Warning: This post is going to start out kind of sad but I promise it will end up happy and your heart will be full and hopefully even a little inspired. Okay? Cool.
Once you start reading this post you might think I was an odd choice to be its author (Jess, not Emily) but I feel I am actually the perfect candidate. My story is not unique but it’s a good reminder that future days are not guaranteed and showing appreciation to those you love should be at the absolute top of the priority list….duh. I lost my mom eight years ago. Well, I didn’t lose her, I always kept a very good eye on her (pardon while I laugh at my own jokes, humor is important). But when she died, it really put everything—including “things”—into perspective. Now I’m not saying all material things lost value (I mean I’m a Market Editor…I love things) but I definitely was able to look at them in a way that was much healthier. The value I thought they held, to my surprise, was not that much. She is a part of me and our memories doing special things together trump any gift she ever gave me or me to her (and she was a great gift giver). Time is truly the only priceless gift anyone can receive. Quality time is also my top love language so maybe I’m biased. 🙂 But regardless, you “can’t take any of it with you” so it’s my recommendation, at least for this year, to also invest in creating memories.
I mean let’s face it, very few of us are able to send their mom to Tahiti (one of my mom’s bucket list items) so that means we need to get a little more creative. What I usually got caught up on is that I wanted to reinvent the gift wheel, be the BEST and most thoughtful offspring the world has ever seen. Guess what? She never cared about how “different” it was. Honestly, if she could have a nice day with my brother and I getting along for all 24 hours that would have been enough. But obviously, that’s not enough because our mothers deserve more.
With all that said, I was put in charge of putting together a list of thoughtfully driven Mother’s Day gift ideas and to me, the best way to be thoughtful is to give your time (and some pampering, of course). As the great Ali Wong has coined, “She has suffered enough,” so treat her like the queen she is with your time and effort. So to help inspire, here are 10 super thoughtful and pretty easy ideas to make your mom or the mother figure in your life feel insanely loved…as they should.
1. A Beautiful Vessel Filled with Compliments or Happy Memories
This has turned into my signature present and has happily been co-opted by the EHD team for our office birthday present. But it effortlessly translates to Mother’s Day. It’s so easy, affordable and will make your mom feel so loved. All you have to do is find a wide mouth vase (so her hand will fit inside), planter or decorative box then fill it with handwritten compliments and/or thoughtful notes. Done and done. Tears.
2. Schedule A Massage While You Clean Her House/Do Chores
Moms deal with far more stress than they ever should have to. Sending her out for a massage while you clean her house or do some of her errands is a simple way to show her that you see how hard she works and you want to make her life a little easier.
3. Planner Or Calendar Pre Filled In With Dates To Hang Out (Even If It’s Phone Call Dates:))
Unless your mom doesn’t want to spend time with you (HA), this would be a crazy thoughtful gift. Find a planner or calendar she will love then mark off as many “mom dates” or phone dates (if you live far) as you can honestly commit to. Fewer things say I love you more than wanting to spend time together.
4. Make A Personalized Video
I have done this for a lot of friend’s birthdays (originally as a teenager on an old school video camera. It was hard and hilarious) but again works perfectly for Mother’s Day. It takes a bit of planning but you will definitely get the tears you want when your mom opens/watches her gift. I recommend using a program like iMovie to make your video (this comes with any Apple computer). I am not super proficient so I can vouch that it’s very user-friendly. Plus, if all else fails, you can always turn to YouTube tutorials. Throw in photos backed by her favorite songs and interviews of loved ones saying what she means to them. I can already see those tears. VICTORY.
I thought I would do a little preliminary research on iMovie tutorials that may help those of you who are beginners like me:
For a general overview go here.
If you want to add some music, this video walks you through that.
Then if you want to get very fancy, here is a video to show you how to overlay pretty text to an iMovie video.
5. Blindfold Her To A Surprise Location (SO fun for young kids)
We did this when I was little and my brother and I thought it was the BEST idea in the world. Not sure if my mom super loved it but she loved how much fun we were having. We took her a nice brunch and my dad had a surprise gift “we got her” already at the restaurant. It was a real win for everyone. Thanks, dad. 🙂
6. Professional Family Photo Session (classic)
Obviously, a classic but it’s for damn good reason. Family photos are special and I promise you that you will be happy you have them too one day. Plus, most moms LOVE them. They made and/or raised you and they want to look at their stunning work. I look back on the crazy dorky light wash denim, white turtleneck beach photos from 1993 so fondly. They are hilarious and make me feel connected.
7. Wine Subscription with Monthly Wine Date Night (so fun for big kids)
This is a bit more expensive but if your mom loves wine then this is a great idea to do for her. But to make it more thoughtful, tack on a monthly, weekly (whatever works for you) Wine Night date. Having girl nights with my mom was seriously the absolute best.
8. Start A Yearly Review Letter
This might be my favorite new idea (thanks, Julie) and I want to start it with my dad this Father’s Day (hopefully he’s not reading this). So every year, you reflect on the past 12 months. Recall funny memories, hard times she helped you through, a great vacation you had etc. It’s one step further than a card (which is great, too) that shows your appreciation and that you remember all she does.
9. Family Pizza Making Night
This is such a simple but fun idea that is great for all ages. Go shopping for all the ingredients to make a bunch of different kinds of pizzas. It’s super fun to come up with different concoctions, maybe even give them signature names. Then after all the eating has finished, tell her kindly to get out of the kitchen because she should relax while everyone else cleans up. Instant good family memories and she gets a little break.
10. Picnic With Homemade Goodies
This one isn’t rocket science but is still crazy thoughtful. Either whip up your own lunch or pick up food from her favorite restaurant and then head to her or your favorite outdoor spot. It shows you took the time to consider her and you get to spend some quality time together. Boom.
I don’t want this post to feel like a guilt trip. I don’t want it to put you in a mindset of fear for what might happen. What I want for you all to get from this (I’m sure) heavier than expected Mother’s Day post is that your mother is a gift and you should take as many opportunities as possible to show your love and spend time with her. My mom’s last Christmas was, to put it lightly, hard (Ha, and you thought I was done with the sad stories). Not only because it was her last Christmas (inconceivable at the time and honestly still is) but what gift do you give your dying mother?! You give her love and as much of it as possible. It’s just the only gift that matters that we actually can take with us. So don’t “put it off till next year.” Take that family trip now, call your mom now (YES, RIGHT NOW) and try not to waste time in frustration and anger as they tend to evoke from us from time to time….or a lot of the time. 🙂 My mom was a champ at knowing my buttons (despite our best friend-like relationship) but when all is said and done, all moms are just doing their best so you should try to do yours. Forget perfection and focus on heart. I hope whether you are a mom or celebrating one that you have a truly magical day filled with happy tears. Those ladies are priceless.
Oh, and don’t worry…I found that killer family photo I was talking about. No image has ever captured our individual personalities more accurately.
Jess: Hot mess but smiling
Mom: Warm and beautiful
Dad: “Oookay, let’s get this over with”
Brother: Pouting at any forced activity
I would love more than anything to hear your ideas for thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s all share. Love you (and my mom), mean it. 🙂
Also, for anyone looking for purchasable gift ideas (mothers also like and deserve pretty things) as well, don’t forget we have this whole landing page as well as our Shop pages full of literally HUNDREDS (honestly, maybe thousands) of gift ideas organized by category/person you’re buying for. Check it out!