Mother's Day Gifts That Give Back

You can buy a vegetable garden for someone in need in your mother's name. . Tessa Bunney/Oxfam

It feels great to celebrate and give back to our moms, and they deserve it — so the pressure’s always on when Mother’s Day rolls around. You want to find something great that your mom will love that is something that she'll actually use and won’t re-gift or donate.

A smart way to go about finding a gift is by thinking about what your mom really loves (besides her kids!). What does she spend her time doing and what does she value? Is she into gardening or is she more of a cook? Does she love to travel, or spend her time caring for homeless pets? Does she love to dress up, or is she more interested in working out? Of course, most women have more than one of these interests, but you can use the concept as a guide to find her the gift that’s right for her (and will show you have been really thinking about what she loves).

The good news is that you can give your mom something from any of the above categories and also benefit other women – and moms – around the world (including Mother Earth!). These gifts that give back allow you to show up on Mother’s Day with a gift in your hand as well as a story about how its purchase will help someone else. It’s a triple-whammy: A well thought-out gift that gives back. Guess your mom must have raised you right.

For the flower-loving mom: Fair trade flowers are now widely available at Whole Foods,, FTD and some smaller venues. Fair Trade USA works with several flower (especially rose) producers to ensure that workers' conditions are fair (a majority of flower workers are women in developing countries). Ask about fair trade flowers when you call or order your Mother’s Day selections. Organic Bouquet offers a wide variety of flower collections — all grown organically, which means fewer pesticides and herbicides on flowers and in the soil and water where flowers are grown.

For the stressed mom: Lavender is one of those plants that just works wonders for the stressed and upset. Kneipp’s lavender body washes and bath salts are a great way to help your mom use aromatherapy to achieve calm naturally. Bath salts, sachets and lotions made with the pretty purple flower are ideal for moms of all ages.

For the animal-loving mom: If your mom loves animals, she will be thrilled to know that her gift goes to help pandas, tigers, polar bears, penguins, elephants and other animals that are threatened or endangered. When you symbolically "adopt an animal" through the World Wildlife Fund, you get a sweet plush toy, a certificate of adoption and a gift bag to represent your gift. Not sure what animal to choose? You can adopt a bucketful of cubs, sea animals or wild cats or frogs.

For the outdoorsy mom: Prana has a whole selection of stylish and sustainable clothing made from organic materials that are good for the Earth as well as your mom’s fashion sense. Organic cotton hiking shorts, fair trade T-shirts and work-to-gardening jackets in flattering colors and shapes will honor her love for the natural world and respect it too.

For the gardener mom: With Oxfam America, you can buy a vegetable garden for someone in need — it’s one of the organization’s most popular gifts. For the donation, a family in a developing country will be given tools and enough seeds to grow their own food, leading to self-sufficiency and full bellies. If you want to go a step further, Oxfam has another gift that sponsors a farmer (many of whom are women) and teaches them how to grow food in an environmentally sustainable way.