100 Years of Mother's Day at BHG

See the history of Mother's Day at BHG with a look back at the last 100 years.

The very first issue of Better Homes & Gardens was published only eight years after Mother's Day became a holiday, which means we've covered it almost every spring for the past 100 years. In honor of BHG's 100th anniversary—and moms everywhere—we're taking a look back at how our brand has celebrated the holiday through the decades.

The basics are still the same: Flowers, brunch, and gifts are as customary now as they were in 1922, but our gift ideas and Mother's Day recipes have certainly changed over the years. We found new Mother's Day traditions to start in the 1927 issue, Mother's Day gift ideas from the 60s, and rediscovered a charitable program from the 90s.

And while some of the specific suggestions we found are definitely dated, there are also several things we've bookmarked for this coming Mother's Day—like affordable gift ideas and kid-friendly brunch recipes. Read through our findings from the archives to find inspiration for your own Mother's Day celebrations.

detail of clip from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1920s: A New Mother's Day Tradition

One of the first Mother's Day references ever published in Better Homes & Gardens comes in the form of a reader suggestion. Identified only by the initials D. E. P., this reader wrote in to suggest a Mother's Day gift idea based on their own family tradition. Rather than giving Mom the traditional bouquet of flowers, they suggest giving mom one shrub or other garden plant from each child so she can enjoy them year after year. It's also a great opportunity to get the kids involved with gardening as they can help you water and care for the plants.

poem from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1930s: A Mother's Garden

While we don't publish full poems in the magazine anymore, this was common practice in the 20s and 30s. The March 1939 issue featured this sweet sentiment penned by Florence West ahead of Mother's Day.

Mothers Day menu from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1940s: Recipes Mom Used to Make

In early 1940, we put out a call for Better Homes and Gardens readers to share their favorite family recipes passed down from their moms. Our editors used the submissions to compile this collection of seven different menu ideas in the May 1940 issue, each with a meat, vegetable, accompaniment, dessert, and a "nice to serve." This Mother's Day, consider making one of these recipes (they can be found in the BHG Insiders archive—check page 42 of the May 1940 issue), or use this opportunity to make some of your own family recipes!

Jackie Robinson mother's day from 1950 issue of BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1950s: A Tribute to Mallie Robinson

The May 1950 issue featured a three-page feature article all about Mallie Robinson, a single mom who worked to raise five children alone—including baseball legend Jackie Robinson, who had become the first Black major league baseball player just three years before we published this article. At a time when only 33 percent of women held jobs, Mallie worked full-time cleaning houses and spent her free time teaching her children good values and overcoming racial adversity. The article (which starts on page 226 of the May 1950 issue) outlines Mallie's struggles and sacrifices that Jackie says helped build his career.

old issue of better homes and gardens
Better Homes & Gardens

1960s: Gifts for Moms

Our modern Mother's Day gift guides look quite a bit different than the ideas featured here in the May 1960 issue. That year, we recommended an individual cup and saucer for mom's use only, a sugar and cream caddy for morning tea time, and a practical pitcher filled with fresh flowers. Of course, you can still use these ideas for Mother's Day 2022, or check out a few of our more recent Mother's Day gift ideas.

mothers day 1978 from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1970s: Mother's Day Brunch

Mother's Day brunch isn't a new idea, but the recipes we've included have changed over the years. In the May 1978 issue, we included a "fun-to-cook brunch" with recipes specifically designed for kids to cook for Mom—including egg-filled breakfast tacos and spiced hot chocolate with cinnamon stick stirrers. You can find these recipes in the BHG Insiders archive on page 40 of the May 1978 issue, or try a few of our current Mother's Day brunch recipes.

mothers day from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1980s: A Homemade Gift

The iconic puff paint clothing trend made an appearance in our March 1989 issue with a reader's DIY gift suggestion. Nadine Longenecker of Bel Air, Maryland, wrote to us about a gift her husband made her that she thought other moms might appreciate. As a gift for her first Mother's Day, her husband had used different colors of paint to stamp their 3-month-old daughter's footprints onto a pink sweatshirt along with the baby's name and age. We're sure Mom would appreciate this homemade throwback (or one of our more modern 70+ DIY Mother's Day gift ideas) this holiday.

mothers day 1993 from BHG
Better Homes & Gardens

1990s: Gifts That Give Back

Between 1989 and 1999, the Better Homes and Gardens team operated the Better Homes Foundation, which raised money for homeless families. In the May 1993 issue, we featured two Mother's Day gift ideas that were specifically created to fund the cause. Readers had a choice between a jewelry box created by artist Edna Hibel, and a set of four sterling silver pins (so 90s!) created by Marshalls, who helped raise more than $100,000 for our foundation the year before. The Better Homes Fund doesn't exist anymore, but you can still shop our favorite gifts that give back for Mother's Day.

mother's day Better Homes & Gardens from 2009
Better Homes & Gardens

2000s: Here's to Mom

The Mother's Day spread in the May 2009 issue was all about easy ways to celebrate mom. We included budget-friendly gift ideas like wrapping a vase of flowers in a pretty grosgrain ribbon, along with thoughtful gift suggestions like a mix CD that doubles as a picture frame for Mom's favorite photo. While we're happy to leave decorated CD cases in the early 2000s, we have plenty of other sentimental Mother's Day gift ideas you can shop for this season.

Better Homes & Gardens 2012 with mother's day recipes
Better Homes & Gardens

2010s: Mother's Day On a Budget

In 2012, we reported that Americans spend an average of $2.7 billion on Mother's Day food each year—and since that number has now jumped to $28 billion, we're taking our own advice and planning a budget-friendly Mother's Day, courtesy of the May 2012 issue. We included low-cost recipe ideas for a sweet breakfast in bed and suggested planning a day of free activities, like yoga in the park or an at-home movie marathon.

BHG Mothers Day Article
Better Homes & Gardens

2020s: To Mom, With Love

Our 'From the Editors' letter in 2020 was published just after the pandemic started, and we had no idea how much more meaningful sentimental gifts would become when we couldn't celebrate together in person. Executive editor Oma Blaise Ford shared a personal gift idea she'd had created for her own mom: A framed custom art print of the house she grew up in. These custom line drawings are still available from Minted, and start at just $38 if you're looking for a way to capture a special memory for Mom this season.

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