Our Mother's Day gift guide

10 ideas for Northwest moms.
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Via Spiga 'Cove' Pump (Nordstrom) and Lowa Mountain Expert GTX Mountaineering Boot (REI).

10 ideas for Northwest moms.

A great gift is something that people would love to have but hesitate to buy for themselves. Mother's Day, this Sunday, May 13, is no exception. Buying for Mother's Day can be tricky because there are so many budgets as well as categories of mothers. There are moms with small kids, moms with older kids, moms with grown kids and no grandkids, moms with grown kids and grandkids, single moms, etc. This can make buying gifts difficult. I've put together a top-10 list of gift ideas for Mother's Day that should span most categories. Maybe the mom you are shopping for would prefer rock climbing equipment to jewelry or spa services. If you know that, then congratulations, you already have a good grasp of No. 2 on the list.

  1. A list of ten things that you love about Mom: Hands down, when I polled moms of all ages, their favorite gift was artwork or projects the kids produced in school. Expand on that. Have the kids put together a Top 10 Things I Love About Mom (and/or Grandma) list. This small gesture really packs a lot of punch. Every mother at one time or another has some doubt about whether or not they are "doing a good job." Are they nurturing enough, strict enough, aware enough, fun enough? While those of us who strive to stay sane try not worry about this too much, self-doubt is inevitable. A Mother's Day card with a simple (and thoughtful) list of 10 things that you love about Mom would probably be well received and appreciated. If you are coaching your kids, it would be fun to have each one of them make a list (heck, the more the merrier). You can type up the list, have the kids decorate the borders, and put it in a pretty frame (found for cheap at your local drugstore).
  2. Ask what Mom wants and make it happen: Mother's Day is about what Mom wants, not what we think Mom should have. Avoid a bad Mother's Day by really listening to what Mom says. Years ago, a friend of mine had two kids under three, and when her husband asked, "What would you like for Mother's Day?" she said, "To sleep in." She was tired and could think of nothing more decadent and fabulous than just having one morning where she was off-duty and could sleep in. When Mother's Day rolled around, her husband and sons came in bright and early with breakfast in bed and big plans to take Mom to the zoo. Despite the enthusiastic presentation, she struggled not to feel unappreciated (and tired). Actually, had she been able to sleep in, she might have had more energy to appreciate lunch in bed and an afternoon at the zoo. One year I had come up with some great ideas for a gift for my fun, energetic mom. I was checking out Tom Jones concert tickets, spa services, or Menopause: the Musical tickets. But when I asked my mom what she wanted, she said, "I really want my blinds cleaned for Mother's Day." What?! I didn't want to use my Mother's Day gift fund to get her blinds cleaned. But that is what she wanted, and I wanted her to be happy and feel appreciated. So, I bucked up for the blinds cleaning and she was really happy every time she looked at her dust-free blinds for the next year.
  3. Every year I show my husband the ad in the paper for Mom and Me at the Zoo and remind him that is not what I want for Mother's Day. I am sure it is a lovely event, but since I have the luxury of spending lots of time with my kids during the week, I look forward to things that aren't part of our everyday activities.
  4. Gift certificates for services: Gift certificates are cliche, but gift certificates for services are almost always well received – massages, nail services, spa services, etc. Note that $50 doesn't buy much at a spa these days, so make sure that you find out how much the services actually cost and buy the gift certificate accordingly. (Gene Juarez, Ummelina)
  5. Car detail: As a mom of two kids, it would be so nice to get into a car free of crumbs, toys, cheese stick wrappers, broken Hello Kitty sunglasses, unidentifiable schmutz fused to seats, dirt marks all over the back of the front seats from ill-placed muddy shoes, rogue hair bands and hair clips, Hot Wheels cars, and the like. If hiring a detailer is not for you, make sure to find someone else besides Mom to watch the kids so you can do it yourself. I would make sure to follow this up with another gift that is a bit more personal, as well. (Elephant Car Wash)
  6. A special piece of jewelry: No need to break the bank here. There are many stores in Seattle and Portland that have really pretty jewelry made from local artisans. Just check both your ego and their return policy. If you will be offended that Mom may not love what you bought, make sure to buy a gift certificate so she can pick it out herself. One of my favorite little spots is Hitchcock in Seattle's Madrona neighborhood. They have an excellent selection of quality pieces for under $100.
  7. Mother's Day brunch: A fun brunch can combine a few generations of mothers. McCormick and Schmick's looks to have one of the best deals in town this year. In Seattle, the McCormick's Fish house on Fourth Avenue and the McCormick and Schmick's Harborside on Lake Union are both offering Mother's Day brunch buffets (seafood and eggs benedict as far as the eye can see) for under $30 for adults, under $17 for kids 5-12, and free for kids under 5. You should check with each restaurant to find out exactly what they are offering and to make reservations. Don't forget to bring fun things to do for the little ones, so Mom and/or Grandma can relax and enjoy themselves.
  8. A great pair of shoes: Whether your mom is a Nordstrom or REI shopper, every woman loves a fun pair of shoes. When buying the gift certificate, ask at the counter if they have any shoe catalogs they can throw in for visual effect. This may prompt Mom to finally steer clear of the sensible shoes and splurge on a pair of fun shoes to make her feel more kicky.
  9. An everyday item of exceptional quality: My girlfriend received a beautiful Waterford Crystal goblet from her mother-in-law for Mother's Day one year. She says she feels wonderfully civilized whenever she uses the beautiful glass (even while wearing sweats that are covered in baby food). The new Seattle Art Museum shop is chock full of beautiful everyday items. I am a big fan of their fashionable umbrellas. Gardeners love quality sun hats and pretty gardening gloves. (City People's)
  10. A night out on the town: Stepping out and having an excuse to dress well can be a real treat. Find some tickets to a show that your mom would get a kick out of. The 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle has West Side Story playing in May and June, Spamalot will be at the Paramount this fall, and Harry Connick Jr. will be at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland in June. (Ticketmaster)
  11. A decorative home item: How about a locally produced collectible Glassybaby candle holder in Mom's favorite color? Glassybaby's beautiful new studio is in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle. You can also order online. When digital frames first came on the market they were made from really unattractive plastic. Now the designs are much more aesthetically pleasing and can display a rotation of dozens of digital photos. If you are buying for Grandma, load it up with fun family pictures. You can also upload pictures from a special trip so Mom feels like she was there enjoying that waterfall in Hawaii right along with you. Seattle's own Amazon has a wide selection of styles and price ranges.

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