of inclusion and really live up to the hype some of them are shrouded in.

Read more:

The best mother-in-law gifts for 2021 are:

  • Best for the sentimental mum  – Addison Ross enamel 4in x 6in frame: £32, Addisonross.com
  • Best daily moisturiser – whind medina dew melting rose water cream, 50ml: £55, Whind.com
  • Best pyjamas – Elizabeth Scarlett pink zebra personalised pyjamas: £75, Elizabethscarlett.com
  • Best for the staycationer – 'British Boutique Hotels' by Gina Jackson, published by Hoxton Mini Press: £20, Hoxtonminipress.com
  • Best eye mask – Drowsy pure silk eye mask: £59.95, Drowsysleepco.com
  • Best for the home chef – ‘A Cooks Book’ by Nigel Slater, published by Fourth Estate: £17.99, Wordery.com
  • Best eye palette – Charlotte Tilbury super nudes easy eye palette: £45, Charlottetilbury.com
  • Best rosé wine – Domaine Mirabeau la reserve rosé 2020: £25.99, Maisonmirabeau.com
  • Best for eco tea drinkers – T2 tea French earl grey, 15 tea bags: £8, T2tea.com
  • Best for Shakespeare fans – ‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell, published by Headline: £7.49, Waterstones.com
  • Best for the skincare lover – Elemis pro-collagen cleansing balm, 100g: £44, Elemis.com
  • Best loungewear – All Saints ridley wool cashmere jumper and joggers: £273, Allsaints.com
  • Best for organised mums – Bear Brooksbank travel jewellery box: £165: Bearbrooksbank.com
  • Best letterbox gift – Clementina Cakes: £19.99, Clementinacakes.co.uk
  • Best bracelet –Missoma tidal cuff bracelet: £98, Missoma.com
  • Best shampoo – Sol de Janero Brazilian Joia shampoo, 295ml: £22, Lookfantastic.com
  • Best silk pillowcase – Slip silk pillow case, queen/ standard size: £85, Slipsilkpillowcase.co.uk
  • Best scarf – Tartan Blanket Co. lambswool oversized scarf: £45, Selfridges.com
  • Best for candle lovers – Aqua di Parma Mediterranean candle, Capri, 200g: £59, Acquadiparma.com

Addison Ross enamel 4in x 6in frame

Best: For the sentimental mum

Rating: 8/10

A photo frame is such an easy gift, and can encapsulate any special moment shared be that between the two of you, a family get together or a recent celebration. If you’ve just got married or she’s recently celebrated a big birthday, it’s the perfect choice.

Addison Ross’ frames are sophisticated but fun, with a whole range of enamelled colours to choose from, 24 to be exact. Sizes include 4in x6in, 5in x7in and 8in x10in. The website is also super useful and lets you upload a photo to your frame for free, cutting out the hassle of printing separately and accidentally getting the wrong size (we’ve all done it). You can also crop it and give it a filter on the site too.

We also love the brands’ scalloped trays (from £77, Addisonross.com). They’re big, bright and bold and great for stylish mums showing off said photo frames on coffee tables too.

whind medina dew melting rose water cream, 50ml

Best: Daily moisturiser

Rating: 9/10

This relatively new skincare brand has been inspired by the founder’s Moroccan heritage, and we love how this shows even in the small details like the packaging. The boxes are a golden sandy brown hue that contrasts the pots and bottles the products are encased in, which feature gorgeous jewel tones of golds, rich blues, burnt oranges and pinks – all reminiscent of the colours of Morocco.

The brand describes this moisturiser as giving weightless yet long lasting hydration, and we couldn’t agree more. It’s an ultra-light water-based cream but gives skin a powerful moisture boost, thanks to ingredients including hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and rose water. It’s not oily, but our skin felt deliciously dewy, plumper and still felt super soft hours after applying it. We think this is the go-to daily moisturiser everyone’s been looking for.

We also really like the Marrakech light illuminating magic oil (£69, Ukwhind.com) which we found was also moisturising, and did give us a gorgeous glow, without being greasy.

When it comes to its credentials, there’s an impressive list. All of the products from the brand are dermatologically tested, vegan, cruelty free, as well as being Peta certified. There’s also no sulfates, parabens or phthalates used as ingredients either. Whind is carbon neutral certified, and the packaging is at least 90 per cent recyclable, and the brand plans for it to be fully recyclable soon.

