I have known for as long as I can remember that I am terrible at picking out gifts for my mother. She does not like to ask for things in particular because she wants her gifts to be a surprise, but she also wants them to be exactly what she wants. She says that it is the thought that counts; therefore if we'd put enough thought into our gifts, we would have been able to pick out the right ones.
When I was in my early 20s she said she wanted a foot massager that could do pressure point foot massages. The closest thing I could find in person or online at the time was a massaging foot bath from Brookstone, so I bought it. The moment she unwrapped it she said it was wrong, not what she wanted at all, and that I should return it immediately and give her a Walmart gift card instead because keeping the foot bath would just be a waste of my money. I had asked her all through college for gift cards for birthdays and Christmas because I did not have enough money for new clothes, but she had always told me she couldn't afford to give me gift cards. Instead she'd sent me large boxes of toys and other useless sundries, like a keychain with a babydoll on the end and a plastic circle for pressing the water out of canned tuna. Each box must've totaled $50-100, possibly more after shipping. So I returned the foot bath and got my money back, and I kept it.
The next year I just sent her flowers and a card. She had ordered flowers for me for every birthday since I turned a year old, plus Valentine's Day and other holidays. She said the flowers arrived in a box and not already arranged in a vase. Ordering flowers online was a new phenomenon, and I'd unwittingly sent her flowers that she had to arrange after they arrived. She didn't even know people did that. The next year she told me not to send her some stupid waste of money like flowers -- she wanted gift cards, so I should just send her gift cards. I just sent her a card. I sent her just a card for every holiday until she had ignored a couple of my birthdays and Christmases, and then I stopped.