In the lead up to Mother’s Day, you can’t open a browser window on your laptop or walk through a shopping center without being bombarded by images of necklaces, blenders, coffee cups, and even socks that “moms would love!” And, that may very well be true. However, before you pull out your credit card, consider that what she really wants is something money can’t buy.
We’re not saying don’t buy a diamond necklace. But in addition to the gift, breakfast in bed, or a hand-drawn card from the kids, consider these present ideas go above and beyond. They’ll show her just how much she means to you and your family. Best of all, the majority of these gifts are low cost, proving that it truly is the thought that counts.
1. A Mother’s Day that really is just for her
Save the family activities and brunch plans for next weekend, when the farms, zoos, and restaurants will be less crowded. On Mother’s Day, take on toddler duty, and give mom a day to do whatever she wishes. Consider looping in some of her friends on the plan — partners will take care of the kids, moms will go out guilt-free, for some well-deserved adult time.
Just say, “You can do whatever you want for the next 5 hours. I’ve got this,” recommends Melissa, a mom of one in Manhattan.
2. A day free of planning
If you tend to visit family for Mother’s Day, take the lead and arrange everything, including brunch reservations and a present for her mom, if applicable. Get your kids ready for the outing, including buckling their car seats.
It may seem like NBD, but an event where all your partner needs to do is show up with her bag and hop in the car can feel incredibly luxurious.
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3. A gift that has nothing to do with the kids or the house
Jenny, a mom of two in New Jersey, says she would love for her husband to buy her a pair of designer sunglasses. “I know they’re expensive, but what I would love on Mother’s Day is a gift just for me, that I can enjoy every day, and that also makes me feel more connected to the woman I was pre-kids.”
Remember what she wore and loved when you were dating, and, for bonus points, consider a replica of something she may have misplaced or worn out. Whether it’s shoes, sunglasses, or a specific brand and color of lipstick, a gift that’s independent of her role as wife and mother can be incredibly thoughtful.
4. Exactly what she asks for
Mother’s Day doesn’t have to be about flowers and French toast. Does she have a specific gift in mind? Then choose that, but make sure you can deliver.
Eliisa, a mom of two in Jersey City, asked her husband for a locket from a specific jewelry store with photos of their two children. Instead, he ordered a locket online, from her account, and forgot to add the pictures.
It’s important to make a mom-selected gift feel a little more special than something tacked onto an online order. For example, a frame is meaningless without a printed photo; a card with a generic sentiment doesn’t mean as much unless you include handwritten specifics. Taking the time and effort to present things nicely — and yes, wrapping counts — means everything.
5. A clean house
Whether you do it yourself or arrange for a housecleaning service, this is a very thoughtful present in the eyes of many moms.
“A clean house,” raves Rhiannon, a mom of a 5-year-old in Champaign, IL. That said, Rhiannon stipulates (and other moms concur!) that if you go this route, make sure you follow the same standards she does. A bunch of bills stuffed in a drawer or a pile of toys pushed in the corner won’t win you any points.
6. A night at a hotel (without you!)
As much as any mom loves her family, there’s something sublime about being in a clean, quiet room, without anyone to disturb you, armed only with unlimited access to Netflix and HBO Go.
Sarah, a mom of one in San Francisco, still recalls the voucher for a solo night at a hotel as one of the nicest gifts she received from her husband for Mother’s Day.
7. A favorite meal
Sure, breakfast in bed is great, but want to score more points? Consider a sentimental snack, like the same meal you had on an early date or a treat you and she used to enjoy before life got crazy.
Sarah remembers a Mother’s Day when her husband overnighted bagels and cream cheese from the bagel store they used to frequent in New York before they moved across the country.
Any gift that shows that you took the initiative and planned ahead will be welcome.
8. A date night
How do you make a date night a Mother’s Day gift? Secretly arrange a sitter, book dinner reservations, and prep (or order) dinner for the kids before going out.
For many moms, what turns date night from good to great is knowing someone else has all the details on lock.
9. Life insurance
Sense a theme? So many moms don’t care what they get, but they do want to feel taken care of by their partner.
While life insurance may not be the type of gift she can open as she eats breakfast in bed, taking the time to research life insurance, get quote estimates, and apply for a policy is a great way to show your partner just how much you care about her and your children.
The approximate monthly cost of a Haven Term life insurance policy, issued by MassMutual, is $22 a month (based on estimates for a healthy 35-year-old male buying a 20-year, $500,000 policy ) which means you can also afford to splash out for those luxury sunnies she would never buy for herself.
After all, Mother’s Day is about celebrating the way she takes care of the kids, and life insurance helps ensure that they will be taken care of long into the future.
10. Don’t forget the date
Finally, whatever you do and whatever your plan is, stop everything you’re doing, and mark your calendar right now for Sunday, May 13.
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Anna Davies is an editor at Haven Life. She has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Refinery29, Glamour, Elle, and others, and has published 13 young adult novels. She lives in Jersey City, NJ, with her family and loves traveling, running, and trying to find the best cold brew coffee in town.