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With Christmas just around the corner, the pressure’s on to find a great present for a great woman who has cared for you, taught you right from wrong, and provided you with many interest-free loans over the years. Flowers are a favorite, but they wither and die quickly—not exactly a lasting gift. You could get chocolates or candy, because there’s nothing like the gift that says, “Mom, here’s my contribution to your adult-onset diabetes!” Or, you could look for a gift that tells your mother you love her and want her to be around for a long time to come.

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  1. Gift certificates. Does Mom have a favorite hobby? Keep in mind that a hobby is something she enjoys—not something she does all the time. If she cooks meals for the family while cursing and muttering vague threats of ground glass under her breath, the kitchen store gift certificate may be akin to buying the maid a new mop for Christmas. Find something she likes, or if you’re completely unsure, you can get her a Visa gift certificate she can spend anywhere. But for extra points, incorporate the gift certificate into a day of retail therapy that you spend with her.
  2. DVD workouts are a great gift. Investing in your mom’s physical fitness is a great way to show you care about her long-term health. And if you commit to doing the videos with her, you’ll be the best kid ever! Even if you don’t live in the same town, you can still make dates to work out together. Putting your mom on the road to a healthier lifestyle is one of the best gifts.
  3. Phone cards. Prepaid long-distance cards make great presents, especially if your mom’s a long-distance phone call away. This shows your mom that you value conversation with her and want to keep her involved in your life, even if it’s not possible to live in the same town. Other variations on the gift of gab would be to upgrade her cell phone plan so she has more minutes to talk to you, or add a line to your family plan especially for her. These are all good ways to get Mom’s words of wisdom on the go.
  4. Clean the house. Or if you aren’t inclined toward domestic chores, you can hire a maid service to give Mom a week off. This may involve some strategizing with Dad or consulting with Mom beforehand, as this could backfire if the maid shows up for an 8 AM surprise the day Mom decides to sleep in. This also depends on your mom’s personality. If she’s someone who likes things “just so,” having a stranger come in to “mess things up” might be more stress than treat. Also, I remember from my childhood that nothing strained my relationship with my mother more than my poor quality control regarding household chores. If you’re going to clean the house, and she has to re-clean it, it’s not much of a present.
  5. Cook a healthy dinner. Preferably at your place, where you can wait on her hand and foot. Cook her favorites or try to introduce her to some healthy new foods. This isn’t a good present if you’re a lousy cook or an easily stressed host. Try choosing dishes that can be prepared in advance so that you’re not spending the evening in the kitchen while Mom’s cooling her heels in the living room.
  6. Spa treatment or massage. After all she does for everyone, doesn’t Mom deserve a day of pampering and beauty—or at least an hour? Most day spas offer a range of services, from a simple manicure or facial to a full-body makeover. There should be something for any budget. If money’s no object, you could even make it a full-blown weekend at a spa. And of course, it’s even better if you accompany her to the treatment. If you’re strapped for cash or don’t live someplace that is spa-adjacent, make your own spa day at home. Give yourselves facials, rent some movies, make some healthy salads and smoothies, put on some Enya, and just bliss out with Mom.
  7. Make your own gift basket You can pick up a wicker basket at your local World Market® or Pier 1 Imports® and fill it with goodies you know your mom likes. Fresh fruits are great. Or her favorite beauty products, like hand creams or perfume. Scented candles or artisanal soaps are also great non-candy additions. Whatever you put in the basket, make it something you know your mother will like. The real gift is the thoughtfulness that goes into putting it together.
  8. The gift of music. Find out what type of music she likes and enjoys.  This will be great at bath time where she can relax with bubbles, a little wine and her favorite type of music.
  9. Time and thoughtfulness.  Most moms just want time with us.  They love to be around and just share, love and laugh.  Be thoughtful in your choosing and expect to see a smile on her face this Holiday.

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