What not to get mum for Mother’s Day

By Jogai Bhatt

It's that time of the year: Mother's Day is fast-approaching (it's on Sunday, 12 May) and you're all out of gift ideas, again.

The pockets are tightening, you're running out of time, then blink! The lightbulb goes on. 'Yes!' you think to yourself. 'I know just what mum wants - a coffee mug! Nailed it.'

Of course, every mother is different. Maybe your mum is an avid mug collector, in which case you really have nailed it. But more often than not, these generic gifts tend to fall into the ones-to-avoid list.

So what else should you steer clear of?

RNZ hit the streets to ask mothers exactly what not to get mum this Mother's Day.

Nothing for the house

Nothing says 'I love you, mum' like a gift that's really a chore, right?

Believe it or not, kitchen appliances, cleaning products and other items associated with domestic work can send the wrong message.

Real gifts given to New Zealand mothers in this category include: a doormat, a clothes horse, a rubbish bin, tea towels, fake plants, and a rock, "or more specifically, a piece of gravel".

Gifts that create more admin are also a no-no. For example, if you're opting for the classic breakfast in bed, don't leave the dishes for her to do later.

Auckland mum Jennifer says the best gifts are "special or luxury, not necessarily practical or something you need to have, but something you might not buy for yourself".

The best gift for mum might be to just hang out with you. Photo: Getty Images / File photo
The best gift for mum might be to just hang out with you. Photo: Getty Images / File photo
Gifts for mum that are actually for you

A ceiling fan, a reversing camera, new tools for the garage and a lawnmower topped the list of responses given to RNZ in this category.

Any gift intended to serve your own interests above those of the receiver can feel grim. It can be forgiven if it's coming from young children, but if you're a grown adult buying your partner a present that's actually for yourself, it's best to head back to the drawing board.

Local mum Ima puts it best: "One thing I don't want to see this year is something that my family likes and not me. Chocolates, sweets, cakes aren't really my thing. I want potato chips!"

If chips are what mum wants, chips are what she shall get.

Impersonal and inconsiderate gifts

Auckland mum Judith recalls receiving a cake-baking book from her ex-husband one Mother's Day. You might be thinking, 'well, that's actually a perfectly nice gift'. It would be - if Judith actually liked baking.

When impersonal gifts come from family, it can really sting. Meaningful gifts don't have to be expensive - sometimes, it really is the thought that counts.

Petrina Redmond remembers buying her grandmother a vase when she was in primary school.

"I saved up my pocket money and got a 'lovely' 1970s green bud vase for my grandmother, as we spent every school holidays with my grandparents. When she died, the bud vase came back to me. Oh my god, it was ugly! But it stayed on the mantlepiece throughout her life."

Sure, it was an ugly vase, but Petrina's grandmother appreciated the effort it took to get it - therefore, good gift.

So, what are some of the gifts mums might want?

A personal touch

Hand-written notes, cards, and crafts are popular for a reason - they show a little thought, care and consideration.

ania Scully says handmade gifts are her favourite.

"My daughter is very creative and has made some beautiful handmade stuff. I appreciate what she does because it took time to make it with love."

Gifts with a personal touch are always going to be treasured.

On the handmade crafts suggestion - well, that's definitely more for the younger kids. If you've got the cash, it's time to splurge a little and treat mum to something nice. Scroll up and revisit Jennifer's words for inspiration.

Time with you

We've heard it all before. "I don't need anything darling, just time with you". Turns out, mums weren't lying.

The overwhelming response to the question of worst gifts received was a feeling of gratefulness for just about anything, so long as they're getting in that good quality time.

Cheryl, who has flown from America to visit her daughters in New Zealand, encompasses the feeling best.

"I'm here for a three-month trip, I just want to spend time with my girls.

"I'm heading home just before Mother's Day, so we're going to celebrate early."

A ceiling fan, a reversing camera, new tools for the garage and a lawnmower topped the list of responses given to RNZ in this category.