10 Gifts That Moms Really Want
Mother's Day is May 8. If you're racking your brains trying to figure out what to get your mom (or your wife who is a mom), listen up. I'm a mother of two young children, so I have a pretty good idea what moms want. I also asked my friends who are moms what they would like for their special day. You might be surprised by the responses.
Manicures, massages and such are nice, but none of the moms I know put these at the top of their gift wish lists this year. What most moms want (myself included) is a break -- relief from a daily chore, a night without having to cook for everyone, a day to do whatever she wants. A survey of 500 moms by the Web site Crowdtap also found that more of them wanted rest and relaxation more than any other gift. Below you'll find five ways to give mom a break -- and five tangible gifts.
Wash mom's car. "Last year I asked my family to wash my car," says my friend Erin. "There was a lot of 'No, really, what do you want?' After much insisting, they finally gave in and did it. And they took pictures of themselves doing it. It was wonderful! So I'm a big fan of gifts of TIME -- especially those that tackle one of my nagging tasks. For instance, clean out the storage room. Prune the trees. Organize the coat closet. Or tackle that honey-do list with a smile."
Cook mom dinner. My colleague Stacy Rapacon, who writes the Starting Out column, says it was a big hit when she cooked dinner for her mom, who had no idea she could even cook. "Some moms might like breakfast in bed, but mine prefers sleeping in. So dinner was better for her," Stacy says. Make sure you clean up after preparing the meal -- otherwise it's not much of a gift.
Let mom sleep in. "I would love one day -- just one day -- for my husband to take care of the morning school duties so I could sleep in," my friend Kim says. "Really just a morning to sleep past dawn. That's all I want."
Give mom the day off. "For working moms, how about a weekend when she can do whatever she wants and her husband and kids do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and errands that seem to fill every Saturday and Sunday," my friend Becky suggests.
Bring in hired help. My friend Sherri says she would love for someone to do the laundry for her. I say take it a step further and hire a maid service to do some serious spring cleaning to spare your mom (or wife) from this day-long task.
For gifts you can wrap (or at least present to mom), consider these ideas:
Make a modern version of the mix tape. Compile mom's -- or the family's -- favorite songs on a CD or download them from iTunes. My cousin Langford suggests picking songs that make mom feel young again and take her back to the days when there actually were mix tapes. If you don't know mom's taste in music, you can't go wrong with an iTunes gift card for mom, says my friend Tina.
Video the kids. Here's another idea from Erin, who used to write the Starting Out column for Kiplinger.com and always has lots of good ideas. If you have small kids, she suggests that you try documenting their likes and dislikes, views of the world around them and their personalities. Interview them via video -- or have them write their answers (in their own handwriting and spelling) and keep them in a binder, adding to it each year.
Frame the kids' art. Moms with young children will surely get a few pieces of handcrafted art from the kids for Mother's Day (and countless drawings throughout the year). Make it easy for her to display and store them with a frame that lets you do both. My friend Wendy recommends dynamicFRAMES Lil Davinci Art Cabinet, which allows mom to display one 8.5 x 11 work of kid's art and store 50 more ($29.95).
Make a photo book. My friend Karol suggests that if you have access to old photographs from your mom's childhood, make a collage or a photo book by scanning pictures and uploading them to a photo-sharing site. See Photo Books in a Flash for our review of three photo-sharing sites. For a modern-day version of the brag book, my colleague David Muhlbaum suggests that you load photos of the kids or grandkids onto a microSD memory card that you can plug into mom's or grandma's smart phone so she'll have better images to share than the ones taken with the phone itself. (Note: These cards don't work with iPhone's, so you'll have to upload images directly to the phone.)
Make a donation in mom's name. For the mom who already has everything, make a donation in her name to her favorite charity or motherhood-related organization, suggests my friend Eric, who is the father of two boys. To find a charity you can trust, see Charity Navigator.
For more ideas, see my 2010 list of affordable Mother's Day gifts.