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40 Thoughtful Mother’s Day Ideas That Will Make the Day Extra Special

The best Mother's Day ideas give moms (and mother figures) what they want most of all: to spend time with you.

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Fun Mother’s Day activities

When we celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May, it’s thanks to U.S. president Woodrow Wilson, who signed a measure in 1914 officially establishing the holiday. Since then, Mother’s Day gifts have been the focus of most Mother’s Day ideas, though Mother’s Day cards—and the Mother’s Day wishes written inside—remain top of mind too.

But as great as gifts for mom are, nothing beats spending time together. Maybe that looks like Mother’s Day brunch or Mother’s Day movies on repeat from morning till night—or even special festivities based on her zodiac sign. No matter how you choose to honor the special moms, grandmas, and like-a-mom ladies in your life, know that it’s sure to be deeply appreciated.

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Give her a basket of love

Let’s start with everyone’s favorite Mother’s Day idea: presents. You can’t go wrong with a Mother’s Day gift basket that combines all her favorite things. Is she the ultimate foodie? Pack a container with gourmet bites. Got a gardener on your hands? Fill the basket with gardening gloves, seeds, and cute tools she can use when planting bulbs or herbs. Or go with a premade basket that makes shopping a cinch.

Mom is the best!pixelfit/Getty Images

Laugh till you cry

A good laugh has lots of short- and long-term health benefits, according to the experts. Tap into them together by sharing more than 100 funny mom jokes, then cue up your favorite comedy to watch together.

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Make a mom-focused playlist

Collaborate on a modern-day mixtape, with plenty of mom songs. You’ll spend quality time together while you build the playlist, but don’t stop there. Let the tunes play while you tackle one of the other Mother’s Day ideas on this list.

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Craft to your heart’s content

Ever since you brought home a hand-painted (and most likely lopsided) mug for mom in first grade, DIY Mother’s Day gifts have held a special place in her heart. This year, let her in on the crafting fun. Prep for the big day by stocking up on crafting supplies, or turn items you have around the house—card stock, stickers, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, and more—into works of art.

Mother looking her newborn childThanasis Zovoilis/Getty Images

Lend a helping hand

Don’t limit your Mother’s Day ideas to the woman who gave you birth. You know plenty of other mothers, many of whom deserve a celebration. At the top of your list should be women with newborns. And there’s no better gift for new moms than offering to watch the baby for the afternoon so she can get a massage, go to the movies, or simply snooze for the first time all week.

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Write a heartfelt card

Shoot mom a quick text? Easy. Write a heartfelt note? Maybe not so easy. Here’s a novel Mother’s Day idea: Put as much effort into filling out her card as you would when shopping for a gift. Start with a printable Mother’s Day card, then tell her how you truly feel. If you’re stumped for what to say, let a heartwarming quote or poem jump-start your creative process.

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Share stories

Mom stories never fail to inspire. Grab some grub, then spend the afternoon swapping stories. She’ll tell you about your birth, and you can reminisce about the day she became your superhero. Let these tales strengthen your bond—and make you laugh.

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Call your grandma

The love between a grandmother and a grandchild is the stuff of legend, so of course, a phone call is in order. Don’t rush it; let her chat your ear off about motherhood, what your parent was like as a kid, and the way things have changed through the years. And since she’s usually the one doing the spoiling, it’s time to turn the tables. Buy a Mother’s Day gift for your Grandma that will make her feel seen and loved.

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Share poetry

When you can’t quite put into words what Mom means to you, borrow special sentiments from someone else. You can add a Mother’s Day poem to your card, but if you really want to wow her, set up a poetry reading. You and your siblings can each pick a piece that expresses how you feel about Mom, then read them to her after Mother’s Day brunch. Bonus: Buy her a poetry book to go along with the theme.

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Take her out to a ball game

Dads get all the attention when it comes to live sports, but plenty of moms want to root, root, root for the home team. So grabs some tickets and take her to see your local team play ball. Get sentimental by stuffing the tickets in an on-theme card with some mother-son quotes written inside.

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Take a horseback ride

She’s a mother, so when it comes to spending time with you, she’s always champing at the bit. (Sorry, we had to.) Give her what she wants and enjoy the great outdoors by booking a horseback riding day trip. Not only is it fun to saddle up, but horseback riding also has health benefits that’ll help you keep her around for years to come.

