Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/courtesy of HBO

9 Things You Shouldn't Get A Mom For Mother's Day

Other than a day off from any household or childcare duties, there are some things moms would love to get on our special day. There are some things you should never get a mom for Mother’s Day, too. To each her own, of course, but there are certain gifts not even a mother could love.

We don’t need material items to feel worthy, of course, but it’s nice to get presents. So don’t let this list dissuade anyone from getting the moms in their lives something special. We definitely deserve special things. Not because we feel entitled to this one day celebrating all we do as mothers, or because we see it as “payback” for the back labor and cluster feedings we had to endure. We don’t resent those aspects of motherhood at all. We just want to know that you see us — really see us — and what we do in the interest of our children.

Motherhood is a thankless experience. I didn’t become a mom to feel special. I wanted to be a mother because I wanted to see the love for my partner manifest in ways that only he and I could create. Our children were born from love and, on Mother’s Day, they shower me with love back. Though I see a time coming soon when they will outgrow their zeal for homemade cards and other arty gifts, I love receiving whatever they have used their imaginations to create for me. I don’t always save the artwork that comes home from school (it’s a lot), but I definitely hold on to my annual Mother’s Day creations. I can’t wait to show them the collection when they’re older.

So if I’m only given their crayon and glitter glue masterpieces, I’ll be thrilled. If they convince their father to throw a few bucks towards some Amazon purchases, I would warn them to proceed with caution, as there are just some things you should never, ever, get a mom on Mother’s Day.

Brunch Reservations

I love eating out, and I love eating out with my family. I do not, however, love eating out with every other mom and their families. Those Mother’s Day brunches stress moms out. Not only are they packed and teeming with small kids, who are maybe a bit resentful that the day is not about them for a change, but the menus will always offer Eggs Benedict, and I have heard no mother ever declare her love for this messy, ill-named dish.

Plus, do you think the moms will be off the hook for tending to their children, as we often need to do during a meal? Probably every mother at Mother's Day brunch will have to perform one parenting task, such as cutting up food or taking a kid to the bathroom, which doesn't really seem like a celebratory break at all.

I make one exception to this rule, however. If a brunch honoring me offers bottomless mimosas, it's fair game.


As much as I loved the Bob’s Burgers shirt the kids got me last Mother’s Day, I am too scared by its saturated teal shade to wash it with any other laundry. They’ve actually made more work for me since I hand wash it, fearing the color will bleed. I adore Linda Belcher. I hate laundry.


Flowers are beautiful, and then they die. Usually immediately. Please don’t let death be a part of your celebration of my mothering.


Any accessories I didn’t pick out myself is a risk, in my opinion. I chose my own engagement ring. My husband knew that's what I would want, so he proposed with a placeholder that would suffice until I found the one I wanted (for which I split the cost, because I am a modern woman). If it’s a homemade necklace of the macaroni variety, of course I will love it. If it’s store bought, keep the receipt.


Yes, it’s the thought that counts, and buying your mom (or any mom in your life) candy is pretty sweet. However, what about the thoughts I’ll have after polishing that whole Whitman’s Sampler box? I’m going to feel terrible about myself. So, you know, please don’t tempt me. I know you’re thinking of me, but think of me hating myself after devouring all those coconut cremes. (Hint: make sure they’re coconut cremes.)


My kids’ preschool had them make coupons for their moms on Mother's Day one year. They crafted an adorable booklet of coupons that were good for kisses and hugs and bubble baths. For the duration of Mother’s Day, they would ask me to cash in on them. It was adorable, sure,but for the ones that didn’t get used that day? Apparently they expired.

A Spa Gift Certificate

I’m sure the intentions were purely good with a present like this. But unless the certificate is for a spa that you know the mom likes, and is for an amount that covers treatment and gratuity, please think twice before gifting us with a certificate. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but gift cards that aren’t straight up cash amounts are going to be judged. I have received several certificates for services at spas I had never heard from, and when I checked their price lists, the amount on my gift card wouldn’t cover anything but an eyebrow wax, which is kind of a weird gift. So know your mom’s beauty services tastes, and don’t get her any experimental spa treatments.

Bar Soap

No matter how fancy it is, bar soap is strictly for display. I mean, I don't know about you, but I'm too grossed out to lather my hands with a thing a bunch of other people have rubbed on themselves. It may have been carved from a block of the most aromatic blend of sandalwood, oat, acacia, and pretentiousness, and cost 50 dollars, but I’m never going to use it.

I will put it out when company comes over, though. Too bad they won’t use it either. Who wants to be the first to use a bar of soap and ruin its appearance?

Utensils, Tools, Or Appliances

Please do not give us things we’ll need to use to make your lives better. If you want to give us electronics, we’d be cool with that. Tablets, computers, headsets, cute (shatterproof) phone cases are all terrific. However, if I unwrap an immersion blender, or a new spatula, or even a can opener (which we desperately need), I’ll be convinced you have ulterior motives. Don’t give me any hints you’d like me to be cooking, because those new gadgets won’t entice me to flip my adversity to kitchen activities.

So what’s left to give us moms? The remote, the house to ourselves for a few hours, and our choice of take-out would make for a very wonderful Mother’s Day. Trust.