Mother\'s Day GiftThe problem with picking a gift based purely on productivity is that most people like gifts that they won’t buy for themselves: people want something fun, something special — and your mother is no exception. And Mother’s Day is almost here: it falls on the on the second Sunday of May, which just happens to be this weekend. We each have only a few days to make sure that we don’t try to give Mom something as that drags down her productivity, clutters up her workspace or generally makes her wish she swapped us for more grateful children.

Navigating the mall displays of gifts “Perfect for Mom!” can be incredibly difficult, But these tips can help simplify that last minute shopping spree you might be considering for Saturday night. Heck, with these tips (aside from the card), you might be able to check Mom’s gift off your to-do list right now.

1. Give the Gift of Time

When I was a kid, I always made my mom coupons for Mother’s Day: she could cash them in on a couple of hours of babysitting for my little sisters, some help around the house — that sort of thing. And I still give her the gift of my time: right now, I’m working on teaching her how to run a blog. Offering up some of your time to help your mother complete pet projects can be an ideal way to give her something she’ll actually be able to use. A nice dinner out or a family get-together can fall into this category as well: just remember your time is valuable — valuable enough to make a good gift.

2. Ditch the Gift Cards

Conventional wisdom seems to say that everyone loves a nice gift card: you don’t have to worry about getting the right sizes or picking the right movie. But there are plenty of options that make for better gifts. After all, what’s the use of money that you can only use one place? Or money that you have to make a special trip to spend? There are some gift card options that allow you to provide money that can be used anywhere that takes Visa (or whatever card company you purchase through). It’s not a perfect solution, but it will save you from finding that gift card you purchased in your mom’s junk drawer sometime next year — a friend cleaned out his grandmother’s house and found, literally, a stack of gift cards. Her family had sent them for a number of occasions and she never used a single one.

3. Check for Gadgets They’re Lusting For

Anyone who thinks that ladies don’t have just as much gadget lust as guys seem to is sadly mistaken. And, unless your mama really does enjoy spending time in the kitchen, skip the domestic gizmos. In the last month alone, my mother’s dropped hints about an iPhone, an iPod and a DVD player she can take in the car. I may not want to get my mother every gadget under the sun, but she’d be happy to get them — and she’s not all that into technology. She doesn’t follow it closely but she does hear about cool toys. If your mother has a favorite hobby, consider checking if there’s a gadget or tool she’s lacking for her pursuit. Sure, your gift may not make your mother anymore productive, but she’ll still enjoy it.

4. Make a Donation in Your Mother’s Name

My grandmother has made dire threats towards anyone thinking of bringing ‘clutter’ into her house. She doesn’t necessarily need anything and certainly would rather we spend time with her than mail off some present she doesn’t really want. We do want to honor her in some way, though, and she has directed us to her favorite charity. If you want to acknowledge your mother’s efforts in turning you into the wonderful individual you are today, consider making a donation to her favorite cause.

5. Share Your Memories

This is the moment for all those family photos, recipes and everything else memorable that you’ve had stashed away. Pull out the photo albums and frame a few for your mother’s walls — or scan them and make a screensaver for your mom’s computer. There are so many possibilities you can try: turning a few favorite family recipes in to a cookbook, writing down a few favorite family stories and finding the accompanying photographs. Just a few fond memories can bring a smile to your mother’s face (and maybe remind her why she didn’t swap you in for a better behaved kid).

6. Go in Together

I have two sisters who I can team up with on a Mother’s Day present for my mom. I have seven cousins who I can go in with if I want to do something for my grandmother. To put it simply, not only can I get the benefit of my relatives’ ideas for gifts, but together we have more buying power as well. Mother’s Day isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about which relative can get the biggest, fanciest present. Instead, if you do want to get a relatively large present, it makes sense to make it a group effort. If it’s something nice and that Mom will like, your relatives will be glad to not have to worry about a gift on their own. (And, for those of us with the bad habit of waiting until the last moment, finding a relative to help out with the bill can cover your butt!)

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