SHOW MOM YOU CARE
It's nice to show the moms in your life how much you care all year long, but it's especially important on Mother's Day. For some, finding the right gift is easy. For others, it can be an annual rite of consternation, with hours spent in search of the perfect present. If you're in the latter camp, here are some ideas for heartfelt gifts under $50 -- from you or from the kids.
Price: $6.50 | Buy it at Michaels
A personalized apron makes a sentimental yet functional gift for mom or grandma. Children can decorate a plain canvas apron from a craft store using fabric paint or fabric markers (about $10 for a multicolored pack).
Head to a local pottery-painting studio for a handmade gift or a fun activity to do together. Expect pottery pieces to start at about $12 and the time painting to cost around $10 -- less for kids. Studios provide the necessary supplies and glaze, fire, and package the decorated pieces.
Price: Starting at $6 | Buy it on Amazon
Nurture an interest in a topic or hobby with a magazine subscription. For a cheap Mother's Day gift that keeps giving month after month, buy a subscription using discount sources and many titles will be less than $20. Some sites offer bundled deals for two or three magazines at once, so it's not necessary to choose one pastime over another.
Spend time helping a tech-challenged mom become tech-savvy. If she has a computer or mobile device, teach her how to use a video chat service such as Skype or FaceTime. Help her join the social-networking world by setting up a Facebook page or Instagram account. She'll be grateful to discover ways to keep in touch with friends and lost relatives -- not to mention you.
Price: $5 | Buy it at Art of Tea
Tea is more than a coffee alternative; it's a ritual, providing time to sit back, relax, and enjoy a cup of comfort. As one of the world's most popular beverages, tea comes in countless varieties (including tasty Meyer lemon), with a week's worth of gourmet beverage makings coming in a handsome tin for just a few dollars.
Price: Starting at $7 | Buy it on Amazon
Dig up old family photos from the attic to give mom two gifts in one. Ditch the shoeboxes and organize the years into comprehensive photo albums. Mom will cherish the gift, which can be passed down through the generations, and appreciate the tidying at least as much.
Price: Under $25 | Buy it on Amazon
This practical gift shows mom you're thinking about her comfort. With thousands of inexpensive options, you should be able to find a pair of slippers that suits her style, be they floral, furry, or funky.
Flowers are a good gift for a small budget because they're all about the gesture. A nice hand-delivered bouquet from the grocery store is just as appropriate as an expensive arrangement sent from a florist. Similarly, simple potted flowers (starting under $10) will brighten the day just as much as a pricey bouquet -- and last longer.
BREAKFAST IN BED
A classic gift for young kids to give mom, the effort of preparing breakfast and bringing it to mom in bed is sure to make her smile. It doesn't matter if the toast is burned and the coffee is weak if the family is going out to brunch anyway.
A good option for teenagers and young adults, this labor of love is a surefire way to show mom some appreciation for all the work she's done over the years. Save her a few hours of chores or a few bucks on a cleaning service by catching up on laundry, dusting, and other housecleaning. It's time and money she can spend on herself.
Price: Starting at less than $1 | Buy it at Pier 1
This is a simple and inexpensive gift that provides hours of aromatherapy and sensual indulgence. There's a broad selection of candles in different sizes, scents, and colors to match her style and any budget.
TIME AND MEMORIES
Interview your mom or grandmother for StoryCorps, a nonprofit that encourages people to record oral history. Many mothers would be thrilled to spend time reminiscing with their children. A MobileBooth that travels to 10 cities and towns each year; and there's an app to walk you through the process from anywhere. Mom will always remember the conversation, and you might learn something about your family history.
Price: $8 | Buy it at Walmart
A simple gift of luxury soap can encourage mom to take a little time for herself. Go for something that will pamper the skin and leave her feeling beautiful, such as Dead Sea mud soap.
Who doesn't love a little sweet indulgence? Chocolate-covered strawberries can be found for a few dollars apiece at a local chocolate shop. Or, get more bang for the buck by dipping fresh strawberries in chocolate melted in a double boiler. Let them cool on wax paper in the fridge for a few hours and present them in a box with tissue paper.
Many moms are too busy to explore the world of new music. Whether you introduce her to some interesting musicians or make an old-school mix of classics, she will appreciate the effort and think of you every time she plays it. There are lots of options for making a music mix, from CDs to Spotify.
Head to the hardware store and pick out a nice herb plant in a pot, even if it's a small one. A simple oregano or basil plant is a beautiful gift that can provide years of culinary contributions for just a few dollars.
