Guest Author - Emily Wilska
Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 11. While candy and flowers aren't a bad way to honor the moms in your life, with a bit of ingenuity and some simple ideas, you can create a gift designed to bring more organization and less stress to the lives of the ladies you love. Here are three gift options to spark your creativity.
#1: Personalized Recipe Book
Not all moms love to cook, but if yours does, chances are she has at least one box overflowing with cards and recipe clippings, and perhaps dozens of recipes bookmarked on cooking websites. Tastebook is a new service that lets you create personalized cookbooks that include both recipes from your own collection (or your mom's) and from the voluminous online archives of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. Choose a cover and a theme (you can even upload your own photos), select and organize recipes, and customize your book. Each Tastebook comes with up to 100 recipes, so you (or Mom) can add new favorites over time.
#2: Help in the Fight Against Paper Clutter
This gift may not be quite as glamorous as a fancy box of candy (though you can throw one of those in, too), but it'll do a much better job of taking a bit of stress out of Mom's life each day. By giving your mother a subscription to a service designed to reduce paper clutter, you'll also give her the gift of more time for other things, not to mention less paper to deal with.
If Mom is overwhelmed with junk mail, sign her up for 41 Pounds or Green Dimes, both services designed to significantly reduce unwanted mail. Because both of these require a little bit of work (such as filling out Do Not Mail postcards to send to direct marketing services), you might include in your gift an hour or two of time to help get Mom up and running. (While you're at it, go to Catalog Choice and help her stop unwanted catalogs from cramming her mailbox; the service is free.)
Another clutter-clearer is Shoeboxed, a service that will scan any and all of your receipts and upload them to an account on a private, secure website. From there, you can download the information into Quicken, or simply track your expenses online. Though Shoeboxed will mail the receipts back to you under two of their plans (there are four to choose from altogether), in many cases they can go right into the shredder or the recycling bin. A gift subscription to Shoeboxed and an hour or two of helping Mom gather her receipts is a great way to get her on track toward less paper clutter.
#3: General Organizing Help
Last but not least, consider giving Mom something only you can give: your time. Most people I know (including myself!) have at least one or two organizing projects they'd love to tackle if only they didn't have a dozen--or more--other things on their To Do list. Giving your mother a hand with the project of her choosing is a simple but powerful way of saying thank you.
Remember that, with any project, it's smart to keep things on a reasonable scale (don't try to attack every closet in the house or 20 years' worth of photos at once). If Mom's project of choice is a large one, you might spread your offer of time over a few weeks or months to keep things moving forward without burning out. And at the end of the project, why not take Mom out for a celebratory lunch? You'll both have earned it.
This Mother's Day, think creatively about gifts that will bring more organization--and thus more order, more calm, and less stress--to your mom's life. Those benefits can last all year long.