For Mother’s Day, which falls on May 8 this year, the challenge for many is finding a gift that’s both thoughtful and on budget.
“Mother’s Day presents an opportunity for us to let Mom know how much we love her, but we don’t need to go overboard on the gift front,” says Trae Bodge, a New York City-based lifestyle journalist and shopping consultant who runs the blog TrueTrae.com.
“Mother’s Day-specific items will be (on sale), especially as you get closer to the actual day,” Bodge says. “It’s also a good time of year to save on jewelry. I’d recommend costume instead of fine jewelry if you’re on a budget. Many coupon sites like CouponFollow and Slickdeals have dedicated Mother’s Day pages packed with gift suggestions and deals.”
If you’re looking for more low-cost ideas, or even no-cost but memorable gifts, here are some suggestions:
— Take your mom for a walk.
— Binge-watch a favorite TV show together.
— Do a chore for your mom.
— Take your mom out to lunch.
— Make your mom lunch.
— Give your mom a homemade coupon book.
— Create a memory.
— Give a sentimental gift.
— Consider a subscription gift.
— Grant your mom a wish.
[See: 25 Practical Gift Ideas.]
Take Your Mom for a Walk
This might feel like the cheapest gift ever, but given that most moms just enjoy hanging out with their kids, it would be a really nice gift, says Dawn-Marie Joseph, founder of Estate Planning & Preservation in Williamston, Michigan, and a mom herself. She has five adult children and six grandchildren.
“Taking your mother on a simple walk outside this Mother’s Day would not only cost you nothing, but it would make your mother smile for a week,” Joseph says.
Binge-Watch a Favorite TV Show Together
As noted, it’s all about time you’re spending together. Your mom might appreciate having you come over for the day, and you could select a show to stream that you both enjoy. Bring out the snacks, order delivery for lunch and just hang out.
Do a Chore for Your Mom
Hasn’t your mom been bugging you to clean out your old bedroom for years? Or maybe you know the basement needs some serious organizing. Perhaps your mom would appreciate some help with the yard or garden.
Helping your mom won’t cost anything, but it “allows the two of you to spend quality time together,” Joseph says.
Take Your Mom to Lunch
It’s a classic idea, and as long as you don’t go to the fanciest restaurant in town, you probably won’t spend a fortune.
You could pair lunch at her favorite cafe with a walk and a stop for ice cream, which would make for an enjoyable afternoon.
Make Your Mom Lunch
If dining out is too costly, invite your mom over — or invite yourself over and take over her kitchen — and cook a nice meal.
You could cook something fancy, or maybe stick with a family favorite that your mom made when you were a kid. This is, of course, assuming you can cook. If the smoke alarm tends to go off when you’re in the kitchen, bring takeout.
Give Your Mom a Handmade Coupon Book
Emily Greene, a mother of three in Bethesda, Maryland, and the author of “School, Disrupted: Rediscovering the Joy of Learning in a Pandemic-Stricken World,” is a fan of an oldie but goodie: the coupon book.
“The absolute best gift I’ve received on Mother’s Day is a handmade coupon book from my kids that includes creative and adorably decorated slips of paper redeemable for all kinds of things, like a back rub, 10 minutes of silence, sleeping in, kids make breakfast, walking the dog, any chore of my choosing, a fully prepped and planned family hike and picnic,” Greene says.
She has three sons, ages 18, 15 and 9, and she says the coupon book has been such a hit that her boys have been giving her one for every Mother’s Day for some time now.
Create a Memory
Greene likes the idea of younger children or adult children planning something like a family hike and picnic.
“Best day ever for mom,” she says. If you have the budget, you could buy your mom a picnic basket with a fully packed lunch inside, Greene adds.
“Also, as part of the picnic, the dad or the oldest child could be the designated picture-taker, so Mom is actually in some of the photos,” Greene advises.
Give a Sentimental Gift
Wendy Terrill, a retirement planning counselor and the founder of Assurance & Guarantee in Burlington, North Carolina, says sentimental gifts are always a great idea.
Terrill even has a suggestion for coming up with a sentimental present: Attach it to a sentimental memory.
“For this Mother’s Day, think of something your mother used to do or maybe still does,” Terrill suggests. And then base the gift on that.
Terrill says that she used to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to her boys, who are now both adults, every morning to wake them up. A couple years ago one of her sons gave her a little music box that plays the song.
“Remember, money is not the important thing,” Terrill says. “It is the sentiment. Something as simple as a picture of you or your family could go a long way and cost nothing.”
Consider a Subscription Gift
Greene likes the idea of buying your mom a yearlong subscription to a service that she’ll love and “that will keep adding value for a whole year but that she might not be willing to spend the money on for herself.”
She recommends something like Obé Fitness, MasterClass or Gaiam for yoga as some suggestions.
Grant Your Mom a Wish
Get a haircut. Give your mom’s dog a bath. Mow her lawn.
Maybe there’s something that you really don’t want to do but that your mom has been wanting you to do. Consider giving into your mom’s wishes as a Mother’s Day gift.
And maybe whatever your mom has been insisting you do is also something you’ve kind of wanted to do anyway, but you were locked into a battle of wills. Well, Mother’s Day is a perfect excuse to give your mom what she wants without looking like you caved.
How to Create the Perfect Mother’s Day Schedule
Everyone’s family situation is different, so take this schedule with a grain of salt if it isn’t feasible for you. But an ideal Mother’s Day schedule might look like this:
1. Breakfast in bed. If you live with your mom or are spending the night at the house, you really should start the day right. Make breakfast or bring over doughnuts or breakfast sandwiches. She’ll love it, and the Mother’s Day breakfast may be such a hit that you could pretty much stop the day there. But don’t.
Cost: It depends on how many people you’re buying for, but let’s say $20.
2. Do an activity together. This would be a good time to create those memories. You could go on a walk, bake something together or look at photo albums.
Cost: Assuming you’re giving an experience instead of a gift, the cost may be zero.
3. Have lunch. This would be the perfect time to go on that picnic or to a restaurant she loves.
Cost: Let’s say $30, which should cover picnic supplies or lunch for two at a casual cafe.
4. Do some chores. This could be a good time to put some sweat equity into the day and pull weeds out of the garden or clean out a room or closet. If your mom wants to help, let her. The idea here is to do something nice for your mom but also to spend time with her.
5. Give your mom a goodbye hug. Give your mom a hug. She deserves it.
Cost: Free, and it’s a priceless gift — for both of you.
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Update 05/02/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.