Seven Inexpensive Ways To Celebrate Mother’s Day

When I was younger, Mother’s Day would sneak up on me and I would often find myself scavening around Hallmark at the last minute, buying some lame Mother’s Day card that expressed a half-baked sentiment. I’d drop it in the mail, give her a five minute phone call on Mother’s Day, and then feel guilty that I had blown it off so much. Then, one year I got her an exorbitant Mother’s Day gift and it wound up making her feel guilty, which isn’t what I wanted, either.

What I came to find is that the best Mother’s Day gifts aren’t expensive ones – and they definitely aren’t last minute ones. They’re ones that simply take a bit of effort and love, and quite often they only have to cost pennies – or nothing at all.

Here are seven Mother’s Day gifts that will make your mom quite happy and not pinch your wallet at all.

A handwritten card Just get a blank card and write in there your honest positive feelings about your mother, then sign it. A blank card costs only a few cents (I buy very nice ones in bulk – even then, they only cost about a quarter a piece), and the sentiment you add makes them priceless.

Handpicked flowers I’m lucky to live in a rural area where I can find lots of flowers growing in the wild – see the earlier entry for today depicting a violet I found in the woods. Spending an hour early on Mother’s Day morning picking several different kinds of flowers and bringing them home as a bouquet is much nicer than calling 1-800-FLOWERS.

A visit Instead of just firing off a five minute telephone call, take the time to actually visit your mother. This coming weekend, we’re actually going to spend the entire weekend (from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) visiting my mother and this is quite honestly the best gift we could give her.

A family video If your mother lives far away, spend some time making a video for her. If you have a family, take lots of video of the children. If you’re just a couple or you live alone, take some video of your favorite places and such. I did this once in college almost ten years ago and I just found out that my mother still has the video – and she still watches it every once in a while.

A memory jar This is a brilliant idea that requires only a glass jar, a few sheets of colored paper, a pen, and some pennies. Cut the paper up into nine equal sized squares (make one big square, then that square into three equal strips, then those strips into three equal pieces). On each one, write a memory that you share with your mother, put a penny in the middle, fold the paper around the penny, and drop it in the jar. Give the jar to your mother and tell her to open one whenever she needs a pick-me-up. I’m actually doing this this year for my mother (no, she’s not a Simple Dollar reader, so this won’t spoil anything).

“While You Were Out” This works great if you have a lot of siblings, children, nieces, and nephews. Have a number of them take your mother out somewhere on the town, then the rest of you invade and just clean the house as good as you can (really scrub it), repaint some walls, take care of any minor household repairs, and install a new little thing or two around the house (a spice rack or so forth). If there’s a team of you, you can get a lot done in an afternoon.

Household chores Similarly, if you don’t have the siblings, just stop in and offer to help your mother with some chores that need to be done. Clean out the gutters, scrub the floor, trim the bushes, or do some other things that your mother needs doing. My uncle used to spend all of Mother’s Day at my grandmother’s house doing just this, and it was pretty clear to all of us that it was her favorite gift.

The real point of this is that time is the best gift. None of these gifts really cost much money, but they take some time and often some sentiment. This is the real gift that you can give this Mother’s Day.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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