Mother's Day: From Brunch to Alone Time, a Guide to Making Mom Happy

It doesn't take much to find a good gift for your No. 1 fan. All it takes is a little planning. If you don't believe it, just ask your mom.

"For me, it is not about flowers or dinner or any kind of special gathering," says Elmira, N.Y., photographer Maria Strinni Gill, mother of 2-year-old Madeline. "Every day is Mother's Day for me, really."

Click here for's Mother's Day Guide.

While Gill and her fellow sisters-in-motherhood may downplay the importance of gifts, Americans will not. We spend an average of $120 on Mom for Mother's Day, which falls on May 13 this year.

"This is — as we say — the mother of all holidays, because everyone has a mother," said Julie Mulligan, a creative consultant for 1-800-FLOWERS.

In suburban Detroit, first-time mom Tricia Di Ponio has been dropping hints for a piece of jewelry with the birthstone of her 8-month-old son, Nico, but she's looking forward to Mass that morning even more.

"Usually we go to church and all the mothers stand up for the Mother's Day blessing," Di Ponio said. Recalling the years when she was "kind of trying and waiting" to have a baby, she said being in church on Mother's Day "was always kind of like a bummer, so now I'm looking forward to being able to stand up and get my blessing."

Though the clock is ticking, it's not too late to find the perfect way to show Mom you care this Mother's Day.

The Greeting Card

"Mother's Day is the second most popular holiday for gift-giving, following Christmas," said Mandy Levings, a spokeswoman for Hallmark.

For more than 85 percent of Americans, that gift includes a card, according to industry experts. And this year, when they run to the card aisle, they'll find more greetings than ever geared to Moms of all shapes and sizes.

"The celebrations now are extending to daughters and sisters and aunts and mothers of loved ones and friends or any other who play the mother-like role, because there really is no such thing anymore as the traditional family," Levings said.

So don't be surprised when you see cards to former mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Moms are still moms despite a divorce.

Flowers, Flowers, Flowers

Florists do bang-up business in May; Mother's Day is the biggest floral holiday of the year.

"You don't have to worry about size, it's definitely easy to order and it's nice even if you're going to give Mom something else or you're going to take her out to eat," said Mulligan, a floral designer.

This year's shoppers will find floral arrangements that combine simplicity with sophisticated style. Gone are the hulking, multi-variety flower arrangements. "In" are bouquets that show off just one variety of flower.

Roses, in shades of yellow and pink, are always popular, as are tulips. Orchids and daisies are also top picks.

"You can really make the gift that much more special and also more personalized by choosing the container that kind of speaks to Mom's sense of style, whether it's sophisticated or casual or trendy," Mulligan said.

Dining In or Out

She may watch what she eats day to day, but on Mother's Day, Mom is liable to pig out a little.

Whether it's Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., or Chai's Island Bistro in Honolulu, restaurants across the country will satiate her hunger with brunch specials geared to Mom.

Yet it's just as easy to whip up something at home that tastes like gourmet, with retailers like Target carrying their own lines of gourmet foods that take minutes to prepare. Or dust off Grandma's cookbook and make breakfast in bed for mom.

Get Your Walk On

Take advantage of the weather, throw on some sneakers and head to the park. A brisk walk with mom gives you time together to multitask exercising with catching up.

If she likes flowers, and you forgot to buy her some, head to the local botanical garden. In Austin, Texas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center has organized a Mother's Day weekend garden tour on May 12 that gives families access to five of the best private gardens in the Texas capital.

Pamper Her

This year, the nation's spas are offering Mother's Day specials geared to mom and daughter, according to the International Spa Association.

In the heart of the Wisconsin Dells, the Sundara Inn & Spa often finds that it's the adult daughters bringing in their moms for their first spa experience. To ease Mom into the initial spa experience, Sundara offers side-by-side treatments.

At Spa Shiki in Lake Ozark, Mo., moms can spend the day getting beautified from head to toe with a facial, massage, manicure and pedicure and brunch along with several other treatments.

Do-It-Yourself Gifts

Some of the most memorable gifts mother receives each holiday are the handmade cards and gifts made by her brood.

For the tech-savvy tot, Web sites like offer a toy chest full of Mother's Day gift ideas that are easy to execute and guaranteed to make mom smile.

Or grab some construction paper and Magic Markers to create a "Good for One ..." coupon book. She'll appreciate redeeming them for evenings away from cooking, cleaning or laundry.

Adults can get into the fun, too. Coupons for a night on the town or a foot rub or just a handwritten note will show her your appreciation.

Some Time to Herself

As selfless as she is, Mom sometimes just wants to be reminded of earlier days, when her free time was her own. So grab the kids, head to the movies and give her some space.

"I need some time to myself more than anything to recharge," said Dr. Laura Bullen, a pediatrician in Port Angeles, Wash., and mother of 1-year-old Zach. "I want someone else to be the wife and mother for the day."