If you type “ideas for Mother’s Day” into Google a week before the holiday, you are bombarded with ads.  The interwebs will try to tell you that an expensive name brand perfume or this bright red sweater with the words “Saturday” written across the front carrying a price tag of $495 is what would truly make your wife happy. I’m here to tell you that is not what your wife wants. Maybe she has even dropped some hints about what she would like… That could be just because she is used to the same old cycle. Holiday -> Purchase, Holiday -> Purchase, and on and on. That’s not what Mother’s Day is about. Mother’s Day is about appreciating the mothers in your life, not just plopping an obligatory gift on the table. As a mom, things get busy and we are forced to be practical. We have a lot we need to get done and there is always something left to do. It seems like there is always a holiday or reason to spend money. At least it seems that way in the US. Honestly, I look at gifts now and sometimes feel like putting it away, finding a place for it, assembling it, etcetera is just a burden. My mind jumps to memories of living in France and seeing my friends come home with a single lily and giving it to their mother with the biggest hug.

My friend would do this for his mother, spend the evening chatting with her, help her prep the table for dinner, after dinner would pick up the dishes and have her sit down. It wasn’t extravagant but he was present and you could tell his mother wasn’t worrying about where her new candle, perfume, etcetera was. She felt special and appreciated. It was enough.

My French husband has taught me a lot about living in the moment and avoiding capitalistic tendencies. Over the years, he has given me a new approach to gift giving and showing appreciation. He has an awesome attitude towards holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. He says that he wants me to feel like he is celebrating our love every day and not just one day. It may be a little cliche but in action I much prefer a kiss at the door every day to a fancy restaurant on a crowded night any day.

You may have a little gift in mind or a special reservation at a restaurant. All of that is wonderful and go ahead and do it! Just remember that it doesn’t mean anything if you are not present or intent on showing appreciation.

Now, I am new-ish mom and my daughter can’t do much in the sense of giving a gift… She can hardly talk, but I still would like to celebrate Mother’s Day. Below are a few creative ideas about how to make the day meaningful. I have to be honest and give credit to my husband, because a lot of these are things that he actually has done. You don’t have to do exactly what I write, but I hope they inspire you to think about what would mike your spouse feel special. Mix and match and maybe just take some inspiration from these ideas.

1. For the creatives: Create something as a family together. I know that Pinterest might not seem like a man’s medium, but it’s okay. A woman loves a guy going out of his comfort zone to do something for her. Look up a simple recipe for bath bombs (if she likes bathes and you have a tub) or candles. Spend Mother’s Day morning making them, come back in the evening and put the kids to bed while she tries one with a glass of wine and a good book in the tub. Alternative ideas are lip scrubs, face masks or soap.

2. For the outdoorswoman: Discover a new hiking trail, pack some sandwiches, have the kids make some cards in advance, bring an activity for the children to do, bring a blanket, come prepared so she sees that you didn’t do this last minute. When I see that my husband has put effort into doing something solely for my enjoyment, I genuinely feel special. If you have a yard, you could even set up a tent outside.

3. For the foodie: Try to figure out her favorite dish from a restaurant you currently go to or from a city that you have been to. Get all of the ingredients beforehand and try to make it as a family. Have the kids make a sign with the name of the restaurant and some paper decorations.

4. For the hardworking:  This probably overlaps with all of the others, but if your love just needs a break. Scratch it all and just give her that. Make her breakfast in bed, put her in front of some Netflix and give her some space. Make sure to check in and a flower would be nice.

5. For the cultured: Print off pictures of famous works of art. Have each member of the family take a blank sheet of paper and do their best interpretation. My husband and I did this once years ago and I still have our drawings. He also bought an opera on DVD and we pretended like we were there. You can even have the kids put on some fancy clothes for effect.

6. For the out-and-about-er:  If your lady just likes to spend time with you, take her to a place where she can stroll and window shop, a farmer’s market, a favorite neighborhood for a walk, etc. Just bring a backpack stocked with some snacks, water, wine and a blanket so you can stop in a park and relax.

7. For the big hearted: This is another that sweeps across all mothers. Take your wife’s phone and yours and create a video montage of all of the best moments of the last year. My husband did this for my and I was touched beyond words. I literally was crying 30 seconds in. It was the best gift I could ever receive.

If you are thinking that your wife would just role her eyes if you did this or wonder if you lost your mind, you could be right! However, I guarantee that she will be touched by the gesture. Again, it’s all about feeling appreciated and special.

French quotes about mothers:

L’avenir d’un enfant est l’oeuvre de sa mere. The future of a child is the work of his mother.” -Napoleon Bonaparte.

Dieu ne pouvait être partout, alors il a créé la mere. God couldn’t be everywhere so he created the mother.” -Jewish Proverb

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