April showers bring May flowers, but you can skip the predictable bouquets for something more personal and less perishable this Mother's Day.
Since you share a special relationship with your mom, try to think beyond the usual one-size-fits-all gifts for something more meaningful that reflects her interests, lifestyle or hobbies. But before you rush out to the mall, keep in mind the following advice from the pros for gift ideas.
Before You Hit the Shops
In Style magazine's design market editor Mary Kate McGrath says that since Mother's Day should be a balance between recognizing your mom as a woman and celebrating her motherhood, give her a gift that integrates both themes.
Redbook magazine beauty director Cheryl Kramer Kaye says it's important to get something that allows moms to take a little time for themselves. She advises against a practical present unless your mom has asked for it. This new generation of mothers will likely enjoy a day of deluxe pampering much more than a new state-of-the-art fabric steamer.
Adam Glassman, creative director of O, The Oprah Magazine, says most women will especially appreciate gifts that feel personal and well thought out, like a memento or an item that complements something they love to do. He also suggests shopping at places that issue gift receipts for easy exchanges, such as large department stores.
If you're planning to get your mom a high-tech gadget or an electronic device, CNET.com's executive editor Molly Wood recommends that you research the products by reading reviews and user comments on sites such as www.cnet.com. Off-brand electronics tend to go on sale at this time of the year, but they may be less user-friendly. So if your mom or grandmother isn't tech savvy, the gift may cause more frustration than gratification. Wood also cautions shoppers to be mindful when considering devices that require extra service or subscriptions, such as cell phones. Her advice, "Try to buy something that isn't going to cost them more money in the long run."
What Gift Fits Your Mom?
Whether your mom is just figuring out how to strap on a car seat or scrambling to meet the boss's deadline, these ideas will jog your imagination to find just what she's hoping for this May 11. Find the mom that best describes yours in our guide, and get the gift that will make her glad she had you.
New Baby Mama
For both new moms or moms-to-be, Kramer Kaye recommends a line of skin care from Mama Mio, which makes body cream, lotion and oils aimed to prevent and repair those pesky stretch marks and scars. Created by three mothers in London, these products are paraben, petrolatum and sodium laureth sulfate free and safe to use during and after pregnancy.
The one thing new moms will want to shed after giving birth is the extra baby weight, especially around their stomach. But who has the time to work out for two hours a day while the baby is crying for mommy around the clock?
For instant gratification, O magazine's Glassman suggests cotton tank tops from Yummie Tummie, which come with hidden microfiber panels in the midsection to smooth bulges and to create an illusion of a flat stomach. Famous new moms such as Jennifer Lopez are fans of this "Spanx for your belly."
A pleasant side effect some women enjoy during their pregnancies is a full head of lustrous, thick hair. This is because the pregnancy hormones increase hair growth and slow the rate of normal hair loss during the nine months. But about three months after giving birth, new moms may temporarily suffer from thinning hair, a condition known as postpartum hair loss. Although the hair grows back within a year for most women, this can be a traumatic experience as their shower drains fill with clumps of hair.
Redbook's Kramer Kaye proposes treating the mom to a nice, flattering haircut because "she will probably need a new hairstyle than the one she was wearing to help manage the hair loss." She also says a set of luxurious volumizing hair products like the Full Volume line from Frédéric Fekkai will help "build a foundation for her hair that's going to make it a bit thicker when she's styling."
As friends and relatives of new parents often discover, it's painful to sit through two-hour videos of other people's children doing the most mundane activities while the mom beams with pride. So save her loved ones the agony of watching another epic home movie and gift her the Flip Video Ultra, a small plug-and-play handheld video camera that makes it easy to shoot and post short videos on the Web. CNET.com's Wood says the $150 device, which holds 30 to 60 minutes of video, is a much more affordable option than a regular camcorder, and the built-in flip-out USB connector makes uploading and sharing simple.
With the proliferation of digital cameras, photos often end up sitting inside computers and don't see the light of day. With a digital photo frame, moms can display slideshows of their favorite shots at the office or at home. Users can load photos onto the Coby DP-887 digital frame using a memory card or a USB thumb drive, so a computer isn't required to transfer images. For a high-end alternative, Sony's DPF-V900 model offers HDTV connectivity and Bluetooth functionality, allowing the frames to import images wirelessly from a Bluetooth-enabled device. In Style magazine's McGrath recommends preloading the frames with family photos to add a personal touch.
If your mom wants to save electricity and hang baby photos on the fridge instead, Wood says dedicated photo printers such as the HP Photosmart A826 make printing snapshots at home fast and easy. As a nice complement, Kim Ficaro, style editor at Domino magazine, suggests giving your mom a personal photo you know she'll love inside a beautiful frame such as the Perry Street frame from Kate Spade.
On-the-Go Working Moms
Working moms who are always on the go can stay connected with portable laptops such as the Eee PC from ASUS that are small and light enough to fit into larger handbags. Wood says the $400 2-pound notebook computers are "cute, portable and perfectly powerful enough for e-mail or Web pages."
