When it comes to picking out mother-in-law gifts, the pressure is on. And if you’re going to your in-laws for the holidays (maybe as newly engaged, maybe for the first time as a married couple), you certainly should be prepared to bring a stellar gift. Even if you have a wonderful relationship with your in-laws, it’s always important to be a gracious guest—helping with the cooking, making sure you’re engaged and “on” at pretty much all times…it can be exhausting for sure. Not to mention if your relationship with them is strained.
But as exhausting as it can be to be a gracious guest, remember (regardless of how well you get along with them) that it’s probably just as exhausting (probably more so) for your in-laws to host you for any extended period. And since we know you want to show how grateful you are to share the holidays with them (hopefully no political talk allowed), you’ll want to make sure you pick out the perfect hostess gift for your mother-in-law to make sure you’re really setting the tone for the time that you’re there. And if asking your partner what they think you should bring is an exercise in futility (as it usually is) it’s all good, because we—as usual—have got you covered, with mother-in-law gifts ideas for days. Just remember, whatever you do, don’t show up empty-handed! You weren’t raised in a barn, so don’t act like it.
For the Entertainer
For the woman who loves nothing more than filling her house with loved ones and somehow is able to whip up a cheese and charcuterie board (complete with nuts and fancy jams) at a moment's notice, here are some perfect ideas sure to impress! Bring any of these on their own (don't forget to make the packaging/presentation chic in that case—wrapping in a pretty paper or adorning with a hand-dyed silk ribbon for extra oomph), or really impress her and put all of these in a French-style market tote, et voilà!
You don't have to live in NYC to get a taste of the city's best cheese shop! Bring one of their samplings of cheeses to impress not only your MIL but everyone. It'll be gone in under five minutes, for better or worse. Hygge Holiday, $120, available at Murray's
It's a salami bouquet. Just do it. Olympia Provisions Salami Bouquet, $50–$85, available at Food52
This one's a no-brainer. A cheese board isn't the most original hostess gift in the world, but these certainly are! Monogram: check. Brass details: check. The prettiest multicolored marble: check. Marbled Monogram Cheese Board, $38, available at Anthropologie
It's not just about meat and cheese. You've gotta have some other items to liven up that appetizer spread--what better than a bunch of goodies from the master himself, Jose Andres? This set includes extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, Picos breadsticks, pisto and sardines—but you can grab a handful of the other products (olives, spreads) and make your own gift basket! Jose Andres Foods Gift Basket, $83.95, available at La Tienda
For the MIL Who Orders Thanksgiving Dinner From the Fanciest Restaurant in Town
She likes thing done easily, well, and in good taste. She has a discerning palette and takes pride in her fine china. And yes, she's extremely intimidating to shop for.
Everyone loves champagne, and everyone especially loves champagne around the holidays. And for your picky—err, discerning—MIL, Moët & Chandon’s Impérial Brut Champagne will certainly please her. And the festive box is just a sparkly added bonus! Available at Moët & Chandon
Classic chinoiserie in traditional (but trending) blue and white. Because you best not put that Manhattan on bare wood or marble. Tsk tsk. Chinoiserie Ceramic Coasters with Holder, $50, available at Williams Sonoma
There's not a soul alive who doesn't enjoy a good candle, especially when it gets chilly outside and all you want is to be tucked inside your home with loved ones. A candle that is sophisticated in scent and has such nice packaging that it doesn't need to be hidden away when not being used is a must for a hostess gift, especially for a hostess as discerning as your MIL! Cire Trudon Lumière Classic Candle, $105, available at Barney's New York.
This MIL doesn't just deserve run-of-the-mill slippers, she needs the most indulgent slippers out there! These come in four pretty colors and are the softest cashmere—a treat for her feet! Women's Puff Slippers, $80, available at Naked Cashmere, starting December 1st
For the MIL Who Is Always Trying New Recipes
Sure she has her go-to dishes, but for the mother-in-law who will be more than thrilled and not intimidated with a brand-new kitchen toy (spiralizer? sure! multicooker? bring it on!), make sure you get her something fun and new that maybe she hasn't even seen before to show you were really thinking of her!
We recently got our hands on this beautiful cookbook, and we love it. It's bursting with beautiful imagery and really yummy recipes—and Le Creuset certainly is the perfect resource to trust when it comes to recipes! Plus, there are a ton of great ideas for cozy wintertime meals. Le Creuset Cookbook, $35
Isn't it always the practical things we end up waiting years to replace because it just seems like an unnecessary expense? Gift your MIL these beautiful white and copper cooking utensils (with a matching canister to boot!) so she can upgrade just in time for Thanksgiving cooking. Williams Sonoma 5-piece Tools, $109.96
This pan is an easy way for your MIL to impress her guests next time she makes a bundt cake (and heck, if they were all this pretty we'd all be making a lot more bundt cakes). Tip: Package this with ingredients for a bundt cake and wrap it all in a pretty tablecloth for a more rounded-out gift.
Not your average casserole dish, this one not only has a pretty reactive glaze, but a gold accent for that extra unique touch. Casserole Dish, $78, available at Anthropologie
For the MIL Who Needs (or Wants) to be Pampered
All mothers (and MILs) deserve to be pampered, but if you feel like she really needs some indulgence, try one of these gifts for your mother-in-law that are all about her!
There's nothing better than fresh, cozy, flannel pajamas when the weather gets cold, but it's yet another thing that you rarely think about upgrading yourself. These from Boll and Branch are softer than soft and super warm—but lightweight—for winter nights. Plus, we like that they're a windowpane print instead of classic flannel, which make them feel a little less expected! Women's Flannel Pajama Pants, $70, available at Boll & Branch
Nothing livens up a room more than fresh flowers, and it certainly is a worthy indulgence to have them around as much as possible! Bring your MIL a bouquet when you arrive, and then gift her a subscription of a couple of weeks or months worth of flower deliveries from The Bouqs! Easy peasy! Various subscription plans, prices vary, The Bouqs Company
These soaps are so pretty, they don't even need to be wrapped! Throw in some bath salts and a candle and you've got the perfect pampering gift. Claus Porto Soaps, $50, available at NET-A-PORTER
In our opinion, having a quality olive oil is pretty much the definition of indulgence. These four little bottles are just so cute, and packaged to perfection. No gift wrapping needed. Round Pond Estate Mini 4 Bottle Gift Set, $38