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Gift ideas just in time for Mother's Day on Sunday

BY HEATHER FOWLIE, TIMES & TRANSCRIPT STAFF,

Mother's Day is only a few days away and, according to local retailers, there are still endless possibilities to choose from. That said, the real challenge is deciding will make the best gift for your mom on Sunday.

"You basically need to look at her personality," says Steve Clerke, who owns Gifts Galore with his wife, Joanne Jarvis. He says most people think their mother is hard to shop for, but in reality, it's just a matter of stepping back and assessing what she likes.

"Look at the colours they're wearing," he says, explaining the simplest tendencies highlight what people are interested in. "Do they have interests? Do they have a cat or a dog? Do they like to garden? Do they like nature?"

Steve says they've been flat out for the last few weeks because the Mother's Day buzz started early this year. "I'm thinking maybe it's because of the weather," he says, noting shoppers seem to be interested in a lasting and unique gift this season.

A walk through any local gift shop will produce shelves and shelves of ideas for wives, mothers and grandmothers. "Blown glass friendship balls have been popular... we're selling a lot of jewelry... a lot of people are starting pottery collections for their mother... outdoor wind chimes... we've sold a lot of prints and stain glass lamps," says Steve, trying to list popular choices.

And if a gift shop doesn't do the trick, an arrangement from one of the many flower shops is also an option. Betty Shorey, sales associate at MacArthur's Flower Shop, says their phones have been ringing off the hook lately. "I'll tell you, Valentine's Day is our busiest day, Christmas is our busiest month and Mother's day is our busiest week," she says. So far, their most popular requests range from specialty arrangements (including Teleflora and FTD designs) to dish gardens and mixed bouquets, to fruit baskets.

According to a recent Shopzilla survey of about 1,200 moms, which was released in April, most mothers said they'd be happiest to receive a spa treatment or massage. Local spas and estheticians are offering specials on pedicures, manicures, facials and complete spa packages. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, a basic treatment, such as a pedicure will start somewhere around the $25 range and continue upwards from there.

Kimberly Gautreau, who operates Kimberly the Studio, says special treatments are a good way to ensure some down time. "There are so few moms who relax," she says, explaining she offers customized aroma therapy massages, among other services. If you can't decide though, don't hesitate to get a certificate, so mom can choose her own special treatment.

And that's a rule that applies for any gift you're searching for. Most stores offer a gift card/certificate option and although they're sometimes touted as impersonal, they're a good way to ensure you're giving a welcomed gift. "Then Mom gets to pick for herself," says Stephanie Hansen, marketing director for Champlain Place. "They're anything you want them to be."

Rounding out the rest of the wish list, the survey also found today's mom would appreciate a chance to travel; some new jewelry; something the whole family can enjoy (like a board game); and, of course, nearly half of them said a homemade gift was the most exciting thing they could receive.

Whether it's a handmade card, a craft, or a colourful picture - mothers are well known for appreciating the thought more than the price tag. So although a luxurious gift is a nice treat, all the experts agree your final decision should rest on finding something that will show your mother how much you care. "It's the one person you should remember," says Steve.

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