After umpteen years of raising you, and almost as many years of last-minute Mother’s Day flowers wilting on the dining room table, it’s possible that Mom may not want any more “stuff” as a gift. Why not give her a memorable experience instead?
Research shows that people (not just millennials) generally value life experiences over material things. Not to mention, decluttering is all the rage thanks to Marie Kondo’s book, The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Here are 14 thoughtful gift ideas for Mother’s Day experiences that don’t take up any room in the house — from a relaxing mom massage to a peaceful weekend getaway, to a variety of unique activities that she’s sure to love.
- Winery tour and tasting — Expand Mom’s palate with a beautiful vineyard tour. A wine gift experience is great for anyone who lives on the West Coast or Northeast (over 96% of all US wine production happens in California, Washington, Oregon, and New York State). Most wine tours are reasonably priced, ranging from $10-$25 per person, and often include a complimentary glass (or two) of a fine vintage.
- Relaxing weekend getaway — Is your mom the spontaneous type? Book a luxurious escape with on-demand travel services like Airbnb and Zipcar, and take a road trip to Mom’s favorite destination. This one is ideal for families who would like to catch up on quality conversation during the car ride.
- Painting class — Give Mom an interactive present with a tangible takeaway. Not only will you get some quality parent-child bonding in, but you’ll also walk away with an actual piece of art that you made together.
- In home massage gift card — We’d all agree that Mom deserves a rejuvenating break. And what’s more restorative than a healthy Mother’s Day massage? Work around her busy schedule by giving her a massage gift certificate, so she can book a therapy session with the massage technique, date, and time of her choosing. If you want to kick it up a notch and give her the gift that keeps on giving, try a massage membership so she can unwind every month.
- Concert tickets — Find out what song your parents danced to at their wedding, see if that band is still alive/touring, and score a couple of tickets. Alternatively, try turning Mom on to new music influenced by her favorite artists. She’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness you put into the idea, and she’ll feel like a kid again at the show.
- Fitness classes from ClassPass — Is your mother a fitness fanatic? Is her favorite athletic practice yoga? Pilates? Barre? Kickboxing? Get her a starter membership to ClassPass so she can explore her favorite wellness activities, with a selection of classes at dozens of studios. Three classes in a month will run about $30-$45.
- Escape the room — Is your mom a problem-solver? Give her the ultimate puzzle to crack with escape the room tickets. During this interactive experience, participants are locked in a fake apartment or other ‘set’ and must work together to decode a series of challenges to ultimately unlock the door in under an hour. There are many variations of this live theatre game in most major cities (NYC, Philly, LA, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta), and it’s quickly becoming a huge hit.
- Dinner and a movie — A classic gift idea, and for good reason. Put together your own “dinner and a movie” gift kit for Mom. Buy a gift card from her favorite local restaurant, along with an AMC gift card to your nearby theater (which can be purchased nearly anywhere, including Best Buy), and then assemble it into a nice little basket with a greeting card and voila — it looks like you really thought this holiday through.
- Glass blowing — For the mom who enjoys getting hands-on with a more obscure (and historic) creative activity, gift her a glass blowing demonstration or class. The Corning Museum in Corning, NY is a surprisingly fascinating experience. If you’re looking for something a little closer to New York City, UrbanGlass has a lot of options (including the Mother’s Day Flame Weekend).
- Waterfall hiking — If your family is the outdoorsy type, go for a scenic hike near one of our country’s gorgeous National Parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, or one of these other 11 amazing waterfall hikes across the US. You’ll have a chance to bond in nature and disconnect from the daily grind. Plus, you’ll both get some nice Instagrams out of it.
- Tickets to the game — What’s mom’s favorite sports team? This experiential gift can get a little pricey (depending on whether she’s into the NFL or something more obscure like minor league curling), but it’s a special gift if your mother is a die-hard fan. Just don’t embarrass her on the Jumbotron.
- Museum trip — A calming, inspiring experience for the cultured mom (or anyone, really), the museum day trip will expand Mom’s mind. You don’t have to be in a major city in order to find the best museums, either. There are more than twice as many museums in the US as there are Starbucks locations.
- Sailing Trip — Nothing says family time like a soothing sailboat excursion on the open seas. There’s even an app that lets you rent your own boat on-demand. Who knew? Disclaimer: make sure your mother doesn’t get seasick before booking this adventure, or at least bring Dramamine.
- Theatre tickets — You can’t go wrong on Mother’s Day with two tickets to her favorite Broadway or Off-Broadway musical. There are so many options to choose from — Book of Mormon, A Bronx Tale, RENT, or a classic like West Side Story. TodayTix is a great last-minute service if you’re near Chicago, SF Bay Area, LA, NYC, Washington DC, Boston, Connecticut, Philadelphia, or Seattle. Just don’t tell us if you manage to score Hamilton tickets — we’ll be extremely jealous.
Zack is a writer, producer and marketer with 10+ years' experience in the advertising, nonprofit and tech startup industries. He is currently the Education Production Team Lead at Foundr Magazine, a web site for entrepreneurship education and was previously Content Manager at Zeel. Learn more about Zack on LinkedIn.