Food-Free Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Courtesy Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures
Courtesy Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures

I don’t like eating money. That’s what it feels like whenever we go out for a nice dinner. As I’ve said, I love shopping, and love finding great deals. There’s nothing really gratifying about a $50 food bill unless it’s accompanied by at least five full bags of groceries.


Yet this Sunday, like every Mother’s Day , restaurants will be booked solid with all types of family units, each consuming enough food for at least two people, because that’s what’s for dinner here in the U.S.A.:  portion sizes have increased sharply in the past 10 years, at restaurants and at home. If you’re mother is trying to eat healthier, I say skip the fancy-schmancy outing and plan something that doesn’t require overeating.

Like planting flowers. Maybe a special rose bush, like my brother did for my mother one year. He picked it because it bore her name, “Sweet Vivian.” The bush died out years ago, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Maybe a selection of teas and/or coffees. OK, I would really hate this because I am extremely picky, but most people aren’t as big a pain to buy for as I am.

Bath and body products are always nice, as are stuff I like to refer to as “smell-goods.” Again, I’m super picky – don’t even think about buying perfume without knowing my tastes – but it’s hard to resist quality soaps, lotions and shower gels. Again, not for me, since I hit the mother lode at The Body Shop warehouse sale last weekend.

Books. I love books. Even better: Audiobooks. When we were all in Orlando two weeks ago, Mom was rarely without her portable CD player, listening to books. On the drive down from Ohio, she and my sis-in-law went through a couple of mysteries.

Movie tickets. My all-time favorite, but my fam rarely delivers. Maybe they think it’s not enough. If anyone in my family is reading this, I’ve got two words for ya: Iron Man.


Gift certificates, if you’re lazy. Just kidding. But seriously, make it a meaningful gift certificate, not just a Visa gift card. You want your mother to feel special, not like an afterthought. So a gift certificate for a certain place, or service, like a day spa. Massages are great at any age, as are manicures and pedicures. Even that Build-a-Bear place would be kinda fun, I’d think. (Again, that would so not be for me, but great for others.)

The gift of time. That’s always a good one. Spend time with your mother or, if you’re like me, spend the whole day away from your mother. I’m serious. Several hours of peace and quiet? Priceless. Or, send her off to the bookstore, the mall, the movie theater with a handful of money to do as she pleases.  I know what I’d do.


Two words: Iron Man.

What my mother believed about cooking is that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you.  ~  Nora Ephron


Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.