The economics of Mother’s Day

My mom is the baddest bitch in the book. She is my best friend. If I had a million dollars, I’d try to give it to her and she’d make me donate it to some charity. What she actually wants for Mother’s Day is for her grown-up kids to visit her.

So that’s what one of my brothers and I (the two favorites) are doing. He is gifting her with his time and I’m giving her a real gift. But the rest of American kids are really showing us up when it comes to spending on Mother’s Day gifts.

Mother’s Day is ranked third, after Christmas and Valentine’s day, in the amount of money spent by U.S. consumers. Americans will spend $20.7 billion dollars on Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day spending survey.

With about 85 million mothers in the U.S., that means the average American mother is receiving about $250 worth of gifts on Mother’s Day. Considering that the average American mother has two kids, each average kid is spending about $125 on their mother on Mother’s Day.  

In other words, the average kid is showing us up.

I spent $20.13 on a book for my mom, and I bought it for myself and read it first. I spent 1/5 of what the rest of American kids are spending.

Flowers constitute for about 10 percent of the gifts kids get their moms on Mother’s Day. Think about it: A dozen roses is $50, and if your mother lives in Southern California and you live in Northern Vermont, shipping is going to be insane, but it’s not going to make your roses $125.  Estimating big it might come out to $80.

I asked my own mom what she thought the average would be and she guessed $10, adding that “lots and lots of people just call!” (She’s right—68 percent of people call on Mother’s Day) When I told her she was off by $140, she said “No?!!!!$150 I’m a bad daughter.”

It was over text. (Speaking of which, watch this it’s hilarious)

So 10 percent of kids buy their moms flowers. 14 percent buy their moms electronics, which makes up for another 10 percent of that $20 billion magic number.

About 20 percent of that number is made up of chumps who buy their mom’s expensive jewelry. Another 20 percent is dedicated to dinner or brunch (where are you guys going and can I come??).

Who is buying their moms cars? Considering 36 percent of moms would prefer to receive something homemade, I’m feeling less bad about not maxing my card out on an Escalade.

So call your mom today and don’t worry about the $125 gift. I didn’t.

I love you mom.


Christianna is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.

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