Genuine shared experience ideas for dissimilar mom and daughter?
January 31, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Please help me think of a shared experience my mother and I can have to celebrate her 60th birthday that does not include a spa or salon. I'd like to leave the parameters mostly open, but my budget is somewhere around $150 - $200.

My mother and I are quite different and have always had a tough time bonding. She's into girly type activities, which I've always been weird about. Part of me thinks I need to suck it up and just go to a salon or spa with my mom because she'd probably really like that, but the other part of me would really like to have some other sort of shared experience that's genuinely positive for both of us. We're in the Philadelphia area, so something within a couple hours of the city would be great.

Thanks in advance for your help!
posted by smirkyfodder to Human Relations (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A meaningful tattoo, if that's something you'd both go for.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:16 AM on January 31, 2013

Go to the ballet, the orchestra, the opera or to a play.
posted by inturnaround at 9:19 AM on January 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

A show (theatre/musical whatever) would give you time together without too much face-time and something to talk about afterwards. If she likes girly things she will problably enjoy the opportunity to dress up.
posted by saucysault at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

There is a beautiful, very old inn in my town that does a weekly fancy tea service, and you can also pay to have a private tea. There's a woman on staff who does all the tea importing and she makes her own seasonal blends. They have all of the formal snacks like finger sandwiches and petit fours and lemon curd; it's really nice and totally something I'd do with my mom. Maybe you have a similar event in Philly?

I've seen these fancy teas at hotels and botanical gardens and the like, so have a look around if you think you might enjoy that. It's nice because you get the specialness of the tea event, but it doesn't completely dictate what you do. You can sit and have a nice conversation, you could bring photos or tell stories about family and travel, you could bring small handicrafts to do together while you sip--then maybe you could find some common ground to enjoy!
posted by Fui Non Sum at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Something artsy? Paint pottery together at a pottery studio; take a drawing or painting or jewelry-making class together.

Take a cooking class together, or throw an intimate dinner party together.

Go wine tasting - stay in a cute b&b and eat at nice restaurants.

Go to an art museum.

Have fancy high tea at a beautiful old hotel.

Where are you located?
posted by amaire at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2013

Would you consider something like a high tea? You can do the Taj in Boston for about $100 for two people (this was my Christmas present to my mom) and I'm sure there are options in Philadelphia. It's moderately "girly" and nice you and dress up for it but it's also fun and different which might appeal to you.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

I took my mom to a vineyard for her 70th b-day--nice drive, pretty scenery, and wine. Worked really well.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2013

For a one of my mom's birthdays I gave her a handmade coupon that entitled her to "An afternoon spent with [her] favourite daughter" (she only has one!) doing "one of the following activities." I then named some museums, galleries, lunch & wandering in a cool area of town, and a last option of "something else entirely of your choosing." She thought it was great. I was prepared to go with whatever she chose, but I mostly filled it with things I knew I would enjoy too.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:21 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ah, sorry, see now that you're in Philly. A day trip to DC or NYC would be doable. Or a weekend in the mountains.
posted by amaire at 9:22 AM on January 31, 2013

Best answer: I've had fun parental bonding at various one-day community college classes- cookie baking, basketmaking, square dancing, that sort of thing. Topics range from girly to definitely not girly. If you've got a CCn nearby, you could check out the catalogue to see if you spot anything of mutual interest.
posted by Bardolph at 9:24 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Can you clarify your objection to a spa? Because I'm not way-out girly myself either - but I dig certain kinds of spa treatments. I never do any of the waxing/facials/gak like that, but a really awesome massage? A steamroom and a jacuzzi? Always a good thing.

So it may be possible to find a spa that does the uber-girly things like facials and manicures and what not, but ALSO does a really killer massage session, and has a lounge area in the middle; so you can go and she can get the seaweed mud wrap with herbal salt scrub or whatever, and you can get just the straight-up massage that takes care of the knot in your shoulder that you've had since 2010, and then you chill out after with a drink in the lounge in your bathrobes and everyone's happy.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 AM on January 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

A lot of salons also offer massages, which are less girly than e.g. manicures.

How about going through old photos with her and turning them into a digital album? You could also 'interview' her about them and incorporate a recording. A graphic design person might be able to package it nicely within your budget.
posted by ecsh at 9:29 AM on January 31, 2013

My mom and I are the same way. We went to a spa anyway, and she had girly stuff done (mani-pedi-facial) while I had a nice long massage, which I consider not girly at all. Plus, it relieved the stress of being with her.
posted by caryatid at 9:31 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine set up a zip lining trip to a local facility for her 60th birthday. She invited all her friends. Zip lining isn't really all that strenuous - gravity does all the work, you just hang there and put your feet out when you get to the platform.
posted by amtho at 9:32 AM on January 31, 2013

How about Longwood Gardens?
posted by kimberussell at 9:40 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Would you be interested in visiting the new Barnes museum? Or, depending on your time frame, the Philadelphia Flower Show is coming up. You really can visit Longwood Gardens any time of year.

