Pssst. we’ve got a secret.
You might not like hearing it so close to Mother’s Day — which by the way is just six days away. But we think we should tell you anyway.
Your mom … she probably doesn’t want more “stuff.”
Stuff accumulates and, over time, taking care of stuff — even well-intentioned gifts from the people for whom she gave life — equals more work. Stuff has to be sorted, dusted, organized, put away.
And if Mom gets stuff she really doesn’t need, that stuff comes with guilt attached, and a responsibility to either use it anyway or find a good home for it later.
But we all know there is one thing all moms want, and it doesn’t require a gift bag or wrapping paper, either.
Moms want time with their kids, even if those kids have kids of their own.
So, in honor of moms everywhere, we offer you these ideas for gifts that equal time together. Whatever your mom’s interests, we think you’ll find a great gift idea to make mom happy — whether you do these things on Mother’s Day or anytime in the future.
After all, nothing makes a mom smile wider than looking forward to a special day together, lasting memories and maybe a great selfie or two:
Visit the New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx
Early May is a lovely time to visit the NYBG — you get the last of the cherry blossoms and daffodils and also see the lilacs, azaleas and magnolias putting on a full-blown show. Walking around the gardens gives you a chance to actually spend time with Mom, chatting and catching up while admiring the different collections within the garden.
On Mother’s Day proper, there is a Mother’s Day Garden Party, with live music, lawn games and family fun on Daffodil Hill, and a Mother’s Day meal at the Hudson Garden Grill, which uses local ingredients from farms in the Hudson Valley and around the region. (I once had a crispy Feather Ridge egg with asparagus, peas, ricotta and morels during a spring meal there — divine! — but alas, I do not see it on the current menu.)
After lunch, take the trolley tour of the garden so you know where you need to go for your next visit — in June, to see the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden in full bloom.
— Liz Johnson
Go: 2900 Southern Blvd, The Bronx; 718-817-8700, nybg.org.
Create grazing boards, Medford
A Savor + Swig workshop at Grazing Affair in Medford is a cool idea for you and your mom.
Your ticket price ($75) includes a wooden grazing board to keep, edible flowers, fruits and veggies, chocolate, dried fruits, hummus, a honey jar and wooden stick, two cheeses, two meats, mozzarella balls and olives.
It allows you to sample items while creating your own grazing board with step-by-step instructions.
Grazing Affair, which is owned and operated by April Collison, encourages guests to enjoy a bottle of wine while creating the board.
Those who attend the savor + swig workshop learn to design a graze and leave with a fully assembled board. The workshops usually last about 90 minutes.
Grazing Affair also offers private workshops.
Email April Collison at [email protected] for more information or to make a workshop reservation.
The shop is open Tuesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Go: 5 S. Main St., Medford, 609-975-8069; grazingaffair.com/
Hike in Cape May Point State Park
If Mom is the outdoors type, you can’t do better than the southernmost part of New Jersey for a day together.
Give her the gift of fresh air, a long walk and some of the most breathtaking views in the Garden State by ambling through the nature trails of Cape May Point State Park.
This time of year, you will see plenty of mid-spring blooms, an abundance of saltwater birds, butterflies and perhaps even an otter or two.
There are several easy hikes of varying lengths, depending on how long you want to lose yourself together in the wetlands area on its sturdy boardwalk and clearly-marked trails. (It’s an excellent place for Mom to get those steps in!)
Once you’re done, you can hit any of Cape May’s best restaurants, or unpack a picnic and dine on the beach. If you want to extend your stay, you can climb the lighthouse, or go birdwatching in the adjacent Nature Conservancy South Cape May Meadows.
Free parking for the nature trails is at the far end of the parking lot for the Cape May lighthouse.
Go: Light House Ave., Cape May Point; nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/capemaypointstatepark.html
Make a date for the Flower Show, Philadelphia
What would make Mom’s heart blossom more than a future date with her favorite people at the country’s most respected flower show?
The Flower Show moved during the pandemic from its former indoor location at the Philadelphia Convention Center to become an outdoors event.
“In Full Bloom” will take place in South Philadelphia’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park (FDR Park) in Philadelphia from Saturday, June 11 through Sunday, June 19.
A host of ticket options are offered as well as favorite and new special events.
Regular and select special event tickets are on sale now including for Flowers After Hours, Butterflies Live! and Potting Parties.
Go: 1500 Pattison Ave. &, S. Broad St., Philadelphia; phsonline.org/the-flower-show/in-full-bloom
Learn about bees, Medford
How about a beehive tour with a jar of honey at the end? With Mill Creek Apiary, you can take Mom to the Apiary Field Day “Hive Dive” workshop. Get an overview of honey bee biology and a hands-on experience with honeybees.
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Sessions run about one and a half to two hours, weather permitting. Veils and rubber examination gloves are provided. It is recommended to wear comfortable, light-colored clothing; preferably a long-sleeved shirt, pants and closed shoes. Be sure to avoid wearing perfumes.
Reserve your spot for $60 per person at The Jennings Farm in Medford. Dates include May 29, June 19, July 12 and July 31 from noon to two p.m.
Go: 40 Jennings Road, Medford, 609-451-2337; millcreekapiary.com
Take a baking class, Ridgefield Park
The baking classes at It’s Delicious in Ridgefield Park are a fun way to bond and learn something new with your mom.
Owner Cristal Paredes is an expert baker and will guide you through how to make dishes and desserts during her classes. Or, you can book a private baking class (with a minimum of five people and a maximum of 10), where you choose a theme and make two appetizers and two desserts.
Go: 213 Main St., Ridgefield Park; 646-242-5127, itsdeliciousdesserts.com.
