8 Fun, Non-Snoozefesty Ways to Spend Time with Mom on Mother’s Day

Image: Nikki Nelson/

Image: Nikki Nelson/

Let's see, there's flowers, chocolates, a spa day, a coupon IOU book and a dozen other cheesy ways for you to tell mom you love her on Mother's Day. And while some of those ideas are perfect for a 10 year old, we're adults here. Mom is, you know, a person…and she deserves better gifts.

She'll probably always be polite enough to thank you for any gift or Mother's Day shout out, but that doesn't mean she won't yawn behind your back–just saying. Let's throw away those cliché ideas and do something interesting for a change! Something that's still just for her, something she won't expect and something that'll let her be Jan or Karen or Kathy, instead of just "Mom."

Arrange a Surprise Day Off

If your mom hasn't reached that golden period of retirement, one of the best ways to show you care is to try and arrange a surprise day off. Call up her boss, see if it's possible to get her a day (doesn't necessarily have to be Mother's Day, but close to it). Then, head over to her place or call her on the phone the night before (or before she leaves for work,) and tell her she has the day off.

Here's a change-up from the norm: ask her if she'd like to spend it on her own or if she'd like you do join her, assuming you can get the day off too. She might just want some "me" time. Let her know that's totally legit. It's her day. But if you're more into planning time for the two of you, read on.

Play It Again, Sam

I don't know about you, but my mother embraces technology on an as-needed basis. Since iTunes has never been a "need," she has 50 songs on her iPod Touch, most of which she doesn't like much anyway, but were a gift from my brother, reflecting his musical tastes instead of hers. (I hope he doesn't read this).

If this sounds in any way familiar, sit her down and teach her how to upload music to her smart phone. Or buy her an iPod Touch (you can buy a refurbished one from Apple's website at a discount). A gift card to iTunes is also a good idea. This is another way for you two to connect on a more personal level. Do you even know what her favorite song of all time is? What music from her generation she loves or hates? She'll have the playlists you make together to listen to over and over, even when you're not there.

Cruise Along

Live near a body of water? Ever looked into a dinner cruise? It's an out-of-the-ordinary experience.  I mean, you weren't thinking of taking the woman who gave you life to Applebee's, right? If you're looking for a way to eat together, a dinner cruise is an unexpected twist on a classic.

The Best for The Best

No dinner cruise nearby? Take her to a nice restaurant. Not just a "nice" restaurant. But the nicest one you can afford. How often has your mom had a really standout meal? If she's from the Midwest like mine, the answer is, "Almost never. Hardly even once." Oh sure, she's gone out to places that call themselves nice. And she thinks they are, but she has no basis for comparison. So give her one. Really go all out treating her to a high-end experience.

Weekend Retreat

Spa day, spa day, spa day. If I have to read that advice one more time and pretend as if it's a new idea, I'm going to die of boredom. Look, spa days are fine. But this is your only mother! Look into a weekend retreat. Yes, it's expensive. And yes, it's worth slapping on your credit card, forgoing your own annual weekend retreat. How much has your mother sacrificed for you?

Give the Gift of Love, Literally

This list isn't for the faint of heart. It requires chutzpah to make Mother's Day stand out. Do you think your mom would like a rescue puppy? This is a fantastic option for single moms. These little bundles of love make great companions and keep on giving while you're three states away working on your career. As for the day itself, go to the shelter, let her pick out the pet, take her to the pet store to get all the required goods, and then head over to a dog park to play. You'll definitely have one up on the water cooler talk that involves sending mom flowers–again. (Just be sure to check with mom first, animals should never be a surprise.)

Hobby It

What does she like to do? Seriously, do you even know? If not, ask! Ask if there's a hobby she's always wanted to try, but hasn't had the time. Or if you already know her hobby, go ahead and start building a package around it. If she's a painter, get her an easel, a canvas and some paint. Buy her knitting supplies and instruction books if she's into crafting. Buy pots, dirt and seeds for a garden. You get the idea. If you can't make the day a roller coaster ride of excitement (speaking of which, does she like theme parks? That's an idea!), at least you can do something that reflects who she is individually. She'll never forget it.

When in Doubt, Ask

There's a simple formula when you're stumped on how to celebrate Mother's Day. And it does not involve hitting up CVS for a box of candy. Ask her what she'd like to do. Ask your mom if there's any place around town she's been wanting to check out or a show she's been dying to see. Above all, make it about her instead of what Hallmark tells you Mother's Day should be.