25 Mother's Day gifts with geek appeal

Mother's Day gifts inspired by science, technology, engineering and math

zz mothers day 2016 6

Not the same old flowers, chocolate and jewelry

This isn’t a gadget-heavy list of Mother’s Day gift ideas. It’s a collection of gifts inspired by science, technology, engineering and math. The tech quotient is low, but the design bar is high. Each of these gifts shows how artists, craftspeople and industrial designers can put a geeky spin on the usual jewelry, flowers and accessories.

FOR MORE IDEAS: Check out our Mother’s Day gift guides from 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012

bulbing lamp

Flat-out cool

The BULBING Lamp isn’t quite what it appears to be at first glance. The lamp, made from an acrylic sheet, is surprisingly flat. The silhouette of a classic light bulb is engraved on the acrylic, creating the illusion of a round bulb. When the shape is inserted into the wood base, LED light travels through the engraved lines, lighting up the optical illusion. The BULBING Lamp was designed by Nir Chehanowski of Israeli design firm Studio Cheha ($120 at MoMA Store).

dendrite earrings

Dendrite simulation

The inspiration for these Dendrite earrings ($30) is the branching growth of dendritic crystals and coral. To create the earrings, Etsy shop Nervous System photochemically etches stainless steel.

jupiter bracelet

Shades of Jupiter

Aim for out-of-this-world with the Jupiter thin cuff bracelet ($28 from Etsy shop BeautySpot). It’s made from a picture printed on acrylic and covered with a glossy resin. The cuff is oval-shaped and oxidized for an antique look.


Add a pop of color

Inspire mom to travel lightly -- and brightly -- this spring with a handy wristlet that's just big enough for the essentials, including a phone. Pictured are two favorites: the perforated geometric Fret-T leather wristlet from Tory Burch ($225), and the striped Sydney zip-around wristlet ($65) from Fossil.

element cookie cutter

Elemental cookie cutters

Bake with all the elements, thanks to Etsy shop BoeTech. You can choose an individual cookie-cutter element ($6.50 for single cookie cutters) or a collection such as the BaCON set, which includes 3D-printed cookie cutters for the elements barium, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen ($22 for the set). Make sure you check out BoeTech’s reminder about how dough spreads.

beaker vase

Small stems, big impact

Imagine four beakers from chemistry lab fused together, and you’ve got the 4-some bud vase ($9.95 from CB2). Each of the four handblown beakers holds a single stem.

antidote chocolate

Antidote to ordinary

If you’re going to go for chocolate, go for quality. Antidote founder Red Thalhammer set out with a goal of "making a chocolate bar that feels more like a food rather than a sweet treat." Choose from 12 flavors, made with a range of fruits, nuts, salts and spices. Individual bars, such as the ginger + panela, are $6.95. Sets and boxes are also available.

nervous system puzzle

Brain teaser

The Orange Neural Network Puzzle is definitely a brainy puzzle. Available from Etsy shop Nervous System, it’s a laser-cut wood jigsaw puzzle made from a microscopic photograph of midbrain neurons (prices start at $30). The photograph was created by Tandis Vazin and David V. Schaffer at the Schaffer Lab, University of California, Berkeley.

scirocco necklace

Inspired by a windy day

The Scirocco Necklace ($167 from MoMA Store) was designed by Mario Trimarchi, who was inspired by his childhood memories of playing cards that would swirl in the air from gusts of Sicilian wind. The dramatic necklace is made from mirror-polished stainless steel.

mechanics journal

Mechanics 101

Go old-school for mom with a notebook inspired by vintage textbook diagrams of pulleys, projectiles and other mechanical illustrations. Inside are alternating pages of lined paper and graph paper ($15 from Etsy shop CognitiveSurplus).

urban jule bracelet etsy

Make it personal

Choose a special word or phrase to personalize this chic wrap bracelet for mom (prices start at $80). Designed by Martha Lytton Van Trees of Etsy shop UrbanJule, the bracelet is handmade from leather with a hand-cut sterling silver plate riveted to the leather wrap with bronze rivets. The metal clasp is magnetic.

paper towels

School supplies in the kitchen

Retro kitchen towels from Etsy shop dirtsastudio give new meaning to the phrase "paper towel." The 100% cotton towels are printed to look like yellow lined paper, white lined paper, graph paper and handwriting paper ($12-$14 per towel).


Hammock time

There's not much geeky about a hammock, but it's still a great Mother's Day gift. Pictured is the Vivere double hammock with a steel stand ($129.97 from Amazon). Perfect for a mom who needs a break from technology. 

moma pink floral cuff

Flora for the wrist

Designers Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg of Nervous System were inspired by the biomechanics of nature their Florescence collection, which simulates growing flora and fauna. The Pink Flora Cuff ($65 from MoMA Store), made from 3D-printed nylon, features a complex blend of micro ruffles and undulations.

science cookies

Flavorful science

Cookies are a sweet way to remember mom, and these hand-decorated sugar cookies have just the right ingredients for a favorite scientist. One dozen cookies is $34 from Etsy site Baked

coloring book

Color mom happy

There are a slew of coloring books geared for grownups who want to relax, retreat and do something creative. Fantastic Cities ($9.24 on Amazon) has coloring sheets for global cities including New York, Istanbul, Tokyo and Rio, as well as intricate, fantasy architectural illustrations for "deeper meditative coloring adventures."

concrete heart lamp

Industrial heart

A small heart etched in acrylic tops off this concrete table lamp, which gets its light from hidden LEDs ($55.15 from Etsy shop SturlesiDesign).

jeni ice cream

Delivery: ice cream

Ice cream delivered to mom's door? Sounds excellent. The Mother’s Day Collection from Jeni’s ($44) features three flavors (Brambleberry Crisp, Churro, and Lemon Buttermilk frozen yogurt) plus a Buttermint Chocolate Truffle sandwich.

dragon cake pan

Dragon for dessert

Mother's Day gifts that require cooking or cleaning in order to be used can be risky. But this is a worthwhile risk. The dragon cake pan ($24.99 from ThinkGeek) is about fun, not obligation. Hopefully.

pixil backgammon set

Low-tech fun

Make family game night more likely to happen with the Pixel backgammon set from Wolfum ($130). The pixel design is hand-printed on Baltic birth wood. Each kit includes two sets of checkers and two sets of dice.

moma routare clock

Bedside bling

Sick of always having a smartphone within arm's reach, even at night? The low-tech vibe of the wooden Routare alarm clock ($65 from MoMA Store) is a welcome substitute for moms who want a little distance from their devices. Designer Mayuko Kuwata was inspired by the shape and colors of children's toy blocks.

ruler cuff

Love rules

Love may be unmeasurable, but this cuff has its limits. The Wooden School Ruler cuff ($25) from Etsy shop Neurons Not Included is a printed aluminum bracelet, which can be adjusted to fit. If the ruler doesn’t measure up, there are plenty more science-inspired pieces on the shop’s site.

lunar earrings

Gravitational attraction

For a geeky spin on traditional double-pearl-style earrings, the Lunar Orbit Earrings ($19.99 from ThinkGeek) combine spheres of howlite (for the moon) and sodalite (for earth).

geometric trays

Geometric bliss

If mom is a fan of geometry, this set of three handcrafted Rampli Axo bowls ($85) might turn her head. The solid ash bowls have a printed Baltic birch inlay with a bold line pattern. The designer is Wolfum, in collaboration with furniture designer 100xbtr.

heart attack etsy

Heart healthy

Give a gift from the heart with an anatomically inspired necklace. The heart attack pendant is made from laser cut wood and an engraved metal plate ($20.84 from Etsy shop DieKatzeBrand).