Mother's Day Gifts Study: The Most Thoughtful Gift Givers by State

Last year, Americans spent about $39.1 bn on gifts for parents in anticipation for Mother’s and Father’s Day. Now the time has come again and we set to find out how much effort people around the country actually put into finding the best Mother’s Day gifts.

By looking at online search queries, we found out where in the country the most thoughtful gift-givers live, as well as which states love to make gifts for grandmothers and soon-to-be mothers.

And because we know it can be hard to find a gift that says ‘thank you’ for all that mom has done, we’ve also put together a few handy tips backed by research to help you give the best Mother’s Day gift ever.

Read on to find the study results and see if you live in one of the winning states.



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Legend:  Each of the 267 Google queries considered in the search volume count includes the keywords ‘Mother’s Day gifts’ (or ‘presents’) and has at least 100 average monthly searches.

Washington: With a predominantly urban population, Washington DC takes the top prize for the largest volume of ‘Mother’s Day gifts’ searches relative to population size, with 16.4 searches per 1000 people. The silver medal goes to North Dakota (6.8), and Rhode Island takes the bronze (6.7).

Wyoming: Although it’s one of states with the lowest search volumes, Wyoming wins with the highest percentage of thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts queries (9.1%).

‘Thoughtful gift queries’ are defined as those which include at least one of the following attributes: meaningful, thoughtful, useful, personalized, fun, original, unique, awesome, funny, cool, and amazing.

Alaska: No other state has as many thoughtful husbands looking for a great Mother’s Day present for their partners as Alaska, where 2% of all online searches involving Mother’s Day presents include the tag ‘from husband’. At the bottom of the heap are Massachusetts, with only 0.8% of queries, and Florida, with 0.9%.

Wisconsin: The best place to be if you’re a grandmother expecting a Mother’s Day present is definitely Wisconsin, where 1.4% of all Mother’s Day gifts searches include a variation of the phrase ‘for grandma’. Grandmas are the least spoiled in DC (0.4%), Maine (0.5%), and Delaware (also 0.5%).

Vermont: If you’re a mother-to-be in Vermont, you have a good chance of receiving a gift even before the baby is due. About 2.2% of all searches coming from this state include the words ‘mother-to-be’ or a close variation. The smallest percentages for this query correspond to Texas (0.4%), Georgia, and Arizona (both 0.5%).


Study Methodology

To find out what search data can reveal about Americans’ gift-giving habits around Mother’s Day, we first looked at how many times people searched for Mother’s Day gifts and related terms in every state.

Generic Mother’s Day gift searches as well as very specific queries (e.g. ‘mother’s day gifts for the mom who has everything’) with at least 100 average monthly searches were included in the count.

The total number of searches in each state was then adjusted per 1,000 inhabitants so that a comparison can be made. The data collected reflects queries made in the peak gift-searching period for these occasions – from the beginning of March until mid May.
A more in-depth qualitative analysis was carried out to determine the user intention behind specific search queries and to find out where in the US the most thoughtful gift givers live.



Thoughtful gift-givers were defined as those who show an intention to find extraordinary Mother’s or Father’s Day gifts, for example by searching for ‘unique mother’s day gift ideas’. All the Mother’s Day gifts searches that included the words meaningful, thoughtful, useful, personalized, fun, original, unique, awesome, funny, cool, and amazing were attributed to thoughtful gift-givers and included in the count.

Besides looking for thoughtful gift givers, we also wanted to find out:

  • Which states get ahead of themselves, in other words, where searches like ‘mother’s day gifts for mother to be’ are at their highest
  • Which states cherish grandmothers the most, by looking at where the most searches for ‘mother’s day gifts for grandma’ come from
  • Whether husbands are more likely to research gifts online for their partners on Mother’s Day than wives are for Father’s Day


What the Data Reveals

Looking at numbers only, it’s clear that the most ‘Mother’s Day gifts’ searches per thousand people are performed in the District of Columbia (16.36), North Dakota (6.84) and Rhode Island (6.73).
The states with the fewest ‘Mother’s Day gifts’ and related searches are Arkansas, Mississippi and Oregon, with 4.15, 4.16 and 4.19 searches per thousand people, respectively.


Thoughtful Gift Givers

One of the reasons why people search for meaningful, unique, cool or useful gift ideas online is that it’s generally difficult to find a gift that can contain all the love and gratitude that you want to express towards your mom.

We found that the most thoughtful people looking for Mother’s Day gifts live in Wyoming (9.14%), South Dakota (8.41%) and Montana (8.14%).

