No matter what age group the moms on your Mother's Day list fall into, the gifts of health, fitness, and well-being are always the best ways to appreciate any mom on any day of the year -- especially Mother's Day.
That's why WebMD culled a list of five gifts to give any and all moms -- and in case you are one of those hard-to-please moms, we also included six gifts that you can give yourself.
Here's what we came up with:
Healthful Gifts for Moms
1) Give the gift of unconditional love. Numerous studies have shown that companion animals -- whether cats or dogs -- are good for our health. They can help lower blood pressure as well as the level of stress hormones in the body, and they also encourage social interaction. For the right mother, adopting an animal can be the ultimate Mother's Day gift, says Ruth Goldstein, a spokeswoman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
"Studies indicate that owning an animal reduces stress, petting lowers blood pressure, and [a companion animal] is company, it's a member of the family, and its unconditional love," she tells WebMD.
"For empty nesters, it gives an outlet for affection," she says. However, "If you are interested in giving the gift of a dog or cat for Mother's day, we advise that you talk it over so there is no element of surprise." After the initial conversation, present your mom with a dog care book, a leash, or accessories on Mother's Day. "Then come in [to a shelter or pet shop] with your mom and go through the selection process together. There are millions of homeless, ... healthy, and loving animals available at shelters across the country, and we have a pet overpopulation in this country," she says, adding that many animals find themselves in shelters through no fault of their own.
If your mom is a cat person, the ASPCA offers pet certificates where she can come in and select the cat or kitten of her choice - whether tabby, Siamese, or even Persian. Visit the ASPCA web site at www.aspca.org to find out more about adoption and pet ownership.
2) Make her smile all year long with bright white teeth, suggests Glenn J. Wolfinger, DMD, a board-certified prostodontist in Fort Washington, Pa., who specializes in restoring teeth. "I have seen [bleaching] gifted from kids to parents, parents to parents, and parents to kids," says Wolfinger. "We even have gift certificates."
All the patients notice a difference right away, he says. "Some people notice a dramatic change, [but] it's hard to say how long it lasts." Many use a whitening toothpaste or strips to help maintain the whiteness, and some use at-home trays. Cost varies depending on the bleaching technique.
So why is it such a great gift for mom?
"I think a lot of people wouldn't do it for themselves because they feel that it's an expense they shouldn't spend on themselves," he says. "Mothers would do it for kids but not for themselves."
3) Give the gift that gives back. Mother's day is the perfect time to give your mom something special as well as make a donation to a charity in her honor, says Alayna Kassan, co-founder of Presents for Purpose, a gift and accessory company that donates 25% of proceeds to participating charities including the Lymphoma Research Foundation, Strang Cancer Prevention Center, Grassroot Soccer, First Candle, CancerCare, and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
This year, Kassan is launching a trendy hot pink watch in honor of Mother's Day. "The proceeds go to the shopper's charity of choice, and we are offering free shipping for the occasion," she says. "One of the most special things about gifts that give back is that they not only touch someone you know, but they also touch someone that you don't." Other gifts include tote bags, vanity sets, and luxury bathrobes. "Mom's gift will arrive packaged with information about the donation and the benefiting organization," Kassan says. For more information on the presents and the purposes, visit www.presentsforpurpose.com.
"People pay so little attention to their feet and they are always cramped in shoes," Zong tells WebMD. "Moms are usually running around after kids all day long, and the last thing they do is take care of themselves and their feet," he says. You can even give her one yourself.
5) Deal a meal. Whether she's trying to shed weight from a pregnancy or get rid of her "menopot" -- the abdominal fat around her middle, many moms can use a diet overhaul or at the very least, some weight loss tips. "Subscribe to a light cooking magazine like Cooking Light or Eating Well for Her," suggests Rachel Brandeis, RD, an Atlanta-based spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). She also suggests some healthy reading such as The ADA's Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. "It's a really good resource."
Also try getting her a couple of sessions with a registered dietitian, Brandeis suggests. To find a registered dietitian near you, "visit the ADA web site at www.eatright.org, where you can punch in your ZIP code and pull up dietitians in your area," she explains. Or you can call the ADA at (800) 366-1655.
Or if your mom is the breakfast-in-bed type -- and who isn't? -- try cooking a gourmet, healthy breakfast to start her day off right. "You can make whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes, a fruit cup, and egg white omelets," she says.
Brandeis, a new mother, adds: Free babysitting services so moms can have some time to themselves are always a good idea!
6 Gifts to Give Yourself
Many moms have a drawer filled with never-used gifts from Mother's Day past, but treating yourself to these easy gifts can cut back on the time you spend returning gifts or hiding less-than-desirable presents so as not to offend the gift giver.
1) Hire a trainer or life coach to help you reach your goals -- whether fitness, financial, or emotional. These days, there are coaches available to get you over just about any obstacle that life puts in your way. Or consider acupuncture, acupressure, or any other New Age healing therapy that you have been meaning to try.
2) Schedule a mammogram or another lifesaving annual screening test. "The American Cancer Society and all the major organizations recommend mammograms on a yearly basis starting at age 40, and done along that pattern there is a 30%-40% reduction in the death rate for breast cancer," points out Lawrence D. Wagman, MD, chairman of the division of surgery at City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.
"It's important to develop a pattern and personal rhythm, and Mother's Day is a great day to set it around," he says. Why? "You can't miss Mother's Day, it's everywhere and everyone talks about it and everyone celebrates it," he says. "One of the ways that screening programs are successful is by linking them to an event or linking people together so you get a camaraderie effect." Talk to your doctor to make sure that you are up on what screening tests are right for you.
4) Join a book club or take a class. Check out local community centers and colleges for ceramics, writing, and arts classes. Or stroll through the local library or bookstore and pick up a guilty pleasure, like the latest James Patterson novel or a classic that you have never read and have been meaning to. Consider joining a book club in the neighborhood or talk show host Oprah Winfrey's book club.
5) Go for the Botox! For moms who want to look as young as they feel, "injectables such as Botox or Restylane are great, and so is microdermabrasion to get rid of dead skin and to get collagen to grow," suggests Peter B. Fodor, a Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Injectables help get rid of fine lines and wrinkles with no downtime, he says. "She is going to be happier about herself, and that will transfer into her relationship with her husband, children, and the rest of her family." Often, moms do so much for everybody around them and neglect themselves. "To do something for yourself is a wonderful, uplifting feeling." To find a board-certified plastic surgeon near you, visit the ASAPS web site at www.surgery.org.
6) Pick up a pair of cool sneakers or some new yoga wear to look great in that Pilates class you have been meaning to try. "They look good, so you feel good and are excited to show them off -- whether at the gym or when going for a walk," says Linda Sparling, general manager of FrontRunners, a Brentwood, Calif.-based athletic and apparel store. "A new shoe will be more comfortable so you will want to go do a workout."
Mother's Day is a pretty popular gift-giving occasion at Sparling's store. In fact, "We get women who come in and pick out gifts for their husbands and kids to buy for them," she says. "We are even considering a registry so people can come in for holidays like Mother's Day and pre-pick their athletic wear."
Now that you have the wardrobe, try joining a gym or purchasing some home exercise equipment, adds the ADA's Brandeis. Just do it.