What should I get my tomboy mom for Mother’s Day?

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Your tomboy mom may love this flask

With Mother’s Day around the corner I find myself in the same predicament as I always do this time of year — trying to figure out what to get my Mom.

My mom is a lesbian, has been out of the closet for 25 years. Over the years she has become more and more butch which means all the frilly pink and purple cards and mother’s day gifts just don’t work.

I have had advice to just treat it as a father-type of situation but she’s not manly. It’s a fine line that’s confusing even to me after all these years. So my question is: just what do you get a tomboy Mom for mother’s day, without it being too manly… still showing appreciation for her as Mom! — Stephanie

We love this question! Of course the easy answer is “what’s she interested in, and get her something related” … but you need more help than that or you wouldn’t be here, so here are a few ideas:

PHOTOS: framed memories from fun times together

If you’ve got pictures of your mom on your phone or on Instagram, MyPhoto makes it super easy to upload your pics and make cute gifts like these wooden blocks.

SWEET: fresh treats delivered straight to her door!

You can have this freshly made rainbow cake like this delivered to the couple’s house, thanks to Goldbelly.

If she identifies with the pride vibes, you could go for a rainbow cake from Goldbelly!


  • NATURAL: Help the couple grow during quarantine (literally!) by sending a living, growing plant gift from The Sill  — we love their Plant Parent Club!

Is your mom also a plant parents? If so, she might love TheSill.com’s PLANT PARENT CLUB. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

SOCK MONKEYS: but a family

Yep, a cute little set, dressed up like you ‘n’ mom?

A really nice engraved knife

Ignore what it says in sample picture above… imagine this knife reading HER NAME across the top, and then Best fucking mom ever along the bottom?

Comments on What should I get my tomboy mom for Mother’s Day?

  1. My butch partner says, “Well, what does she like? If it’s something she will use and enjoy, it should be a good gift.”

    Makes sense. And such a butch woman’s answer. Ha!

  2. It’s really simple and and old time-tested idea, but what about a favorite picture? Or a picture of you two from back in the day next to a current one with a quote?
    Moms always love pictures 🙂 And if you want to get crafty with it, attach it to wood or something…..good luck!!!!

    • “Moms always love pictures.”

      I think this is the kind of stereotype and generalization the question is trying to get away from. Though admittedly I’m not sure how we’re supposed to answer what kind of gifts someone likes based on their sexual preference and gender identity. Dildos maybe?

      • “I’m not sure how we’re supposed to answer what kind of gifts someone likes based on their sexual preference and gender identity.”

        This made me lol, because it’s true. Husband and I just had 5mins of labelling our friends and giving them appropriate gifts. My hetero fem friend? And apron! My hetero butch friend? A hammer! My gay dandy friend? A bowtie!

        What will your Mum use and enjoy? I love art, so I’m a fan of recommending art as a present. Does she like art?

        • This is so great. I was thinking this also…

          Okay, what does this question mean I should get my non-traditional gender role friends/in-laws, etc.

          Although gift-giving this way would be HILARIOUS, get them something they love! A mother’s day gift should have nothing to do with their gender role or sexual orientation!

          Something they love/would use/mentioned out of hand that they liked + “Thanks for being a great mom” note = awesome present.

  3. I don’t have any personal experience with this particular situation, however in general I’m not one to give the typical “frilly” gift. My mom loves to cook and I get her cooking supplies, a cookbook, a new apron, or something else for the kitchen. She also has 15 chickens and likes to maintain her garden and chicken coop, so I like to get her things that fit with that, too. I wouldn’t worry about appreciating her as a mother–she IS your mother! Appreciate her as a person and the mother part is included. I’d base whatever I got her off of what she loves to do. Likes to read? A Nook or Kindle (already has one? Books! Or a new cover! Or something!). Loves music? A new iPod shuffle (or something). 😀 😀

    Haha, pretty much what the first commenter said exactly!

  4. take something typically “mother’s day” and cover it in flannel! She’ll howl and then she’ll hug you then you’ll both laugh!