If your mom is a road warrior, a portable GPS navigator she can set up in any car will save her time and the stress of getting lost in an unknown city. Many devices also provide directions to nearby ATMs, gas stations and restaurants, and some come equipped with Bluetooth and MP3 capabilities, such as the Garmin Nuvi 660.
Frequent-flier moms can deplane looking rejuvenated with travel-friendly beauty products that the TSA will approve of. Beauty product line Ted Gibson makes on-the-go hair conditioning towelettes that come in individual packages so she won't have to emerge from the airport looking like the other harried passengers. And instead of the traditional eye shades, your mom can apply disposable eye treatment pads during the flight to achieve that refreshed look. EyeSlices makes reusable aloe pads that come in small plastic containers the size of a box of mints. Shoppers can also browse Airplane Approved Beauty products at sephora.com to find mini versions of popular items.
For moms who are juggling a screaming boss at work and a crying baby at home, a regular spa trip will provide a welcome break from the stress. Redbook's Kramer Kaye says a number of spa franchises with inexpensive introductory rates and reasonable memberships are popping up throughout the country. Moms who travel a lot also can enjoy the benefits at various locations. A gift card or a membership for regular visits will be a "gift that keeps on giving" beyond Mother's Day.
For facials and skin treatments, Kramer Kaye recommends Facelogic Spas, which offer $49 facials with locations in more than 20 states. For massages, check out Massage Envy, where one-hour massage sessions can start at $39, with 758 locations throughout the nation.
If your mom suffers from a case of BlackBerry thumb, take her to a Hyatt Pure spa and treat her to a Blackberry Balm Hand Massage, which aims to relieve tension in the hand and wrist areas. But if $80 for 30 minutes of hand pampering is too steep for your budget, consider giving her an assorted gift basket that includes Mistral's Wild Blackberry Shea Butter balm that she can apply every day, which you can find at www.mistralsoap.com.
On the topic of BlackBerry devices, moms will appreciate stylish covers and cases to protect their PDAs and electronic gadgets. O magazine's Glassman likes Rebecca Omweg's chic python cases to store everything from Treos to iPods. Prices start at $140, and the cases can be found at www.rebeccaomweg.com.
Over-50 Sophisticated Moms
For moms worried about increasing wrinkles and aging signs, consider giving her those grandchildren she's always wanted or that perfect report card to brighten up her face. If that's not possible by May 11, a set of rich lotions and night creams designed to target mature and fragile skin will improve fine lines and problem areas.
MyBlend by Dr. Olivier Courtin, a new skin care line from Clarins, allows the user to customize and create her own formula based on her skin's needs. Your mom can choose from a range of essential blends that's right for her (such as the Potent Age Antidote Crème for age-affected skin) and release a dose of "emergency booster" (flavors range from Redness Rescue to Radiant Burst) into the creme for the days when she needs that extra help.
If your mom's tried the over-the-counter products but isn't quite ready to go under the knife, a nonsurgical cosmetic procedure from her dermatologist may be just what the doctor ordered. A Botox session or a round of Restalyne shots may prompt your mom to smile again when she looks in the mirror, although you wouldn't know it from her facial expressions.
But before you book that dermatologist appointment or rush to the makeup counter at Saks, Kramer Kaye offers one important caveat when purchasing beauty treats for mature moms: Make sure she has expressed interest in these items and procedures beforehand, since "an anti-aging treatment is the last thing anybody wants to get unexpectedly." And with any cosmetic procedures, check with her doctor first and book a consultation to make sure your mom is the right candidate.
For aging moms who can't partake in rigorous exercise but still enjoy power walks or a leisurely stroll around the block, Self magazine's fitness director Meaghan Buchan recommends the iPod Shuffle. Starting at $49, the Shuffle is also a useful gift for the technophobic mom who likes to keep her gadgets simple and easy to navigate. To add a personal touch, Buchan also suggests preloading the iPod with some of your mom's favorite walking songs to get her motivated. A "walking playlist" can be found on self.com as a starting point.
After a day of exercise, your mom may want to relax and enjoy a cup of freshly brewed tea. Glassman says the clever Automatic Teapot from TeaSpot eliminates sitting by the pot and watching the clock or making a mess of the leaves. Your mom can simply set the timer for a particular type of tea (green, black or herbal), the desired steeping time and walk away. The teapot automatically removes tea leaves from the water so she doesn't have to worry. It's available at the-teaspot.com.
A delectable treat, such as freshly made macaroons from Paulette's Macarons in Beverly Hills, Calif., will add a sweet touch to your mom's afternoon tea. The colorful confections are sandwiched between ganache and come in a variety of unique flavors in bright, modern gift boxes. Go to paulettemacarons.com to satisfy the bon vivant in your mom.
