Personal Finance > Five Tips
What mom wants
Is mom tired of the same gift each year? There's still time to jazz things up using Gerri's tips.
May 7, 2004: 5:13 PM EDT
By Gerri Willis, CNN/Money contributing columnist

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Thinking of getting mom something special for Mother's Day but want to move beyond the typical fare?

Well, there's still time to jazz things up a bit.

1. Give mom the royal treatment

Why not give mom a break from the everyday hustle and bustle by sending her away for some Shiatsu or watsu at a relaxing spa?

Spas make up the nation's fourth largest leisure industry, which means there are all kinds of treatments for all kinds of moms.

If your mom is new to the spa experience, your best bet will be a massage or a facial as they are among the most popular services available and the most reasonable. An experienced spa-going mom may want to indulge in a more adventurous treatment such as a hot stone massage or a watsu massage, which takes place in a warm pool.

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CNNfn's Gerri Willis shares five tips on getting mom something special for Mother's Day.

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Moms hungry for a spa day can satisfy that sweet-tooth with some of these treatments. There's a spa in Vermont that offers maple treatments and one in Hershey, Pennsylvania that specializes in chocolate therapy. If she's looking for a quick shot of relaxation, send her down to Mexico for a tequila massage.

Does mom have a special interest? Well, there's probably a niche spa that caters to it.

The Red Mountain Spa in Utah, for example, offers cooking classes and nutritional counseling while the Lake Austin Spa has a smoking cession program.

If you decide to send mom to one of these niche spas, make sure they are not just playing doctor. They should be licensed to perform the treatments they offer.

As the competition among spas heats up, so does the options. Log onto the International SPA Association's Web site at or for more ideas.

2. Go electronic

In a 2002 survey conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 58 percent of female respondents chose a high-definition television over a 1-carat diamond ring. Similarly, 64 percent said they would rather receive a digital camera over -carat diamond earrings.

Last year, women spent approximately $55 billion on consumer electronics. Furthermore, women are involved in 89 percent of all consumer electronics purchase decisions. So much for the preconception that consumer electronics are a male-only fantasy.

Your mom may not be a gadget girl, but this doesn't mean you shouldn't get her into the tech game. Anne-Taylor Griffith of the CEA says many of us don't give women the credit they deserve when it comes to electronics. Moms, just like everyone else, want to know what's cool.

Griffith says digital cameras and imaging products are among the most popular electronic items for women. In fact, 48 percent of women age 18 to 34 own a digital camera. Digital cameras are also among the easiest electronics for a tech tenderfoot to learn. Many of these one-touch products are consumer-friendly, produce excellent quality photos and are affordable. Prices range from less than $200 to over $750.

Besides digital cameras, the fastest-growing technologies for women include cell phones, DVD players, desktop PCs and portable CD players.

Log onto or to compare prices on several electronic items. PC Magazine, available online at, and are good sources for electronics ratings.

3. Take advantage of spring

Spring is one of the best times of the year for flowers and Mother's Day falls in the heart the season.

Harold Hoogasian of Hoogasian Flowers in San Francisco says one option for mom is a spring bouquet. Bouquets allow you to mix and match whatever flowers you like, making the price as flexible as the size and quantity.

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Peonies are another popular option. This is a May flower that is available in several varieties. Prices range from $3 a stem to $15 a stem, so make sure you tell the florist which price tag fits in your budget.

If mom likes to garden, consider a blooming plant. Hydrangeas and azaleas are among the more popular.

Hoogasian says he is seeing a pickup in orders for tulips. Tulips are readily available and the pricing, which runs from $15 to $20 a bunch, is more moderate than roses and some other flowers on the market.

Regardless of what flowers you choose, pay close attention to the water in the florist's buckets. Hoogasian says the water in the buckets should be crystal clear and the buckets should be clean enough to drink out.

Also, ask the florist if the water is chemically configured. A reputable florist should have the right amount of preservatives in the water.

As for buying flowers online, choose a reputable company such as or or ask your friends or family for references.

4. Give mom memories

If mom is sentimental, consider creating a scrapbook of memories for her. The beauty of a scrapbook is that you can either give mom a completed one or help her get started by giving her the materials.

Scrapbooking is a relatively young industry--about 10 years old--but is rapidly growing in popularity with more than 25 million Americans participating last year, according to Magazine.

Scrapbooking is also the largest category at the Hobby Industry Association's annual convention. There are currently 4,000 independent scrapbook stores around the country, not counting the craft chains, discount stores and office supply stores that sell scrapbook materials. Overall, there are roughly 12,000 to 15,000 retailers participating in the scrapbook phenomenon.

Michaels Arts & Crafts Store, for example, has a scrapbooking section on its Web site outlining different materials and layouts. The craft-store chain is also in the process of opening up more scrapbook supply stores around the country called Recollections.

Read to get started? Use archival safe paper to keep your memories well-preserved. Also, most types of paper can easily fit into a 12x12 book, making it the most popular size.

Many people use the Internet to print out title pages and journal entries for their scrapbook. With so many fonts available, one can even make the text look like a child's handwriting.

Hewlett Packard is among the companies jumping into the scrapbook game. They sell software called the Creative Scrapbook Assistant for $30 that allows mom to play with picture sizes.

Once your mom gets started, she'll have the chance to participate in workshops held at local scrapbook supply shops. These gatherings, called "crops," allow people to get together and work on their scrapbooks as a group.

Log onto for more tips and a list of local retailers.

5. Whet mom's appetite

According to Food & Wine Magazine, sweet cravings now can be satisfied with a new concept: chocolate bars.

At The Peninsula hotel in Chicago, The Lobby restaurant features an all-you-can-eat buffet on Saturday nights with chocolate treats like pots de crme and tiramisu. Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton has a Chocoholic Bar on the weekends with mini white chocolate cheesecakes, chocolate-dipped strawberries and eclairs. If you're in the Bay Area, stop into Fog City News in San Francisco for some real chocolate bars (i.e. the ones in wrappers).

Mother's Day

Dark chocolate is a great option for healthy-eaters as it has a lot less calories, sugar, and milk. If carbs a concern, visit for more ideas.

Looking for a high-end gift? Several cruises are now offering on-board cooking classes hosted by well-known chefs. Among the different cruise lines: Silversea, Crystal Cruises, and Seabourne.  Top of page

Gerri Willis is a personal finance editor for CNN Business News. Willis also is co-host of CNNfn's The FlipSide, weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (ET). E-mail comments to

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