Mother's Day is a day to celebrate mothers and grandmothers. 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.
Based on the reading I've done about Mother's Day and the mothers and grandmothers I've talked with across the country, 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.
- Cuddle up and read mom or grandma a story (you're never too old for this one!). Some great suggestions appear below.
Some adult books that celebrate women, mothers and grandmothers, and that would make a nice Mother's Day gift (full annotations are at the end of this kit): Generations of Women: In Their Own Words by Mariana Cook; Mother O' Mine and Words for Mothers to Live By by Mary Engelbreit; Our Mothers: Portraits by 72 Women Photographers by Viviane Esders; Grandmothers Are Like Snowflakes... No Two Are Alike by Janet Lanese; Mothers & Daughters by Madeleine L'Engle; Looking Back: A Book of Memories by Lois Lowry; A Time to Blossom: Mothers, Daughters, and Flowers by Tovah Martin; Family: A Celebration of Humanity by James McBride; Mothers: A Loving Celebration by Tara Ann McFadden; Legends: Women Who Have Changed the World, Through the Eyes of Great Women Writers by John Miller; Roots & Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family by Liz Rosenberg; Mothers & Daughters by Carol Saline; A Mother's Heart, a Daughter's Love: Poems for Us to Share by Joyce Carol Thomas; From Daughters to Mothers, I've Always Meant to Tell You: An Anthology of Letters by Constance Warlow; The Story of Mothers & Daughters by Susan Wels.
Some storybooks about Mother's Day: No Time for Mother's Day by Laurie Halse Anderson; Mother's Mother's Day by Lorna Balian; Mother's Day Mice by Eve Bunting; Wake Up, Emily, It's Mother's Day by Patricia Reilly Giff; A Gift for Mama by Esther Hautzig; The Bestest Mom by Susan Hood.
Some storybooks about mothers: By the Dawn's Early Light by Karen Ackerman; I Love You, Mom by Iris Hiskey Arno; I Love You Because You're You by Liza Baker; My Mother Is Mine by Marion Dane Bauer; A Ride on Mother's Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery Bernhard; Momma, Where Are You From? by Marie Bradby; I Want to Say I Love You by Caralyn Buehner; Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman; My Mama Had a Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray; Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino; Seven Brave Women by Betsy Gould Hearne; Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus; Tell Me a Story, Mama by Angela Johnson; Mom Pie by Lynne Jonell; A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza; Supermom by Mick Manning; Ma Dear's Aprons by Patricia C. McKissack; Mommies at Work by Eve Merriam; Mommy Poems by John Micklos, Jr.; Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers by Pat Mora; In My Momma's Kitchen by Jerdine Nolen; What Mommies Do Best, What Daddies Do Best by Laura Joffe Numeroff; The Mommy Book by Todd Parr; The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn; Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg; When Mama Gets Home by Marisabina Russo; A Pillow for My Mom by Charissa Sgouros; All the Mamas by Carol Gandee Shough; When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Emily Spinelli; I Speak English for My Mom by Muriel Stanek; Hush Mama Loves You by Anna Strauss; Me & You by Lisa Thiesing; A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams; Grump by Janet S. Wong; The Rainbow Hand: Poems About Mothers and Children by Janet S. Wong; What Moms Can't Do by Douglas Wood; Dear Mother, Dear Daughter: Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen; A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert; Daddies Are for Catching Fireflies and Mommies Are for Counting Stars by Harriet Ziefert; This Quiet Lady by Charlotte Zolotow.
Some storybooks about grandmothers: Peacebound Trains by Haemi Balgassi; Three Cheers for Catherine the Great! by Cari Best; Gifts by Jo Ellen Bogart; Something to Remember Me By by Susan V. Bosak; I Loved You Before You Were Born by Anne Bowen; Dancin' in the Kitchen by Frank P. Christian; Bigmama's by Donald Crews; The Disappearing Island by Corinne Demas; Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola; Abuela by Arthur Dorros; Just Right Stew by Karen English; The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy; Tanya's Reunion by Valerie Flournoy; Grandmama's Joy by Eloise Greenfield; Bubbe & Gram by Joan C. Hawxhurst; Grandma Gets Grumpy by Anna Grossnickle Hines; Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman; Dear Hope... Love Grandma by Hilda Abramson Hurwitz; Two Mrs. Gibsons by Toyomi Igus; Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles; What Grandmas Do Best, What Grandpas Do Best by Laura Joffe Numeroff; My Grandma's The Mayor by Marjorie White Pellegrino; Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan; Grandmother's Alphabet by Eve Shaw; Mimi's Tutu by Tynia Thomassie; Liliana's Grandmothers by Leyla Torres; Grandma Without Me by Judith Vigna; Our Granny by Margaret Wild; Grandmas Are for Giving Tickles and Grandpas Are for Finding Worms by Harriet Ziefert.
As you get ready for Mother's Day, make sure you read The Story of Mother's Day and the Celebrating Mothers & Grandmothers sections of this kit.
In addition to the activities/gift ideas below, there are other activities in this kit that also make great Mother's Day gifts: "Big Hug Card", "Best Memory Notes", "Mother Versus Grandmother", and "Family Portraits" in the Story Steppingstones section.
Activities: Happy Mother's Day Certificate; My Mom is Marvelous! and My Grandma is Great! Certificates; Best Mom Award Certificate; Pop-Up Flowers Card; Family Photo House Card; Basic Handprint; Flower Handprint; Butterfly Handprint; Handprint Apron/Shirt; Color Me Flower; Mother, May I?; Generations Guessing Game; Mother's Day Message Morsels; Edible Garden; Bagel Family; Mommy Facts; Mothers Then & Now; What Do Moms Do?; If I Were a Mother I Would...; Motherisms; A Mother and More; Mother Interview; A Bevy of Butterflies.
