May 3, 2010
The pressure's on. So are the sales, the coupons featuring that genre of last-minute, better-than-nothing gifts for Mom not seen since Dec. 24.
I have some strong opinions on gifts, Mother's Day and otherwise. I would rather receive a well-designed $5 spatula that a $50 cosmetics sampler. I would far rather go out for dinner or brunch the day before or the week after the Big Day, to avoid the rush. In fact, my all-time best MOther's Day gift was a really good vacuum cleaner. But I asked for that, much to the family's embarrassment.
They were thinking a fancy purse.
Here's the thing about (most) women: They are fussy about clothes and accessories. A silk scarf is always welcome but nobody can buy me a purse. Ditto nightgowns and sweaters.
Maybe too late for this year but a good plan is to listen to mom in the preceding weeks. I guarantee she will unconsciously drop hints about what she really wants, like having her car detailed or seeing an art film at the Sunrise.
Most women are also practical: If they cook and don't own a KitchenAid stand mixer, a heavy-duty food processor or a REALLY good coffeemaker you're shopping is over. How about a small flat-screen TV or under-the-counter CD player for the kitchen?
Speaking of the art film -- surely there's an entertainment event she'd like to attend here, at the Durham Performing Arts Center, a venue in Raleigh or elsewhere. Maybe she's a NASCAR fan. I would be absolutely thrilled with lunch and an afternoon at the new North Carolina Museum of Art. The restaurant is gorgeous. A token from the gift shop would seal the deal.
A portable GPS might suit a traveling mom.
How about a state-of-the-art bird feeder and 25 pounds of shelled sunflower seeds?
Pedicures go over well with some mothers. Likewise a professional spring house cleaning or a day of professional yard work. If mom is a shoe junkie, put a gift card in a shoe box along with some snazzy socks and wrap it up.
These are substantial (not necessarily glamorous) gifts. You can spend less and still be thoughtful. Maybe mom loves fashion but balks at buying $5 fashion magazines. Get her a stack. Same with gourmet food magazines. I love those cute cell phone cases. A big, colorful bracelet watch (under $25) is both useful and fun.
The most treasured gifts remain those homemade cards, handprints in plaster, pasta art and the like. Maybe you could buy her a treasure chest in which to store them, forever.
Or maybe she really wants a boxed set of jewelry or a basket of boutique soaps.
But if the thought is what counts, think a little before buyiing.