I’ve been compiling Mother’s Day gift posts for as long as I’ve worked in retail and as always, this year they’re everywhere. So when Marks and Spencer approached me to put one together for them, I pushed back. But then they asked me to go beyond the clichés and do it with a difference and after spending some time looking through their site, I felt that I could. So, today I’m thinking about Mother’s Day and the gifts that you give. I’ve tried to add a few little twists along the way and most of them are ideas that would work for friends’ birthdays and other special occasions too.

Mother’s Day is something that I approach differently now that I have older children because it means so much more to me these days. When your children are little they say heart-warming things to you almost every day but with teens it can be hard to know if they’re even aware that you’re there. Personally (and I suspect you’ll probably feel the same), I’m not bothered about receiving a gift from my boys. What I really value is a carefully chosen, well-written card and their time on the day if possible. So this post is really about thoughtful gifts for older mothers, things that you might like to buy for your own mum or perhaps your mum-in-law. Before I go on though, I just want to address some of the feelings that Mother’s Day can provoke.

Difficult Mother’s Days

If, like me, you’ve lost your mum, there’s always a layer of sadness. It’s hard, especially if it’s the first year that you’re spending without her. All I can say is that grief is a long and multi-faceted journey but I promise that it does get easier. Whenever I write about Mother’s Day I also receive emails from readers who still have mums but haven’t had the relationship they’d have liked with them and feel conflicted about how to approach it. I’ve been thinking about that a lot and I might write a more in depth post next week because my relationship with my mum wasn’t the classic milk and cookies one either. We were close but she could be very hard work!

However with the distance that comes from not having had a mum for seven years now, I urge you to make the most of the time you have with the mother that life gave you… and who gave life to you. Even if she wasn’t a storybook version, there’s nobody else who will have had more impact on the woman you’ve become. And if you feel that you are who you are in spite of her, that might just be something to thank her for too.

When your mum isn’t around any more you find yourself dwelling on the relationship you had with her quite a bit – and for quite a long time. So my advice is don’t put yourself in the situation where you might regret not having taken the opportunity to build a bridge with her while you still can. My mum’s last words to me were ‘don’t regret’ and I see so many people chewed up by it. Every day brings the opportunity for a new start in any relationship but someone always has to make the first move.

So, it’s partly in this context that I’m writing this post – I’ve tried to include presents that will help to build your connection whether you’re close or not. The best presents say something about your relationship with the recipient and open up an opportunity for you to cement a bond far beyond the object that you’re giving. If you can’t be with someone on a special occasion, it helps if the gift ‘speaks louder.’ So, let me take you through what I’ve found at M&S, starting with simpler gifts for a mum you’ll perhaps be spending the day with and then moving on to the ones that work harder.

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers and other women in your life

Gifts for mums you see often

The obvious place to start is with a bunch of spring flowers. These would be a lovely gift to send in advance if you’ll be popping round on the day or perhaps going out somewhere together. There are lots of bouquets to choose from, all with free delivery, this would be my choice especially as they come with free champagne truffles if you order soon. (Other bouquets with free chocolates here.)

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Mother’s Day bouquet

Going a step further, there are various add ons or you can order a flower hamper such as this one which has shortbread and a Provençal candle too. (Other flower hamper selections here).

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Roses, shortbread and candle hamper

For something longer lasting, this outdoor spring bulb windowbox will flower every spring so it’s a gift for years to come. (Other spring bulb planters here).

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Spring bulb windowbox

Moving on to more personal ideas, I put my mind to products that I’m confident will make a difference to older skin. If you have a mum like mine who used soap and water and maybe a dab of moisturiser if she remembered, then this will give her quick and easy results. Glycolic acid loosens the bonds between dead skin cells and sloughs them away. As I always say, it’s like polishing tarnished silver – it works and it makes a noticeable difference.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Pixi Glow Tonic (current beauty offer spend £25 on selected beauty and receive £5 off)

This is an alternative. I use them both this and the Pixi Glow Tonic above. I find the Alpha H to be a bit stronger so I use it two nights a week and Pixi Glow on other days. By the way this is also good for reducing fake tan build up – just swipe it over the area and it’s gone (probably not an issue for your mum but I thought I’d mention it to you!).