Elizabeth Scarlett pink zebra personalised pyjamas

Best: Pyjamas

Rating: 9/10

We’ve long been fans of Elizabeth Scarlett’s ever-useful everyday pouches (£28, Elizabethscarlett.co.uk), whether it’s used as a make-up bag, a smaller packing bag in your suitcase, or to keep smaller bits like chargers and cables in your handbag, these gorgeous embroidered designs are such a great size. Now the brand has branched out into jammies, and we love these fuschia pink zebra printed ones.

Made from 100 per cent cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative – the world’s largest cotton sustainability programme – they’re very soft and cosy and great for lounging on winter nights. We tried a size medium and found them to be generously roomy, so take that into consideration when buying. The zebra design has been lovingly hand drawn and the pjs feature contrasting white piping along the edges, as well as a pocket, drawstring waist, and come in a cute cotton reusable bag too. They’re also available in midnight blue too if that’s more up your MIL’s street.

We know these make perfect gifts, especially as they can be monogrammed for an extra £16, with up to three letters. If you want to go all out, there’s even a matching scrunchie (£8, Elizabethscarlett.co.uk) – it’s currently sold out, but you can still sign up to be notified once it’s made a comeback.

'British Boutique Hotels' by Gina Jackson, published by Hoxton Mini Press

Best: For the staycationer

Rating: 8/10

Who doesn’t love a good old weekend away in the country? Exactly. This beautiful book is a lovely little reminder of just how great Britain can be for holidays. But forget camping, oh no, this is not about roughing it. Instead it’s the perfect coffee table book to plan a well deserved weekend in a beautiful hotel, whether that’s wine tasting, at a spa, at a Michelin starred restaurant, in the city or near a beautiful sandy beach, as when doesn’t your mother-in-law deserve a little R&R?

Drowsy pure silk eye mask

Best: Eye mask

Rating: 8/10

Not all sleep masks are made equal. We all know many of them are too tight around your head and actually end up giving us headaches, or they’re too small and let the pesky light in around your nose. Enter the Drowsy mask. It may look huge, but it’s super soft, made of silk and very good at it’s job. It stays on all night, so you won’t wake up with it under your pillow (or bizarrely under your bed) and it doesn’t feel tight around your head at any point. For anyone who struggles to sleep or where light is an issue, this is a little luxurious gift that’s bound to help her fall into a deep slumber, and stay there.

‘A Cooks Book’ by Nigel Slater, published by Fourth Estate

Best: For the home chef

Rating: 9/10

As the food columnist of The Observer for more than 25 years, Nigel Slater knows a thing or two about good food. Written during the pandemic, at his own kitchen table, this hefty tome is full of the favourite recipes of the writer. But the recipes and memories and stories in between them are much older, and detail his life through the lens of food.

Cooking is all about making something to eat to share with others. He so eloquently writes about how important his role as a recipe writer is: "To guide a new cook towards a pleasing dinner". He self professes he is not a chef, he is a home cook, and his cooking is all about "simple food, nothing fancy" as he puts it.

It’s quite literally packed with more than 200 recipes, with 14 sections, ranging from "breaking bread" to "pudding and other matters’’, to give just a flavour, with recipes such as minced lamb with lime and coriander to Thai bubble and squeak fritters. Bon appetit.

Charlotte Tilbury super nudes easy eye palette

Best: Eye palette

Rating: 8/10

From the queen of all things make-up is this new mini palette, aptly named "super nudes". With just six different tones, it’s been cleverly designed to create two looks, one for day-wear, and the other a more sultry look for the evening. It’s also not a daunting palette, with lots of different colours that can be overwhelming and confusing, and ultimately feel like a waste if you’re not sure they’re right for you. Instead, this palette is easy to use and has created the looks for you. The palette’s first three pans are made up of caramel brown shades for the day, while the end three are warmer bronze shades for that smokey eye look.

The shadows have been finely milled, and we found them super easy to glide on too, with little fallout. They give a good pigment of colour which lasted a long time, and didn’t crease over time either. They’re also nicely buildable too and easy to blend as well. For those who love make-up, but prefer to keep their make-up bags minimal, this is the perfect palette for them.

Domaine Mirabeau la reserve rosé 2020, 13.5%, 75cl

Best: Rosé wine

Rating: 8.5/10

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, rosé is not just for summer. Of course, chilled on a hot day it’s utter bliss, but during the cold months its zingyness helps cut through some of the gout-inducing heavy foods we fill ourselves with.

This limited edition cuvee is from one of our favourite wine producers, Maison Mirabeau. It’s characterised with notes of apricot, peach and orange zest, which are all welcome flavours whatever the weather. Coming from the Mirabeau estate, at the foothill of the Maures mountains, regenerative practises are used in production, and to top it off, 50 per cent of the profits from this wine are donated to the Regenerative Viticulture Foundation – which was setup by Mirabeau founder Stephen Cronk, to highlight the importance of this way of farming.

