giftIt's that time of year to pay homage to that magnificent woman, you know, the one who wipes snotty noses, patches up skinned knees and often, still, sets dinner on the table - aka your mother and the mother of your children. With little more than a week to go before Mother's Day on May 8, here's a sample of some top gift ideas and how to get there without breaking the bank.

A day at the spa garnered top billing among the most desired Mother's Day gifts, according to a Toluna and Buy.com survey of over 1,000 adults. That's right, 23% of survey respondents, pegged spa day as a winner, followed by gift cards at 20% and home-made gifts ranking third with 17% of the votes. But when looking at the data relating to moms who were 55 or older, gift cards captured top ranking with 38% and a new computer second with 25% for most desired present.

And, surprisingly, flowers were ranked as the "least desired" Mother's Day gift, capturing 22%, of the thumbs down crowd. Flowers, however, tend to be affordable, just like home-made gifts.

But would be shoppers should not be dissuaded from offering mom a lavish, luxurious spa treatment, or ponying up for a gift certificate. And the same goes for heading to a restaurant for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. With careful planning, it's possible to bring those costs down by 50%.

Pamper Her With a Day at the Spa


SpaFinder's SpaRahRah! is a social commerce, group buying spa treatment platform that offers up savings at spas in five major cities - New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami. Starting Friday, for example, SpaRahRah plans to carry a 50% discount on a facial, massage, manicure and glass of wine spa package at the Caudalie at The Plaza Hotel in New York. The $510 package will be sliced to $225, as part of a Mother's Day promotion.

Spa treatments under $100, with a 50% discount, can also be found among the Mother's Day promotions featured Friday on SpaRahRah. Rock Resort's Tempo Miami in Miami, Fla., for example, is offering a facial or massage for $60, down from its retail price of $120. And George Michael Salon in Los Angeles is offering a signature trim, style and deep hair conditioning treatment for $99, down from its usual $200.

SpaWeek, which also features deep discounts on spa deals, is offering a Mother's day special of a facial and eye and lip treatment for $65 at Facelogic Spa in Austin, Tex., which is nearly a 50% discount off its regular retail price of $129.

"The industry average for a massage at a day spa is $70 to $80 and at a resort $175," says David Edwards, vice president of SpaRahRah!, noting that the average facial can cost an additional $150 to boot.

He noted that Mother's Day and Valentine's Day are the two biggest days of the year for the spa industry, with business escalating 25% to 30% higher.

Kelly Verdi, a spokeswoman for SpaWeek, says that typically hotel resort spas cost 30% more for their various treatments than day spas, because hotel resorts have additional amenities like pools and fitness centers.

While some hotels spas allow customers to have full access to all the amenities no matter how inexpensive their spa treatment, such as a basic manicure, others like the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco require non-hotel guests to spend at least $100 in treatments for full access to its amenities.

And, of course, spouses and children can always supply mom with a gift basket of spa goodies to create her own home spa for Mother's Day, featuring oils, bath salts, fragrant soaps and a loofah sponge, pumice stone and back brush, along with relaxing candles. But, of course, they would also need to supply a quiet and tranquil setting for mom to enjoy her home retreat.

Get Great Deals on Gift Cards


Spas are not the only place Mother's Day gifts can be picked up at a discount. Even gift cards can be had for less than their retail costs.

Plastic Jungle offers up to a 35% discount on a wide variety of gift cards, which they purchase from others looking to cash in on their plastic gift cards even though they sell them at a discount. The company then resells the gift cards to consumers. Other discount gift card sites include GiftCards.com, which offers up to a 25% discount, and Cardpool, which has discounts up to 35%.

And while Mother's Day does not necessarily create a wave of additional sales, it does temporarily create a shift in the type of gift card brands sold, says Curtis Barthold, vice president of finance for Plastic Jungle.

"In the days leading up to Mother's Day, there's an increase in Bloomingdale's cards, spa cards and other mother friendly cards," Barthold said. "During the rest of the year, there's more of a concentration of Home Depot cards."

How Can You Go Wrong With Food?


Mothers not only like spa days and gift cards, according to the Toluna and Buy.com survey, but they also like to go out for a meal on Mother's Day. A survey by the National Restaurant Association showed similar results.

According to the National Restaurant Association survey, which took the pulse of 1,000 adults, 58% preferred to go out to a restaurant for dinner on Mother's Day. And 32% preferred lunch, 24% brunch and 10% for breakfast. And why do these moms prefer going out on Mother's Day? Apparently it's a move designed to get some relief from cooking and doing the dishes.
Mother's Day meals

"Our new research shows that more than 75 million Americans will visit restaurants this Mother's Day, making dining out one of mom's favorite activities that day," Annika Stensson, a National Restaurant Association spokeswoman, said in an email interview. "Because it is the most popular holiday to dine out, many restaurants offer special promotions and deals for moms and their families."

She suggested folks look for price fixe menus to get the best deals on multi-course meals, as well as budget-friendly buffets. And, of course, don't overlook those early bird specials and other off-peak hours and times.

Restaurant reservation Web site OpenTable features a national listing of Mother's Day specials and promotions currently underway in various states. And group buying Web sites like Groupon, LivingSocial and now social networking giant Facebook are listing discount deals of up to 50% off the cost of the restaurant bill.

With these potential savings, mom many not only be pleased to receive such gifts but also be proud at the way she raised you.

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