The best Mother’s Day present I ever received was a week late.
My second child had just been born the Saturday after Mother’s Day, and I will never forget the moment when my oldest daughter stepped foot in the hospital room to meet her little sister for the first time.
That look on her face. Unbearably excited, as only a 5-year-old can be. But also a little nervous about the unknown.
She stepped towards the bed and reached a small hand out to her sister’s fuzzy head. Then glanced up at me, her eyes asking permission.
I smiled. “You can touch her.”
Slowly and ever so gently, she laid a hand on her sister’s head. And that’s when I realized that the best Mother’s Day gifts are not jewelry or flowers or even a perfectly worded store-bought greeting card.
As it turns out, the very best Mother’s Day gifts come straight from the heart, not a shopping cart.
But Here’s the Problem
Research shows experience gifts are the best kind of gifts. But some Mother’s Day experience gifts or gift ideas “from the heart” you come across are craft ideas for kids. Which is sweet.
But after Mother’s Day, you’re stuck figuring out what to do with the delicate toothpick and marshmallow sculpture your kid labored over to express their overwhelming love for you.
To throw it away would be mean. But if you keep it, you have to figure out a place to store it that won’t seem like you shunted it to the back of the linen closet and won’t attract vermin.
Let’s not even get into the sticky situation of when they make you…colorful jewelry that clashes with everything in your closet.
Again: So, so sweet. Just not very practical.
16 Mother’s Day Experience Gifts Every Mom Will Adore
Any mom would be over the moon to get one of these Mother’s Day experience gifts. You can DIY most of them, but they’re still awesome. (No toothpick sculptures or gaudy homemade jewelry in this list, I promise.)
And even better? These also make fantastic last-minute Mother’s Day gifts because you can pull most of them together quickly.
1. Commandeer the kitchen
Take over the kitchen and make a super yummy dinner, complete with dessert. This is a fun project for little kids to help with, but it works for grown kids too. If Mom’s touchy about who uses her kitchen, you can always make lasagna, soup, or another dinner you can freeze, and give it to her to use at a later date when she doesn’t feel like cooking dinner.
2. Get her a ticket
Does the mom in your life love the theater? Movies? Live music? Stand-up comedy? Get tickets to a great show, and she’ll remember it forever.
3. Play favorites
On family game nights, mom usually takes one for the team and forgoes her favorite game so that everyone else has a chance to play their favorite. (Ask me how I know.) So if your mom enjoys playing games, plan a special game night featuring her favorite games and snacks. She’ll get to spend time with the people she loves and play what she loves, too.
If you want to give her something she can unwrap to represent this experience gift, pick up a new game to surprise her with. My personal recommendations as a mom who loves board games:
- Forbidden Island for a cooperative game where you’ll all work together,
- Ticket to Ride for a strategy game that pairs well with her favorite nighttime beverage, and
- SET for a quick but fun brain workout.
In fact, I love those games so much that we stock them in our family game store. Order from us here, and you’ll be supporting a family-owned business while also treating mom to a fun new game!
If you’re looking for the best games for a big group, here are our top picks for family game night.
“Forbidden Island is great because unlike most games it teaches cooperation instead of competition – all the players must work together, using their different player skills, in order to get all the treasures before the island sinks. Either everyone wins or everyone loses. It is my new favorite game to play with my 9-year-old daughter!” – Mark
4. Reflect on paper
Starting when my oldest turned 7, she loved to write me letters and still does. Sweetest thing ever! First, get some pretty paper like this adorable hummingbird letterhead†. Then grab a pen and write what you love and appreciate about Mom. Or if you’re feeling particularly creative, you can try writing a poem.
5. Send her back to school
Has she been talking about learning how to sew or the art of canning? Honing her photography skills? Find a class and sign Mom up! Even better, sign up both of you together so it’s an experience you’ll share.
6. Be a reporter
Sit down with each person in your family and use an app like Super Notes to record an interview with them. Just ask the kids (and anyone else you’re interviewing) to share their favorite memories of Mom.
7. Compile a book
This makes a great gift for grandmothers. Ask all the kids in your extended family to draw a picture or write a story of their favorite memory of Grandma. Then take all the creations to an office services store and get them bound into a book. You’ll knock Grandma’s socks off.
8. Give your time
Make a coupon or certificate for a gift of your time. Include coupons for a night of babysitting or weekend of petsitting, a car wash, a month of cleaning the cat’s litterbox (okay, maybe just one week of that). Or as another option, you can give coupons for special treats like one morning of sleeping in, a day off from cooking dinner (if Mom is the usual chef is in the house), breakfast in bed, and more.
9. Think about what she needs
Give a gift certificate for something she needs anyway. Maybe she’s been putting off a haircut and color due to the cost. Or her vehicle is in desperate need of an oil change and a tune-up. Or she was putting away the butter when the fridge’s butter door fell down unexpectedly, popping the diamond right out of their wedding ring, but she hasn’t made time or scrounged up the money to get it fixed yet. (That happened to me, so I can relate!)
Getting something repaired isn’t technically an experience gift, but I say it counts because you’re saving her an experience she probably isn’t looking forward to – the hassle to get it repaired.
10. Wrap your memories
Download my free printable here for sharing your favorite memories, wrap it up, and you’re done! When it comes to last-minute Mother’s Day gifts, it doesn’t get much better than that.
11. Give her a clean house
This one can be a little touchy because you wouldn’t want to imply the mom in your life is insufficient in this department! But for many moms who have trouble fitting in house cleaning on top of everything else on their plate, scheduling a house cleaning service would be a much-appreciated treat. Personally, I would be incredibly thankful for this as a gift! If you’re unsure about this one, best check with someone who can do a little reconnaissance work and make sure Mom will appreciate the gesture.
12. Gather family recipes
Reach out to your extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – and ask for their favorite recipes. Format them all nice and pretty, then print and arrange in a binder. Moms love family history!
13. Make a playlist
Pick a few songs Mom will appreciate and save them to a USB flash drive. This gift is super easy – just follow these step-by-step instructions for how to share a playlist. Then every time she fires up the playlist you gifted, she’ll think of you!
14. Take away the guilt
Some women feel guilty setting up spa and salon services for themselves, so give her a guilt-free experience she’ll appreciate with a gift certificate for a massage, mani/pedi, haircut, or anything else you know she’d enjoy.
15. Make a day of it
Schedule a home spa day. From a mom to daughter or vice versa, give a fun new shade of nail polish with a piece of paper tied to it that says, “Let’s try this one out together!” On your manicure or pedicure (or both!) date, you can even start up a girly movie like The Princess Bride in the background to make a proper spa day of it.
16. Capture your joy as a family
Book a session with a family photographer. We splurged on a family session after our youngest was born, and I’m so happy we have a record of that precious time together as a family!
For experience gift ideas, head to The Ultimate (Most Epic!) List of the Best Experience Gift Ideas.
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
What ideas do you have for the best Mother’s Day experience gifts? Share in a comment below!