  5. You know, I have tastes that are far from girly and my husband and daughter have come up with some awesome stuff recently. It used to be hit-or-miss, but I love to hike so they got me some top notch hiking boots one year, and last year they MADE a book about hiking in our new local area. I agree with the first post-“what does she like?” Mother’s day doesn’t have to be candy and flowers. What about a great handmade card and a personal note?

    • Hiking boots or books are a brilliant gift!! You know, if she’s into hiking and camping, another really cool gift is something like a lifestaw or steripen or another type of nonmechanical drinking water system (I have a gravity filter bag that I love). I LOVE the idea of camping related gifts. A few years back my mom got my husband and I our thermarests. She insisted on getting model numbers from us to be sure it was the right thing, but it was probably the best gift she’s ever gotten us.

    • The candy and flowers part caught my eye.
      Back when my husband and I were dating, he was at a loss of what to get his mom for Mother’s Day. While she is VERY traditional, HE isn’t! And wanted to get her a unique gift. =)
      So we went to our favorite headshop and found, for pure irony’s sake, a bouquet of glass flowers and some blown glass candy that we put in a dish. She had just redone her home office, so they became decorations. (that she still has to this day)

    • I’m in a similar situation. My MIL is not gay but is very butch, men’s clothes, no nonsense, and not affectionate. Everyone here says the same darn thing, get her something she likes or could use. Well duh but if it was that simple we wouldn’t be asking for help. Seriously all my MIL does is chain smoke and drink coffee. All the house decorations are just leftovers from her dead mother (she moved into her house). She doesn’t go out, doesn’t have hobbies, or interests. I’m at a loss for what to get her. She doesn’t wear jewelry, etc. I need help!

  6. You could get a little photobook from Shutterfly- you and your mom, or just some pictures of your mom (and her partner?) that she loves.

  7. Our 6 yo son got my partner a card last year – it was pink and purple and sparkly, and there was a reference to doing “girl things” (whatever that means), that he crossed off and wrote, “guy things”. When asked why he chose that card, he said, “Cuz I’m a girlish boy, and she’s a boyish girl, and the words in the card are what we do.”

    Kid has it right. There’s far too much focus on picking out just the right thing according to gender-expression, when really, it’s all about what’s true for you and the recipient of the gift.

  8. My man’s mom and her partner are butch. We usually get a sentimental card and we have gotten her a plant (in lieu of flowers), gift cards, books, artsy stuff, ereader cover, etc.

  9. Lots of spas have gender neutral or ‘men’s’ treatments, and they’re something you can do with her. The downtime that comes with them is fantastic, as is the gift of your time if you come with her.

  10. Another really cool gift that I just heard about is a safe birth kit bought on behalf of the mom. It may or may not be the right gift for a butch woman, but I’m certainly not very feminine and I’d love something like that.

  11. I agree-think about what she likes (hobbies, interests, etc.), and go with that. Or give her the gift of time-I’m taking my mom to the movies for Mother’s Day! As far as cards go, there’s always funny/witty ones, or you could make your own, to avoid the frills and pinkness. Good luck! I’m sure your mom will appreciate whatever you do.

  12. What is she interested in? Tailor the gift to her.
    My mom is straight, but I never get her ordinary mother’s day gifts. She loves space, tea, and cacti- so I get her space related books, tea, and cacti. LOL!

  13. My mom’s not “butch” per se, but I would describe her as rather tomboyish. Typical mom-gendered stuff seems silly (pink? flowers? have you MET my mother? or ME for that matter? clearly not) so mostly I get her things for her hobbies/activities. In her case this means horse and barn stuff, for the most part. Sometimes cooking stuff. She’s actually way easier to shop for than my dad, who has a tendency to buy himself ‘the perfect thing’ about a week before his birthday/xmas, thereby forcing people to return that and resume the hunt for a gift for him.

    We’re none of us “stuff-oriented” so the whole holiday-enforced gifting thing is kind of a joke in my family. I made people a lot of food for Xmas this past year and packed it into useful containers (travel mugs, a nice jar, etc). Always a big hit.

