Ideas for making Mother’s Day special?

May 6, 2009 | 48 comments

Over the past few days I’ve heard more than a few men express concern about Mother’s Day. They want to take this opportunity to do something special for their wives or mothers, but aren’t sure exactly what to do, especially on a budget.

I thought I’d do a post with an open thread where moms could offer their thoughts on the subject. Not that anyone should feel pressure to do anything elaborate — I know that most of us moms feel like just hearing “Happy Mother’s Day” would be enough — but I thought that we might be able to provide some ideas for the guys who would like to do something but don’t know where to start.

Some questions for consideration:

  1. What was the best Mother’s Day gift you ever received? (Using the word “gift” loosely — it doesn’t have to be a material possession.)
  2. If your husband or children wanted to make Mother’s Day special for you, what could they do?
  3. Any other thoughts you’d like to share for husbands or children who are reading this post looking for ideas?

Bonus points for ideas that involve little or no money. ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to hearing your thoughts! I’m looking for some ideas of ways to honor my mom and Yaya as well.

photo by mamako7070


  1. Maria

    My husband and kids are grilling steaks and making baked potatoes. Spending the day with them and not having to cook or clean up is a treat!

    I’m not motivated by “stuff” but I’d be so happy if they just told me one thing they love about me. I can go a long time with affirmation.

  2. JoAnna

    What I want most for Mother’s Day is a clean house — at the very least, I’d like some grumble-free help cleaning up. Alternatively, I’d love it if my husband could take the kids to the park or something for a few hours so I could get some quiet time.

    I doubt either of the above will happen, but hey, a girl can dream.

  3. TwoSquareMeals

    Send me on a hike and clean my house!

  4. Sandy

    When my two children were quite young (3 and 1), my husband took them out for several hours on the afternoon of Mother’s Day. It was a rare treat for me to have two hours all to myself and that was a wonderful Mother’s Day gift at that stage of my life.

    This year, my two kids will both be coming home from college on Mother’s Day weekend. Having them home will be a wonderful Mother’s Day gift.

    I guess it depends on what age your children are whether the best gift is time WITH or time WITHOUT them. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Sandy

    Every year I ask for the same thing. I want my children to write me a letter. Gifts will wear out and flowers will quickly wilt, but those letters would be kept forever. Mom doesn’t want a parade on Mother’s Day, she just wants to know you think she’s doing a good job. I’m still waiting for a letter. But, I’m getting fried chicken this year, so I’m not complaining. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. April

    My car is notoriously messy and one of my favorite gifts was when my husband did the sorting of all the junk in it, then took it to the car wash to vacuum and wash it. I’m hoping he received my not-so-subtle hints (“Honey, I loved that year you cleaned out the car for me. You could do that every year and I’d STILL love it!”) and I receive the same this year.

    He’s also sharpened all my knives for me for one Mother’s Day. I love having sharpened knives and he can do it — it’s just a bit time consuming. That was another fave gift.

    I’ve asked him to consider just picking flowers for special days (i.e. my birthday, Mother’s Day, our anniversary) when they are in bloom instead of buying them. He doesn’t naturally do stuff like that; him doing something out of his comfort zone for me is really sweet.

    I can’t wait to read everyone else’s ideas!

  7. Shelly W

    As Sandy said, it really depends on the ages of your children. When my children were young, the best Mother’s Day I ever had was playing nine holes of golf with my own mom. Away from the kids! I also remember one time when I went to a movie with a couple of friends who also had small children.

    Now that my kids are older, I don’t have that need to “get away” like I used to. We’re going out to eat in the afternoon and that will be great. (Of course, the kids always seem to get to pick where they want to go!)

  8. Jane @ What About Mom?

    I would love to have a free day (or hour!).

    I spent 20 bucks on a digital picture frame keychain at BestBuy for my MIL. I think she’ll love it.

  9. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary

    April – that idea about having your car cleaned would be perfect for me! Love it! (If you’re my husband, please picture me clearing my throat conspicuously as I type this.)

  10. Kris Livovich

    I guess I’m not so much for the “stuff” – although I would like a new rubarb plant… But I think the best part is being together and enjoying some time away from our usual cares. I would like it if my husband did NOT check his work phone, if we forgot about all the projects that need doing on the house and just enjoyed the day. We have four kids under five – so I think I would also like it if I didn’t have to change ANY diapers all day. That would be a gift!

