Frugal Life / Holidays

Celebrate Mother’s Day Without Breaking the Bank!

As much as you may want to celebrate Mother's Day, by showering mom with gifts, maybe that's just not practical right now. Or maybe you know mom won't want you to spend a lot of money on her. Fear not. There are tons of frugal ways to celebrate mother's day. #frugal #savemoney #mothersday And as much as you'd like to shower her with gifts, maybe that's just not practical right now. Or maybe you know mom won't want you to spend a lot of money on her. Fear not. There are tons of frugal ways to celebrate mother's day. But we're not going cheap on mom. To celebrate mother's day, we're looking for things mom will truly value and cherish, while not costing a lot. #mothersday #mom #frugal #savemoney #celebratemothersday

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Chances are, if you stopped to read this post, you have a great mom. Someone who deserves to be pampered and praised. And as much as you’d like to shower her with gifts, maybe that’s just not practical right now. Or maybe you know mom won’t want you to spend a lot of money on her. Fear not. There are tons of frugal ways to celebrate mother’s day.

Before we get started, let’s clarify the difference between cheap and frugal, because it’s an important difference. Cheap means low-quality and chintzy. Cheap things break, and need to be replaced often, meaning that you spend more than if you just bought something higher quality to begin with. Frugal means prioritizing your spending to focus on the things that will bring you fulfillment and happiness. Big difference, right?

We’re not going cheap on mom. To celebrate mother’s day, we’re looking for things mom will truly value and cherish, while not costing a lot.

Who’s Your Mama?

Before you gravitate toward standard mother’s day gifts, make sure you consider who your mom is as an individual. If she’s diabetic or watching her weight, chocolates obviously aren’t a good choice. If she’s not interested in manis, pedis, and facials, a day at the spa probably will be money wasted. And if your mother is a minimalist, or has been working hard to declutter, you better opt for something functional.

Also, let me be perfectly clear: unless she specifically asks for it, do not, under any circumstances get her a kitchen appliance or something to clean up around the house. Just don’t. If you need more convincing, ask my father-in-law how many nights he had to sleep on the couch when he gave his wife a microwave!

Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s get on with the gift ideas!

Fabulously Free

Some of the best gifts don’t cost a thing. Here are some ideas that will make mom’s day extra special.

Gifts from little kids

I don’t think I know a single mom that doesn’t treasure handmade arts and crafts from her kids. Handprint and footprint crafts are especially precious. Do a quick Pinterest search and you’ll get tons of options.

One of my favorites is a butterfly, which is perfect for spring. Paint kiddo’s foot black or brown and place it on the paper. This will be the body of the butterfly. Then, paint each hand a color of your choice and place next to the body for the wings. Let the kids draw some circles or other shapes to pattern the wings once the paint dries. They will proudly present their masterpieces to mom.

Obviously this works best with small children, but personally, I think it would be hilarious if teenagers wanted to do this!

Gifts from bigger kids

Have kids write a letter for mom on all the things they love about her. Or have them write a story or draw a picture about their favorite memory of mom (seriously, folks, I’m getting misty-eyed about the thought of my kids doing this for me some day!).

Other ideas for kids:

  • Decorate a picture frame and put a great photo of mom and child in it
  • Put on a show or sing songs about how great mom is
  • Create a garden together, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come!
  • Make a card for mom

Gifts from adult children

Just go visit mom. My kids are still little so I can’t say this with authority, but I’m going to bet that more than fancy jewelry or other luxuries, mom will be happiest to see her adult offspring. If you live far away and visiting isn’t possible, give mom a call, or skype/facetime/whatever. And as tempting it may be, you need to do more than send a text. Your mother birthed you. The least you can do is have a conversation (wow….my mom guilt game is already starting!).

Another idea is plain old sweat equity. If mom is getting up there in years and can’t do all the household maintenance she used to, a little help around the house would be a big help. Weed a garden bed, fix a loose shutter, spruce up the paint…whatever you can do would be appreciated. Just make sure the project is within your means. The last thing mom wants to do is scramble to find a plumber on Mother’s Day for a project that went awry!