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Alpha H Liquid Gold

Now I hesitated over including this one – it’s a lovely idea for an older woman. It has a big marketing budget behind it so it’s getting lots of coverage and I was sent a set to test last year. Lots of bloggers rave about it but I couldn’t agree to review it on Midlifechic because it didn’t meet my criteria of making a noticeable difference. However it didn’t do any harm either and having a specific product to use did make me pay more attention to my neck than I otherwise do.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Prai giftset

And here’s one last idea for mums you see regularly – I hadn’t realised that you can buy vouchers for the Food Hall. This is a great simple present for a day when she doesn’t feel like cooking plus the interactive element of going to the store, choosing something delicious and then perhaps sharing it with your dad helps the pleasure to stretch out even further. (Bear in mind an email address is required for the recipient of this gift.)

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Dine in for two giftcard

Gifts for mums at a distance

Families can’t always be together on Mother’s Day and so it’s good to put a little extra thought into a gift if you’re sending it. If you can, link the present to the promise of time together in the future, giving you both something to look forward to (also handy for things like friends’ 50th birthdays).

This is the simplest way to promise time and it can overcome a problem too. My mum had macular degeneration and struggled to see the time on the clocks they’d always had. Sending this clock with its large, easy to read face along with the promise of a date when we’d spend time together would have been a great solution – it’s currently in the sale too.

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Bold wall clock

Back to flowers, I’m currently getting a lot of pleasure out of the appearance of the new daffodils that the youngest planted for me last October so I’m wondering whether I could coerce the boys into planting a few more things this summer. This rose is called ‘mum in a million.’ You could send it with the promise of a barbecue together in her garden in June when you should both be able to see it flowering.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Mum in a million rose

Alternatively how about a herb garden. You could send a card including a recipe that you could cook together next time you see her using the herbs.

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Herb garden

How about sending her a new pair of pyjamas with the suggestion of a night away together? Maybe you could share a shopping trip, a spa day or enjoy a night at the theatre.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Cotton dobby pyjamas (also available in pink or green)

Here’s a promise of making a whole year of memories – this frame has twelve apertures, one for each month of the year. You could send it with the promise of doing something together each month and taking a photo while you’re there. I wish I had more photos of my mum and me together, a project like this would have been a good one after her terminal diagnosis, it would have given us something positive to focus on.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

12 aperture photo frame

This is a reader inspired idea – it’s a tip one of you gave me when I was wondering how to cheer my mum-in-law up from a distance. I can’t find the comment but hopefully you’ll remind me who you are, your story was that on a Sunday afternoon you and your mum have an appointed time when you both have a pot of tea and a cake prepared. One of you calls the other for a chat while you enjoy them together and it’s the closest you come to sharing afternoon tea. This idea would follow along the same lines – send your mum this magnificent hamper and enjoy it vicariously with her while you chat on the phone or via Skype.

Thinking about Mother's Day and the gifts that you give

Afternoon tea hamper

Or, if you think you’ll be seeing each other before too long, how about a giftcard for afternoon tea together in an M&S café?

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Afternoon tea giftcard

And that brings me to the end of my ideas apart from this one which needs to be handled with care. This candle was produced to support Baby Loss Awareness week last October but it’s still available. I think any mum who has lost a baby always thinks about it quietly on Mother’s Day. I had two miscarriages between the eldest and the middle and although I no longer dwell on them, I never forget. I like to think that my babies weren’t lost, just delayed, eventually reappearing in the form of the middle and youngest but I’ll never know. Anyway, this is a nice way of acknowledging a loss like that – it could be a miscarriage, a stillbirth, the loss of a baby, child or an adult child – they’re all babies to the mums who bore them. I know from my own sister and sister-in-law how hard Mother’s Day can be when your child has died – this could be a sensitive way to acknowledge it and it might also help to open up a conversation that will be healing.

Thoughtful gifts for older mothers

Baby loss awareness candle

And so that’s my selection of gifts that go beyond just stuff. It hasn’t been an easy post to write but if I’ve helped you to delight your mum then it’s the next best thing to having my own. Whether she was hard work or not, I wish my mum was still here and that I was looking for something to buy for her. So treasure your mum while you still have can… Mother’s Day (or rather Mothering Sunday) is next Sunday, 31st March in the UK, in the US and many other countries it’s on Sunday, 12th May.

Disclosure: ‘Thinking about Mother’s Day and the gifts that you give’ was commissioned by M&S but it has not been edited by them and all thoughts and ideas are my own.

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