Happy Mother's Day Certificate
Connections: Families; Schools (Language Arts); Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of "Happy Mother's Day" certificate; pen.
Here's a general "Happy Mother's Day" certificate that can be used for a mother or grandmother, or as part of an intergenerational program. It can be given by either a child or an adult.
Most people don't know the things you really value about them or what you think is most important about your relationship. It means a lot when you take the time to share some of your personal thoughts, and that's exactly what this certificate helps you to do.
My Mom is Marvelous! and
My Grandma is Great! Certificates
Connections: Families; Schools (Language Arts, Art); Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of "My Mom is Marvelous!" and "My Grandma is Great!" certificates; pen; pencil crayons and/or markers.
These certificates are ideal for a child to give a mother or grandmother (a certificate can easily be mailed to a long-distance grandmother) for Mother's Day or at any time.
The hearts-and-flowers border on the "My Mom is Marvelous!" and "My Grandma is Great!" certificates can be colored in any way a child wishes. The blank lines can be filled in with words/phrases that describe mom or grandma. Encourage children to really think about what makes their mother or grandmother unique and the characteristics she possesses. Appropriate words and phrases might include: kind, loving, likes to sew, gives great hugs, tells funny stories, good driver, works hard, helps people, teaches me things, etc.
Teachers can choose to specify what goes into certain blank lines. For example, you can specify that a certain number of blanks be filled in with adjectives describing mom or grandma (e.g. pretty, happy, hardworking). Then, a certain number of blanks can be filled in with verbs describing what mom or grandma does (e.g. cooks great food, loves me, drives me, helps me). Finally, a certain number of blanks can be filled in with nouns that describe mom or grandma's roles (e.g. friend, teacher, lawyer, manager).
Best Mom Award Certificate
Connections: Families; Schools (Language Arts); Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of "Best Mom Award" certificate; pen.
This is a general certificate that can be given by either a child or an adult.
Most people don't know the things you really value about them or what you think is most important about your relationship. It means a lot when you take the time to share some of your personal thoughts. This "Top 10" list gives you a way to let your mother know all the things that make her special to you. Choose vivid, specific items for your list like aspects of her personality and character, special things you've done together, important things she has said to you that you'll always remember, and things you have learned from her.
Pop-Up Flowers Card
Connections: Families; Schools (Art); Community Groups.
What You Need: White paper; 8 1/2 x 11 inch colored construction paper; ruler; scissors; pencil crayons and/or markers; glue stick. Optional -- glitter glue (available in a craft store).
Children can make this 3-D card to give to a mother, grandmother, or grandfriend (e.g. older adult neighbor, a great aunt in a care facility). Flowers in a vase pop up when you open the card.
Cut a sheet of white paper to 10 1/2 x 8 inches. Fold it in half. Make a mark along the folded edge 1 1/2 inches from the bottom, and then another mark 2 1/2 inches up from the first mark. From each mark, cut a 2 inch long slit into the paper (perpendicular to the folded edge).
Lay the folded paper down, lift up the rectangular shape formed by the slits and fold it over to make a crease along the right side of the rectangle. Then flip back the rectangular shape so that it's back where it was (i.e. flat).
Unfold the whole piece of paper. Carefully reverse the fold in the center of the paper rectangle and the folds at the sides so that the rectangle now "pops up" from the surface of the paper.
Draw and color in two big halves of a flower vase on either side of the center crease in the paper rectangle so that the vase fills up most of the rectangle.
Cut a piece of white paper 3 x 5 inches. Position it so that the 5 inch side goes up and down. On the piece of paper, draw a colorful bunch of flowers (e.g. tulips with stems and leaves) to fit inside the vase you've drawn. Fold the flowers/paper in half vertically (i.e. so that the paper is still 5 inches high), with the drawing on the outside. Glue the flowers to the inside of the vase (lining up the center folds of the flowers and vase and overlapping about 1 1/2 inches).
Finish decorating the inside of your card. Don't forget to put "to" and "love" and the date on the sheet.
Fold a piece of construction paper in half and decorate the front with the words "Happy Mother's Day." You can add some glitter glue to the front of your card if you like. Now you're ready to assemble the card.
Unfold the inside sheet so that it's completely open and flip it over so that the vase and flowers are face down. Put glue on the areas of paper surrounding the cut-out rectangle. DO NOT put any glue on the rectangle shape itself. Carefully fold the sheet again (drawing inside).
Slip the folded sheet into the middle of the folded construction paper. Make sure the front of the card is facing the right direction. Also be sure to get the folded edge of the white paper snugly into the folded edge of the construction paper, so that the white paper is securely nestled in the construction paper. Smooth and let dry.
When your card is dry, you can open it to find a pop-up floral surprise!
Connections: Families; Schools (Art); Community Groups.
What You Need: Copies of photo house card pattern (copy onto heavier paper); heavier paper or poster board; copies of family photos to fit in windows; scissors; ruler; glue stick; pencil crayons and/or markers; tape.
Make a house full of family for a parent or grandparent (a nice gift for a long-distance grandparent).
Start by photocopying the photo house card pattern onto heavier paper (or glue the copy onto heavier paper or poster board).
Print your family name in the rectangle over the front door. Fill the windows with photos of your family members (i.e. yourself, siblings, pets, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.). Cut each photo to fit in the window and then glue it into place. If you don't have photos, make drawings of your family members. Print each person's name in the rectangle under their window.
Add on to your house as required so that you have enough "windows" for everyone you'd like to include. To expand the house, cut out a rectangle 6 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches from the same heavy paper or poster board. Make two to four windows the same size as the windows on the pattern (approximately 1 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches). Glue on the photos of your family members or make drawings in the windows.