Mother's Day: What to do if you forgot

Mother's Day came early this year, catching some otherwise-conscientious people by surprise. Here are some ideas for how to celebrate Mom even if you didn't plan ahead.

Danny Johnston / AP / File
Beth Durkin makes Mother's Day flower arrangements on May 6 at a Little Rock, Ark., florist shop. Sending flowers is a classic way to tell mom you love her – but usually requires some forethought. If you just realized that today is Mother's Day, it might be too late to send flowers.

Mother's Day sits there on the calendar, smiling and innocuous until you realize that it's today, and you forgot to do something nice for Mom.

In fairness, May 8 is the earliest that Mother's Day – always the second Sunday in May – could possibly be. It's not your fault you forgot, it's the calendar's, right?

Yeah, not gonna work.

So what are some instant fixes?

The Mother's Day classic, sending flowers, depends on her location. Some urban areas can still handle a last-minute delivery, but you're looking at steep charges – and the very real possibility that they've run out of flowers.

If you're hoping to pick some up for an in-person delivery this evening, same problem: You're not the only poky little puppy in the crowd, and others have already picked over the selection. Unless you want to celebrate Mother's Day with some mostly-wilted flowers rejected by every other forgetful person in the area, you need a backup plan.

You can send a picture of flowers with a note, which thanks to, is both instantaneous and free. They have a nice selection of photographed bouquets, and your mom will assure you that, "It's the thought that counts."

But you might want to plan ahead next year.

If flowers aren't your style, but last-minute is, try ecards, which have been hugely popular this year, if the number of people searching for them on Google is any indication. The selection is limited only by the imaginations of Internet designers.

You can choose from the snarky postcards of, with messages like "Anytime you worry if you were a good mom, remember that at least I didn't turn out like Bin Laden."

Want something softer? Try, which runs more towards flowers and calligraphy (and small furry creatures). has a huge selection, though most require a $1-a-month subscription.

Simple animation and music come free from For a small fee, you can upload your mom's photo into a card or video from, whose offerings run from whimsical to risque. A larger fee gets you the hand-painted, long-form ecards of, which, like, are targeted towards the kind of femininity defined by tea sets, small animals, and doilies.

Not into cards?

You could take Mom out to dinner – but since Mother's Day is even busier than Valentine's Day at most restaurants, at this point you'll need to pick a place that doesn't take reservations. Ever. Nothing says, "Thanks for 18 years of mostly-thankless feeding, clothing, and raising me," like fast food.

You can buy gift certificates for or get her a spa date (California-based Burke Williams offers online gift certificates, as do others).

If she'd prefer to see you helping someone else, consider a charitable contribution in her name. Heifer International lets you give anything from a beehive to a milk cow as a way to change the lives of a third-world family.

Thanks to, you can try to get tickets to an upcoming show that she'll like. Benefit: This hides the whoops-I-forgot factor, because you just have to tell her about the tickets today, not actually find something playing right now.

And of course, there's the tried-and-true classic, which I suspect most mothers would prefer to any other option here: Call home.

Plus, for all Mom knows, you could have been planning this phone call for months. No need to let her know that you forgot about her.

No, it doesn't count to send a text or email. Talk to her. For no less than 20 minutes. Trust me, that's less time than it took her to deliver you.

Even if you're reading this days (or weeks, or months) after Mother's Day, it's never too late to pick up a phone and reach out to the person who put you on the planet.

You owe her at least that much.

Happy Mother's Day.

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