Mother's Day gifts that are very practical

Posted at 8:55 AM, Apr 19, 2016

Chocolate candy and a bouquet of red roses are certainly dandy as gifts on Mother’s Day, which falls on May 8, but consider spoiling Mom on her special day with things that have greater staying power.

Think about practical gifts that will make every day easier and more enjoyable for her — and express your love and gratitude at the same time. Just take a quick peek around her home (or size up her closet) to see what items may need updating or replacing.

As I sifted through my mother’s makeup drawer recently, I groaned as I found mascara that was probably was at least 5 years old and powder blush I know was purchased before we took our Hawaii vacation. And that trip was in 2001. I adore my born-during-the-Great-Depression mother, but her thriftiness — especially at this time in her life — is unnecessary and kind of drives me mad.

But my sister and I have seized upon her stubborn selflessness as an opportunity to indulge her with pretty perks throughout the year.

As a pre-Mother’s Day delight, we took Mom to the Estee Lauder counter at Macy’s and loaded her up with blush in Electric Pink — and mascara to highlight her sparkling blue eyes.

Let’s face it. Mothers, in all their admirable sacrifice to others, often ignore their cosmetic counters. Therefore, I suggest three ideas for replacing beauty and/or hairstyling tools in Mom’s vanity area:

1. The trusty curling iron Mom has used seemingly forever is probably downright rusty these days. Treat her locks to a new styling tool. Likewise, is the diffuser duct-taped to your mother’s blow dryer? If so, then spare her (and her hair) from such makeshift solutions, and present her with a new blow dryer that will protect and enhance her tresses.

2. No matter what your mother’s age, she most likely has never invested in a high-quality makeup mirror. Imagine how effortless her mornings would be with a lighted vanity mirror? No more squinting. Easy eyebrow plucking. Impeccably applied makeup.

3. After rushing from work to soccer games, a mother’s tootsies may be understandably tired. That’s why a home pedicure spa center with all its effervescent bubbles, massaging vibration and heat can be a godsend at the end of a hectic day. (Because we know our moms are the last ones to book a spa day at an upscale salon.)

We can only hope the mothers who most identify with Carol Brady of TV’s “The Brady Bunch” have abandoned their 1970s-circa harvest gold and avocado green appliances for more modern — and more neutral hued — refrigerators and stoves. (If not, we understand. No judging here.)

But a time-strapped mom always seems to need something upgraded in the kitchen, so here are five gift ideas for helping her plan and prepare meals with the ease she so deserves:

1. Jazz up Mom’s collection of tried-and-true but woefully dog-eared cookbooks with a recent title from one of today’s popular chefs, such as Ina Garten or Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman).

2. Make food preparation a breeze by giving your mom the handy Ninja Master Prep Professional. Less prep time in the kitchen means more meaningful conversations at the dining room table.

3. Replace Mom’s food storage container set (just how long have those lids been missing?) with a pretty red enamel set. Who says freezing food can’t be chic?

4. If your sweet mother’s steak knives are so dull they barely cut through butter, then surprise her with a new set that will make meal time much more satisfying. 

5. Whether she’s whipping up fruit smoothies for an after-school snack or making a mean margarita for book-club night, Mom will surely enjoy a state-of-the-art blender. (I don’t know why, but the mothers I know tend to keep their blenders way past their shelf life.) 

After lovingly tending to a toddler’s runny nose, a son’s disappointment after not making a sports team, or a grown daughter’s heartbreak through a divorce, mothers are entitled to reciprocity in the coddling/cuddling department in a big way.

Although nothing can truly eliminate all the stress a mother feels as she brings up her fickle brood, there are, thankfully, a few ways to dial down the common aches and pains:

1. First of all, check her heating pad. Make sure it suffices in effectively targeting the muscle spasms or dull aches that oftentimes incur with motherhood. If the cord is fraying, then by all means get your mama a new heating pad.

2. If Mom’s workout clothes are frayed or stained, then gifting her on Mother’s Day with a stylish activewear set will undoubtedly make her feel brighter on those morning walks. There is nothing like a burst of color to replace boring gym-class gray.

3. We all know regular exercise is good for not only the body, but also the soul. But if Mom’s workout regimen features leg warmers, headbands and VHS tapes, then gently bring her into the 21st century. (Jane Fonda’s 1980s mantra of “No pain, no gain” is just plain wrong.) Introduce her to safer and more forward-thinking workouts. There are many DVDs on the market that promote weight loss  — or pure relaxation.