    • My mom is pretty tomboyish too. But I always know I can’t go wrong with a Lowe’s gift card 😉

      That being said, even manly-man dad-of-my-partner likes flowers, so being masculine doesn’t negate the possibility of enjoying flowers. His are fuchsias. My Mister’s is roses. I’m a girly girl and I hate flowers, especially cut ones, they make me sad when they die.

      One of the first presents I gave as an adult that made my mom cry was some silly freecycled throw pillow covers. We were not terribly close at the time, and she didn’t think I’d noticed the sort of deserty-aztecy theme to her family room. Just recognizing her as a person with interests and hobbies outside of being a nurse and raising babies made her totally tickled. That kind of thoughfulness transcends gender and sexual identity.

      • Lowe’s gift cards forever.

        “That kind of thoughfulness transcends gender and sexual identity.” SO TRUE. A favorite candy or a nice pair of slippers that match her bathrobe or some strange knick-knack that matches the stuff in her bathroom. I think the best gifts are a little bitty statement of “I appreciate how very YOU you are.”

  14. My mom is a tomboy. This year, she just got her motorcycle license so I will be getting her a fork bag (a small leather pouch that goes on the front forks of the bike) just like the one that’s on my motorcycle!

  15. While my mother isn’t butch, she certainly isn’t girly either – although she does love to knit. Therefore I got her a yarn ball winder that she’ll get tons of use out of.

    Next year, I might go together with my siblings and get a Lego Mindstorms kit for her as she’s been wanting one for a while (she’s very involved with FIRST Lego League but has never really gotten to play around with the legos herself)

    Another option is for gift cards to do something. My current plan for my parents’ christmas gift is to get them a giftcard for movie tickets and a good dinner. Maybe that’s an option for you – to give giftcards for an experience your mom would enjoy.

  16. We got my hubby’s grandmother (his “mom”) who doesn’t really want new stuff, a card from shutterfly with silly pictures of our kids (if you don’t have kids, it could be pictures of you) on it and each person in our immediate family wrote something heartfelt in the card for her. The hubby was so proud of it, and I think she’ll love it! Sometimes it really is just the thought that counts.

  17. Just coming from someone who loves gifts I read about the 4 gift rule this could go for anyone it’s just a good rule of thumb, 1thing they want 1 thing they need 1 thing they wear 1 thing they read

  18. Does she enjoy anything sporty/fitness/martial arts? My husband got me passes to the World Jiu jitsu Expo in long Beach on Saturday. It’s my heaven: seminars for free, gear to buy, autograph sessions with top Jiu Jitsu Blackbelts… *SIGH I am so loved. but you get my drift: just get her something that will make her go “that effin ROCKS!” Also, humor is always a gift: My husband found some Game Of Throne valentines day cards online, just printed them out, and put them all over the house for me to find as I went about my day. I loved it!

  19. My mom is also a lesbian, and I’d describe her as “butch-ish”. Last year, my little sister and I made her a scrapbook of pictures from when we were smaller and up until now. This year I’m adding pages to it next week after I graduate. We each wrote letters to her that folded onto the pages, so they were attached to the scrap book. I think that’s a great gift for any mom and is sentimental, so gender lines don’t really matter as much. It’s especially good if you’ve had any milestones lately, like having children of your own, graduating from something, getting a dream job, etc.

  20. I imagine gifts of food cross any gender/sexual orientation divide. My mom is far away, but I usually bake a big basket of muffins for my mother-in-law.

    If you’re not much of a baker, maybe a basket of some nice local fresh pastas and sauces, or jam and scones. It’s hard to go wrong with gifts of food, especially if you can think up something you know she’ll really like.

    Or if she drinks, throw in a nice bottle of wine/spirits/beer? (Which is what we generally my father-in-law. Hehe.)

  21. “Or give her the gift of time-I’m taking my mom to the movies for Mother’s Day!”

    I totally agree that it doesn’t have to do with orientation to give a great gift. I’m not a frilly chick at all and my husband gives the best gifts: a new gps for my outdoor treks, the most obnoxious puppy of all (read cute!), and the gift of not scheduling anything else that day while preparing his specialty for dinner.

    I don’t think appreciation is always to be shown with “things” but with sincere giving and demonstration of those qualities you appreciate.

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