At the other end of the spectrum, Californians have the lowest percentage of meaningful mother’s day gifts searches of all states, at only 3.99%. They are closely followed by New Jerseyans (4.13%) and New Yorkers (4.24%).

Although more people look for Mother’s Day gifts than Father’s Day gifts in general, we found that the percentage of thoughtful ‘Father’s Day gifts’ searches is higher than than for thoughtful ‘Mother’s Day’ searches.


Who Likes to Get Ahead of Themselves? States That Love Gifts for Future Moms


It turns out that there are some places in the US where parents like to be one step ahead of everyone else and get in the ‘parenting mood’ by celebrating Mother’s Day even before the baby is due.

Mother’s Day gifts for mothers-to-be tend to be quite popular in Vermont (2.22%), Wyoming (1.83%) and Alaska (1.75 %).


Which States Love Their Grandparents? Mother’s Day Gifts for Grandmas

Sometimes, when you have kids of your own, you start seeing yourself purely as a parent and forget you are also somebody’s child. But grandmas are, before anything else, great mothers, which is why they deserve to be treated with love and attention as much as any other mom.

These are the states that do it right when it comes to pampering elderly parents on Mother’s Day: Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota have the most searches for Mother’s Day gifts for grandma (1.35%, 1.31 % and 1.29%).



Are Men More Likely to Look for Gifts Inspiration Online?

Since children are not the only ones who make gifts for their moms and pops, we looked at specific keyword search volumes in order to determine which partner does more research online when it comes to finding gifts.

On average, about 1.17% of Mother’s Day gift queries contain the ‘from husband’ tag, while only 0.98% of Father’s Day gift searches include the keywords ‘from wife’. This makes men about 19% more likely to look for gifts for their partners online compared to women.


Tips for Making Thoughtful Mother's Day Gifts

So you’ve searched for gift ideas online, you’ve found the most amazing, useful, original or funny gift suggestions, but you’re still not sure what to pick?

According to researchers at the University of Cincinatti, “people aren’t very good at anticipating what others want”, which is why “gifts are valued roughly 10 to 33 percent less by recipients than what givers paid for them”.

This means that even when you are well-meaning, your gift may not be as well received as you hoped. Thankfully, there are a few tips backed by science that you can use to make the best gift you possibly can, on Mother’s Day or any other day.

#1 Don’t Spend Too Much

A more expensive gift is not necessarily a better gift. According to Psychology Today, a gift that is much more expensive than what the receiver is comfortable with might come across as a ‘status symbol’.

A present that the receiver couldn’t afford can make it painfully obvious that the gift has nothing to do with them and everything to with the gift maker, who is using it as a display of wealth.

#2 Gift an Experience

If you’re one of the people looking for fun, unique, amazing, cool Mother’s day or Father’s day gifts, an experience gift can be your best bet. According to researchers at the University of Toronto, giving an experience can foster stronger relationships than material items, because it elicits a stronger emotional response.



What’s more, it turns out that what mothers want most on this special day are not flowers, breakfast in bed or material things, but things like sleep, pampering and going out to their favorite shop, salon, or restaurant.

#3 Give Sentimental Value Rather Than Preference-Matching Gifts

A study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology authored by Jeff Galak and Julian Givi suggests that ‘givers’ fears of getting a gift wrong prevents them from getting it right’. In practice, this means that gift-makers give preference-matching gifts (gifts with superficial qualities that match a recipient’s tastes) much more often than givers would like to receive them.

If you must give them an object, then it’s best to steer away from the things you think they might want or need. Instead of making a (wrong) prediction and giving a boring gift that is marginally useful, choose something that is sentimentally valuable, which the receiver will immediately associate with you or the good times you spent together.

#4 Ask People What They Want

Though it’s the oldest trick in the book and quite an obvious one, most of the time people avoid asking what others want for a fear of ‘spoiling the surprise’ or seeming less thoughtful.


But gift recipients are more happy with requested gifts because it’s exactly what they want. By asking them, you don’t just avoid defaulting to the superficial option – you increase your chances of making a memorable and appreciated gift. If you want to keep the surprise, try to keep a list of the things they mention wanting to get, or ask someone else to pose the question so that it’s less obvious.


If nothing else, Mother’s Day is a perfect excuse for cancelling any other plans and dedicating your day to the one who gave you life. On this special day, keep your mamas and grandmas close and show them how much you cherish them by spending some quality time together.


Tags: Gift Ideas, Mother's day, Mothers Day Gifts, America