Mother and daughter on a shopping trip.Mint Images/Getty Images

Shop till you drop

Here’s a fun Mother’s Day idea for shopaholic moms: Give her the gift of retail therapy. Sure, you could spring for one of the season’s best Amazon Mother’s Day gifts. Or you could take her shopping so she gets exactly what she wants. Bonus: You’ll spend time together in the process.

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Cook her breakfast for dinner

Mother’s Day brunch is a tradition, but restaurants are packed and there’s often a wait. Put a spin on things by whipping up all her brunch favorites for dinner. An irresistible a.m. meal cooked by someone else? Yes, please. Pancakes, waffles, French toast, a custom omelet—there are so many ways to end a lovely day. Sweeten the deal by cleaning up after.

Mother and daughters drinking wine in a park during a picnicCarlo107/Getty Images

Pack a picnic

Fresh air and blue skies elevate even the simplest of sandwiches. Make your picnic extra special by whipping up Mom’s favorite treats and taking her to a quiet spot with a fantastic view. Tuck a few mother-son and mother-daughter quotes into the basket so she can read them over lunch.

Japanese mother and daughter watching televisionJGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Watch home movies

Remind Mom of all the fun you’ve had by watching videos from your childhood. You’ll laugh over the silly antics. You’ll cry at the sweet moments. And you’ll want to create even more memories the minute the watch party ends.

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Get away for the weekend

Your mom is one of a kind. Show her you know it by taking her on a one-of-a-kind weekend trip. Let her pick the location, or surprise her with one of these mother-daughter vacation ideas.

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Nail it

Considering all she does for the family, Mom deserves a little rest and relaxation, don’t you think? Reward her by making an appointment for manis and pedis at a salon or spa, or go the DIY route. The pretty results will remind her of the fun day you had together.

Play a board game

Busting out a board game is an old-school way to spend some quality time together. Challenge Mom to a game of chess, checkers, backgammon, or another one of her faves. Or buy her a new board game, then put it to use.

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Read a book together

She spends most of the week caring for others, so let your mom totally chill on Mother’s Day. Sure, she could curl up alone with a good book, but you can turn her literary pursuits into a celebration by picking a book a couple weeks before the holiday. (We suggest one of these mother-daughter books.) You’ll each read it, then discuss it on Mother’s Day. The mini book club will do more than enrich your mind; it’ll let you spend time with each other.

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Take a yoga class

Listing the physical and mental benefits of yoga would take all of Mother’s Day. Suffice it to say, there are a lot. Show your mom you care about her health by reserving spots in a local class or streaming online. It’s a refreshing way to start the holiday.

Adult son and senior mom sing a song while relaxed sitting on couchToa55/Getty Images

Sing your heart out

Mom has always been a star in your eyes, but let her shine for the rest of the world by taking her to a karaoke bar, where she can belt out her favorite tunes. Grab that mic and join in!

Front view portrait of mature mother with adult daughter outdoors at home, gardening.Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Work in the garden

Talk about perfect timing to get some pretty plants in the ground! Instead of buying a bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers, bring some potted plants for mom—think pansies, petunias, or any others you love—and work alongside her in the garden.

Hispanic woman and adult daughter playing pickleballkali9/Getty Images

Play pickleball

This fun, friendly racket sport, described as a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, has been growing in popularity over the past decade. Athletic moms will love trying their hand at a new game—and showing you they’ve still got it.

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Recreate a photo from yesteryear

You know that snapshot from your childhood your mom loves to show off (or laugh at)? Put a new spin on the old setup by recreating the photo with your older selves. Be sure to print it out later and frame it; your mother will want to hang them as a “then” and “now” duo. Want to appreciate mothers more? Read these pieces of advice from moms who know what they’re talking about.

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Take a bike ride

Going for a spin will put a smile on her face. Bonus points if the bike has a basket or bell! Make a day of it by hitting a nearby cycling trail that showcases the best of spring.

Senior and young woman buying vegetables on outdoor martket, talking.Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Stroll a farmers market

Mother’s Day ideas don’t have to be fancy or complex. Here’s one that will let your mom enjoy the spring day and the literal fruits of your adventure. Take in the cheerful feel and colorful displays of a local farmers market, then head home to snack on fresh fruit or incorporate from-the-farm veggies into a dinner you cook for Mom. Want to give her a gift to go with the fantastic day? There’s still time! Just grab one of these last-minute Mother’s Day gifts.

