Civilizations throughout history have honored motherhood in different ways. In the United States, the seed of the Mother’s Day we celebrate was planted in 1908 by a woman named Anna Jarvis, who wanted to remember her own mother. Whether you go all out or keep it low-key, unless your mother wants or needs something specific, chances are it really is the thought that counts—or an experience you’ll both remember.
Here are five ways to celebrate Mom that won’t end up in the donation box:
Schedule a professional photo shoot: How many pictures do you have with your mom? Mothers are often the photographers in the family and don’t always make it into the frame. For a gift that will be treasured for generations to come, arrange a photography session for mom (spring for the hair and makeup too). Make sure there are solo shots of her and some with family. Up the game and include a beloved pet or an item or piece of clothing that illustrates an inside family joke or favorite story.
Be her home improvement buddy: If you feel like mom did her share of taking care of you, pay her back with a workday. Offer to cook a special meal or freeze a week’s worth of lunches; plant or weed her garden; clear out the troublesome clutter in the closet. Mom gets to sip her coffee or a cocktail and “supervise.” Even if it’s not the way you’d do it, this is the time for listening. Remember, it’s her day.
Take a class: You’re never too old to learn and neither is your mom. Try something new for both of you. Cooking, exercise, art, meditation, botany—it doesn’t matter what it is as long as you can do it together. If there are mobility issues, see if you can bring an expert (even someone you know!) into the home for a personal class or do an online course.
Memory lane: This one works even if you’re far away from each other. Find your favorite photos, come up with captions and create a book you can keep on the coffee table. You can organize by decade, themes or people. Then use a service such as Shutterfly, Google Photo or Snapfish to make printed copies.
Get gorgeous: Bring mom to a new level of lovely by taking her to a spa or salon and encourage her to “go big.” How about an extra-long massage, or deep-level beauty treatment or an entire makeover? Can’t get out? Do your own home beauty day: give mom a mani-pedi or whip up a homemade facial.
Even if mom swears up and down she doesn’t want or need anything, she’ll appreciate that you found time to show you love her.