Easy-to-master gadgets to give for Mother’s Day

Are gadgets a bad gift for Mother’s Day? Too impersonal? While not pretty and sweet-smelling like flowers, a well-selected, easy-to-master gadget does communicate “I’m thinking of you, looking out for your needs” far better. And if it’s flourished beside something aromatic, it should spark a smile lasting longer than a day.

With a Davek Alert umbrella in hand, your loved one will see sunshine on a cloudy day. While hardly inexpensive ($125 at this sturdy thing is built to last, with a refined opening/closing mechanism that even flips the umbrella back if turned inside out by gusting wind. Better yet, with a Bluetooth transmitter hidden in the handle, this special umbrella (12 inches closed) is far less likely to be lost, even after being stashed for hours under a restaurant or theater seat.

Working with a companion app loaded on an iOS (Apple) or Android (Samsung, LG, HTC) smartphone, the Davek sends an audible “ding” and text alert to the phone whenever its owner ventures more than 30 feet away. The app also records the “last known location.” Take note: Davek also has a 7-inch (when closed) Alert Mini available for early buy-in at just $49 through a Kickstarter campaign. Find it by Googling “Kickstarter” and “Davek” or going to

Is mom a hyperactive mobile Web surfer, texter and talker? If so, her smartphone is likely running on empty before day’s end. And it’s craving resuscitation from an external reserve battery such as the Goal Zero Flip 20 Recharger. Priced fairly (under $40 at, this cutie boasts 5200 mAh (milliamps) of power, enough to recharge her phone two times before the Flip 20 needs recharging, too.

If toting a recent vintage Galaxy phone (5,6 or 7 series), your fair lady will get a thrill from the Samsung Wireless Charging Pad ($50-$60 at The thing invites her to just plop the phone down and walk away, with no cable hookup needed! It uses Qi Inductive Charging Technology, a popular standard, and rapid-charges some Samsung phones in just 120 minutes.

The phrase “let us build one for you” applies with Toddy Gear smartphone synch and charge cables. A buyer gets to personalize the cable’s look with patterns, colors and imprinted name. Makes it easy to spot and reclaim.

The only bad news: You’ll need to give mom an IOU for this gift. While orders are being taken (now $14 each) at Kickstarter, delivery won’t start until May, company founder Todd Gabel said in apology. Search “Kickstarter” and “Toddy Cable” or go to

Prepared-food pioneers Horn & Hardart used to seriously milk the “LWFM” (Less Work for Mother) message. Today we’d bestow it on the hubby/wife team who dreamed up the Pizza Ring.

Most frozen and take-and-bake pizzas call for direct-rack baking in the oven. But that often makes for a smelly, hard-to-clean oven mess when the bubbly stuff on top drips over the sides. The non-stick metal Pizza Ring holder sits under the outer rim of the pizza, enhancing crust crisping and ooze retention, while a sizable center cut-out lets the pie’s inner-self fulfill its direct-to-rack mission.

A P-Ring works best with 10.5-inch to 12-inch (across) pizzas, eliminating spills with big bubbly pies, too. It costs $14.99 with free shipping at

Busy moms who grocery-shop once a week and cook in large portions (for leftovers) will relish a BerryBreeze fridge freshener ($49.99 at WalMart).

The same size as a box of baking soda, this battery-powered, self-cycling device is placed on an upper shelf of the fridge, where it generates activated oxygen (O3) – aka ozone – which neutralizes the growth of mold, yeast, fungus and ethylene gas that cause veggies to wilt, strawberries to grow fuzz, and cheese to turn blue.

Also useful for eliminating stinky food odors (cabbage, anyone?) BerryBreeze imparts a neutral “just after the rain” aroma in the fridge that is completely safe, according to company studies. (It got FDA approval in 2001 for direct use with food.) The device enables food storage with maximum nutrition value “two to three times longer” than it would last otherwise, claims the maker. Replacing the 4 “D” alkaline batteries every two months will cost you $8 a set; food preservation savings could be enormous.

The Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener is another kitchen gizmo that gently reminds your mother that you care about her every day. The thing cuts outside the can lid rim, not from the inside, transforming an otherwise razor sharp and hard-to-extract metal hazard into an easily removed disc that can’t do a body harm. Oxo’s easily turned side-wind grip likewise represents a major advancement of the species: $21.95 at Williams-Sonoma.