A few days ago, we took a look at some of the best mother’s day gifts to get your mom this year. That article had direct input from a lot of the mothers I know (including my wife.) Today’s article, I’m proud to say, I’ve undertaken on my own and you know why? For a lot of my life, I was THE worst mother’s day gift giver. I’m usually pretty good at gift giving. For some reason, I just couldn’t get my own mother right. Naturally, my mom would sort of grit her teeth and act impressed but it was with all the vigor of a kid that asked grandma for LEGO at Christmas and unwrapped a box of store brand colored plastic linking brick products.
So, without further ado, here are 10 seriously uncool gifts to get your mom for mother’s day
Hey, who knew getting mom DVDs of her favourite shows was really a bad idea? Regardless of whether you’ve grabbed the latest “special edition” version of her favourite movie, or a title she really likes and would love to own, DVDs and BluRays are a terrible idea. They’re just really impersonal, even if you went to the length of visiting every possible store in the area just to secure it. The only exception to this is … forget it, there is no exception.
My wife and I have had no less than 984735 talks over the years about how gift cards are the worst possible gift. I’m not really picky, I suppose. I don’t mind gift cards since it’ll just add to an eventual pile of credit I might need to buy something significant later on down the line. I do see my wife’s point, however. Nothing spells “great mother’s day gift” like “Hey mom I walked over to the checkout of the finest local store, picked out a good looking gift card and here’s 50 bucks at the local restaurant you eat at twice a decade.” The one exception may be spa gift cards but even then, just drop mom there if she really wants a spa day or actually take her to the restaurant. The quality time probably means more to her.
Okay, don’t get me wrong: there are some really cool vacuums out there. In fact I just reviewed one for Best Buy, the Dyson DC66 and it was great. My wife was sad to see me pack it up to send back to Best Buy. Everybody loves the concept of cool vacuums except for cats and dogs. But vacuums aren’t a good mother’s day gift, no matter how high end you go. Unless your mom is Monica Gellar, a vacuum will go over about as well as every Land Before Time movie after the first. In fact, if you get your mom a vacuum, your punishment should be having to watch every Land Before Time movie. You do realize there were 12 sequels right?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved giving gifts. It’s great fun to do all of the research into what somebody wants or needs and get it for them. One of the things I’ve never been able to bring myself to do is re-gift. Sure, I’ve been given a few things here and there that I already had or didn’t need but I’ve never re-wrapped and passed those on. Perhaps you’ve been given something you think the mother you’re buying for might like. I’d just give it to them outside of the occasion itself. Your mom/wife/etc is likely smart enough to see through your gift. Chances are it will fall so outside of what you normally get them that they’ll be able to figure it out or else, well, your body language might give it away!
We already talked about how a gift card doesn’t quite go over. Cash isn’t quite as bad a gift card, but I feel as though it’s just as impersonal. Unless your mother has specifically asked for it (to help contribute toward something larger) please make the effort to offer up something a bit more personal. If your mom is the one who has everything and you literally can’t think of anything, turn that cash gift into something like taking her out to brunch. Your mom isn’t turning 7. There’s no need to stuff a 20 into the envelope and tell her to go buy something she likes with it.
“Hi mom. Happy mother’s day! Here’s a treadmill”
How’d you like a one way ticket to the doghouse with your mom or wife? How about buying them exercise equipment out of the blue? I mean, sure they might have wanted that treadmill but is it really in your best interest to buy her one on the day that’s supposed to be dedicated to her motherly goodness and sacrifice? The one exception to all of this is a wearable, like a Fitbit or equivalent but chances are if you’re buying your mom one of these, she specifically asked for it like mine did last Christmas. Otherwise, it’s a one way trip to Troy Barnes fake smile-ville
Lotions and Candles
Let me start this one by leveling with you and saying that I used to assistant manage a location of a major retailer of candles and body products as it closed in on Christmas one year. I thought it was really cute when an 8 or 9 year old walked in with a handful of change and would say that he or she saved up and was buying their mother’s favourite lotion for Christmas because “she really liked it.” However, on the same end, I saw so many folks come in and grab a handful of gift sets. In conversation with many of them, I’d hear things like, “She shops here so she’ll probably like whatever I buy from here” or, “She can just return it if she doesn’t like it.” Gift receipts can be a dangerous thing indeed. I even overheard one brother and sister arguing over a gift for their mom, culminating in, “Who even cares what we get? It’s just for mom.”
This tip comes straight from my wife, who has the world’s largest collection of perfumes and candles. We probably have enough candles here to survive years of power outages. She says these are things she likes shopping for, instead of vice versa. My coworkers agreed when I asked them. I pass this tip onto you courtesy of those two.
Gifts with time frames attached to them
Gifts with time frames attached (ie. specific day or a range) are one of the the biggest ticking time bombs you can get. Those mystery concert or theatre tickets sound like a great idea in theory but what happens when you’ve hooked yourself into a non-refundable gift that can’t be returned. My wife works in retail eCommerce and there are certain times of the year that are blacked out for vacations (including the Christmas season.) My mother works for the school board and there are certain times of the year she can’t go either. Before you think about something like this, you better look at the time of year and anticipate any problems that may come up. The one exception to this might be paying for a trip that you’ve worked out well in advance and have the dates cleared.
Impractical Small Appliances
When I spoke with my coworkers about the best and worst mother’s day gifts they were given, many touted small appliances as the worst. The number of new toaster comments was startling. One person even said that their daughter bought them a hand mixer to encourage her to bake more—but she hated baking. I find that small appliances, while useful, don’t really encourage the spirit of celebrating your mother.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, especially when it comes to being the one thing they absolutely want or even replacing something that recently broke that they really liked. One of the best gifts we’ve ever received was a Vitamix Professional Series blender. My wife had been on the fence about getting one for many years and so our moms got together and bought her one. It’s replaced so many of the other little gadgets and knick-knacks we have that I can’t in good faith say that all small appliances are a bad idea.
Before I explain myself, let me say that I don’t feel that a gift is necessary. Sometimes, you just can’t afford them. I get it. When I was 19, I remember that I’d recently paid off a lot of personal expenses and couldn’t afford to get my mom a gift because I was in school and only working 8-12 hours a week. I cooked her the worst breakfast ever (one of the few things that I still can’t cook properly to this day) and had everything ready for her when she woke up. I’d like to think that she was appreciative of it, risk of food poisoning aside.
Still, do something for mom. It doesn’t always have to be a gift. Even if it’s a phone call, FaceTime or whatever is within your means. Just don’t forget about mom. Mother’s Day might come off a sappy holiday at times but it’s a good reminder of how, for at least one day a year with our busy lives and schedules, mom comes to the forefront once again.
Mother’s Day in Canada in 2016 falls on Sunday, May 8th. You’ve got just a couple weeks to get your ideas together and blow mom’s expectations away this year.
Oh, right. Mom, if you’re reading this, I still don’t know what to get you for Mother’s Day this year but I’m working on it!