Single Mother's Day: 12 gifts under $20 to celebrate YOU

Remember the year you teared up when your young son beamed to give you a half-broken, worn brocade light-up lipstick carrier he bought at the school gift mart for one whole precious dollar? I do. And I am sure most moms have memories that feel much the same, filling up their buckets with pride and sweetness and the simplest, purest kind of love. 

I love the gifts my son chooses for me and I hope I always have the box of kisses and chipped candle-holder and drawings of me with big, smoochy lips and high heels and him with floppy hair and a big grin, together under a lopsided, penciled-in heart. 

It feels good to get his gifts. And handmade or purchased with his dad or my mom, I love the thought that he puts into everything he wraps up just for me. It also reminds me, in a self-care sort of way, that it is a good thing to give myself small and thoughtful gifts, especially at  the holidays. Even at Mother's Day.

What I give myself doesn't have to be extravagant (although the time I bought myself a $200 pair of amazing-ass jeans felt very good) and it doesn't have to stretch the wallet or imagination or the very limited time I have to shop (although carving out a half-hour to languish over handmade statement necklaces on Etsy when I should be ordering everyone else's gifts on Amazon does serve me well). The gifts from my son guide my way - simple, sweet tokens of affection - one dollar to twenty, used or in a shiny box on display, whatever moves me most to say, "I love you" right to myself.

It's not selfish to gift yourself, I assure you, even if money and time and emotions are tight.

Think small. Think kind. Think about what you'd like to say to yourself this year. Here are five affordable ways to say Happy Mother's Day to you.



Under there

The Birchbox for your booty, this monthly subscription box delivers three pairs of adorable undies to your door. Some are sexy lace thangs, some are cute cotton. Choose thong or no-thong, and opt for Volupties, the brand's hot little numbers in plus sizes. Splendies, $12 (on sale for $8) per month.

A swipe of shine

This lip gloss is a burst of color, a whole bunch of shine, a bit of minty cool to taste, and, oh mama, does it last. I have three stashed in my purse and several more in my make-up drawer. No matter whether you are smooching someone or spending Saturday nights taking some killer selfies, you must get this gloss. Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lip Gloss, $18

A mug you love to press your lips to

I'll cover my ears and la-la-la while you list off the diagnosis for someone who loves a monogram as much as I do. No matter. I am happy every morning to get my glossy lips (see above) on this initialed mug full of caffeine.  Anthropologie monogram mug, $8

Another good reason to drink tea

I have a stash of fancy dishes that no one else uses and I pull out for very plain, everyday meals and snacks. CheezIts and grapes on a random fine china salad plate, oatmeal out of an antique bowl and a soothing spot of tea from a cup and saucer. Somehow the ornateness makes all that ordinary feel extra-special and reminds me that the ritual of taking good care of my body, spending a few moments away from the screen and eating (even fakey orange crackers) is so good for me. Anthropologie Canopy cup and saucer, $18



Something to sip

I am all about mamas taking good care of themselves, especially single mamas who have so much to handle and may not have a partner to gently press a glass of water into her hands. So do mind your martinis. But if you have a girls' night planned or an opportunity to mix up a drinky drink or two with the safety of a taxi app, your best mama-friend or your own couch, why not make it a delicious, citrusy, simple drank?  Williams-Sonoma Yuzu-Meyer Lemon cocktail mix, $16.95


For name's sake

Give yourself a badge of honor - your own initials crafted into a statement necklace that is perfectly set in your own style. I love these acrylic pressed mod monogram necklaces, especially in tortoise shell (they come in a gazillion colors) that stands out on my wardrobe of black/blacker/blackest clothing. Monogram acrylic necklace on Etsy, $11.99



Wrap yourself up

Who doesn't need another bright, beautiful, cozy, styley scarf? The best part of these scarves is that Global Girlfriend sells them to help support female artisans from around the world, and specifically helps provide micro-loans for African women to launch small, sustaining businesses. AND, how dreamy is the kelly green woven scarf? How sexy is the red?  Ripple Effects Scarf, Global Girlfriend, on sale for $15.99 (so you can probably swing buying a scarf for another single mama you adore). 



Get sexy solo

Celebrating the dynamic, amazing woman you are on Mother's Day includes the ways you tend to your body and spirit. And that can certainly include a "massager" made just for you (or maybe a lucky partner) to know about. Check out the nice selections in the under-$20 category here for a toy that feels delicious, adventurous, but most of all, the smiley kind of self-caring for you. Pick a good one and you'll never worry how to spend those empty-house, quiet-hour visitation times alone again.  Good Vibrations, $20 and under selections


Oil it up

I love sumptuous skin products, not just because they smooth out my dry and tired temple, but also because using them makes me feel like I am investing 30 seconds just for the health of me (and maybe the death of wrinkles). I love the ease and yumminess of this pure coconut spray for those reasons. No digging your finger tips around in a jar of the same oil you use to make stir fry and far fewer greasy splotches on your good towels and fancy jammies. Plus, my skin drinks it up happily. (Why, yes, the makers of this product did send it to me to try out. And also yes, I have purchased and re-purchased it on my own since that initial review.) Capri Clear pure coconut oil spray, $17


Light up a little luxury

This year, I've come to understand the power of lighting a candle daily - when the stress hits or to prepare for a special event, as I slip in the tub or moments before I call in to a conference call. Inhaling a lovely scent sets a mood for me, and is worth the few extra dollars I swore once in Ikea while standing over bins of $2 bags of too many candles that I'd never, ever pay. Now I know better. The luxury of a candle far exceeds having a junk drawer full of never-lit, overpowering or underwhelming sandalwood-smelling cheapy candles.  Especially if it comes in a tin that looks like a jewelry box. Trust.  Voluspo Metalla candle, $16

Your daily basics - just designer

I love it when I say "designer" and mean "Target." Make over your cosmetics bag, your phone case, your key ring or some other everyday thing you throw into your purse with a newer, designer version that won't make your wallet weep. Orla Kiely's collection at your favorite place to also pick up TP and a box of OBs has bright, happy graphics and is pretty damn well-made for the price point. Orla Kiely cosmetics and other collections, Target, most at $20 and under

Your mantra reminder

Some messages you just have to tell yourself. Over and over and over again. And then once more, for good measure. This is mine, and I bought it to sit on my bathroom counter, propped up near the moisturizers and reflection of early-morning self-doubt that I wanted very much to wipe out. Find a mantra you love and a place to stick it until the words sink in even better than that $200 eye cream. Breathe Believe Receive magnet, Papaya Arts, $4.75.