Green Do-Gooder Moms
Earth Day was in April, but keep the spirit alive by giving an eco-friendly gift to your mom and Earth. CNET.com's Wood suggests reducing clutter by buying carbon offsets on behalf of your mom at TerraPass.com. It's instantaneous and there's no shipping involved. The company also sells products that help you reduce your carbon footprint: The Kill a Watt meter displays how much appliances are costing you every day, and the Shower Watch is a waterproof timer that aims to cut your time in the shower and conserve water. (The recommended shower time of most water companies and governments is four minutes.)
Self magazine's Buchan says the Synchilla Fleece Vest from Patagonia will also be a meaningful gift for the environmentally conscious mom. The multifunctional $70 vest is made from 85 percent recycled polyester and works well for layering or outdoor activities. After your mom has worn out the vest, she can drop it off at a nearby Patagonia store or mail it in, and the company will transform the garments into new clothing through its Common Threads Recycling Program. As an added bonus, Buchan says the vest is so comfortable and flattering that it will "encourage activity without saying, 'Mom, you need to exercise.' This is so cute she's just going to want to bust a move in it."
For the home, Ficaro likes soft pillows made from organic cotton by K Studio, a mother-daughter company committed to sustainable manufacturing practices. Shoppers can find these pillows along with other "eco-chic" home decor such as biodegradable dinnerware and bamboo utensils at branchhome.com. For more Earth-friendly gift ideas, also check out dominomag.com.
If your mom has been giving and helping others long before Angelina Jolie made goodwill cool, why not give her something that will benefit her and those in need? Ficaro recommends TOMS Shoes, which carries lightweight and comfortable footwear for around $42. For every pair purchased, the company donates a pair to a child in need. Visit tomsshoes.com to learn more.
Spring is also prime time for charity, and making a donation to your mom's favorite organization is a worthy last-minute gift that she and others will appreciate. In Style's McGrath adds that many companies such as Pine IV Denim, Kristen McCloud Jewelry and My Bag Cares participate in matching programs that plant a tree for every purchase made in their stores.
If your mom has a green thumb, Glassman says she can garden in style with festive floral gardening gloves and matching hats, such as the sets from Angela's Garden. The colorful fabrics on its brim hats and flower print gloves are treated with SPF UV block to protect her skin from the sun. A gear that matches the bright colors she's cultivating in the backyard will spruce up her weekend hobby. Go to nybgshop.com to browse the selection.
Active Adventurous Moms (Who Can't Sit Still)
Busy moms who like to keep active without hitting the gym for hours can turn to handbooks such as "15 Minutes to Your Best Self" for quick health, nutrition and fitness advice. Buchan says the guide offers 573 bite-size tips and tricks that anyone can sneak in daily to become a little healthier and less stressed. A self-help book with practical and doable time-saving fixes will motivate her to keep moving.
Let your mom exercise in style with comfy-chic workout wear from lines such as Adidas by Stella McCartney or lululemon. McGrath suggests pairing these items with a gift certificate for a private yoga lesson or a personal training session to complete the package.
For moms who want to exercise but don't want to sweat it out at the local gym surrounded by 20-somethings, Buchan says the Reebok Total Body Toning Kit is a perfect compromise. The $30 set comes with a stability ball, two soft weights, training DVD, exercise chart, three resistance bands and a Pilates ring that works for women across all fitness levels. The kit is an easy, accessible way to get lean and toned in her living room and can be purchased at www.target.com.
Moms and daughters with extra time and money can plan a girls getaway for some extended bonding time in the sun. Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity, says the following destinations are ideal for this time of the year:
* Beaver Creek, Colo. Beaver Creek is particularly well-suited for women who like to be rugged by day and pampered by night. Hiking, cycling, and rafting are just a few of the outdoor activities you can enjoy with your mom against the breathtaking backdrop of the Rockies. As a bonus, hotel rates are lower during the warm season.
* Scottsdale, Ariz. As the temperatures climb in the Arizona desert, prices drop. Besides being known for its plethora of spas, Scottsdale also boasts excellent shopping and upscale restaurants. For ladies who want to commune with nature, serene Sedona and its magnificent red rocks are nearby, making it a great side trip from Scottsdale.
* St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands If you don't have a passport but want a Caribbean getaway with your mom, opt for the U.S. Virgin Islands, where passports aren't required. More than half of this island is national park land, keeping it quiet and pristine, the perfect beach getaway for nature lovers. The snorkeling is particularly good here, but for some retail therapy, hop on the ferry to neighboring St. Thomas, known for its excellent shopping.
Travelocity is offering special discounts on select destinations, so check travelocity.com for details.
Whatever you decide to get your mom, In Style's McGrath has one last important piece of advice: Balance the gift by spending some time with her and the family. Enjoy brunch together or arrange a family dinner to go along with that spa treatment. The last thing she'd want is to celebrate Mother's Day away from her most prized gift.
More Gifts Ideas Can't decide what to get for a tech savvy mom? Take a peek at some last-minute gadgets for mom.