mothers-day.jpgGetting a mother’s day gift can sometimes be challenging. Many times, you are not sure what to get. The usual suspects – flowers, dining out, chocolates, cards, and chore tickets are probably overused. This year, you can try something new by giving a gift card. Yes, a gift card!

Your immediate reaction probably is: “gift cards are impersonal.” Well, they are impersonal if you make them. With some preparation and creative packaging, gift cards can be presented with the usual element of surprise. They also make a perfect mother’s day gift because they take the guesswork out of giving and provide the recipient a chance to get what they want.

Before you pick a gift card, you have to first determine what your mother likes. What does she enjoy doing? What is her favorite store or activity? What are some of the places she wants to see or visit? List the top five options and work your way from there. Below are a few ideas to get you started, grouped by categories:

Beauty & Spa Gift Cards: Pamper her by giving her a gift card to a local spa. You have to do your homework here because you want to send her to a spa that will treat her to a wonderful, relaxing experience. If you are unsure, get her a SpaFinder gift card, which are accepted at over 4000 participating spas. That way, she can choose which spa to go to.

You can complement the spa gift card with a gift card to a beauty products store. Your options include MAC Cosmetics or Sephora, which also has a line of organic cosmetics. You can also get a gift card to Bath & Body Works.

Travel & Hotel Gift Cards: Does your mother have a place she wants to visit but has not had the time or opportunity to go? Why not force the issue by giving her an airline gift card? You can buy her a gift card from American Airlines and compliment it with a hotel gift card from Marriott or BedandBreakfast.com.

American Airlines gift cards are available online or by calling 1-800-677-9555. Gift Cards are available in any denomination between $50 and $1500. They are good for travel to over 250 cities in 40 countries.

Marriott gift cards are available online or at many grocery and drug stores and come in denominations from $50 to $9,999. They can be redeemed for services at more than 2,900 hotels in the United States and 67 countries, including leading brands like Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, and The Ritz-Carlton.

Bedandbreakfast.com gift cards can be purchased online for amounts between $50 to $3000. They can be redeemed at over 4,000 bed and breakfasts.

Books & Music Gift Cards: If reading is what she enjoys, you can get her a gift card to a local book store. Another option is to buy a Barnes & Noble or Borders gift card. Barnes & Noble gift cards are also redeemable at any B. Dalton Booksellers while Borders gift cards can also be used at Waldenbooks and Brentano’s stores.

In addition, if you have a tech savvy mom, maybe now is the time to introduce her to the iPod. You can buy her an Apple gift card, which can be redeemed at any Apple retail store or online at apple.com. You can compliment that with an iTunes gift card, which pretty much gives her a hint as to what the apple gift card is for.

Shopping Gift Cards: If your mom would rather be shopping, then your choices of shopping gift cards are endless. To be different, you can get her a gift card to a local retail store that is unique to her area or town. If you prefer national retailers, you can’t go wrong with a gift card from Neiman Marcus, Ann Taylor, Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s.

Cleaning Service Gift Cards: Maybe the biggest surprise is giving her a break, literally. A gift card from cleaning services like The Maids or Merry Maids would give her the much needed break from house cleaning duties for a good period of time and she will thank you for it.

Now that you have a gift card in mind, don’t ruin the surprise by poorly packaging the gift card. For a list of gift card packaging ideas, click here.