Gifts from spouses

This is easy: give mom a day off. Let her sleep in, figure out what’s for dinner (and make it!), throw in a load of laundry, tidy up…do what you can to lighten her load. Bonus points if she can take a nap!

Family fun

Besides a nap, to celebrate mother’s day, I want a low-key, fun day with my family. I don’t need a lot of presents or hoopla, and I don’t need my family to spend a lot on me. I’m sure a lot of other mothers feel the same way. Here are some great ways to spend time without spending a dime, and build great memories in the process:

  • Breakfast in bed! You can’t go wrong with a classic!
  • Have a picnic in your backyard or the park. Pack mom’s favorite travel-friendly foods and make an afternoon of it.
  • Get outside! Hike, bike ride, splash in a creek…whatever your family likes best!
  • Family game night
  • Movie night: choose family favorites, load up on her favorite snacks, and pour her a glass of wine!
  • Pizza party: Get your favorite toppings and make your own pizzas. Just make sure mom doesn’t end of up cleaning up afterward!
  • Family pictures: Have a friend that takes good pictures? See if s/he would be willing to do a family photo session and share the digital files with you.
  • Hit the town: check out the happenings in your town to see if there are any craft shows, musical festivals, or other fun activities.

Fabulously Frugal

If you want to give mom a token of your affection, there are plenty of frugal options. Remember, we are going for high-value, low cost items. Think of things that will have a sentimental value, or that will make her life easier, or  activities she will enjoy. Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing!

  • Wine tasting: Obviously, this is for families with adult children, but if you’re lucky enough to live near wineries, make a day of it! Unless you go crazy buying wine, you can probably manage this fairly cheaply with just the tasting fees.
  • Plants: Growing up, every year we got mom a hanging basket. It was the gift that gave for many months.
  • If your mom is like pretty much any mom I know, she is a coffee drinker. Make a coffee gift basket with her favorite coffee, creamers, and a great travel mug. And OMG did you know Lip Smacker has a coffee and tea flavored multipack?!?!? BRB ordering right now!!! (For more coffee gift ideas, check out my Under $25 Gift Guide for Coffee Lovers!).
  • Homemade calendar: Every year for Christmas, my sister gives my mom a homemade calendar. She selects family pictures to use based on birth months, anniversaries, etc. It’s a great way for mom to see fun pictures of her loved ones throughout the year. Shutterfly has great templates for a reasonable price.

Other Ideas

Still not inspired? Here are some last products and ideas to help you celebrate mother’s day:

Milestones Mosaic Leaf Stepping Stone Kit: I think this is so sweet. If mom has an outdoor space, this is a great keepsake. Whether for kids or for grandkids, this will be a project that the kids enjoy doing and mom is sure to cherish.


Supermom T-shirt: No explanation needed.



External Hard Drive: I know this might not be a traditional Mother’s Day gift, but hear me out. How many horror stories have your heard about families losing all of their photos when a computer crashes? I would wish that on no one. An external hard drive will give mom a space to back up all of her pictures and other important documents. It may not seem the most sentimental or heartfelt, but I guarantee you if something ever happens to her computer, an external hard drive with all of her pictures backed up will be priceless.

Moms are notorious for sacrificing their wants for the good of their family. Is there something that mom always talks about but never buys? When shopping does she look wistfully at a handbag but always leaves it on the rack? Is her favorite pair of shoes worn and need replacing? Pay attention to these little things and if you can, make the purchase for her. If the item is out of your budget, a gift card that she can use to purchase it herself would be appreciated. Just be sure to tell her that’s what you hope she will use it for. The fact that you noticed will mean a lot.

Before you spend a dime, be sure to check out Ebates to see if you can get cash back for any of your purchases. (As of early May 2018, some stores are offering as much as 15 percent cash back! Cha-ching!). If you use my referral link, you’ll get an extra $10 cash back once you make your first purchase!

I hope this has helped you to come up with some fun, creative gift ideas to celebrate Mother’s Day. Regardless of what you decide to do, keep mom the focus of your day, and help her to feel as special as she is. You can’t go wrong that way. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great moms out there….even if you don’t know how great you are!

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