Meaningful Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is a day to celebrate mothers and grandmothers -- especially yours! But what do mothers and grandmothers really want for Mother's Day?

Many mothers have commented that the gifts they receive on Mother's Day somehow seem unconnected to their relationship with their children. What really makes them feel loved and celebrated are the spontaneous moments when uncoaxed, unrehearsed, personal affection bursts forth.

Many other mothers have said that what they would enjoy most on Mother's Day is a day off -- truly off, as in peace and quiet. Anne Morrow Lindbergh once wrote that "by and large, mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacationless class." It's true. Children and/or spouses are always around. Everyone always needs something. There's usually way too much to do and most of it had to be done yesterday. There's often tension between work outside and work inside the home. And when mothers do try to take some time for themselves, they usually feel guilty.

So, one of the best presents this Mother's Day may be making mom a nice breakfast -- and then (after you clean up, of course) leaving! Let mom do what she likes. Make it clear that she can't do anything around the house or work-related, only things for herself. Maybe she'd like to go out for a hike or a walk. Maybe she'd like to take a long, quiet bath. Maybe she'd just like to watch a taped program or rent a movie that she enjoys. And when the family does return home, no long faces or guilt trips. Ahhhh. The perfect Mother's Day.

To replace the traditional, boring Mother's Day gifts with something more memorable, take a look at the 6 Gift Tips. There's also a downloadable sheet you can circulate to friends, family, and colleagues.

Here are some other gift ideas and tips for children, mothers, and grandmothers of all ages:

Breakfast in bed? Moms across the country would like to pass, thank you very much. Who needs crumbs in the sheets? Many mothers say it's actually more pleasant to eat at a nicely set table (with someone else cleaning up afterward, of course). They do note that reading in bed would be nice.

Children can promise to do the dishes, take out the trash, or do other chores around the house for the entire week following Mother's Day -- without being asked, poked, or prodded.

A classic variation on the chores theme is giving mom a booklet of coupons or IOU's with different chores and household tasks that you'll do. She can "cash them in" whenever she likes. A great finale to the coupons? On the last one write,

"I will be there whenever you need me -- valid for the rest of our lives."

Give mom a hug. Sound simple? It is. And moms say they love it. You can make this a little more elaborate by filling an envelope with "hug coupons" so that mom can redeem a coupon whenever she needs a hug. Or try a hug card.

Hide "love notes" around the house. Each note can have one reason on it that you love mom. Mom will find some of the notes on Mother's Day, and the rest through the following week.

Get a small box (no larger than about 6 inches square). Wrap it beautifully; if you can't wrap very well, get it professionally wrapped with expensive paper and lots of ribbon. Attach a pretty card to the box that reads:

DO NOT OPEN!

Please leave this gift-wrapped,

with ribbon tied,

Because, you see,

there's something special inside.

Whenever you feel lonely,

or maybe a little blue,

Hold it tight,

and know I'm thinking of you.

This box may be small,

but there's magic in here,

Because it's filled

with LOVE for my Mom dear.

You might want to try a "Box O' Mother's Day Surprises." Get a shoebox and cover it with pretty wrapping paper. Buy or make a few small presents (e.g. packet of fancy tea, decorative soap, poem on a sheet of folded stationery, a cute little figurine, a colorful fridge magnet), wrap them, and put them in the box. At different times on Mother's Day, mom or grandma can put her hand into the box and, with eyes closed, pull out a surprise. This gives her a day full of gift-giving.

For a public statement of your affection for mom, put signs out all over the front lawn announcing that she's the best (embarrassing, but in a good way!). Get some of the plastic sign holders that lawn care companies use (you can purchase them from a lawn care company or you can keep your eye out for neighbors who have had their lawn treated and ask if you can have theirs -- over time, you'll get quite a collection because hardly anyone says no). Make up a variety of colorful signs on poster board (use permanent marker in case of rain) saying what you love about your mom and why she's the best. Write on the front and back. You can decorate the signs with ribbon and balloons. Make sure you punch a hole into your signs so that they go into the holders properly (follow the pattern of the original lawn treatment sign) and use a bit of glue or tape to doubly secure signs to the holders. Place the signs along the driveway and all over the lawn (make sure some can be read from inside the house).

Write out a "recipe" on fancy paper that lists all the ingredients that go into your love for your mom. It's not enough to say "I love you." Let mom know exactly what your love is made up of.

