What Mom Really Wants
The seven most stress-inducing words in the English language may be "I don't want anything for Mother's Day." Is this maternal haiku code for "What I'd really like is to spend time with you"? Or motherspeak for "If you really loved me, you wouldn't need to ask what I want"?
Assuming the latter, we asked U.S. News & World Report 's crack I-team for guidance. First, these investigative reporters said, do what Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: "Follow the money." Find out where Mom shops. Sneak a peek at her credit card statements. Take notes on shopping bag labels around the house. Then, "cultivate inside sources" --a bit harder for the average son or daughter. To lend a hand, we talked to experts--all of them moms--about new mother-pleasing products.
A working mother might appreciate the PalmOne Treo 650 smartphone (left, starts at $449, palmone.com ). Actually, who wouldn't? It combines a phone with an organizer, E-mail and Web access, and a digital camera for cute kid shots, says Robin Raskin, author of the online column Internet Mom. "I've talked to a million moms," she explains, "and they'd rather have a good practical solution than the latest gee-gaws." For moms who spend a lot of time in the car, she suggests a satellite radio, with hundreds of stations to choose from. Raskin also likes the portable Delphi XM MyFi ($300, xmradio.com ). A little larger than an iPod, it can record up to five hours of music. With any technology gift, she recommends giving a jump-start: Record a few songs on the iPod before you give it to her, or type a few names into the address book on her new smart phone.
Kathy LaLiberte, director of gardening for Gardener's Supply Co., always asks her kids for a load of compost for Mother's Day, along with the promise to help distribute it around the garden. For a more decorative gift, she proposes the Container Water Garden Kit (above, $99, gardeners.com ). It comes with beautiful, easy-to-grow plants like calla lilies and creeping jenny.
Mom gourmets mired in the PB&J routine will appreciate Hawaiian artisan salts (above left, $30, surlatable.com ), says Janet Sauvage, a buyer for luxury kitchen supplier Sur la Table. The red salt incorporates red clay from Maui for a rich earthiness, while the black incorporates activated charcoal. White balsamic vinegar --made with white instead of red grapes--has a milder taste than the brown variety ($10, at Sur la Table stores). For mothers who enjoy a quiet cuppa, Teosophy's Tea Collection Box ($25, surlatable.com ) contains 18 pyramid-shaped mesh "pods" of black and green teas, ultrasonically sealed to eliminate glue and other impurities.
KITCHEN GADGET MOM
"Look around the kitchen and see what she uses all the time," says Dawn Allen, vice president of merchandising for cooking.com, a kitchenware website. Then find an improved version. Coffee lover Allen gets great joy (and java) from the Bunn-O-Matic pod coffeemaker (above, $200, cooking.com ), a single-cup maker that brews in 30 seconds. Even a new color can update an old appliance. Consider a Hamilton Beach toaster ($70, cooking.com ) in apple green or pineapple yellow. For mother-child baking jams, Sur la Table's Sauvage recommends a pink silicone rolling pin ($50, surlatable.com ). It doesn't stick.