My mother is very girly too, but she also loves prisons, and so I'm planning to take her to see Eastern State Penitentiary when it's warm enough to walk around. Maybe if your mother is also into history, architecture, etc.

I think your idea of planning an experience for you both to share is much more meaningful than retiring to your separate spa appointments (and I love pedicures and massages). If you'd have trouble hanging out for most of a day together, then you can get a pair of tickets within your budget to a show in the city if you go on a weeknight.
posted by gladly at 9:41 AM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

My mum went for an ultra light flight for her 60th and she loved it. She also got a tattoo with my brother, which took my Dad 3 months to notice. My Mum is about as girly as they come and everyone just thinks she'd like spa's and pretty things, which she does, but there are a lot of other options out there.
posted by wwax at 9:42 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you cook/bake/like sweets? Where I live there are several businesses offering a variety of cooking lessons that are meant to be a pleasant evening out. If you like sweets, places like Michael's offer classes in fidgety stuff like cake decorating, cake pop making, stuff like that. Or if you're not into food, something like a flower arranging class.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:52 AM on January 31, 2013

Response by poster: These are such great suggestions. I see a lot of potential ideas here, especially the idea of taking a class together. My mom and I would both very likely love that.

Just to clarify my stance on salons and spas, I guess I have to admit to being weird about my body, but even more so when I'm around my mom. I won't go into it too much (because I'm sure nobody cares) but I'm very weird about the idea of anybody doing something to my body in general, let alone while my mom is there. There seem to be a lot of other great alternatives here though, so I truly appreciate all the responses that don't encourage the spa/salon route!

Thanks again for your help!
posted by smirkyfodder at 9:53 AM on January 31, 2013

What about a trip to Winterthur in Wilmington, DE? It is a museum, gardens and the historical home of one of the DuPonts. There are also adult education programs. Really easy to get to from Phila too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:47 AM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

For my mom's bday, I took her on a sunset champagne (and beer and wine) boat tour of the Hudson River and the New York harbor. I can't remember the name right now but it was one of those old schooners that they keep at Chelsea piers, but I don't think their season starts until march.
posted by greta simone at 11:03 AM on January 31, 2013

Are either of you into anything artsy/craftsy? What about taking some sort of art or crafts class together? Sorry I don't have any specific suggestions for your area.

If you aren't "naturally" artsy but want to try something fun like that, there are studios with classes where they teach you how to paint a specific painting (and they encourage you to bring wine and snacks to relax a little and make it more social). I did this once with my work department and everyone had a really good time, even the non-artistic ones. My fiance couldn't believe how professional my painting looked! I liked it because even though they are instructing you on a particular painting, it is still quite creative and everyone's comes out different. Looks like Painting with a Twist has locations near you. I am not sure how exactly to Google this type of class, but usually the name has something to do with wine (like Corks n Canvases).
posted by radioamy at 11:04 AM on January 31, 2013

Is a hot air balloon ride possible in a) your neck of the woods b) your budget?
posted by Lynsey at 11:27 AM on January 31, 2013

This one is out there, but I knew a woman who's mom told her they should do something together for the daughter's 40th birthday. They both agreed it should be something they'd never done before. So they worked a Habitat for Humanity build and had a great time. Really not something you'd think of, I know, but there it is.
posted by Doohickie at 12:32 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

What if you tried to find the fanciest brunch ever?
posted by oceanjesse at 1:07 PM on January 31, 2013

I think the best mother-daughter experience I've done with my mom was a six week upholstery class. It was the ugly side of making pretty things. I enjoyed having a pneumatic nail gun, and she enjoyed making a one of a kind furnishing.

The nice thing about a class is that it always gives us a topic of conversation. While we have very different tastes in furniture, we can both admire decent channeling or muse about how it might look in a crisp linen or wool.
posted by politikitty at 3:33 PM on January 31, 2013

Best answer: A few years ago I took my mom on a culinary walking tour of our city (Portland) for her birthday. I found that because of the foodie-focus it didn't have the same touristy feel as a lot of walking tours do. We stopped at a microbrewery, one of the city's best bakeries, a tea house, a gelateria, etc... At most places we got to go behind the scenes, along with tasting at least a few of the specialties. We both had a great time - I'd totally recommend it.

It looks like there are similar tours in Philly, if it sounds interesting.
posted by polymath at 7:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do one of those wine and painting sessions that are popping up everywhere! A fun night within your budget and you each get to keep a memento!
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 9:06 AM on February 1, 2013

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