Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts: 8 Tips for Making Mom Happy

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What does mom really want for Mother’s Day? The results of recent surveys offer some indication. (Hint: A nice dinner might be better than a taser—even a pink taser.)

Here are some factoids, tips, and survey data points to help guide the search for last-minute Mother’s Day gifts:

Been procrastinating? You’re not alone. As of May 1, more than half of the consumers in one survey said they hadn’t purchased a gift yet.

Most people will spend under $100. A survey from PriceGrabber indicates that 62% of consumers plan on dropping under $100 on Mother’s Day presents. Some consumers plan on kissing up to Mom more than others: 8% say they’ll spend over $250.

(MORE: Mother’s Milk: What’s Up With Extended Breastfeeding?)

Don’t try to compete with all-time great gifts. A goofy roundup by dealnews points to the all-time historically best presents given to mothers, ranging from the largest imperial garden in the world (given by Emperor Qianlong to his mom in the 1700s), to a palace complete with a solid-gold toilet presented to his mother by that sweetheart of a son, Saddam Hussein.

There are free things you can “give” Mom. Many stores and restaurants offer freebies and specials on Mother’s Day: TCBY and Yogurt Mountain are dishing out free frozen yogurts to moms on Sunday, Redbox is allowing customers to send one free night’s rental to moms (and anyone who has a mom) via Facebook, and IKEA stores give moms a free breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, and coffee before 11 a.m. (See this Kiplinger post for a roundup of a few other Mother’s Day freebies.) Technically, though, with these offers, it’s the retailer giving the present, not any of the mom’s kids.

(MORE: The Passive-Aggressive, Total Cheapo Gift Guide for Mother’s Day)

Think twice (or thrice) before giving certain gifts. Techland’s list of geeky Mother’s Day gifts to avoid includes the Travel Slanket, anything labeled “Beauty Gadget,” and a pink taser—which Mom might want to test out on somebody right away. Likewise, unless you know your mom really, really well, and perhaps have even helped her paint her face before attending sporting events, it’s probably best to steer clear of suggestions for Mother’s Day gifts for fans of the Minnesota Vikings or Minnesota Timberwolves.

Everybody can at least pick up the phone, right? Roughly 20% of men admit to having forgotten about Mother’s Day, compared to just 8% of women, according to a survey conducted for RetailMeNot. This makes guys look bad, but women have an obvious advantage to help them remember the holiday—many of them are mothers, after all.

Sons are more likely to give mom what she really wants. In another survey, the most popular gift selected by moms was to be taken out for a meal—preferred by 34% of mothers, compared to 10% who’d like jewelry. While 26% of sons say they’re likely to take mom out for brunch, dinner, or another meal on Mother’s Day, just 20% of daughters will do so.

(MORE: A Mom’s Work is Worth $113K Annually, Or Maybe About Half That)

Men drop more money on Mother’s Day too. According to the National Retail Federation, men will spend an average of $189.74 to celebrate Mother’s Day, while women can be expected to drop $117.42, on average. About two-thirds of survey respondents who plan on giving Mother’s Day gifts will hand over flowers, the most popular gift item.

Paying off mom’s bills may be the best gift of all. The top financial wish of mothers with kids living at home is that they could get out of debt. So, in theory, paying off your mother’s credit card balance—or at least maybe $189.74 of it—would make her dreams come true. Something tells me many moms wouldn’t exactly appreciate the gesture, though.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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