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Historically Great Mother's Day Gifts

Will the gift you give your mom this Mother's Day go down in history as one of the all-time greatest? Probably not, if this list is any indication.

Think those last-minute flowers you picked up at the gas station are a great Mother's Day gift? Well, prepare to be humiliated! Here's a list of gifts that famous — and infamous — figures throughout history have given to their dear ol' Moms. (Feeling shamed by your selections this year? Consider checking out our complete guide of less-traditional gift options.)

Summer Palace
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Emperor Qinglong

In 1750, the emperor commissioned the Summer Palace — the largest imperial garden in the world — as a gift for his mom on her birthday. Since the gardens took 15 years to complete, you just know he was like, "So, that covers me for 15 years worth of birthday gifts, right?" (Cuz we'd be like that.)


When his mom, Hera, kicked him off of Mt. Olympus for being lame, he built her a chair. Seemingly a weird response, it was a magic chair that, once she sat down in it, she could never get up from again. It's the gift that keeps on giving! When's the last time you let your mom take a load off?

Alexander the Great

After his victory over the Persians at Battle on the Granicus — at which he almost died — lil' Alex rounded up "all the plate and purple garments" and mailed them off to his mom. What he probably never told her was that he kept a few for himself, too. A modern equivalent is like giving your mom 10 doughnuts.

Harry Houdini

Harry Houdini

In 1899 during a tour of Europe, Harry earned the moniker "The Handcuff King" after demonstrating his ability to escape from any jail or restraint. The one thing he couldn't escape? His love for his mom. He used his new-found riches to purchase his mom a dress originally made for Queen Victoria and a house in Harlem, New York.

Ary Scheffer

For his mother's birthday in 1838, this famous Dutch painter gave her a self portrait. See, even back then, kids were making things for mom rather than spending their money. History does not record if the frame was made of painted macaroni.

Tsar Nicholas II

In 1913, this Russian ruler gifted his mom an egg. Of course, it was a Fabergé egg made of crystal, covered in more than 3,000 diamonds, and containing a platinum basket full of white agate carvings. It was recently sold for $5.48 million at auction. And here you are, grumbling about having to scramble one up for mom's once-a-year breakfast-in-bed.

Young Elvis

Elvis Presley

In 1953, The King went to Sun Records to record two songs — "My Happiness" and "That's When Your Heartaches Begin" — for his mother. These recordings became instrumental in his being discovered as a singer and kickstarted his journey to fame. Of course, it also started his journey to a being fat, druggie that died on a toilet. Happy Mother's Day!

Theodore Morse and Howard Johnson

In 1915, they got together and wrote "M-O-T-H-E-R." It would become the epitome of songs for mama. (Sorry, Boyz II Men.) It would also make writing Mother's Day cards really easy: Just fill in the blanks!

Saddam Hussein

The Presidential Palace at Tikrit is a complex of buildings that includes a palace that the former ruler built for his mother. As a further gift, Hussein also fitted her bathroom with a solid gold toilet.

Mr. T

In 1984 the A-Teamer dropped the guns and picked up the mic to film a musical video called Be Somebody ... or Be Somebody's Fool! The relevant section for our purposes (though the whole thing is pretty great in a pre-post-meta-ironic way) is "Treat Your Mother Right." It's an educational ditty about the perils of "putting down" someone else's mother. (Weirdly, it seems Mr. T. is A-OK with personal insults, though.) FUN FACT: If Wikipedia is to be believed, Ice-T wrote the lyrics!

Think you can do better? We think we can! That's why we created our Mother's Day Gift Guide. It's full of money-saving deals on things moms really want. (Regrettably, no Fabergé eggs are on sale right now, but we're looking for a coupon.)

Related DealNews Features:
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Jeff Somogyi is the DealNews Media Editor. Since working here he's written deals, features, promotional and newsletter copy, blog posts, as well as scripts for our videos. Follow him on Google+, Twitter at @sommerjam or his blog.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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