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Visit a museum

She taught you how to tie your shoes and about the birds and the bees, and there’s a good chance she guided you through your favorite museums as a kid. Return the favor by spending the day at her favorite museum, pointing out priceless classics, discussing modern art, or gawking at the dinosaurs you were so taken with years ago.

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Raise a glass

Thoughtful toasts need not be reserved for weddings. Speaking from the heart and sharing feelings can make any occasion feel special. So this Mother’s Day, start the meal by toasting your mom in all her selfless, caring glory. Not sure what to say? Start with one of these mom quotes.

Hispanic Mother and Son Eating Pizza OutdoorsAzmanL/Getty Images

Have a pizza party

Take a break from ordering out and instead set up a pizza-making station with topping options like cheese, pepperoni, green peppers, olives, broccoli, and more. You’ll all have fun while crafting your pies, and Mom can get plenty of those vegetables she was always piling on your plate.

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Give back

Volunteering to help those in need is a win all around. Strengthen your shared bond by spending time giving to others.

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Take her to a comedy show

Your mom loves to laugh, and while these mom memes will probably do the trick, she deserves something bigger and full of belly laughs. This Mother’s Day weekend, find a live comedy show in your area. It’s a bonding experience and a great mood booster.

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Do a puzzle

For a Mother’s Day idea that’ll keep the family engaged for hours, put together a jigsaw puzzle. Even better, make a custom puzzle from a family photo, which she’ll only see once the pieces have all been slotted into place.

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Dance it out

You know the saying: When in doubt, dance it out. Pull up Mom’s favorite playlist, then pump up the volume. If your mother really loves to let loose, take her out for a night of country line dancing.

Woman and her daughter in the aquarium.M-Production/Getty Images

Visit the zoo

When you were little, you loved going to the zoo to see the animals. Recapture the memory with your mom by taking a day trip to a local zoo or aquarium. End the afternoon by giggling together over these hilarious things moms have said.

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Go on a hike

Outdoorsy moms will love spending the day with their children while conquering mountains big and small. So hit a trail and go exploring. Be sure to prep like a mother, packing food and drinks to keep everyone fueled and hydrated.

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Wander a botanical garden

If Mom likes flowers, give her thousands of them. Smell the sweet, clean air and enjoy the calming green scene at a nearby botanical garden.

Young brunette woman creating her Feng Shue wish map using scissorspetrenkod/Getty Images

Make vision boards

Creating a collage of images and words that represent your hopes and dreams is a fun way to fuel positive feelings about the future. And it’s a great starting point for getting to know your mom a bit better, not as the woman you thought she was when you were a kid but as the woman she is and wants to become. You never know, her vision board may be the launching pad for another brilliant mom-invented product.

mother with daughters on photo shoots in StudioAndrey Sayfutdinov/Getty Images

Have a family photo shoot

Selfies are a hoot, but a few pro-caliber photos is a treat now and then. Hiring a photographer for a mini session and light editing need not break the bank. Ask friends for local recommendations, then get everyone together for a family photo shoot and create images your mom will treasure for years to come.

Close-Up Of Tarot Cards With Candles On TableTatâna Maramygina/Getty Images

Tarot together

Tarot cards have been around for centuries, and a deck can provide hours of fascinating insight and truths about your higher self. Grab a tarot deck, gather the family, and refer to a tarot instruction book (or YouTube) to conduct readings for Mom and everyone else. If you have the cash, you can hire a pro to do a reading for your mom and the rest of her clan.

Bucket ListMichellePatrickPhotographyLLC/Getty Images

Make a bucket list

You and your mom each have personal bucket lists, but join forces on Mother’s Day to create a list of things to do together before you kick the bucket. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write down to-dos big and small, from touring a nearby winery or brewery to taking a European vacation.

Jonna Gallo Weppler
Jonna is an award-winning service journalist with 20+ years of experience covering all things lifestyle—her areas of expertise include food, personal finance, organizing, and entertaining. When she isn’t researching or writing stories for national magazines, she enjoys cooking, hanging out with her teenagers, and coaxing the family's cat to be more cooperative.