The Best Presents for Mother’s Day

For many of us, Mother’s Day is around the corner. Cue the commercials for greeting cards, diamond jewelry, bouquet deliveries, and all things pink. But before you let an advertisement tell you how to show your appreciation for your mother, consider her personality type.

We all have our individual comfort zones when it comes to emotional expression. Some of us love to make grand gestures – if you’ve ever gone in for skywriting or proposed to someone on a jumbotron, this would be you – whereas others of us prefer to offer handmade items, write heartfelt poems or songs, or even perform acts of service for our loved ones. Fortunately, there’s no wrong way to share your gratitude with your mother.

That said, sometimes we need to move beyond our comfort zones to express affection in a way that really speaks to the people we love. By taking into account your mother’s personality type, you can turn this Mother’s Day into an opportunity to show you care – in a way that suits her unique interests and preferences.

Analyst Mothers

If you have an Analyst mother, she might act as if she doesn’t care about Mother’s Day – and she really might not. Analysts are the least likely personalities to make a fuss over special occasions, whether that means going out to a restaurant, getting dressed up, or giving gifts in general.

But that doesn’t mean that Analyst mothers won’t appreciate special treatment. Here are some tips:

  • Offer an act of service as a gift. This could mean helping with household maintenance, cooking a meal, or tackling a chore she doesn’t enjoy. The pragmatic nature of this gift will make sense to her, and she’ll appreciate having a task taken off her plate.
  • Carve out time for quality conversation. Read some long-form articles beforehand to create fodder for a lively discussion. (Bonus points if you learn about subjects of particular interest to her.) Remember: our research has found that a whopping 93% of Analysts prefer deep conversation to small talk. And if you have a smartphone, leave it in another room. You’ll want to bring your full attention to this conversation.
  • If you’re so inclined, write a message in a greeting card that lists the things you appreciate and find admirable about her. Analyst personalities might shy away from overt expressions of affection, but 83% of them love receiving praise. The solution: seal the card in an envelope and let her read it on her own time. She may or may not ever mention the card, let alone save it, but at least you’ve shared how you feel – and who knows, she might just be touched.

Diplomat Mothers

“You don’t need to do anything for Mother’s Day, honey,” your Diplomat mother might tell you. Disregard this. Diplomat personalities love giving gifts, more than any other Role, and although they might not let on, they often feel hurt when others don’t reciprocate. That said, when it comes to gifts, many Diplomats enjoy sharing experiences with their loved ones just as much as they like unwrapping a fancy present – if not more.

So how can you show a Diplomat mother you care? Here are some ideas:

  • Verbal expressions of affection go a long way with Diplomats. Write a long, heartfelt message in a greeting card, or – even better – have a conversation about how much you love and appreciate her.
  • Many Diplomats prefer handmade or personal gifts to even the most lavish items. So rather than swiping your credit card at the mall, make a custom herbal tea blend, draw her a picture, or put together a special playlist.
  • Support your mother’s interests and passions. If she loves plants, do some gardening with her. If she loves theater, take her to a matinee.
  • When in doubt, create an opportunity to spend quality time together. This could be as simple as bringing over a batch of cookies and chatting on the couch. Again: leave your smartphone far, far away.

Sentinel Mothers

To Sentinels, family matters. More than any other personality types, Sentinels say that the most influential factor in determining their happiness is their family and friends. They’re also the most likely to report being close to most members of their family.

The upshot: if you have a Sentinel mother, set aside Mother’s Day as a day to spend time with her and other family members – or, if you don’t live within visiting distance, at least schedule a phone or video call.

Here are some other suggestions for showing love to a Sentinel mother:

  • Sentinel mothers often appreciate concrete offerings, such as greeting cards and gifts. (Bonus points if you wrap the gift nicely.)
  • Create a tradition or uphold an old one. This could mean bringing her breakfast in bed, throwing a get-together for extended family, taking a trip to a local garden or park, or looking at old family photographs together.
  • Choosing a home-based activity is perfectly fine. Of all the Roles, Sentinels are the most interested in spending time at home.
  • Whatever you do together, make it quality time by treating it like an important event: no sloppy clothes and – you guessed it – no smartphones.

Explorer Mothers

For Explorer mothers, Mother’s Day is – like any other day – an opportunity for new experiences and delights. In other words, she probably won’t want to go to the same brunch spot you went last year, and hanging around at home might not be her cup of tea either.

So how can you make Mother’s Day fun and memorable for an Explorer? Read on:

  • Unless you know of something she really wants, focus on gifts that are experiences rather than things.
  • Plan a trip but don’t tell her where to. Ask her to clear her schedule for the morning, afternoon, or evening and tell her you’ll handle the rest. Explorers are more open than other personality types to going along with someone else’s plans rather than making their own.
  • Whisk her away to somewhere she’s never been. This could entail taking her to a yoga or dance class, trying a new-to-you type of cuisine in a nearby town or city, or renting kayaks and paddling together down a river or lake.


Let’s be real: however happy the families in advertisements and TV shows may look, Mother’s Day isn’t always a holiday of sunshine and roses. Even on this day dedicated to celebrating mothers and their contributions, old patterns and arguments can arise among family members. Despite our best efforts, the day might not go perfectly.

So what can you do? Here’s our best advice: learn about your mother’s personality type and go into Mother’s Day with the intention of showing your love in a way she can feel and appreciate. Beyond defusing old tensions, this approach has the potential to create new patterns of connection and understanding. So plan any experiences or gifts around what will be meaningful to her, even if that takes you out of your comfort zone. The result might just be the most memorable Mother’s Day she’s experienced in years.

8 months ago
Great guide! My mom is a Diplomat, and she still has some of the rubbish I made for her as a kid. A few years ago I made her a cartoon of us, and she's had it on her display shelf since. I'm an Analyst, and I can agree with the preferences listed for Analysts. Seriously, do my housework. Don't buy me a thing, just get the damn chores outta my face. M is for Mad Scientist, not for maid, hahahaha.
8 months ago
Interesting article, thanks for the insights!
8 months ago
Hmmm... this will be very useful for my Defender mother. One card and an individualized stay at home day coming right up.
8 months ago
Eek, thanks. But I still shy away from expressing love. I'll get around spending time with her, but yeah, let's just see how I go...
2 weeks ago
Don't be afraid to express some love. It's not a bad thing.
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