The best ways to celebrate Mom on Mother's Day

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Are you looking to go beyond the normal card, flowers or box of chocolates to give your mom for Mother's Day this year? A little creativity can go a long way in making your mom feel special - and it doesn't necessarily translate to spending big bucks. Pay attention to your mom's favorite hobbies, her most cherished memories, and what she's been reading about or seemed interested in lately to help inspire what could be the perfect gift or experience.

When it comes down to it, though, time is what's often at the top of most moms' wish lists. So whether you're staying in to cook her favorite meal or going on a hike, the fact that you're simply together will be what she loves the most. And if you can't physically be with your mom on her special day, there's always the most tried-and-true gift of all: a phone call.

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Take her back to childhood

What were your mom's favorite foods growing up? Cook her a meal that highlights all of those dishes that she might have totally forgotten about. It'll be a great way for her to remember what it was like in the days before she was a mom. End the meal by surprising her with her favorite childhood dessert.

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Go for a hike

Getting outdoors is a great opportunity to catch up and create new memories. When you have a stretch of trail ahead of you, you can get into all sorts of interesting conversations that might never have happened on the phone or during a rushed visit. Hiking inspires creative thinking and can benefit you both in so many ways. Visit a nearby national park to reconnect with Mother Nature and your mom.

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Encourage her to try a new workout

Has your mom been meaning to get back into an exercise routine, or has she talked about being bored with her weekly runs or classes at the gym? Many studios sell 3- or 5-class packs, so surprise her with a new routine she's been reading about. Aqua cycling, aerial yoga, boxing and barre are just some of the trendy workout routines your mom might be curious to try.

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Take her wine tasting (or send her with her friends)

Surprisingly, wine is produced in nearly every state, so chances are good there might be a local tasting room in your town. And great news: A glass of wine has been linked with multiple health benefits, so you'll be giving your mom a gift with benefits beyond just relaxation.

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Pack a picnic

If the sun is shining (or at least if it's not raining), take your mom outside for a picnic. Pack your basket full of fried chicken, potato salad and other classic picnic foods. Who knows, one of the best spots to picnic might be right around the corner from your house.

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Help her fill out the family tree

If your mom loves learning about ancestry or is simply curious about her health, she may be thinking about trying an at-home DNA test. Tests from companies like 23andMe and Ancestry have become increasingly popular in the past few years - they can provide insight into your health and the results can often help fill in blanks on the family tree. Just be sure Mom has expressed interest in the subject - there can be pros and cons to taking a DNA test.

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Clean the house while she watches a movie

You don't have to be Marie Kondo to make your mom proud - a simple, quick clean would probably make her smile. And instead of cleaning the normal places that usually get all the attention, perhaps pick a spot that your mom has been dreading. Organize the linen closet, clean out her car (and wash it!), or tackle one of those other spots no one ever thinks to clean.

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Plan a theme night

Plan an evening based on one of your mom's favorite things, and get creative. Did she spend a year abroad in Spain during college? Cook tapas for dinner and take her to a flamenco show in the nearest city. Does your mom love "The Great Gatsby"? Get the family to dress up in 1920s garb, serve mocktails in fancy glasses, and watch her favorite movie version - whether that's with Leo, Robert Redford or Alan Ladd.

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Frame a meaningful poem

Does your mom have a favorite poet or poem? Even if not, find a simple poem that's meaningful to you, and type or write it on a beautiful piece of stationery and frame it for her desk. If you're feeling ambitious, you could even paint a simple watercolor as a backdrop and write the poem on it once it dries.

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Head out on a new adventure

Explore a local farmers market, a new store or a local attraction she's always talked about visiting. Does your mom love history? Take a road trip to one of the oldest towns in your state - or just take her to the prettiest!

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Plan a day of pampering

Moms work so hard, they deserve a little rest and relaxation. There are lots of inexpensive ways to create your own DIY day spa just for Mom - make a pitcher of cucumber water, stop by the local drugstore for face and hair masks, concoct your own foot scrub - but if you're really feeling flush, you can treat her to a massage or body wrap at a top spa nearby.

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Share a favorite memory

Write a one-page "story" of your favorite memory of her, a silly event or important time you spent together. It doesn't necessarily have to be a big moment - she would probably really appreciate hearing about one of the little memories that have stuck with you through the years. These one-page "stories" could be the start of a yearly tradition, and you could even expand it to her birthday and Christmas or Hanukkah. Present it to her in a pretty book or binder that she can add to as the years go by.

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Daydream about her ultimate vacation

Plan a dream vacation to one of your mom's bucket list destinations, as if money were no object. Get creative and let your minds wander as you dream up a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see the most colorful streets in the world or a remote island you've only heard about. Even if it's never likely to happen, it's still fun to daydream with Mom about the possibilities, and a fantastic way to spend a rainy afternoon. And who knows, maybe you'll win the lottery one day?

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Buy her a new journal

If your mom loves to write, encourage her to pick up the long-forgotten habit by giving her a fresh new journal. Tip for teens: You'll earn bonus points if you also give your mom "tickets" for periods of time when you offer to watch your younger siblings so that she can actually write in her new journal.

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Take her to work

Moms are ridiculously proud of their kids, and curious about their lives. Does she always ask about your co-workers, what projects you're working on or other work-related questions? This is the perfect opportunity to give your mom a tour of your workplace (not necessarily on Mother's Day, but around the time of it). Invite her to share your commute in the morning, or treat her to lunch at your favorite salad or falafel place on your lunch break. This can be a great way to connect with your mom, and she'll appreciate being able to visualize you going about your day.

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Let her sleep in

Moms are always "on" and are rarely able to get the rest they need, despite the many benefits of sleep. This gift costs absolutely nothing, and it'll probably be the best thing she receives all year. Tell her about her "present" ahead of time, once you have all the arrangements set. Whether you'll be helping your Dad watch the other kids, or have simply cleared out her morning schedule so she can sleep in guilt-free, she'll appreciate it.

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Volunteer together

There are few better ways to spend a morning than helping others - but helping others while hanging out with your mom? The best. A quick search can reveal hundreds of volunteer opportunities you might not have known about, like packing leftover restaurant food for homeless shelters or walking dogs at the local animal shelter. Perhaps this gift will become a yearly tradition or inspire a monthly routine of volunteering together.

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Sign her up for a class or workshop

Education is lifelong, and your mom would probably love the opportunity to take an afternoon to learn something new. It could be something a tad more ambitious, like metal working, glass blowing or chocolate-making. And if you're on a budget, local public libraries often offer free classes on a wide range of topics like Photoshop, calligraphy and crafting.

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Spend the day at the zoo or aquarium

If you're looking for a kid-friendly activity or simply want to return to childhood, head to the zoo or aquarium. It's incredible to witness the wonder of a child (or adult) seeing an animal for the first time. Many zoos have become increasingly focused on conservation and environmental awareness, so everyone can learn a thing or two as well as have fun.

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Treat her to her favorite restaurant dish

Tight on cash? Recreate the restaurant dish your mom craves the most, in the comfort of your own kitchen. There are so many recipes for famous dishes available online that a quick search can reveal her favorite. Or if you feel like going out, treat her to one of these great Mother's Day deals at her favorite restaurant.

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