It’s light, easy to drink and fresh. So if she’s already a fan of Mirabeau, this will make a perfect gift.

T2 tea French earl grey, 15 tea bags

Best: For eco tea drinkers

Rating: 9/10

For any earl grey loving mum, this is the ultimate tea bag. Made with a blend of classic medium black tea and bergamot, we love it best made in a pot on a lazy Saturday morning in bed. It is pretty floral though, so probably won’t be an every day tea (unless they’re a die-hard fan). It’s also a plastic free tea bag, so will win you points with eco mums too. The bag is made from cornstarch, which is fully compostable, the cardboard cube is recyclable, but the inner plastic bag is not yet recyclable, but the brand is working on it.

Read our full round-up of the best plastic free tea bags.

‘Hamnet’ by Maggie O’Farrell, published by Headline

Best: Book for Shakespeare fans

Rating: 9/10

As 2020’s winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, this book needs little convincing that it’s a great gift. Based on the life of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet, who died at 11-years-old, little is known about him, including how he passed away. But what we do know is that four years after his death, his father wrote the play Hamlet.

The book’s chapters alternate between the novel’s present day, 1596, and the prevailing years, detailing how Hamnet’s parents met. It also focuses on the strong bond of twins and the strains on a relationship that death causes, making it an incredibly moving, beautifully written and an original take on what the playwright’s life could have been like. Of course, most of the novel, apart from the bare bones, is fictional and O’Farrell’s vivid imagining of the time (which she calls her “idle speculation”) meant we  found ourselves desperate to turn the pages until it was finished.

Elemis pro-collagen cleansing balm, 100g

Best: For the skincare lover

Rating: 9.5/10

Taking the day’s face off is not always the easiest – or most fun – part of wearing and doing make-up. It can often feel like a real chore instead of being an enjoyable part of your skincare routine – but leaving it on is bad for our skin. If your mother-in-law is a stickler for taking make-up off but doesn’t have the right tools, you’ll absolutely win her over with this balm.

A real treat for the skin it helps wash away everything from the day, from oil to SPF. Simply scoop a little amount, rub it between your hands until it becomes more of an oil, then gently rub into your skin, which is when you’ll feel it quite literally melting the day way, and then rinse. It comes with a handy little towelling face cloth to rinse your face off properly, too.

After using, skin feels fresh, clean, plumper and bouncy, thanks to ingredients such as elderberry oil, which has fatty acids in it, and starflower oil, which helps maintain skin metabolism. It’s something she’ll absolutely look forward to using and is a little tub of luxury. It’s a classic for a reason.

All Saints ridley wool cashmere jumper and joggers

Best: Loungewear

Rating: 8/10

Who doesn’t love a little bit of luxury when it comes to loungewear? It’s the hero of 2020 that we couldn’t have made it through the year (and subsequent) without. And here All Saints has given it its own touch in the form of a wool and cashmere blend that feels as soft as if it were just cashmere. It’s made with responsible wool standard certified wool (RWS), which ensures sheep have been treated properly.

The jumper has a slouchy fit, perfect for what it’s intended for, yet it still has a great shape with a funnel neck (and helps to keep her cosy), as well as dropped shoulders and fitted sleeves. While the joggers have cuffs bottoms to keep properly snuggly, as well as a drawstring waist for comfort. We also think they’re absolutely acceptable to wear out of the house too.

Jumper: £169, Allsaints.com

Joggers: £104, Allsaints.com

Bear Brooksbank travel jewellery box

Best: For organised mums

Rating: 8/10

After often being asked by customers where could they find the perfect jewellery box,  jewellery designer and vintage collector, Bear Brooksbank decided to make her own. Much like Bear’s jewellery, the boxes are super chic, coming in black leather as well as in a range of sizes. The "home bear box" (£385, Bearbrooksbank.com) is larger and keeps your jewels organised at home on your dressing table, while the "travel bear box" is as it sounds, for when you’re away, and helps keep everything safe in one place.

Both are embossed with the brand’s signature walking bear and fasten with a little popper, and inside is a removable ring tray, which can fit four rings. If you’re after more space for bigger pieces though, it can just be taken out and used as a single compartment box. The inside is lined with a super soft grey material that will take care of your prized possessions while in transit. It also comes in a cute branded white drawstring cotton dust bag, to protect the box too.