  11. Valerie

    I have learned to simply ask for what I want for Mother’s Day. This year I asked for a new alarm clock with a digital dial that might actually be able to pick up a radio station. Hubby went out and bought it that night.

    This year we’re spending the day at Carowinds. My daughters and I have season passes and every year I gaze longingly at the roller coasters. I always have a little one with me that can’t ride and no one to watch her for me. So this Sunday I get to ride all the coasters with my oldest daughter and watch my hubby enjoy the park for the first time.

    It’s definitely not the typical jewelry and brunch, but it’s exactly what I want and hubby would never have known if I didn’t ask.

  12. Josephene

    I’d want to be able to sleep in until 8am, have breakfast served to me in bed, with coffee, and some art and craft created by our two-year old!

    I think what a Mom would like depends on what best expresses love and appreciation for her: an act of service; a gift; quality time (with or without her children); praise… etc.

    Mother’s Day makes me excited about Father’s Day. : )

  13. marie

    A clean gargage. No bickering amongst the kids. A thoughtful note from each child. A back rub. A clean kitchen. Time to go to adoration. No gifts.

  14. Jasmine

    I’m a daughter, not a mom. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The gift I got my mom once that she still talks about was a good shower head. She always talked about how much she loved the showers in hotels, so I found a shower head that has different settings and also increases the pressure at which the water comes out.

    They’re not very expensive, and frazzled mommies appreciate their hot showers.

  15. Allison K

    Three letters: S-P-A.

    Or the no-cost alternative: if the kids are little and active, take them out of the house and leave Mom in peace for the day.

    Flowers are always a nice touch, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Blog O' Beth

    I would like to have some of my normal household chores done for me; empty the dishwasher, do the laundry, pick up toys, get the kids dressed. I also agree with the idea of time alone AT HOME. So I can read, write. This year though I dropped a big hint to my Creative Director husband that I would like a blog redesign. Let’s hope.

  17. brick

    Mother's Day makes me yearn for Father's Day too! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have never received a Mother's Day gift, though we've only been married 2 1/2 years and only have one babe (14mo daughter).

    *In an ideal world* I would get to sleep in w/o hearing my little one at ALL, we would eat lunch outside at Panera Bread, feed ducks at the park in the afternoon, and watch a movie of my choice in the evening, or go to Barnes & Noble for a coffee and a good time amongst our other friends (books). ๐Ÿ˜‰

  18. Terri

    My best gift ever from my husband was ‘Wednesday nights’. He promised to come home from work early on Wednesday nights and we could do anything I wanted, go out or stay in..whatever I wanted. It’s been three years and Wednesday nights are still going strong.

  19. Jess

    Frankly, I just want to be able to sleep as much as I can and not feel guilty about it. A homemade card from the kids or a dinner cooked by hubby would also be a nice treat.

  20. Kris

    One of the nicest Mother’s Day gifts my husband ever gave me was washing and detailing my car. It cost him nothing but time and I loved having a clean car to drive around in…you know, for a few days before the kids trashed it again.

    I would love for dh and the kids to pitch in and clean the house up for me while I sit on my behind on the computer for awhile (at the local Internet cafe, of course! Otherwise, I might feel the need to hlep)…followed by some family time so that I could enjoy the people who made me a mother.

    Finally, one year, my husband made me a simple bird feeder, which still sits right outside our front window. Love it!

  21. Banana

    I just want time to myself. No cooking. No cleaning. No kids (at least for a few hours ;). I don’t care if I have to leave the house to get it, but getting to stay home while they leave is a bonus!

  22. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    Begrudged extra sleep in the morning. Lazy day w/o expectations.

  23. Anonymous

    This week? She might like it if a bus hit me! Cheap too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Antique Mommy

    I would love it if my husband would take my child and go somewhere for the entire day so I could have a quiet house all to myself and enjoy an uninterrupted thought. I know. There’s a Hallmark sentiment.

  25. Joanne

    I haven’t been a mother for too long and our mother’s days (and other days) are kind of frantic so I can’t really remember or say what kind of gift I’ve gotten that was great. I hate to brag, but honestly, my husband is pretty good about really trying to help me and lighten my load, every day of the year. That said, I really enjoy spa treatments – just a manicure or a massage or something, AND I enjoy when my husband takes the kids somewhere for the day so I can get said spa treatment and maybe go to lunch or something. Honestly, just him taking the kids out of the house for a few hours is treat enough – I am never in the house alone and I love it.

