Psst! Mamas, this is not for you. Don’t even read it. Just hit “share,” email it, print it out, whatever — and just get it into the hands of the grownup most likely to help the kids get ready for Mother’s Day.
We moms love every single present our kids have ever given us — each painted glob of clay beggaring for description, every dear ceramic handprint, each cheery Dixie Cup-nested geranium — there are no exceptions.
But let’s be honest here, those handmade gifts from the littles aren’t the issue. It’s what you, Dad, buy her that might need some rethinking. Not knocking your gift-giving abilities — I’m sure you’re an excellent gift-giver — but stick with me here for a moment; you’ll be glad you did.
There is something about the usual Mother’s Day gifts from Dad that can evoke a resounding “meh” in many of us. Flowers, cards, soap, candles and chocolates are solidly sentimental, and sure Mom's always up for a good brunch (especially if mimosas are on the menu), but these Mother’s Day standbys tend to scream “I grabbed the first thing I saw at the mall!” And that’s not the message you are trying to deliver, now is it? What you are really trying to say is that you notice and appreciate her fabulousness and that you want to thank her for everything she does for the kids and you.
So save the bath salts for a random Tuesday night when she needs a Calgon moment, and get her a unique Mother’s Day gift that reflects what makes her, well, her.
Think she might like to kick back and get beautified? A manicure and pedicure are no-fail, but to kick up the coolness factor a notch or two, try a gift certificate for a henna tattoo. This, by the way, is a particularly fabulous idea for a mom-to-be — belly art at 32 weeks and beyond will get her through that last stretch (oof!) feeling like the work of art she is.
Sure, you can get tickets for the ballet, opera or theater, but what about tickets to a roller derby bout?
And while I'm on this tangent, though knitting lessons or a cooking class may be great for some of us moms, there are others who might enjoy Ladies Day at the Gun Range. Certainly not for everyone, but if the holster fits...
Jewelry is usually a hit, but why go generic? Esty is a great place to discover beautiful handcrafted jewelry, like these one-of-a-kind fingerprint charms, for instance.
For a new spin on the old houseplant option, gift her a Tillandsia or an air plant. These gorgeous plants are making a splash in all the upscale nurseries. They don’t require dirt, drawing everything they need from the air, which makes them easily adaptable to nontraditional containers. Try The Palm Room to shop for these and other über-chic plants.
If she has a favorite hobby or craft, fill a vase full of those extra little gadgets and gizmos that she’s been eying but is too practical to splurge on. Now you’ve got a one-of-a-kind bouquet that will thrill her.
Maybe you’ve already done the plants, done the flowers — so what else? Could it be time to upgrade to a tree? Even better, how about one you don’t have to dig the hole for? Give-a-Tree Cards from the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree in honor of your special lady.
Candles may provide a merry glow for a short time, but what about naming a star after Mom? Now that’s a bright idea that keeps on shining.
Give the florist a break and opt for floral lights from Fireworks Gallery instead. They don’t wilt and they add sparkle (that’s a good thing) to any room.
Give Mom a different kind of bouquet altogether. If she has a favorite hobby or craft, fill a vase full of those extra little gadgets and gizmos that she’s been eying but is too practical to splurge on. Now you’ve got a one-of-a-kind bouquet that will thrill her.
Go to a toy store with the kids and let them help you pick out something they can do with Mom. One year my boys presented me with model rockets. We headed to the nearest park and, you guessed it, had a blast.
(Note: Mom likely doesn’t want Hot Wheels, so you’ll probably have to do a little creative re-directing.)
Mother’s Day isn’t about spending thousands of dollars. If money is scarce, all the more reason to get creative. Whip up a stack of “sleep in” coupons. She can use them throughout the year when she needs to recharge. You promise to jump up at the first stirrings by the offspring and rush out to tend to them, and (this part is important) keep them quiet. Wrap the coupons with some earplugs and an eye mask, tie a ribbon around it. Done.
Here's one more to add to your gift ideas: pack her a Mom’s day-out basket: Pour some coffee or tea in a travel mug, add a light snack, a journal or blank notebook, a pen, any books she may be reading currently, a blanket and some chocolate (can't hurt!). Off she goes on her guilt-free way with your directive not to come back until she is good and relaxed.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in April 2013, and updated in April 2017