Deep down, what people want from a sentimental occasion like Mother’s Day is memories. That’s one reason it’s one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. People know that doing something special for mom will help everyone remember the occasion. But when you take mom out for brunch every year, Mother’s Day can become a bit forgettable.
This year, give guests more of what they want (memories) by offering something different (beyond brunch). Newness is the secret sauce in creating lifelong memories. Research shows that introducing a twist to the familiar makes memories that stick. Doing something different this year will not only set you apart from the crowd, it will help guests remember the day—and you— far into the future.
Here are a dozen ideas for 11 different moms to get your creative juices flowing for unforgettable Mother’s Day experiences.
Mother’s Day eve celebration for non-Moms
For many, Mother’s Day brings up mixed emotions. It can be helpful to invite people to celebrate the important non-moms in their lives. Position the Saturday before Mother’s Day as Mother’s Day Eve, an occasion to celebrate aunts, teachers, neighbors, family friends, mentors, or any special nurturing person that isn’t Mom. It can help make the holiday more inclusive for guests and give people another reason to make a reservation.
Daytime disco party for dancing queens
Some moms want to let loose on the dance floor from time to time. Create an opportunity for family-friendly fun with a daytime dance party. All it requires is some open floor space and a playlist that makes people want to move. (DJs are nice but optional.) Handheld food served buffet style will help keep guests on their feet.
Shop and dine combo for retail enthusiasts
Restaurants occupy up to 40% of space in a typical shopping center, so an afternoon of dining and shopping can add up to a special Mother’s Day celebration. If you’re among the many restaurants in or near an area with plenty of shops, consider partnering with local boutiques to offer moms a discount on their special day. If the weather is usually nice, you could collaborate on an afternoon sidewalk sale and early evening dinner al fresco.
Game-viewing event for sports fans
Stereotypes, be gone. A lot of moms love sports, including baseball. And Mother’s Day is also a game day for Major League Baseball. Celebrate the love of the sport by showing the game on your big screen TVs and offering a ballpark-inspired Mother’s Day menu.
Live music for music lovers
Sometimes something subtle can make a restaurant meal extra special. Bring in live music—a piano player, a singer, a jazz trio—to add to the ambiance for your Mother’s Day lunch or dinner service. Another option for the musically minded is karaoke. Belting out favorite songs as the family gathers over food and drink can be unforgettable fun for all.
Tarot reading for the mystics
New age and spiritually minded moms might love the chance to get insight into the year ahead at a tarot-themed happy hour. Bring in a local tarot expert to either provide one-on-one readings throughout the happy hour or draw cards for the whole crowd and talk about what it signifies or may portend.
Fun run for athletes
Many moms are fitness minded and might enjoy some exercise to work up an appetite before their celebration meal. Partner with a local charity to host a fun run or walk. Registration can include the price of lunch as well as a contribution to support the cause. Just remember to keep the atmosphere casual—runners and walkers will be in their activewear—and the meal options hearty enough to refuel them.
Comedy show for funny girls
An after-dinner comedy show celebrating the highs and lows of motherhood could be just the kind of experience people will never forget. A comedy experience could be part of a prix fixe dinner or a ticketed happy hour that begins after the dinner rush. You could also focus on dessert: Comedy plus an ice cream sundae bar or cupcake buffet.
Cooking class for home chefs
A hands-on learning experience can be fun for the whole family. Whether you invite people into your kitchen to learn or set up a demo space in the dining room, you have plenty of cooking knowledge to go around. Teach attendees how to make a simple, family-friendly meal and then serve it family style after the lesson so people can relax and enjoy a shared lunch or dinner.
Picnics to go for outdoorsy folks
Kids sometimes feel cooped up in a restaurant, which can put a serious strain on parents. A picnic is often a better bet, especially in pleasant springtime weather. Offer an experience to-go by selling picnic kits that groups can take to the outdoor spot of their choice. Include foods you can eat without a lot of dishware or utensils, such as chips or vegetable sticks with dip; cheese, crackers, and charcuterie; or sandwiches and wraps. You can focus on packing up just the food and drink or upgrade with a wicker basket, a blanket, and cloth napkins that become part of the Mother’s Day gift.
Pajama breakfast for early birds
Kids and adults love wearing their PJs, so make it the dress code for a fun Mother’s Day breakfast experience. Stack the menu with classic morning favorites like pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs, and oatmeal. It’s the kind of event that’s social media friendly, with moms and kids in sets of matching pajamas snapping selfies and tagging photos of your house-baked scones and egg sandwiches.
There’s nothing wrong with hosting a classic Mother’s Day brunch. Plenty of families enjoy the tradition. But many will be enticed by something unexpected that helps make memories that last a lifetime.