Here’s how to not suck at saying thanks to Mom with some frugal and creative ideas.
1. Take a class:
You know what your mom likes, so find something you can do together. Try a cooking class, or one that teaches pottery or art. Or kickboxing.
2. Print it out:
Actual printed photos are a novelty these days. Choose a few and frame them. Or, create a collage of favorites on canvas using an online photo shop.
3. Have an experience:
Take your mom out for a day or night of fun, and try something that’s not on her regular schedule. Consider a comedy club, a museum or a theme park. If mom is the adventurous type, take her whitewater rafting or horseback riding. There’s always a night in a dive bar to play pool or shoot darts, or even miniature golf. You may find discounts and coupons for the event of your choice.
4. Create a book of stories:
We all have funny stories about Mom. Get together with your relatives and ask everyone to handwrite their favorite memory of Mom. Add photos related to the memory, if you have. Then, hit the office supply store and buy a binder and a package of plastic sleeves, and voila! Or, if you have the time and the cash, there are plenty of online companies (the Snapfishes and Shutterflys of the world) where you can scan and upload your documents and photos and create a bound book.
5. A spa day:
If you don’t have the cash to send mom for a mani and pedi, you can create a spa experience at home. Buy a few scented candles and bath oils and set mom up in the tub. Next, give her a long massage, and finish up with that mani and pedi.
6. Go personal:
If you have young kids, Grandma is sure to love anything with their faces on it. Get a shirt, a mouse pad or a mug with their mugs on it. You can go a step further and buy a dollar store basket, and create a theme gift around the one thing you select. If it was a mouse pad, for example, add some pens and stationary to the basket. If you chose a mug, add some coffee, tea and cookies to the gift.
7. Clean up:
Give your mom a homemade gift certificate that promises you’ll clean her house top to bottom. Or, if you have the cash, hire a maid service for her.
8. The sounds of music:
Have your children sing some of your mom’s favorite songs, record it, and create a CD.
9. Stop whining and start wining:
Use your wine habit for good and create a trivet set with old corks.
10. Get artsy:
Go to a craft store and pick up a few inexpensive canvases and paint, and let your kids create a masterpiece for her. Or, have the kids add their handprints and footprints to the canvas. (One of the best gifts I received was not paint, but a photo of my three kids’ bare feet.)
11. Go tech:
If your mom is of an older generation and she’s resisted getting online, give her a lesson. Help her set up e-mail and social media accounts so she can stay in touch with the family. If you can give her a lesson in Skype or ooVoo or another video chat program, go for it.
Mom will appreciate a homemade meal from you, even if you’re not all that good at it. If you really don’t want to be in the kitchen, pack a picnic lunch and take mom to the park. Breakfast in bed is always a winner, and you can add some extra love to your toast, too.
13. Discount dinner:
Many restaurants offer Mother’s Day specials. Look for deals and coupons and take mom out on her special day.
14. Easy dinner:
What’s for dinner? Take out? No problem. Scour your mom’s neighborhood for restaurants that deliver. Get all the take-out menus and put them in a binder so mom has a fast and easy reference guide for those nights when cooking isn’t on the menu. Add a gift card for one of the restaurants if you have the cash.
15. Grow some love:
Buy a small pot or two and decorate them with paint. Then, plant a few spices for mom’s kitchen.
16. Write a list:
Take a simple piece of printing paper and write a list of all reasons mom is special, then frame it.
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You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.
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