Mother’s Day Experiences To Gift Instead of The Usual Robe and Slippers

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On my first Christmas as a new mom— that is, the first time December 25th rolled around after I had carried a human nine months in my uterus, pushed it out, got stitches down where the sun don’t shine, wore an adult diaper for weeks, then didn’t sleep again for the next three months— I woke up Christmas morning excited to see what AMAZING gift my husband had gotten me. You know, just a little gesture to thank me for bringing his progeny into the world.

I hastily peeled open the wrapping and flung open the box lid to find… a gossip magazine and an empty cardboard case of Budweiser. 

The next several minutes are unaccounted for, since I blacked out for a bit. Blacking out as a mom is the body’s way of saving you from yourself in stressful situations, like when your toddler takes a Sharpie to the new white couch or when your 6-year-old yells the F word at a playdate with new school friends or when your husband gifts you a cardboard beer carrier on Jesus’ birthday. 

When I eventually came to, he was ready and waiting with a mimosa for me and an explanation for his gift: we were going on a kid-free trip to St. Louis!

As I started to come back into my body and my breathing began to regulate again, I was able to feel some twinges of excitement. A KID-FREE TRIP? Maybe this was shaping up to be the best Christmas after all! But I still had questions… LOTS OF QUESTIONS. Starting with what was inside that box I just unwrapped.

As it turns out, there was a method to his madness. The Budweiser beer carrier was because Budweiser is brewed in St. Louis at the Anheuser-Busch flagship brewery. And the US Weekly magazine was dog-eared on a certain page— I flipped to the page he had marked to find a huge spread of Justin Bieber (who just happens to be my No. 1 celebrity crush besides Conan O’Brien, obviously). He then explained that not only were we taking a kid-free trip to St. Louis, but we also had tickets to a Justin Bieber concert while we were there. Once again, I blacked out momentarily, but this time it was my way of regulating my internal body temperature as I got flustered picturing myself in the same building as the Biebs, sharing the same air and possibly even making discreet yet flirty eye contact when our significant others weren’t watching. 

Six years later, I still say that was my favorite trip and favorite gift from my husband, and we talk about that experience to this day. It wasn’t diamond earrings, but who needs diamonds when you have a weekend away from kids and responsibilities and you get to ogle Justin Bieber on top of that? (I’m sure this statement won’t age well and I’ll be regretting it soon, but I’m leaving it in to get my point across, guys.)

What I’m trying to say is, sometimes the best gifts aren’t necessarily tangible things you can pick up at Nordstrom. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with ordering a robe and some bath bombs from Amazon Prime, and most years that will totally suffice. But maybe this Mother’s Day is the time to think outside the box, eh?

Buy tickets

If Justin Bieber concerts aren’t your thing, first of all, what kind of monster are you? But secondly, that’s totally fine (I guess)— just get online and look up tour dates of a few of your wife’s favorite artists. But don’t stop at just live music, there are plenty of other tickets you could buy for a fun date night: a play at a theater, stand up comedy, art shows, movies, etc. Not up for traveling? Do some digging on the ol’ Interwebs and find something in your own city or somewhere you can drive to. 

Write her a letter

This may sound elementary and self-explanatory, and it is, but there’s just something about a hand-written letter that makes a mom black out a little. (Am I the only one blacking out on a consistent basis? And not at the hands of alcohol? Do I need to see a doctor for this? Please let me know ASAP.) *Important differentiation: this is NOT a pre-written Hallmark card where you write “I love you” at the bottom. This is a blank sheet of paper with a heartfelt LETTER transcribed on it. Bonus points if you write it on pretty paper with some sort of letterhead, watermark or design on it. 

If you have children who are old enough to write, have your kids write letters, too. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just a note expressing how much you guys love and appreciate her. If you’re feeling especially bold and self-congratulatory, you could even pen a Haiku or some song lyrics, and then brag about your brilliance for the following few days or weeks.

Record interviews

Channel your inner Oprah Winfrey (without all the self-righteousness) and interview your kids about why they love mom and some of their most fond memories of her. There are lots of apps that allow you to record voice interviews as well as fun video messages that she will treasure forever. 

