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While we like to focus on shopping, the first thing to know about Mother’s Day gift-giving is that if you’re short on cash, a carefully composed sentiment or poem in a card, a hand-made coupon book or even breakfast in bed are low- to no-cost options any mother would treasure.

And, if you ask, you know perfectly well she’ll tell you, “Don’t buy me a thing,” but if you have the money and the determination to find the perfect gift, take a few tips.

First, look around her home and consider her lifestyle. What does she really love most? Does she spend her free time in botanical gardens? Is her idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon hiking in the woods? Is cooking therapy for her?

If the latter defines your mom, you have a ton of options.

Laura Laiben, a mother of two, built a business around her belief that the most important things in life happen in the kitchen and around the table.

The owner of the Culinary Center of Kansas City (kcculinary.com) suggests a gift certificate for a cooking class at your local culinary school.

“It’s a great way for a mom who loves to cook be around others who love to cook, as well,” Laiben said. “It kind of qualifies as a ‘girls’ night out’ – which we actually offer here.”

Other “foodie” gifts include a great apron, a nice set of pans, a knife set that will last for years, or a copy of the “Food Lover’s Companion” – a dictionary cooks can reference when they come across unfamiliar terms or techniques.

“Moms who love to cook also love a nice dinner out,” Laiben said. “They appreciate being treated to fine dining.”

In fact, most moms like being treated out (make reservations now to avoid the rush), but if your mother, or the mother of your children, enjoys the experience more knowing she’s burned a few calories first, Stacy Finnemore, activewear merchant for L.L.Bean (LLBean.com), has several ideas.

“When shopping for Mom, it’s important to look for something that will make her feel as great as she looks, and that means something comfortable, practical, problem-solving and stylish,” Finnemore said.

For moms who live in the city, versatility is key.

“She needs to be able to layer her look so she can hit the gym, then head out to town to enjoy the day,” she said. Look for a feminine workout tank, basic black fitness pants and a stylish top, all moisture wicking and quick dry.

For moms who love to hike or camp, Finnemore recommends the woven skort, just as comfortable as traditional hiking shorts, but with a feminine feel. On top, try a feminine T-shirt.

“She may be going on an outdoor adventure, but the active mom still wants to look great and feel feminine,” she said.

For the mom who loves being surrounded with all things feminine, you can’t go wrong if you opt for the classic – flowers. But there’s still a key to finding the perfect blooms.

Charlotte D’Costa Taylor, owner of Floral Heights in Brooklyn Heights (floralheights.com), said she’s noticed that a lot of young moms love fragrant blooms.

“Peonies, hyacinths, lilacs and garden roses all smell sweet, as do some varieties of orchids,” said Taylor, a florist affiliated with BloomNation (BloomNation.com), an online floral marketplace that allows customers to shop with more than 2,000 top artisan florists across the nation.

“We’ve also found recently that a lot of moms want plants that are eco-friendly, like aloe vera, Chinese evergreens, bamboo palm and English ivy,” Taylor said. “And for a lot of moms, their home is their office, so they want the office to look good. Orchids last a long time, and are a good bet for those moms.”

Finally, she said, herb gardens, planted with rosemary, thyme and basil, are perfect for windowsills. And perfect for the woman who combines her love of gardening with a passion for cooking.

We’ve only touched on a few of the interests moms have. You know her best, but if she’s passionate about flowers, cooking, or if her “peace” comes from moving in the great outdoors, we have a couple more suggestions:

• L.L. Bean Workout Tank ($39.95, llbean.com). This is ideal for every active woman who wants comfort outside and at the gym. It features soft fabric that wicks moisture away and a built-in bra for low to moderate support.

• L.L. Bean Powerflow Capris – ($49.95, llbean.com). These fitness capris hug gently for good support. Little details like flatlock seams and printed labels eliminate chafing.

• L.L.Bean Runabout Skort ($49.95, llbean.com). This stylish garment will keep you dry, whether you’re at a backyard barbecue or out for a hike. The lightweight fabric packs up small for your camping adventures.

• L.L.Bean Seawall Tee – ($34.95, llbean.com). From the flattering style to the pretty colors and prints, there’s a lot to love about this top, which drapes well for good coverage.

• Sadie Hedgehog Measuring Spoon Set, ($14.95, pier1.com). We love the charming collection. If you love the spoons, check out the measuring cups, cookie jar and spoon rest from the same line.

• Vintage Ruffle Hostess Apron ($19.95, Pier1.com). Who says you can’t look snappy in the kitchen? And really, there are some days when a woman needs her ruffles.

• Giraffe Bottle Stopper, ($8.95, pier1.com). If she’s a connoisseur of fine wine, your gift choice is easy, but why not package her favorite bottle with this pretty stopper?

• Bobby Flay Stoneware 4-Piece Ramekin Set ($29.99, kohls.com). They’re just unusual enough to be a gift she doesn’t already have, and will inspire her to experiment in the kitchen.

• Bella 12 Piece Rocket Blender Set ($39.99, kohls.com). It might look a little like something “As Seen On TV-ish,” but this compact tool, with its assortment of blades, cups and lids – is perfect for her favorite blended recipe – and small enough to pack for vacation trips.

• Blue Spiral Vase ($39, tenthousandvillages.com). If you have a garden full of blooms, and the knack for arranging them, look for an artful vase. Ceramic artists in the famous pottery town of Bat Trang, Vietnam, blend artistry with traditional techniques to create this treasure.

Find more fashion and beauty stories and deals on the Online Shopping Report at ShopAtHome.com.