Quick disclaimer: This article broadly uses the language “mom” and “her” for simplicity, but it’s important to remember that not all primary caregivers are women, and not all people who give birth are women.
I hate when people give me crap I don’t want, that I have to pretend to love and then feel guilty about donating or regifting soon after. Don’t get me wrong — I adore the sentiment behind gift-giving. But that sentiment isn’t something you have to go to a store and purchase.
If you asked moms as a collective what we actually, really want, do you know what the consensus would be? Time. We never have enough, and what we do have is usually rarely our own. While you can’t exactly wrap the actual concept of time, you can give gifts that will afford a mama more of it by taking something off her plate — showing you care by doing an act of kindness for her.
If you need some ideas for how to do this, look no further: Below are eight gift ideas for how to gift moms more time, each categorized by a different gift-giving style, along with the level of effort it takes on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being the most chill and 5 being the most ambitious). Happy gifting, bubbelahs!
Festival of Zs: A Gift for the Exhausted Mom
What: A long, lovely nap
Effort Level: 3
How to Wrap It: Affix a label to a small bottle of lavender pillow spritz: “Instructions: Spritz on your pillow during your 2 hour luxury nap while I watch the kids.”
How to: Hold down the fort so Mom can take a good two-hour nap. Coordinate and schedule a specific time and date in the coming week with her for the nap to take place. Get to her house 10-15 minutes before the allotted “nap time,” so there’s time to transition and get the kids settled. Have mom lock her bedroom door (already thrilling) and create her dream nap environment (white noise, eye mask for total darkness, the fan blowing across the bed just right, etc.). Bring games or coloring books to do with the kids. Make sure they have a good time, too!
Nights of Nosh: A Gift for the Overstretched Mom
What: A meal kit or shopping service subscription
Effort Level: 1-2
How to Wrap It: Make a card that looks like a recipe titled “Recipe for Stress-Free Cooking/Shopping,” with your message inside, along with the printed instructions for how the service works.
How to: If you do want a gift you can purchase, opt for a food service instead of an item. For example, buying Mom a year’s subscription to a meal service that sends her fresh ready-to-cook meals each week, or to a delivery service that will allow her to shop for groceries from an app on her phone, will save her so much time and energy to put toward something else.
Dreidels in a Row: A Gift for the Mom Who Has No Time to Organize
What: An organized space
Effort Level: 4-5
How to Wrap It: Print a photo of a gorgeously organized drawer or closet (just Google “Home Edit images” for the perfect picture) and write over the top with a marker “Let me make your space a dream for you, by organizing your [space] in the style of [your favorite organization show]!”
How to: Not being able to find what you need can waste a lot of time! So schedule one day over the weekend to go to Mama’s home, pour a glass of rosè (or Manischewitz, if you prefer), turn on your favorite Netflix organizing show — and make things fun by having your own organizing day together! Or, if you need to go it solo, have her take the kids out for a few hours and race to surprise her so when she gets back, a beautifully upgraded space awaits her. Check out Pinterest, Instagram, and/or TikTok for dollar store organization hacks that you could integrate to up your game for a couple extra bucks.
I’m Your Shamash: A Gift for the Burned Out Mom
What: An overnight of babysitting so Mom can go out (and sleep in the next morning!)
Effort Level: 5
How to Wrap It: Print some Pinterest lists of fun date night (or self-date night) ideas, along with a note that says “Here are some ideas for you, for when I have your kids over for the night/morning so you get you-time!” Put all of this in a small shiny gift bag.
How to: Schedule a weekend for this to happen, setting times for drop-off and pick-up. Plan ahead what fun stuff you’ll do with the kids (maybe an outing to the park and then a movie night), what you’ll feed them (don’t forget tasty snacks if you really want to win them over!), and anything they’ll need to fall asleep (you will deeply regret it if you forget their special blanket, believe me).
Eat, Bubbelah: A Gift for the Mom Who Deserves a Day Off
What: 1-2 home-cooked meals so Mom doesn’t have to worry about feeding everyone for one day over the weekend.
Effort Level: 2-3
How to Wrap It: Bring the pans of food, along with a cute card.
How to Gift It: Find out what foods she and her family like to eat (not to mention any dietary restrictions and allergies!). Make sure whatever it is can be placed into easy-to-travel food containers/pans, and is easy to heat up. To be extra mensch-y, add a pan of latkes for her to heat up, too!
Love You a Latke, Bestie: A Gift for the Best Mom Friends
What: Rotating babysitting calendar
Effort Level: 3-5
How to Wrap It: Make an adorable calendar page (paper or digital) to fill out together that you each get a copy of.
How to: Create a babysitting calendar for the next month, swapping weekend nights for babysitting — i.e., she goes out one Saturday night while you babysit the kids, then you go out Saturday night the next week while she babysits yours.
Nes Gadol Hayah Mom: A Gift for the Driven-Meshugena Mom
What: A full car clean out
Effort Level: 3-5
How to Wrap it: Give her a novelty air freshener, stapled to a “Free car wash inside & out!” voucher that you write by hand on a bright slip of paper.
How to: Offer to take and deep clean Mom’s car. Give it a thorough cleaning: tidy up odds and ends that have accumulated inside; do a full vacuum of the goldfish crumbs and smashed fruit snacks from all over the back seat; and drive it through the car wash so the outside is sparkly fresh. If you have the time (and the will), you could even organize the trunk!
Oys to Joys: A Gift for the Overwhelmed Mom
What: Taking one dreaded task off her to-do list
Effort Level: 1-3
How to Wrap It: Make a voucher that looks like a game card that says “ONE (1) Get Out of Procrastination Free Card.” Put it in a colorful envelope or fancy gift card box.
How to: Offer to do one dreaded task she’s been putting off for far too long, whether it’s raking the backyard, driving that big box of clutter to the donation center, or going to the UPS Store with that package she still needs to return. There will be a little info to gather on the backend, but if you have any moms in your life who have anxiety or ADHD/executive dysfunction, they will appreciate this gift far more than you can even imagine.
Whatever you do for Hanukkah this year, make sure the special moms in your life feel a latke love. Chag sameach!