In case you haven’t heard, Mother’s Day is next Sunday. And, while most of you might not give it another thought until Saturday, I’m proffering some learned Mother’s Day advice, especially if the mom in your life is “of a certain age.”
First, to spouses, partners or significant others: In my opinion, it’s the kid’s responsibility to give Mom a gift. This does not, however, let you off scot-free. Your job is to make the reservations. Be it brunch or dinner, call her favorite restaurant NOW! Don’t delay. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than spending your Mother’s Day in a hot Laura Ashley jumper, waiting two hours for a Chinese buffet with a screaming toddler, because SOMEONE failed to make a reservation. (Sorry, dear. I’ve forgiven, but I’ll never forget.)
If you plan to stay in and cook a memorable meal for Mom, she’ll love you for it. But please adhere to the principles followed by the Boy Scouts of America and other environmentally conscious campers called “Leave No Trace.” Be prepared with all the ingredients (don’t forget the wine), chop and slice on proper surfaces, minimize the impact of fire, and dispose of waste properly. And do the dishes. The last thing Mom wants to do Monday morning is clean up your earnest but inexperienced attempt at stir-fry.
Now, let’s discuss that all-important gift, the thing that says, “Thank you, Mom, for enduring two days of induced labor, only to suffer an emergency C-section resulting in a raging suture infection two weeks later, the day before the baptism.” (Sorry. I’m apparently having ’80s flashbacks.)
The gift doesn’t have to be big or expensive. But it must meet certain criteria in that it shouldn’t inconvenience, embarrass or tick Mom off:
• Avoid clothing at all costs. You’re probably not going to get the size right. And, if you do, you don’t want to give Mom something she’ll feel obligated to wear in public, especially if it’s something seen on the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” (Dad, here’s where parental supervision pays off. Tell the kids to stick to gift cards instead. More on that later.)
• Accessories are a better bet, but don’t give a trendy leopard belt to a Mom who hasn’t seen her waist since 1998. You can’t go wrong with a scarf. But make sure it’s returnable. (Keep those receipts, children!)
• Some women say appliances as gifts are a no-no. I tend to disagree. Maybe it’s my age, but I become aroused anytime those Keurig coffee makers are on QVC. (Yes, that’s a hint, family.) If it has to do with food, coffee or liquor, go for it, but avoid housekeeping gadgets like the plague. No one ever squealed the words, “A Dustbuster! Best present ever!” and meant it.
• Spa services are always nice. There’s nothing I love more than a gift certificate for a massage, pedicure or a facial. A gift certificate for Botox, on the other hand, wouldn’t make my day.
• Gym memberships are tricky terrain, too. If Mom’s a warrior who regularly spins, pumps, Boxercises and circuit trains, an additional six months at her favorite place of torture will be a real treat. If Mom’s idea of sport is channel surfing from the divan in her holey yoga pants, she might not see the appeal.
• Books are good. But, for God’s sake, don’t let the kids bring home the latest best-seller “Fifty Shades of Grey,” even if they think it’s about Mom’s crazy middle-aged hair. Let her buy that one on her own, through the mail, to be delivered in a plain Amazon envelope. (Actually, gals, save your money. It’s not that good. Been there, done that. Know what I mean?)
• Gift cards are the safest way to go but, again, be judicious. Fifty bucks at Mom’s favorite boutique, shoe shop or restaurant is much better than the grocery, hardware or drug store (Target being the obvious exception).
• And, finally, a word about handmade gifts. If you’re under 10 years of age or extremely crafty, fire away. If not, stick with the Target gift card.
• Oh, and those “Your wish is my command” free chore coupons? We all know they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. Go for the Keurig instead.
In the end, it’s the thought that counts, making every Mother’s Day gift a winner. The trick is, when Mom says, “You shouldn’t have,” make sure she doesn’t really mean it.