    I truly don’t want any stuff, my house is crowded enough as it is, but I do love attention and understanding, so I think a good gift is to listen to what your wife wants and needs and try and provide it. Happy Mother’s Day, Mothers! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Julie

    I always feel guilty for secretly wanting time to myself…since it seems wrong to not actually be with my family on Mother’s Day, I would swoon over the promise of a day to myself at a later date. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do have to say, that desperate feeling of never getting away is lessening as they get older….

  27. Sarah Mosley

    Hmmm. At the ages my children are at ( 19 months, 2 months short of 2, and 2 months short of 3, with one baby on the way), I think I like it when my husband and the kids give me a particularly restful Sunday, make me breakfast and whatever, and I think for gifts at this point, I actually prefer jewelry? Nothing expensive, but some of the handmade stuff you can find online, like at The kids always remember the pieces they’ve given me and are quick to point them out when I wear them, which is really sweet. At least with jewelry you can wear it year round regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not?

  28. 'Becca

    My favorite Mother’s Day was the one when we went to a new park (the only one of the major city parks we’d never explored) and hiked and took pictures of the views. The weather was perfect!

    This year our anniversary is on Mother’s Day, so it’s not all about me. ๐Ÿ™‚ That makes it all the more important to me for us to do something together as a family, rather than my spending time alone. If the weather prevents hiking (we’ve had rain all week) we’re planning to go to a museum, where Daddy will keep the kid happy and give me a chance to look at the things I want to look at!

    It’s also important to me to have a nice long phone conversation with my mom.

    This particular year, something I really want for Mother’s Day and/or my birthday (4 days later) is for my 4-year-old and his dad to clean off his “desk” which is a low table in the dining room that has been unusable for months because he’s piled it so high with his drawings and assorted objects of fascination. He needs help sorting that stuff, discarding some of it, and organizing the rest so that he can use his desk! And I so don’t want to do it.

  29. Anonymous

    Dinner from the grill cooked completely by hubby. Phone call from both son and wife. They work odd hours so I get 2 calls one from each.

  30. Amy Jane (Untangling Tales)

    I meant *un* Begrudged extra sleep!

  31. Anonymous

    I would love two hours uninterrupted to read.

    I would love to have all the clean laundry carried up from the basement and put away.

    To go shopping for flowers for the front porch for the summer (we don’t have to make a purchase).

    To sit through Mass without worry (my husband’s) about what the kids will or will not do and how loud they may or may not get.

    I like the idea of the letter and the car detailing too!

  32. Brenda

    I think the best part about mothers day is dedicating a day to be together as a family. Its so hard to take time to just be together and thats what moms want most, family unity. To see everyone happy together.

  33. Stephanie

    Today we are painting handprints for grandmas, to give as gifts. It’s something they love, it is a memento of this specific age (I have babies, ages 2 and 10 months), and it costs nothing, since we already own the supplies.

  34. sara

    I would love a whole day to myself – out of earshot of the kids AND with the promise that the house would not be a disaster and everyone would be uninjured at the end of it.

  35. Bonnie

    I would LOVE to sleep in and then have my husband take our 1 year old for a long walk so I can shower in peace! Get dressed without an audience! Comb my hair without my daughter holding on to my legs!

    I also really, really like the idea of a clean, detailed car.

    And if my husband would happen to wash the cloth diapers without me having to tell him how to do it (there’s directions taped above the machine) – that would make me so happy!

  36. Anne

    I’m a sucker for flowers, especially roses. When I finished my last paper for my Master’s, my husband gave me a miniature potted rose bush, and now I have flowers every day!

    Last year I was very pregnant with our first, and my husband went out early to get fresh bagels and flowers for me, then he made coffee and set a lovely table for us. Heaven!

    My husband is really helpful around the house in general, and he gets up with our lil’ guy in the mornings so I can sleep an extra hour or so, and I hope that on Sunday he’ll take him out for a walk in the morning and bring back more of those yummy bagels!

  37. Julie

    I was also going to say a cleaned car. He did this for my birthday a year ago and it was wonderful!