Paint a pot, Montclair
Mind Your Beads & Seeds is a unique shop in Montclair that stocks plants, pots, crystals, jewelry and more. It also hosts regular events where you can paint your own pot.
The Open Garden Studio sessions are BYO, cost $50 and last 1 hour and 30 minutes. Included is a 6-inch terracotta pot, acrylic paints and stencils to help decorate your pot and one tropical plant.
Stop in from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday or Sunday to make your own.
Go: 147 D. Valley Road, Montclair; 609-503-2415, mindyourbeadsandseeds.com.
Make your own candle, Jersey City
Instead of buying your mom a candle for Mother’s Day, why not take her to make her own?
ReWax & UnWine is a BYO candle studio in Jersey City.
Thursdays through Sundays, the studio offers candle-making classes where you can pick your own fragrances, jars and dyes. The classes run for two hours, cost $59 and include a 10-ounce and a 4-ounce personalized organic coconut natural wax candle.
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For Mother’s Day weekend, ReWax has plenty of events planned, including a Mother’s Day tea party, a Mommy and Me class for kids, a charcuterie brunch and a karaoke night.
Go: 2 Division St., Jersey City; 833-929-9463, rewaxandunwineevents.com.
Make cheese or bread at Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, Milford
The moms of yesteryear may have been expert bread and cheese makers, but there’s a good chance your own mother had a lot more tasks on her plate.
However, you and your mom can learn to make 100% grass-fed, farmstead cheeses and a variety of breads at Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, a dairy farm in Milford.
Both $250, five-hour cheese-making classes and $125, four-hour bread-making classes will be hosted on select Sundays through the year.
Go: 369 Stamets Road, Milford; 908-864-7277, cowsoutside.com/shop/26
Enjoy jazz at Roaring 20s-era Greenwood Gardens, Short Hills
The jazz era is coming back to Greenwood Gardens, a 28-acre formal garden and historic site in Short Hills, on May 20, June 24 and July 22.
Full of terraced gardens, statuary, fountains and stone garden follies, the lush property built between 1911 and 1925 as a millionaire’s opulent respite will host a series of jazz concerts under a newly-installed tent.
The garden’s gates will open at 5:30 p.m. on the day of each concert, when registrants are welcome to stroll in the garden, and then make their way to the Main Terrace around 6 p.m. to enjoy a glass of wine before the music begins on the West Terrace at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $35.
Go: 274 Old Short Hills Road, Short Hills; 973-258-4026, greenwoodgardens.org/jazz-in-the-garden/
Laugh it up at the Stress Factory, New Brunswick
All moms are in dire need of some laughs after the past two years.
They can get just that at the Stress Factory on May 8, when the longtime comedy club in Hub City presents its annual Mother’s Day concert and comedy matinee at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. for $40 per person.
Performers include TALENT of BET’s Comic View, HBO’s Snaps and Def Comedy Jam, Tommy Too Smooth and Michael Colyar.
Go: 90 Church St., New Brunswick; 732-545-4242, newbrunswick.stressfactory.com/events/55749
Get inspired at Creative Arts Festival, Thompson Park, Lincroft
Just in time for Mother’s Day, the Monmouth County Park System will host its annual Creative Arts Festival at Thompson Park, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.
Bring mom to pick out her own handmade presents, including pottery, photography, jewelry, paintings and more. This family-friendly event features live music, free activities and artist demonstrations.
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Admission and parking for the festival are free, leaving you with more to spend on the most important woman in your life.
And if mom is looking to take a stroll through nature following the festival, look no further than this 667 acre park, which was established in 1968 and includes 215 acres of Geraldine Livingston Thompson’s historic estate.
The social reform pioneer’s mansion still stands here today, serving as the Thompson Park Visitors Center, where you can learn more about the history of “Brookedale Farm.”
The park also features a Memorial Tree Grove, 14 miles of walking trails in the “Old Orchard Area” (the former site of the Thompson family’s apple orchard), a 4.9 mile paved loop with a bicycle repair station, a playground, the Three Barn area (with three historic barns that now serve as the Theatre Barn, Activity Barn and the Thompson Park Creative Arts Center), tennis courts, and a fishing lake that is popular for canoeing and kayaking.
Go: 805 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft; For more information, visit monmouthcountyparks.com or call 732-842-4000. For those with hearing impairment, the MCPS TTY/TDD number is 711.
Make music together, Ringing Rocks, Bucks County
Maybe your mom is more comfortable in hiking boots or with a hammer in her hand than she is at a fancy brunch or a flower show.
If that’s the case, pack up some SPF, hydro flasks and a hammer or two, and head to Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County.
There you can see the natural wonder that is Ringing Rocks County Park, a massive boulder field where you can make the rocks ”sing” when you bang on them.
This trip is for people who would be comfortable with a short hike and navigating many large stones. You can also hike around the woods and check out a nearby waterfall.
Pack mom’s favorite snacks (carry out whatever you bring in). If you work up more hunger, there are numerous dining options between Upper Black Eddy and New Hope, a drive of about 25 minutes.
Go: Ringing Rocks Road, Upper Black Eddy, Pa.; buckscounty.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/Ringing-Rocks-Park-5
More ‘no gift’ ideas for Mother’s Day
- Scout out the latest offerings from a local Escape Room and plan a great escape
- Visit your local hatchet throwing facility and have at it
- Check out our map of NJ wineries and find a new one to explore
- Make a date to meet at one of NJ’s newer breweries or distillers and bring mom’s favorite snacks
- Make reservations for a future date at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton
- Attend a New Jersey food or drink festival