5 ideas for Mother’s Day in NC that are thoughtful, fun, and not at all corny

Mother's Day

Here are 5 thoughtful, not at all corny, ideas for Mother's Day. (Shutterstock)

By Billy Ball

May 10, 2024

Don’t treat Mother’s Day like an afterthought. Actually make a plan that makes your mother smile real big.

We are nothing without our mothers. Literally.

That’s why we’re coming to you with an important PSA: Treat Mother’s Day appropriately by making thoughtful plans with her in mind. Don’t buy something corny from a bath and body shop at the last minute. Don’t pick up some flowers from Target and stuff them in her hands. Don’t just buy a card.

C’mon. Nobody cares about cards unless there’s money in there too.

Actually think about it. Because, goodness gracious, the person who birthed you has probably thought about you even more than you’ve thought about yourself.

We’re here to help. We’ve pulled together five actual, thoughtful things you can do in NC this Mother’s Day and actually make the mothers in your life smile big.

Let’s get started:

A picnic and a hike

North Carolina has some of the finest trails in America. Some are rugged and coastal. Some are lush and mountainous. Others are a happy blend of the two.

But regardless of where you live, there’s probably a long list of beautiful trails within a short distance of you. Pick a spot. Weather permitting (and it’s looking good), take a good hike and bring a picnic.

Pack a light picnic and keep it simple. Bread and cheese. Lots of fruit, vegetables, a bottle of wine, and a show-stopping dessert. They’ll like it better than the rose from Target.

Here’s our guide to NC trails.

Make a garden

Gifts that linger are the best kind of gifts.

So consider creating a garden scene for your mother. If they have a yard, transform some little-used space into a beautiful nook. It doesn’t need to be huge. It can be a corner. Take out any overgrowth. Clear the weeds.

And plant a variety of native things. If your mother likes a useful garden, make it fruits, vegetables, herbs. If they want it pretty, look for azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and roses—things that bloom big and often. (Here’s our gardening guide.)

Take a day trip

Look, NC has everything—lakes, rivers, mountains, and beaches. This place was made for day trips.

So plan a trip with a short drive and a long time on site. I’ve heard it said that, wherever you go, stay there twice as long as it takes to drive.That’s a good rule.

I’m a fan of Duke Gardens, the Outer Banks (all of them), planetariums, and live music, which there’s a lot of this time of year. Check your local calendar and get moving because nothing drags down Mother’s Day more than doing the same things you do every Sunday.

Pictures, pictures, pictures

We can’t hold onto memories.

But we can print them, frame them, collect them, and present them in a beautiful fashion. Nostalgia, when it concerns your children, is always allowed. So don’t fault your mother for looking back.

Consider framing and gifting some of those beautiful timeless photos. Or, if you’re feeling more dynamic, check out a digital picture frame that’s constantly scrolling through the memories.

Give your full, undivided attention

Even before you were born, your mother was probably giving you their undivided attention.

Now you’re looking at your phone and watching the game on TV and thinking about work instead of focusing on your mother.

In general, it’s a good rule to give your mother your undivided attention. But please, on this one day at least, don’t multitask. There’s one task on Mother’s Day and it’s making your mother feel loved and thought of.

If your mother is gone…

A friend of mine told me she honors her late mother by doing a thing that she loved to do. For her, that’s going on a hike with a Ziploc bag of raw vegetables.

I think it’s good advice. If your mother’s passed, take the opportunity to do things that remind you of them. Be specific. An activity, a food, a movie or a song. Sometimes, honoring who they were is the best thing we can do.

Happy Mother’s Day, NC.


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.



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