How To Make Mother's Day Special If You Can't Be With Your Mom

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In kindergarten, I sloppily pressed my paint-covered hand onto a piece of construction paper, scribbled my name under it, and gave it to my mom for Mother’s Day. She was delighted. In third grade we upgraded to a milk bottle vase covered in string. Again, delighted. Even though my Mother’s Day gifts got progressively more “adult” as I did, one thing has been consistent: We’ve celebrated together. But this year, I moved from my hometown — thus, our first Mother’s Day apart, like, ever. If you’re wondering how to make Mother’s Day special if you can’t be with your mom, literally, same. And as someone who’s going through it for the first time, I’m the first to say that it’s already hard enough to miss your momma, so it’s even harder on the day that the whole world celebrates moms.

But just because there are miles (and maybe even oceans) between you, doesn’t mean you can’t make the day special. You might not be there physically, but there are several ways to honor your mom that will make her almost as happy as having you there IRL.

Of course, if you live close to your mom, and you don’t have any plans on Mother’s Day, the best way to make the day special is probably to just be together. Take your mom to brunch, get massages, gift her a soy candle — you know, just mom things. There’s a good chance that she’ll value spending quality time together over any material thing you can give her, especially since the hustle and bustle of everyday life makes it hard to just enjoy each other’s company. But if you don’t live close by, and you still want to make sure your mom feels like the queen she is, here are a few ways to create a special day, long-distance style.

1Order Gifts Online And Have Them Delivered To Her House

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Ahh, the beauty that is online shopping. And if you have Amazon Prime? Even better. I ordered two presents for my mom two days ago, and they should be arriving three days before Mother’s Day. I’m telling you, Prime is so worth it (#notsponsored) if you’re as indecisive as me. Amazon even curates a handful of lists filled to the brim with gift suggestions separated by category, so you can still get your mom a nice gift even if you’re ballin’ on a budget.

If you’re more responsible than I am, take your time and scour online boutiques or retailers like Etsy, and get your mom something totally her. Pay attention to your conversations in the weeks prior to Mother’s Day. Has she been complaining about long days at work? Maybe a nice diffuser and some essential oils will help her decompress. Is she loving a new perfume? Get her a similar one! Many more high-end websites like Sephora and Nordstrom have amazing Mother’s Day deals, too. You’re sure to find a gift that mom won’t only love, but will also really appreciate.

2Have A Sibling Or Loved One Carry Out The Day

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If you’re the older sibling who’s spearheaded Mother’s Day for the past however many years, it’s time to hand the reins over to your younger sibling. Have a little faith that they’ll pull off something your mom will love, and by all means, help! Send over some funds via Venmo so that your sibling has enough of a budget to really spoil mom. Order her a gift that comes especially from you, so she doesn’t feel like you forgot, but don’t feel bad about letting your younger sibling take on most of the planning. It’s their turn, now, and they would’ve probably celebrated Mother’s Day with your mom anyways.

If your sibling(s) doesn’t live in your hometown either, even more of a reason to tag-team and try to make your mom’s day a nice one. Any of these suggestions will help, but don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. Get your mom’s partner — be it your other parent, stepparent, mom’s significant other, or even her best friend or her sibling — in on it and have them take her out to dinner on your behalf. Make sure that someone, somewhere, is giving your mom the attention she deserves!

3Share A Meal Over Face Time

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FaceTime meals don’t get enough credit. If you don’t feel like eating alone, but have no one to eat with, FaceTiming someone you love really helps you feel less lonely. The same goes for Mother’s Day. Create the illusion that you’re actually together by eating a meal together while chatting on FaceTime. The beauty of technology is that it gives us innumerable ways to connect, so take advantage of them! Dress up, light some candles, and create an ambiance fit for a Mother’s Day dinner. By dessert, you’ll forget you’re not actually in the same place.

Another adorable idea? Get on FaceTime and cook a family recipe (points if it's one your mom passed down to you) together. Have that dish as your meal. It will make it even more special because you'll have seen the process through together from the very beginning.

4Watch The Same Movie At The Same Time And Discuss It

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Last year, my brother and I took my mom to see Snatched at a bougie theater with reclining seats and (again), our mom was delighted. She laughed like crazy and we all had a great time. If you can’t go to the movies together IRL, set each other up on FaceTime or hop on the phone and watch something cute on Netflix. Start the movie at the same time so you can be on the same parts and react in real-time. It’s not like having her there in person, but it’s a nice way to spend uninterrupted time together, even if you’re far away.

5Venmo Her A Good Chunk Of Change, So She Can Spoil Herself

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If your mom’s been able to figure out Venmo (mine just did so recently, everyone clap for her), send over enough funds for her to get a nice mani/pedi at a spa. If you can splurge, set her up with a massage or a facial! If she hasn’t figured out Venmo, or even if she has and you just want to make things even easier, call the spa or salon and use your card to prepay her services. That way, all she has to do is show up and relax.

6Send Her A Digital Slideshow Or A Homemade iMovie

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Somewhere between milk bottle vases and $10 earrings from Forever 21, I made my mom (very elementary) iMovies with photos and videos of the year’s most fun moments. I did this for like three years straight and she cried every time. If you can find a way to create something like this for your mom — and it doesn’t have to be fancy! — it’ll be the sweetest email she opens all day, guaranteed. Because the thing is, Mother’s Day gifts don’t have to be fancy. Sure, we want to give our moms the very best we can, because they’ve spent our entire lives giving us their very best, every day. But moms are notoriously selfless and unconditionally loving. They’d love anything you got them, whether it’s a designer purse or your sloppy handprint on construction paper with your name scribbled on the bottom.

It truly is the thought that counts — just make sure that she knows the thought is there. When you’re not together IRL, it’s hard to know that someone is thinking of you. They’re not there to read your thoughts by your actions, so whatever you chose to do long-distance, make sure it’s noticeably thoughtful. Make sure it’s something that shows your mom how much you value her love and kindness. And take at least a few minutes to hop on the phone with her and tell her what she means to you. Not being together on Mother’s Day is hard, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Take solace in knowing that Mother’s Day happens every year, and that sooner or later, you’ll be in the same place, at the same time, ready to make it the best day your mom has ever had (second only to the day you were born, duh).

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