21 Terrible Mother’s Day Gifts

vacuum
Photo by Ljupco Smokovsky / Shutterstock.com

Mother’s Day is May 12 and, like any decent son or daughter, you want to get your mom something great. What you don’t want is to get her a crummy gift that might bore or offend her.

Knowing what not to get Mom is just as important as knowing what she likes. Worried? Don’t be. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson identifies some of the worst Mother’s Day gift ideas in the video below. Check it out, then read on for more things not to get Mom.

Before you go shopping for Mother’s Day, here are 21 really bad gifts:

1. Diet or fitness products

I don’t think anyone’s eyes have lit up after unwrapping an Ab Roller. Ditto goes for a gym membership. Don’t ever suggest your mom is fat, and definitely don’t do it on Mother’s Day.

2. Wrinkle cream

Did your mom give you acne products for your birthday? I hope not. If you give her wrinkle cream, you’re telling her she’s both old and wrinkly. Let Mom buy her own cosmetics and creams.

3. Roses

Roses are a Valentine’s Day bouquet. Instead, buy carnations and prepare a vase yourself. (Check out “Secrets to Saving on Mother’s Day Flowers.”)

4. A new pet

Giving Mom a new puppy means more bills, more worries and more responsibilities. If your mom really loves animals, consider making a donation in her name to the local animal shelter or the ASPCA.

5. Cleaning equipment

Your mom is not your maid. Don’t ruin her day by telling her she’s great at cleaning and should do more of it.

6. Bath stuff

As a teenager, I gave my mom gift baskets of bath products. Every. Single. Year. I would spot them in her room months later, unopened. The lesson? My mom already had her own soaps and shampoos she used regularly, and she didn’t have any use for my gifts, however well-intentioned. Let Mom choose her own bath products.

7. Potpourri

It might smell nice to you, but it could be an allergen to Mom. Several people I know can’t walk into a Crabtree & Evelyn without getting a headache. If you’re not 100 percent sure, skip it.

8. Kitchen appliances

If your mother specifically asked for a new KitchenAid stand mixer, by all means go for it. But otherwise, Mother’s Day isn’t the time to ask for a free homemade meal.

9. Perfume

Chances are you don’t know exactly what your mom is looking for in a scent, and you could buy something she wouldn’t pick herself. If your mom already wears perfume, that’s the perfume she wants. Don’t make her feel obligated to switch scents because you got her a new smell.

10. Snarky signs

However well-intentioned those humorous signs are, many of them come off as snarky. While you might think a sign about cooking is great for the kitchen, or a sign about good moms keeping messy homes is great for her bedroom, she’ll probably see it as your way of saying she should do more around the house. Not the message you want to send on Mother’s Day.

11. Things that remind her of her mother

Shower caps, muumuus, flowery bathrobes — these might have been appropriate gifts for women of another generation, like your mother’s mom, but not now. You don’t want to dress like your grandparents’ generation, and neither does she.

12. A self-help book

Talk about a condescending gift: Getting her a book about building better relationships or other ways she could improve herself is a really bad idea.

13. A gift card or certificate

They’re impersonal, and you run the risk of giving her one for a store or restaurant she doesn’t really like. Instead, take her out to dinner at her favorite restaurant. She’ll enjoy it and you’ll actually spend time with her.

14. Money

Even more impersonal than a gift card, money essentially says, “I don’t know what you want or like, but this buys stuff.” You can do better than that.

15. Clothes

You don’t know her measurements, do you? If you do, that’s creepy. I don’t wear the clothes my mother buys me (sorry, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day?) and she’ll likely have the same reaction to the clothes you choose for her.

16. An empty photo frame

This gift tells her you don’t have any memorable moments with her. Even worse: a framed photo of you.

17. A really big painting

Art is personal, and what your mother displays in her house is tailored to her tastes. Unless you’re absolutely sure she wants a 56-inch Vincent van Gogh print, don’t risk it. She’ll feel obliged to hang it in her home even if she dislikes it.

18. Wine and food pairing

Like roses, this is not appropriate for Mother’s Day. You do not want to wine and dine your mother.

19. Candles

They seem like a good gift, but in reality candles only get used when the power goes out. You might as well give her a flashlight.

20. Something for you

Don’t get her tickets to a sporting event involving your favorite team, or to a movie you really want to see. If you get more excited at the thought of having the gift than she would, don’t buy it.

21. A mix CD of bands you think she likes

This might have been an acceptable gift for Mom when you were in middle school, but you know better by now. You don’t want to watch your mom force a smile through a long mix of songs she doesn’t enjoy while you celebrate her day of appreciation.

Win a Money Talks T-shirt!

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever gotten — or given (fess up!) for Mother’s Day? Tell us on our Facebook page. The confession that garners the most “likes” between today and Friday May 3 will win a “broke, stupid and lonely” Money Talks T-shirt! (Warning – don’t give this to your mom for Mother’s Day!)

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest
13 Affordable Products for a Better Night’s Rest

These Amazon products can help you finally catch 40 winks — or more.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

15 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products
15 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car
9 Things You Should Never Leave in a Car

Thinking of leaving these possessions in a car? Prepare for unexpected consequences.

9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar
9 Mistakes People Make When Cleaning With Vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar can save you a lot of money, but using it like this can cost you.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently
10 Things Successful Retirees Do Differently

These habits and characteristics can help put you on the track to success.

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50
7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

As we age, our bodies wear down. Here is how to cut costs associated with some common ailments.

29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day
29 Purchases That Can Save You Money Every Day

Sometimes, you’ve got to spend to save.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.