If she has a green thumb, a potted citrus tree will outlast a floral arrangement. Ms. Canada recommends a dwarf Meyer lemon or a Calamondin orange tree. “You can plant them outdoors if you’re in the right zone, but if you aren’t, good drainage, citrus potting mix and a sunny window is all you need,” she said. “Add a wheeled plant tray, so she can move them around throughout the year. Nothing makes you feel fancier than thinking ‘it’s a lovely sunny day, I should wheel the orange tree outside.’”
Take note: A vacuum cleaner is never a hit (“an appliance is a gift for the whole household, not for one person,” said Ms. Canada). However, a session with a professional organizer can be a helpful way to bring calm.
Make it nice.
If you have a printer, you’re halfway toward presentation perfection. Skip the cheesy Hallmark sentiments and download stylish wrapping paper, gift tags, or cards from the design website Almost Makes Perfect.
“I’m a big believer in Mother’s Day being about all types of moms,” said Molly Madfis, a designer whose work includes printed materials for step-moms and mothers-in-law too. Use regular printing paper for the gift wrap, said Ms. Madfis, and card stock for the rest.
Ms. Ferney raises her gifting game by using regular household supplies for wrapping. “Neon pink string from the hardware store makes everything feel bright,” she said. She also has her kids paint paper grocery bags, then match a ribbon in the same color scheme.
Upgrade your usual offerings.
While you won’t exactly be breaking new ground with a bouquet of flowers, you get extra points for effort if you make it yourself. Call a local flower shop to see if they offer classes, said Amber Flack, designer at Little Acre Flowers in Washington, D.C., or take an online lesson with florists like Lavenders or Siren Floral. Use local blooms where possible, said Ms. Flack, and limit the variety.
“Start with a base of any greenery, add in one or two filler flowers, then add your showstopper flowers last,” she said. “Cut stems at an angle with sharp scissors and change your water out every day.” Take the vase to a local engraving store, said Mr. Ruhlin, to add a meaningful quote. “Every time she uses it, she’ll think of you again,” he said, “It’s a subtle way to give someone an object with lasting power.”