This is what CEOs give (and get) on Mother’s Day

May 7, 2015, 10:06 AM UTC
An Autumn Bunch, c1869-1906, (1906). Artist: Francis Edward James
An Autumn Buncn. After an original work by Francis Edward James (1849-1920). From The Studio Volume 37 [London Offices of the Studio, London, 1906] (Photo by Print Collector/Getty Images)
Photograph by Print Collector/Getty Images

It’s a few days before Mother’s Day. Have you found the perfect gift yet? The National Retail Federation expects the holiday to ring up $21 billion in retail sales this year, and the promotions can be relentless.

Fortune thought we’d take another approach for ideas. What do some of the most powerful, successful CEOs give (and get)? What do they count as their most memorable gifts? Here are what five CEOs told us. Some of these stories are surprisingly moving.

Peter Cameron, CEO, Lenox

Peter Cameron lives across the street from his 94-year-old mother and always takes her out to her favorite restaurant. (She lives in a house he bought for her 20 years ago.) “I know what [my mother] loves: I give her an over-the-top bouquet of flowers” – in a Lenox vase, of course.

One year he got her “vibrant blue” (her favorite color) hydrangeas in “a giant Lenox Butterfly Meadow vase.” “She was over the moon,” he said. “Usually you can’t get hydrangeas in that color. I haven’t been able to find them since.”

Lisa Price, CEO, Carol’s Daughter

Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter, stands for a photograph at the company's area of a Macy's Inc. store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011. Carol's Daughter is a line of beauty products and fragrances designed by Price and named for her mother, Carol Price. Photographer: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images


“The Mother’s Day gift I always want is to sleep late, be still, and then later, see a movie,” said Lisa Price, founder of natural beauty products company Carol’s Daughter, a division of L’Oreal.

“I want it to be the one day I can be honored to be a mom but not have to carry out the duties of being a Mom.”

On Mother’s Day 2013, she said her kids made her breakfast in bed and one son made her a necklace of seashells. “Then to top it all off, we went to the movies that afternoon to see Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” Price said. “It was a pretty perfect day.”


Cathy Engelbert, CEO, Deloitte LLP


For Engelbert, there is no question what the best gift was that she ever received from her daughter Julia, 17. As a long-time executive of Deloitte, who was named CEO this year, Engelbert has been leaning in for years. For the last few years, she says she’s had a habit of leaving Julia notes when she had a big test or game the next day, or Engelbert was going out of town.

One year, Julia took all those notes and turned them into a collage for Mother’s Day. At the top, Julia wrote, “‘Mom, your support of me is always NOTED!! I love you, Julia’”


Heidi Ganahl, founder/CEO, Camp Bow Wow


“I’ve received handmade platters of [my children’s] handprints which I’ll cherish until they are old, as well as a practical and fun painted pen holder made out of clay,” said Heidi Ganahl, CEO of the pet care franchise. “It’s those gifts that my children have personally made over the years that have been my favorite.”


Jason Apfel, CEO,

Jason Apfel’s wife is a stay-at-home mom. So as a Mother’s Day gift, the CEO of the e-commerce site offered to “run the household for the day, getting the kids ready for school, breakfast, checking homework, packing lunch, snacks, sports equipment — and can't forget about the dog.” Although he runs a company with about 100 employees, he said he found being at home with his school-aged kids so hectic that “dinner was macaroni and cheese because that is all the time and energy I had left.” He reports his wife enjoyed the gift very much.



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