Getting gifts for mom on her birthday is harder than you think. Sure, you can slap together a shabby present and she’ll be thrilled with it no matter what, but do you think she truly appreciates a gift that’s thoughtless and put together at the last minute? Nobody would. The problem is, when you think about buying gifts for your mother, you’re only looking at her as a mom, not as a woman with very unique tastes and preferences. Every woman plays several roles in society: a mother, a daughter, a wife, a grandmother, an employee, a home-trepreneur, sometimes even the sole provider if she’s in a single-parent situation. From that viewpoint, hunting for and buying perfect gifts for your mom each time can be a string of highly educational experiences because you start looking at mom through different eyes.
What Does Mom – the Woman – Like?
The first question you need to ask yourself is what mom likes as a woman. Try not to think of her as the one who carried you for nine months and nurtured you, or will nurture you, for another two decades. Try to think of her as a woman and figure out what she likes and wants rather than what you think she likes and wants. You’re sure to have had several conversations where she mentioned something she’s always wanted to have to do or be. Go out that get that for her or try to make it happen.
My mom, for example, always wanted to be an expert at baking bread. But, being a single mom to three kids meant having to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. We turned out fine, of course, but mom never got to be the baker she wanted to be. That’s why, for her 50th birthday in March this year, the three of us got together and bought her a very expensive professional stone hearth deck over for her large kitchen. Boy was she over the moon when she got the delivery on the morning of her birthday! Of course, it set us back about $4000 but it was absolutely worth the look on her face. She bakes up a storm now every chance she gets so the grandkids (there are 8 of them) love visiting with their grandma just for that delectable smell of fresh bread every morning.
The point here is NOT for you to go out and spend thousands of dollars but, rather, to really talk to her and find out what she’s been missing in her life – and give her that. It could be a simple trip to an art museum that she’s been putting off because of her parental duties over the years. It might be a book she’s been wanting to read but could never get a physical copy of because it went out of print. Again, the idea is to find out what she wants, not what you think she’d want.
The Art of Sensory Gifting for Mothers
Sensory gifts for mom can be powerful memory invokers because they’re tied to the five senses, hence the term ‘sensory gifting.’ A sensory gift is something that is experienced by one of our five physical senses: touch, taste, smell, hearing, and sight. While nearly every gift is sensory in one form or other, some are specifically designed to trigger a particular sense and, therefore, related memories. Remember my mom’s deck oven? Well, my kids will forever remember that wafting aroma of freshly baked bread in the morning, even when they’re as old as my mom!
There are certain smells, sounds, textures, tastes, and sights that will act as triggers when you buy such gifts for your mom, too. Has she ever mentioned the sheer luxurious feel of cashmere wool or the smell of a freshly mowed lawn? Try and recreate that experience with your gift. It could be a musical experience, a particular type of food she’s been wanted to try, or a perfume she loved but stopped buying after you came along because it was too expensive. Go ahead and pamper her with gifts like that and you’ll be giving her the best gift of all – great memories from her past.
The Practical Side of Gifts for Mom
Some women prefer solid, practical gifts that they see as having utilitarian value, as opposed to hedonic value. A gift that she perceives as having such value should ideally give her a lifetime’s worth of service. At the end of the day, moms are nothing if not practical creatures, right? That quality might be so ingrained in your mom to the extent that she will look at anything remotely enjoyable as being frivolous and a waste of money. In such situations, a utility-based gift is a great option.
So, what kinds of gifts can you buy that will perform this onerous task of being so full of value – and quite possibly on a daily basis? That’s when you need to wear a different hat and put yourself in the shoes of a hyper-practical person, to mix metaphors. Think utility, think functional, think longevity and durability, and, most of all, think about the frequency of use. In my mom’s case, the thing she’d always wanted also happened to be a very practical gift that gave her daily value for the money we spent. We didn’t care about the money, but she certainly did. But the thing that won her over was that she could put it to good use on a regular basis.
What practical gift would your mom enjoy using or having around? A comfortable recliner? A gardening kit so she can show off her green thumb? A new blender to cater to her newfound love for a morning smoothie?
The ‘Emotional Hook’ Gifting Method
Sometimes, it’s good to look at gift ideas that act as emotional hooks or triggers. Similar to sensory gifts, these emotional gifts also invoke fond memories, but they do so in an active, ‘right now’ manner. For example, a long-distance relationship lamp might be the perfect gift for a mom whose kids are away at college or have families of their own. These are basically a set of lamps that are connected to each other via the Internet through the Wi-Fi connection at each lamp’s location; when one lamp is touched, the connected one lights up in a specific color you choose. It’s technologically simple but it’s a very powerful way to connect with your mom – and for her to touch the lamp anytime she wants to convey the message: “Hey, just thinkin’ about you!” These lamps work across the room or across the globe. Distance does not matter. Here’s more about how long-distance touch lamps work, if you’re interested.
Another good idea for an emotional gift would be a Wi-Fi digital photo frame that you can send photos to – from anywhere in the world – using your computer, smartphone, or tablet. If you’re grown up with a family of your own, she’ll love to see what you guys are up to on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic way to get emotionally closer to your mom and delight her every time you upload something that shares a part of your life with her. It’ll most likely be the highlight of her day. These digital frames are available on sites like Amazon and Etsy and start from as low as $80 for a table-top model to about $150 to $200 for a wall-mountable model. Depending on where she lives and how much space she’s got, they start at about 7 inches all the way to a massive 15 inches. Make sure you get the ones that can receive images remotely, not the ones you load images into using a memory card. Those are fine, too, but they’re pretty static compared to the ones you can update live from your location.
Gifts for Mom: It’s the Thought that Counts, So Make That Thought Count!
People often misinterpret the saying, “It’s the thought that counts” to mean that just the thought of getting someone a gift is good enough to atone for the fact that it’s a crappy gift! Sorry to burst your bubble there but that’s not what it means at all. It’s actually meant for the receiver of the gift, that they shouldn’t nit-pick about gifts they got that they don’t want or don’t like. Your mom would never do that to you.
On the other hand, YOU, the giver of the gift, should do everything in your power to make sure that the thought does count, that buying any gift warrants careful thought on your part. So, when the receiver is the woman who gave you the gift of life, shouldn’t it count that much more?
We hope that the ideas presented here make you a better gift-giver – and that the next time you buy gifts for mom, you’ll knock it out of the park. Good luck finding that perfect gift for your mom’s upcoming birthday! And, for God’s sake, whatever you do, DO NOT GOOGLE ‘CHEAP GIFTS FOR MOM’! Haven’t you learned anything??