Snag reservations at a new or fancy restaurant

This one is a classic, but the trick is to make it feel super special and go to a “hot spot” that she’d normally never go to. It’s easy for moms of little kids to feel like they’re in a rut; maybe the only restaurant they’ve been in lately is a McDonald’s, and maybe they forget to wash their hair for 9 days in a row (just me?), and maybe they haven’t seen their own cleavage in months (or, in my case, years. It doesn’t exist. Shout out to breastfeeding.)

What I’m trying to say is, I realize O’Charley’s has delicious rolls. Exceptional rolls. How do they make those rolls? But this dinner date is not an O’Charley’s kind of night. This is a “hot new restaurant that just opened up and it’s hard to get into but daddy came through so put on your high heels, baby, cause mama is going out” kind of night. Except if you want to make it less weird you don’t have to refer to yourself as “Daddy,” or at least not in public. (You can swing by O’Charley’s on the way home and grab a basket of rolls to go and go to town on them in the comfort of your own car.)

Sign up for a cooking class together

No matter if she’s a pro in the kitchen, or if she has trained her kids to know dinner is ready when the smoke alarm sounds (I am the latter and it’s actually very convenient), cooking classes are always a neat experience and a fun way to up her culinary chops. Search for cooking classes in your hood (Whole Foods does them, as well as Sur La Table) or even a simple sushi-making class somewhere. 

Book a photo shoot of the kids and/or family

This sounds daunting but it’s not: ask friends if they have a local photog they love, ask a creative friend with a decent camera to snap some pics, or do what I do when I need anything at all and put it out into the universe via an Instagram plea. If there’s one thing moms love, it’s an effing family photo. Ask any mom. Any mom would walk through fire and swim an ocean and then swim another ocean while on fire if it meant she would score pics of her children all smiling and wearing shirts that don’t have stains on them. 

Give her a gift card for her to shop ALONE

Alone is the key word. Whether her happy place is Nordstrom, Target or TJ Maxx (or all three? The Trifecta, as I like to refer to it), it will mean a lot to her to have a reason to venture out ALONE and peruse the aisles in peace. Also, and this is important: she cannot at all be held responsible if she spends more than what’s on the gift card. I didn’t make the rules, I’m just relaying them to y’all gently yet firmly.

Gather family recipes

My sister-in-law gifted me this one year, and it’s still proudly displayed in my kitchen. Type them up and get them printed and bound using the Shutterfly app to make a real book, or go even simpler by photo-copying the recipes and simply combining them in a 3-ring binder. Then she’ll have a sentimental experience and fond memories every time she cooks one of the recipes from the book.

Go wine tasting

What mom doesn’t want to get drunk under the guise of a *classy* wine tasting? Research a winery in your city or somewhere close by and book a reservation for you two to get weeeeirdddd– I mean, for you two to refine your palates and sit around saying sophisticated things to each other like “oaky,” “buttery” and “tannins.” Want to take things up about a thousand notches? Of course you do. Book a trip to wine country and make her the happiest little lady on the planet. 

Enroll in a dance class together

Okay, so this might be pushing it a little… but I figured I’d add it anyway, on the off chance that there are some guys out there reading this that are just itching to strap on their dancing shoes and learn the fox trot or the cha-cha-shimmy-slide but were too embarrassed to admit it and needed a valid excuse to actually do it. Voila: you’re doing it for your wife! Nothing to be embarrassed about. (Kinda.)

Book a couples massage

Kill three birds with one stone: get her a massage, get yourself a massage, and earn points for spending quality time together. Boom. Power move right there. This one is a no brainer. 

Sign her up for an Instacart subscription

So this isn’t really an experience, but it will SAVE her from the dreadful experience of grocery shopping. Or, even worse, grocery shopping WITH KIDS IN TOW. A reasonable annual fee gets her unlimited grocery deliveries from a variety of local places and saves her time, energy and sanity week after week after week. 

Written by Hayley Simmons

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