05/07/2011 09:33 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Mother's Day: Gifts from the Heart

Have you ever received gifts that were fun in the moment but lost their allure almost as fast as you unwrapped the package? Material gifts may satisfy short-term desires, but it is the human connection that leaves a lasting impression. Instead of going to the store to buy Mom another bottle of perfume, think about creating a memory instead. Here are three easy ways:

1) The gift of experience

A sure-fire happiness amplifier is to create a time when you do/experience something together with your mom. Make this something she enjoys doing, even if it's not really your thing. You can ask your mom what she enjoys or surprise her. Some ideas are: a walk in nature, making something creative together, joining her to see the film she's been longing to check out, or even listening together to her favorite music and dancing up a storm -- bonus points for laughing out loud. I still smile when I think of the dance lesson my kids gave me. They worked hard that day!

2) The gift of time

Most people feel that they have too much to do in a day, so consider giving your mom the gift of time -- that is, time to take care of herself. That could mean anything from offering to cook dinner to doing the dishes or taking the dog for a walk. It could involve arranging for a friend to babysit while mom takes a hike or takes that course that she has signed up for. I still have some hand-made coupons from my kids for a shoulder massage that I look forward to enjoying! The criterion is that it should be something that soothes your mom and gives her a chance to tune in to herself -- what a concept!

3) The gift of appreciation

Moms always do for others and often don't even realize the effect they have on their families. One great approach is to put together a booklet of photographs and drawings that remind you of special times with your mom. Extra bonus points for including a letter of gratitude to let her know a few things you love about her, perhaps the most important lesson you have learned from her, and how much that means to you. I'd love this gift for Mother's Day -- hint, hint.

Finally, celebrate the quality of motherhood within yourself. You don't have to be a mother to do this. Consider who or what you care about most and focus your energy and support in that direction. Be there for someone else, and don't forget to take care of yourself -- Mother's Day is just the beginning!

Why is Mother's Day special or not special to you? What are the most memorable gifts you have received?