What mom wants for mother's day is the same sort of thing any lady wants: if it's perfume, please don't be cheap about it. I don't care if you are a dude, don't be fooled by fake perfume that smells "like" Opium, buy the real thing. It's once a year, and it's your mother. Take the trouble to find out what scent she actually wears. Sneak into her bathroom if you have to, or just ask. If you can't afford an ounce at $80 a pop, here are some better ideas than cheaping out: go to the department store and buy the bar soap affiliated with her scent. A bar of soap is way cheaper than real perfume. Chances are right now she is using soap of a different scent and it is fighting with her perfume.
Another option is to buy less than an ounce. If you go to a drug store in lieu of a department store you can find very small sample size bottles of real perfume. This along with a thoughtful card shows at least you were paying attention to her actual taste. There are often other accoutrements for sale that accompany perfume which are less expensive such as hand lotion or eye cream. As a last resort how about picking up her fragrance at a discount perfume franchise. The price will be less but the product will be authentic.
If your mother isn't a perfume person, what about an iPad? This snazzy electronic device will surely stop Kindle in it's tracks. Even if your mother has never used a computer before she may appreciate being able to hold every book she ever owned on one thin pad. Unlike Kindle, in addition to books an iPad can access the internet. You can read the newspaper on it. It is thin, so it's not like curling up with your laptop to read, and it's big, I mean the screen is like the size of a regular piece of paper. If your mother is computer savvy, she's only like this product even more. You can't beat the price. It will be the last note pad she ever owns. She can use it for her own recipes, her notes, her diary, the book she's writing on you kids. She can even listen to music it on it while she's writing. There's nothing not to like about an iPad. It will immediately sync up with your MacIntosh computer or iPhone.
What else might your mom like? If you are thinking clothes, do her a favor and get her a gift certificate. Go to the store she likes to shop at and spend at least fifty bucks. That way she can get something in the color she wants that actually fits her instead of the shapeless sweater you found on sale. If you don't know what store she likes get her a gift certificate for one of the huge on line sites like Amazon. That website sells everything from shoes to food. You can't go wrong there. If your mom is the kind of person who gets squeamish about the amount of money you spent, or says she doesn't really need anything, consider buying her a service instead.
You could get your mother a one time deep cleaning for her home from a housekeeping service or pay for a year of once a month service. If she is elderly and having trouble getting around this is a really useful gift. If she has been widowed consider getting her a year's supply of oil changes for her car, or a monthly car wash. At the risk of sounding sexist, automobile maintenance is something that not a few women over the age of 70 do not enjoy dealing with. If you live in an urban area than monthly services to chose from abound. You could even buy your mom season tickets to your local sport that she enjoys, i.e. hockey, baseball, basketball or the opera or from a playhouse.
If your mother doesn't like to cook then don't consider giving her a kitchen gadget as a "fun" gift. Any appliance, even if it is designed to make her life easier may come off as giving her more work to do. Let her spouse make mistakes like that. Stick with flowers. They don't DO anything, and a lot of women get teary eyed over the thought. They smell nice and brighten up a house. If it were in my budget that is certainly one of the first things I would splurge on. They're low calorie and very pretty.
If your mother is a cook, however, there are lots of fun things to consider: a fine set of knives, a snifty set of measuring cups or spoons, attractive nesting mixing bowls. One of my favorite hobbies is baking so I get a kick out of men bringing me "flours." Organic, or exotic flours rate highly. You can find all sorts of interesting ingredients at gourmet markets like Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
If your mother is a sports nut you can get her stuff to do with her hobby. For example runners can always use another pair of shorts or shoes or a tracksuit. The cool thing about sweats is that they are very easy to size. Once again, I admonish all you gift buyers, don't be cheap! Go to a nice outdoor goods store such as REI. The better the store, the less hassle she will have if she needs to exchange for a different size or color. Fine department stores are equally good in customer service. They recognize their own products and often don't even require the receipt for an exchange. Really, really fine stores offer a special "gift" receipt, so that the gift recipient doesn't see the price.If your mother lives in another state consider buying your gift on line and having it shipped directly to her. Places like Amazon.com will even nicely giftwrap presents. You get to chose the paper style and the message to include.