One mother always found the cookie bag in her house empty. She told me her favorite Mother's Day gift was getting an entire bag of her favorite cookies just for herself (and no, she didn't share).

A great gift idea for new mothers (perhaps from a mother to her daughter who is a new mother) is a Mom-Aid Kit. Get a pretty box and into the box put the following items (write out a note explaining the meaning of each item):

A cottonball to soften life's hard blows

A band-aid to help heal hurt feelings

A battery to give you extra energy when you're feeling drained

A toothpick to help you pick out the good qualities in your children (especially at those inevitable moments when they're driving you crazy!)

A button to button your lip at those times when it's the best strategy

An eraser to erase the mistakes you'll make along the way

A candy kiss to remind you of the simple power of a kiss or a hug

A roll of Lifesaver candies as a reminder to offer help when it's needed, and accept help when you need it

A candle to light your way when things seem darkest

A 25-cent coin to phone your own mom (or a friend) anytime you need some advice, a shoulder to cry on, or a kind word

Here's a radical idea: ASK mom what she'd like for Mother's Day. A lot of mothers would welcome the opportunity to help their families get it right. Make out a list of options that mom can choose from (just the fact that you've put time into writing out the list will mean a lot to mom). Then, before Mother's Day, give her the list and let her check off the items she wants and return the list to you. You could have four general categories of items.

The first category might be "Helping Around the House" and could include items like: magic fairy does this week's laundry, vacuuming, cooking, or whatever other chores there are around your house (make each chore a separate item); trash disappears each day for the next week without a reminder; beds are made promptly each morning without hassle.

The second category might be "Showing Your Love" and could include items like: sleep in until (fill in the blank); get a big family hug; no fights for the entire day.

The third category might be "The Gift of Time" and could include items like: a long, uninterrupted bath; watch favorite TV show or movie; read a good novel; phone an old friend; take a walk alone; do nothing -- without guilt.

The fourth category might be "Other Gifts" and could include: a homemade Mother's Day card; bath and body products; flowers (what kind?); a new fragrance (which one?); a fruit basket; a meal (out? homemade? pizza on the couch?). Make sure you include blank spaces at the end for mom to fill in items you haven't thought of. Once you have mom's requests, all you have to do is make them a reality!

Start a special family Mother's Day tradition, like running in a marathon together or doing some other community service each year (save the dinner out with mom for another day when the restaurants aren't so busy).

Start a tradition for young mothers: with the help of an adult, children can go to a trophy shop and pick out a fancy award plaque with room to add yearly updates. The plaque should read "Mother of the Year" with your mom's name. Get this year's date engraved on the plaque. For each year following, make it a family tradition to sneak the plaque away before Mother's Day, get a new year engraved on it, and present it to mom. Take a photo during each year's presentation. By the time children are grown, mom will have a plaque

-- and an album -- full of memories.

Take a family photo each year. Create a Mother's Day scrapbook keepsake, in which children write their thoughts and feelings underneath each year's photograph.

For older children, what has your mother tried to teach you that she feels you just don't get? Maybe it's how to be considerate, or thoughtful, or prompt, or honest. Think about what seems to be really important to her. Write mom a note for Mother's Day about that value and what you have learned from her about it -- and then put words into action by taking the next opportunity to demonstrate to her that you do "get it."

Who says cards and gifts are just for Mother's Day? Plan to have a "surprise" Mother's Day on another day -- like June 4 or August 12 -- that's just for your mom. Or surprise her with a card on "just a regular day."

If you're an adult looking to reconnect with your mother, try opening the lines of communication by sharing a favorite memory from the past (you might even want to give her a "Best Memory Note"). Or ask her advice about something happening in your life. Make her feel included and respected. It doesn't matter what the subject is, or even if you think you don't need the advice. Whatever it is, she'll appreciate the fact that you asked her and appreciate being able to share her thoughts and feelings.

Go through old photo albums together on Mother's Day and reminisce.

If you live far away from your mother or grandmother, give her a long distance telephone gift certificate or calling card so that she can call you anytime she likes (make sure you include an open invitation to call). Talk at least once a week.

Mothers are never too old to need their own mothers. Make sure mom has time on Mother's Day to be with or call her mother. Ask an older mother or grandmother whose mother may not be living if she would like to visit her mother's gravesite on Mother's Day, or do something else to remember her.

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© SV Bosak, legacyproject.org