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Forget the Flowers

These unique Mother's Day gifts will make sure you remain the favorite child.
Wednesday Apr 22, 2009.     By Stacy Warden
Centerstage Chicago Nightlife City Guide Arts

We've all gotten the standby roses and greeting cards in our last-minute rush to the store before meeting up with mom on her special day. But we're not kids anymore, and the old excuses just aren't cutting it. Here are a few non-floral ways to thank Mom this year.

<A HREF=/shops/merz-apothecary.html>Merz Apothecary</a>The choices are nearly endless at Merz Apothecary.
The Glamorous Mom: Merz Apothecary
Bath and beauty products are nothing new, but the imported goods at this Old World pharmacy (in business since 1875) put a new spin on the go-to gift. Next to its extensive line of homeopathic remedies and international toiletries, you'll find an educated and friendly staff from around the globe (collectively they speak seven different languages). They'll be happy to help you pick out the perfect Mother's Day gift and you'll be happy with their comforting, holistic approach. We personally like Merz's selection of handmade soaps and exotic bath salts—pick up a stack of Mom's favorite scents and slip in a gift card for her to enjoy later.

The Cultured Mom: Alliance Francaise de Chicago
A $90 yearlong membership to this French cultural center may seem a bit steep at first, but once you break it down, it's a measly $7.50 per month. Mom will get full access and borrowing privileges to the Alliance's mediatheque and library, which includes the largest non-university selection of French films, books, music and periodicals in the Midwest. She'll also be able to sign up for language classes at a reduced rate, attend free cultural programs and events and participate in numerous clubs (cinema, conversation, literature, philosophy and theater). Now that's a gift that keeps on giving.

Wild Pansy Gift Shop at GethsemaneSpring is in the air at Wild Pansy.
The Gardening Mom: Gethsemane Garden Center
It's true, this is a greenhouse, but that doesn't mean you've got to leave with something that demands attention. Instead, check out Gethsemane's attached Wild Pansy Gift Shop, full of unique baubles, handmade soaps, gardening tools and accessories, handcrafted jewelry and kitschy bric-a-brac. We recommend the shop's extensive collection of scented candles, complete with decorative matchboxes.

The Stressed Out Mom: Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
So, you got Mom a fancy spa gift certificate last year and now you haven't a clue how to top it without sending her off to a relaxing resort. And unless you're swimmin' in dough, you'll need to find a local alternative. We suggest an acupuncture session at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. The two-hour treatments come at a discounted price thanks to the student-run facility ($15-$30). It'll even leave you with enough green to treat Mom to brunch at one of her favorite spots.

The Chocolate-Loving Mom: Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Lincoln Park)
OK, so we're bending the rules a bit for this one. Obviously chocolates don't last (especially gourmet truffles), but the handcrafted selection here will leave an impression that does. There are plenty of gift sets to choose from, including Vosges's exotic line of chocolate bars (try the bacon-infused, or spice it up with the red chili bar). In addition to fine chocolates, you'll also find fashionable t-shirts and accessories.

The Athletic Mom: Bloom Yoga Studio
Whether your mother's in tip-top shape or she's looking to tone up for summer, she'll appreciate a free pass to this posh little yoga spot in Lincoln Square. Depending on the number of classes you pick, it can get a bit pricey, but a single trial class here will run you just $16. Pair that up with a yoga mat in her favorite color, some comfortable workout clothing and an instructional book (or CD) from Bloom's store and Mom is sure to forget about that $50 you still owe her.

The Gourmet Mom: Wooden Spoon
If your dad were to buy cookware for your mom, it might send the wrong message. But as long as you're not living under your parents' roof anymore, you can totally pull this off—and Dad will thank you for it later. The affordable Andersonville shop carries top-notch products from Le Creuset, All Clad, Chicago Metallic and Wusthof-Trident Cutlery, to name a few. You'll also find kitschy kitchen accessories like witty magnets, satirical napkins, fancy tea infusers and, of course, plenty of wooden spoons. The shop also offers weekly cooking classes on a variety of topics including grilling, smoking and summer entertaining, $65-$70 each.

Mom can't survive on cake alone! Read our guide to Mother's Day Dining to find a brunch or lunch that'll start her special day off right. And check out our picks for Mother's Day bakeries that take the cake.


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