Clementina Cakes

Best: Letterbox gift

Rating: 8/10

If you’re not going to be seeing your mother-in-law anytime soon, but want to let her know you’re thinking of her, edible postal treats are such an easy win. Celementina Cakes are wonderfully rich and gooey brownies and blondies, which are chunky, decadent and do not shy away from lavish toppings. Our favourite is the original loaded chocolate brownies, which come with shavings of milk chocolate on top. There’s also gluten free options, and the entire range is an instant pick me up. They come in perfect letterbox sized parcels with 12 brownies inside, so your recipient doesn’t even need to be in to receive the post.

Missoma tidal cuff bracelet

Best: Bracelet

Rating: 8/10

  • Dimensions: Inner diameter 58mm x 42mm
  • Weight: 19g

Want to give jewellery, but make it affordable? Of course our first port of call is Missoma, thanks to its well designed range, whether it’s earrings, necklaces, rings or bracelets that don’t break the bank. This 18ct gold-plated bracelet is both timeless yet modern and we love the twisted croissant like design of it, which is thicker in the middle. Part of the bottom handily flicks out on a hinge so you can put it on your wrist, and close it again to secure it, so she won’t lose it. It comes in Missoma’s signature gift box too.

Sol de Janero Brazilian Joia shampoo, 295ml

Best: Shampoo

Rating: 9/10

If like many of us, holidays haven’t been possible again this year, this utterly delightful smelling gift will whisk her off to sunnier climes and give her ultra soft hair, too. We’re obsessed with this brand, and the lip butter (£15, Selfridges.com) is one of our absolute go-to lip saviours, and can be a perfect little stocking filler for her too if you’re looking for something smaller.

After rising to fame for its aptly named bum bum cream body butter (£37.40, Lookfantastic.com), the brand’s shampoo is also devine, and brightens up bathrooms too with its sunshine yellow branding. The formula doesn’t leave hair feeling stripped as it doesn’t include sulphates. It does however leave locks beautifully smooth and soft, but doesn’t weigh down finer hair with its moisture. We can’t stop recommending it to people, and we’re pretty sure your mother-in-law will do the same.

Slip silk pillow case, queen/ standard size

Best: Silk pillowcase

Rating: 8/10

  • Size: 20x30in / 51 cm x 76 cm

The benefits of a silk pillowcase are renowned across industry experts from dermatologists to hairdressers. Why? They can help you avoid snagging your hair and waking up with a dier bed head as well as avoiding the dreaded "sleep crease" on your face, neck and chest too. If your mother-in-law is a devout follower of her nighttime skincare routine too, silk is also less absorbent than cotton, so won’t soak up all her hard work, and actually helps keep moisture in.

Using the highest grade of long fibre mulberry silk and with a thickness of 22 momme (the measurement of weight in material), there’s no toxic dyes in the material. Instead, it’s just what it says on the tin – pure silk. There’s a huge range of colours to choose from, as well as sizes, so is sure to be a welcome addition to her bedspread.

Tartan Blanket Co. lambswool oversized scarf

Best: Scarf

Rating: 9/10

Edinburgh based Tartan Blanket Co. is a brand that is modernising the humble Scottish blanket, creating everything from classic picnic rugs to baby blankets. We’re sure she will love the olive scarf as much as we do; it’s a classic design, made with super soft lambswool, and the “oversized” style (50cm x 200cm, including fringing) is perfect for wrapping up with, either around your neck for outside or around your shoulders at home.

The brand has also committed to donating 1 per cent of its profits to organisations supporting people in need, and 1 per cent to organisations protecting the planet. We also love that it comes in plastic free packaging too. Available in 13 other colours and two more sizes, you can also have it embroidered for an additional £10.

Aqua di Parma Mediterranean candle, Capri, 200g

Best: For candle lovers

Rating: 9/10

A candle is another winning idea when it comes to gifts too, but here it’s taken up a notch thanks to Acqua di Parma’s incredible scents. Perhaps she loves the island of Capri, or dreams of going one day? If so, this candle immediately whisks you away after its aroma fills your room. It has a burning time of up to 50 hours, so there’s plenty of time to soak up that holiday feeling.

The verdict: Mother-in-law gifts

We really love the Addison Ross enamel frames for their versatility and simplicity. Plus the ability to upload (and edit) your own photo to go in the frame at no extra cost is a real time saver. Whind’s products are gorgeously luxurious and will help to keep her skin blissfully moisturised, as well as looking good on her dressing table. While Nigel Slater’s A Cooks Book will provide plenty of new inspiration for those who love to cook and entertain.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on gifts for Christmas and beyond, try the links below:

Need more inspiration? Try our edit of the best charity Christmas gifts or Christmas gifts for wine lovers

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