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Mother's Day Gift Guide | FASHION POLICE

Buying for the Person, Not the Role

May 07, 1999|JEANNINE STEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Here's a clue that your past Mother's Day gifts have been duds: Mom has no recollection of them whatsoever.

"Hmm. I think it was--a vase or something maybe?"

"It was--no, wait--um--you know, I can't recall. Jewelry, I think."

"I don't know. I honestly don't know."

Could this be your wife or mother? We informally surveyed some moms, and too many of them had similar responses. Those of you buying Mother's Day gifts have some serious work to do. But we're here to help.

The big dilemma facing shoppers is: Do we buy for mom the Mom, or mom the person? You may see her as a food-preparing, homework-checking, diaper-changing, laundry-sorting toy-fixer, but she probably sees herself as a stressed-out, overworked woman who loves her family but would also love quality me time.

So, will it be the blender or a day at the spa?

Here's a hint: THE SPA.

Not that Mom doesn't love the gifts she gets, but some come with ulterior motives. Take your average blender, for instance. It implies: "Make us a smoothie!" while the spa day implies: "You work so hard, you really need pampering."

The point of Mother's Day is to honor the woman who gave birth and sacrificed much for her family. So save the Rotato peeler for another occasion.

If you really want to make mom happy, surprise her with something that reflects her many facets. Who was she before she was a mom? Did she paint? Do a mean samba? Was she fascinated with astronomy? Often these things take a back seat once the demands of family, home and work arise. Do some research--talk to family members, go through old photo albums, or ask her directly (without letting her know what's really up, of course).

Giving her some paints, brushes and canvases, an evening out dancing, or a telescope will let her know you thought about her.

Is there something new she's been dying to try? Classes in everything from woodworking to henna painting are available at universities, city colleges, community adult education programs and stores. If you don't feel confident about signing her up for a specific class, go for a gift certificate and include a class schedule.

There's another category of Mother's Day gift: the getaway. It may seem ironic to give mom something that takes her away from her family, but, hey, everybody needs a break. Besides, while she's gone she'll miss you terribly.

Translating this into a gift could be anything from a night out with the girls to a day at a local spa to a weekend trip.

If there's one gift moms probably love most, it's the handmade one. What mom doesn't love the handprint in clay? As one mother said, "Those things are priceless."

However, if you're 30, a lumpy ashtray is probably going to seem weird. If you're artistically inclined, you can make something very personal at one of those paint-your-own pottery places.

And let's not forget clothes and jewelry. Just because they're traditional gifts doesn't mean you shouldn't rule them out.

With clothes, the trick is to get mom something she probably wouldn't buy herself. If you know she's been eyeing a certain item, get it. That will earn you points galore. If she's the feminine, romantic sort, think silk blouses, a scarf, a hat or a pretty summer dress. If she's more tailored, think twin set, linen jacket or leather belt. No robes, slippers or flannel nightgowns--too dowdy and utilitarian.

What size is she? What are her favorite colors, stores or designers? Do some closet research and read the labels. If she catches you, tell her you're checking for moths.

Jewelry doesn't have to be expensive. There's plenty of great-looking costume jewelry out there, just keep in mind her taste.

The thing about Mother's Day is that no matter what you get her, she'll probably love it, or at least do a great job pretending to love it, because it came from the people who matter most to her.

What moms hate is apathy. Barely making an effort, scribbling off a last-minute card, getting a token gift--believe us, she knows when she's getting shortchanged. So make the effort.

The last nagging question about Mother's Day is this: Does a husband get a gift for his wife? We know a lot of you men weasel out of gift-giving with this argument: "You're not my mother, so why should I get you a gift on Mother's Day?" It's similar to the excuse you use on Valentine's Day: "I don't want someone else telling me when I should be romantic."

Both are incredibly lame. You celebrate the day because she is the mother of your children. Get her a gift, some flowers, a card, take her out to a nice restaurant, and let her know you care.

Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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