    Make dinner and clean the kitchen afterwards.

    Mark anything off the list of honey-dos that are waiting.

  38. Jeni B.

    My hubby is taking the day off work tomorrow to clean our whole house for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been sick and haven’t been able to keep it as clean as it should be. It is the sweetest gift I have ever gotton from him. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I feel so lucky!

  39. nicole

    Change all the diapers for a day, Dads!

    I regard Mother’s Day as a mostly made up holiday, and so don’t expect a lot. I’m happy with an acknowledgment and maybe a nap. ๐Ÿ™‚ Instead of focusing on this day, surprise the Mom in your life with signs of appreciation when she least expects it.

  40. Barb, sfo

    Make breakfast and clean it all up. Or go out and get takeout breakfast (pastries/donuts/bagels and coffee) so there is NO cleanup.

    Let me spend the whole morning trolling cookbooks/the internet for new recipes.

    Church together (that’s a given, every week anyway)

    Let me make a big huge mess in the kitchen, trying out new recipes.

    Nobody say “ewwwww” or make vomit noises when presented with new foods at dinner.

    Clean up all that mess I made. I don’t have to wash even ONE dish.

    Go out for ice cream after.

    Oh yeah, a Milky Way would be nice too. I’m pretty easy to please.

  41. Amy

    *What was the best Mother’s Day gift you ever received? (Using the word “gift” loosely — it doesn’t have to be a material possession.)*
    My babies. After all, they’re why I celebrate Mothers Day in the first place. Not to say that the husbands out there need to go make a baby…..LOL….had to put that disclaimer in there….

    *If your husband or children wanted to make Mother’s Day special for you, what could they do?*
    Cook. I love my food, and I love it more when I don’t have to make it.

    *Any other thoughts you’d like to share for husbands or children who are reading this post looking for ideas?* Believe it or not, some of my most awesome gifts have come from the Dollar Store. Beautiful teacups, cafe au lait bowls…..wrapped up in some pink tissue paper, and it’s gorgeous…

  42. Susanne Barrett

    My favorite Mother’s Day was when my husband packed a nice picnic lunch for the family and we enjoyed it under the trees at a lovely garden area. The kids were able to run around and play, and I was able to do a lot of photography of gorgeous flowers. Such a lovely day.

  43. Anne Marie

    My greatest gift this Motherโ€™s day is simply being a Mom this year. Motherโ€™s day has been the hardest day of the year ever since weโ€™ve been married. No matter how hard I tried to ignore it, there it was each and every year. After we came back to the Church, in both the non-denom and Catholic, it was even worse. โ€œAll the mothers stand up and be recognized.โ€ And all of you barren women avert your eyes least anyone sees you welling up in tears.

    Donโ€™t misunderstand. Having had years and years of that quiet time to think a coherent thought does not mean that I donโ€™t appreciate those quiet moments when I get them now that they are fewer and further between.

  44. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin

    to Shelly W @ May 06, 4:35 pm:
    be very nice to your server. Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are two of the very WORST days to work in a restaurant. There’s a decent chance that your server will already be frazzled from breakfast and lunch. Choosing to go between the lunch and dinner rushes (if there even is any slowdown) improves your chance of getting a seat, and of getting service.

    Most of these fall into the categories of Acts of Service and Quality Time. I advise everyone: Pay attention to what makes the mother in your life feel loved (the other broad categories are Words of Affirmation, Gifts, and Touch). Find out what they are AND DO THEM.

  45. Joe Strain

    The kids spend the day compiling a play and then after dinner they perform such amazing little shows.. they even provide intermissions haha

    never a dry eye after these

  46. Anonymous

    The best gift I ever got was last Mother’s Day. My then 12 year old daughter rallied her brothers and father to pool their money and time to make me an herb garden. We used the herbs all summer and I thought about her sweet little heart every time I cooked.

    Jen in OK

  47. Trisha Q

    I read in Faith and Family magazine. Dad whisk the kids away and leaves mom with some quiet time, wholesome girly movies, and some snacks.

  48. Carrien

    You know, the best thing my husband did for me this year was to take me in his arms and say, “I’m proud of you, you’re doing a really good job, I’m happy that you are my children’s mother.”

    You know, for the guys who are searching for ideas next year. ๐Ÿ™‚

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