The best Mother’s Day present I ever received was late.
My second child Bailey had just been born the Saturday after Mother’s Day, and I will never forget the moment when my oldest daughter Abby stepped foot in the hospital room.
The door swung open, and she stood in the doorway.
That look on her face.
Unbearably excited, as only a 5-year-old can be. But also a little nervous about the unknown. A little sister?
I lay in the hospital bed with newborn Bailey in my arms. Because I was recovering from an unexpected C-section, I had to resist the urge to jump out of bed and scoop my big girl up into my arms.
“Do you want to come meet your little sister?” I asked.
Abby stepped forward into the room. Her eyes locked onto Bailey.
When she got to the bed, she reached a small hand out to her little sister’s fuzzy head. Abby 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.
My heart felt full.
The Secret of the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift
I don’t even remember what presents I got for Mother’s Day that year. We were all trying to distract ourselves from an overdue pregnancy, so it’s hard to remember much else from that time.
But I don’t care.
Because experiencing that moment in the hospital of my two girls meeting for the first time was the best Mother’s Day present in the world.
Not jewelry. Not flowers. Not 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.
15 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.
- Make dinner. 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.
- Give tickets. 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.
- Write a letter. 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 typewriter 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.
- Sign her up for a class. 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.
- Record interviews. Sit down with each person in your family and use an app like Super Notes to record the interview. Just ask the kids (and anyone else you’re interviewing) to share their favorite memories of Mom.
- 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.
- 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. These printable ticket-style coupons are pretty cute (the coupons are free, but you can use the special discount code shown in the image below to get 20% off everything else in their store!). Or as another option, these are blank so you can write in your own gift.
- 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.
- List your favorite 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Capture your joy as a family. Purchase 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!
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!