Crafting a happy home, family and life through simple living.

The Minimalist Guide to Mother’s Day

You are here because you are searching for the perfect gift for the mother figure in your life and you’ve read through what seems like the same gift idea list on every blog. A charm bracelet, coupon book, breakfast in bed… (I’ve read these articles too). Those tried and true ideas are great, but you are looking for something a little different this year.

The solution?

Gift your mother with an experience, not an item.

To begin, let me explain the “why’s” and then share a few ideas of how YOU can make this the most memorable Mother’s Day. Bonus: no department store needed.

Experience gift ideas for mom. Decluttering and simplifying. Why to give experiences instead of things.

Ditch the Jewelry

First of all, department stores are already offering incentives and great deals on products such as free shipping, Mother’s Day discounts, and specialty items (such as a Mother’s Day 2017 frame). For good reason too. The average amount spent on Mother’s Day gifts increases every year, with 2017 projected at $186.39/person, and a grand total of $23.6 BILLION being spent last year (Source: Market Watch).

Mother’s Day has morphed into a full-blown business that exploits the idea that love can be quantified in dollars spent at the department store.

At the same time, 1 out of every 10 Americans rents off-site storage (Source: New York Times).

The “stuff” we give to our loved ones isn’t passive. The stuff requires time (dust around, polish jewelry, organize, maintenance), and space (it takes up room in their home). In contrast, positive, fun experiences don’t bring this weight of ownership with them.

Experience Gifts Become Part of Us

Another convincing reason to consider experience gifts for mom comes from Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at the University of Cornell. Dr. Gilovich has studied the correlation between money and happiness for almost 20 years. He makes a great point of how experiences are part of us, something that material objects can never be.

Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

You can read more about his findings in this great article.

The Joy of Experience Gifts Outlives Physical Gifts

Opening a box to see a brand new piece of jewelry will bring happiness. Unfortunately for that new bracelet, humans have the tendency to adapt. The bracelet will feel shiny and new for a few weeks, but then we adapt to it and the bracelet becomes a part of our everyday lives (adaptation is another interesting finding from Dr. Gilovich).

In contrast, the joy of an experience lasts much longer. If we talk about a vacation we took 5 years ago, we can still “feel” the vacation- the happiness, relaxation, a specific moment. A material object just doesn’t have this ability. Experience gifts for mom will outlive the joy brought by a bracelet.

Experience gift ideas for mom. Decluttering and simplifying. Why to give experiences instead of things. Minimalist Mother's Day.

Gift Ideas for Moms: “You’re Worth It!”

Not the Average Mother’s Day Gift List

This is not the first article ever written on “gifts for mom” or even more specifically, “experience gifts for mom”. However, when I started researching ideas for my own mom, I was surprised to see such a big difference in Mother’s Day gifts and Father’s Day gifts.

Father’s Day gift lists included a round of golf, touring a brewing company, and indoor skydiving. All awesome and great “experience” gift ideas.

However, the Mother’s Day gift ideas I found included “sleep in for the day” or a “chore coupon book”.



Dad tours a local brewery. Mom gets a coupon to ask someone to “help” with unloading the dishwasher? How is this fair? And how is this communicating her worth and value?

This gift list is different. This list reflects that mothers are more than the people who unload the dishwasher and the one who wakes up early every morning to pour us a bowl of cereal.

Experience Gifts for Mom That Reflect Who SHE Is

First, one tip on experience gifts for mom is to include all the details and a suggested date. Upon opening the gift, she already has a day to look forward to and the planning is done.

  1. Brunch– Pick a place, make the reservations. The ideal time to enjoy brunch together is on a weekend after Mother’s Day.  The restaurant will be less crowded and it will give you both something to look forward to.
    • How to gift? Print out the brunch menu and put it inside a card. Describe how much you are looking forward to brunch with your mom, and all the details (time, place).
  2. Take a class together– One of my favorite birthday gifts I’ve ever received was taking a cooking class with my husband. We cooked a dinner that I would never be able to recreate at home, but it was fun and we did it TOGETHER. Afterward, we laughed together about the other couples’ quirky habits and how I got into trouble for pushing my hair back behind my ear (they had a strict no hair touching policy). If you have a Sur La Table in your area, check their calendar for a fun cooking class to take with your mom.
    • How to gift? Include the enrollment confirmation and the details of the class. Most cooking classes have an amazing description written by the instructor that will make you hungry just reading it.
  3. Movie Date– Two tickets to a movie (one for you and one for her). Add enough credit on a gift card for all the extra such as popcorn, candy, and drinks.
    • How to gift? Print out movie times and include the gift card.
  4. Yoga Class– If you live near your mom, gift a monthly pass for both of you to a yoga class (or any other fitness class you think she would enjoy).
    • How to gift? Get a brochure from the studio or print the class schedule.
  5. Cook Dinner for Mom– Prepare a meal for your mom and bring it over for a fun night together. She gets treated to a meal cooked specially for her while enjoying togetherness with the people she loves. Bonus: and there won’t be a huge mess for mom to clean afterward.
    • How to gift? Create a menu for the meal you a planning.

Enjoy this special day with the mother in your life- whether it be your mom, grandma, aunt, stepmom, sister, mom-to-be, or friend, and enjoy an experience together that will create lasting memories. All she really wants is to spend time with you and these experience gifts for mom are just that.

Before you go, tell me about an experience gift you’ve received!

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