1. Don’t buy the wrong card
This may seem obvious, but this writer’s grandmother was given a sympathy card for Mothers’ Day. As pretty as the flowers on the front of a card can be, suffice to say that it is the message inside that sets the tone (in this case morbid confusion). NB: tongue-in-cheek jokes about inheritance do not go a long way to alleviate the problem.
2. Don’t use bad grammar in the card
It doesn’t matter how fantastically gushy your home-made card is, many mothers are liable to spit coffee (which you brought to her in bed) all over it if you get the apostrophe wrong. Apparently it’s the day of the mother, not a day for mothers. But you have to suck it up. You’ve got up at the crack of dawn to honour said parent with breakfast that you’ve invested time (and love!) into; it’s really not worth starting a domestic over one rogue apostrophe.
3. Don’t listen to any protestations
Ignore your mum when makes the predictable claim that ‘you don’t need to do anything special for me on Sunday.’ Whenever anyone says you don’t need to get them a present, do the opposite.
4. Don’t go OTT when trying to impress
In theory, making breakfast in bed for the woman who popped you out and reared you is just the right level of kindness display. However, it is a well-known fact that when it comes to culinary demonstrations, playing within one’s means is a must. There’s only so much burn you can get away with by calling it ‘chargrilled’ – stick to tea and toast.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask
You’re not failing by asking her what she wants for Mother’s Day. Yes, you could get her the flowers, the chocolate, the picture frame – but you had better be confident that she will appreciate it. If there’s even the tiniest hint of ‘they don’t last’, ‘I’m on a diet’ or ‘more clutter for the house’ then you’re heading into dangerous territory. If her mantra is ‘it’s the thought that counts’ then you have permission to get any of the above.
6. Don’t give a utilitarian present
If you’re thinking, ‘this year I’ll get her something practical, you know, something she’ll really use’ – just don’t. However well-meaning, the inevitable outcome of this great idea is a gift basket of anti-ageing serum, some Filofax refill pages and a new loose-leaf tea strainer that is guaranteed at best to underwhelm and most likely to offend.
7. Don’t give a novelty present
You might panic and in a fit of blind desperation, give your mum a present that describes itself as ‘novelty’ – for example, a washing-up brush shaped like a microphone, cow slippers that ‘moo’ when you walk or a fountain pen that is disguised as lipstick and is also a key-ring and a torch. Nothing draws more attention to the fact that you had no idea what to get her than a useless novelty gift.
8. Don’t mention fathers
If the egalitarian in you thinks it’s a good idea to thank Daddy as well, beat that thought down with a big metaphorical stick. Unless you want to hear a long and uncomfortable speech about the finer details of childbirth (tick off buzzwords including “tearing”, “fluid” and “stitches”) then if only for this one Sunday, forget that man ever existed.
9. Don’t confuse Mother’s Day with Father’s Day
Father’s Day is in June. Avoid mixing the two up. Gender confusion is not a good way to flatter your mum.
10. Don’t get flowers from the petrol station
This is surely a cardinal sin on Mother’s Day. Nothing screams ‘I don’t love you’ more than wilting, brown-tinged flowers being throttled by lurid red cellophane. And if you leave the £1.99 sticker on, you really are up shit creek without a paddle – good luck salvaging that one.