This is one of the least expensive and most expressive gifts you can give. Use this opportunity to tell mom in writing why she's so special. Share some memories of when she taught you important life lessons or was there for you in ways you'll never forget.
Price: $25 or less | Buy it on Zazzle
Use personal photos to create one-of-a-kind postage stamps, which can be used to send letters and postcards. This is a fun gift mom will love to show off and share with friends.
Take an afternoon off and steal mom away from the everyday routine with a daytime movie -- her choice, of course. After so many years of paying the tab, she'll appreciate the gesture of one of her children taking her out, even just to a movie.
'BEST MOM' CERTIFICATE
This is a cute way for children to show mom (or grandma) she deserves an award. With many free templates online, kids can design and print out the one that best fits their mom's special qualities. Present it with as much pomp and circumstance as possible.
For a mom who has prepared countless dinners for the family over the years, this is a good opportunity to return the favor. Something as simple as spaghetti with marinara sauce and garlic bread can be the best meal she will eat all year, because her family made it with love, and there are many one-dish and simple slow-cooker options.
Rather than giving another material possession, choose a charity that reflects mom's interests and make a donation in her name. Even if it's just a small amount, she'll be touched and proud of how well she raised you.
HOMEMADE BATH SALTS
While fancy bath products can cost well over $20, this DIY trick uses simple ingredients to create a pure and luxurious gift for about $5: Combine 2 cups of Epsom salt, a half cup of baking soda, and 4 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers, then store in a glass jar. Add a bow and it's a homemade spa treatment she will love.
SCENTED MIST OR BATH SPRAY
Price: $15 | Buy it at Nature's Paradise
Inexpensive perfumes and body fragrances are often low quality, but body mists and bath sprays are considerably less expensive, even for good quality, and even for organic.
Take kids to a thrift store or funky flea market to scour the bric-a-brac and find something that suits mom or grandma. A simple porcelain heart or glass animal costs just a few dollars, but when given with love, it can quickly turn into a precious token with sentimental value.
A nice spring- or summer-themed wreath is easy to make and very cost-effective. At the local craft store, a wire wreath frame starts at about $3 and burlap ribbon costs about $6. Other supplies include pipe cleaners ($1) and any embellishments you may want. An initial for mom's last name (starting at $4) or clip-on spring flowers (about $4) make perfect wreath additions.
The gift of time never gets old. Pack a picnic for Mother's Day and head to the local park. The meal can be as simple or as gourmet as you want it to be. Be sure to grab a blanket and sunscreen, too, and clear the schedule so there's ample time to enjoy the food and conversation.
An elegant photo frame costs just a few dollars at a thrift or discount store. Rifle through old family photos or use a current favorite and frame it for mom. She'll think of you every time she sees it.
Show mom how well you know her by putting together a basket of her favorite things. If she's a fitness fanatic, grab an infinity headband (starting at about $6 at Dick's Sporting Goods), a new reusable water bottle, fitness socks, and maybe even a workout tank starting at $13 at Target. Package these items neatly in a basket for a unique gift for less than $50.
Price: $10 or less | Buy it at Target
A bottle of nail polish from even the popular OPI brand should cost $10 or less. Select a few colors mom will like, grab a buffer (less than $2), and a nail file (about $3) and package them in a mason jar for a DIY mani/pedi set.
Price: Starting at $10 | Buy it at Target
Mother's Day means pool/beach season is near. Help mom get prepped with a new beach bag -- then consider filling with gear: Slip in some sunscreen, a new beach towel (starting at about $10), and flip-flops (sometimes below $4 at Old Navy). She'll be decked out and ready to hit the waves.
HEART-SHAPED PICTURE COLLAGE
Price: Starting at $29 | Buy it at Minted
A heart-shaped picture collage incorporates 30 pictures to create a keepsake mom will treasure. Prices start at $29 for an 8-inch square print. Spend a little more and get a frame; the cost still won't exceed $50.
A GOOD BOOK
Price: $18.50 | Buy it on Amazon
You can't go wrong with a good book -- or with Oprah Winfrey. A 240-page collection of her columns culled from O, The Oprah Magazine gets rave reviews and is handsome in hardcover. Visit a local bookstore for more suggestions.
Take mom bowling with the family -- look for a Groupon offer to keep things inexpensive for the family, and check to see if local lanes have specials. A trip to the bowling alley is sure to make for a fun and entertaining Mother's Day.
Price: $20 | Buy it at Shutterfly
Pick up a nice 6- by 8-inch, 150-page journal in which mom can jot down her innermost thoughts -- personalized with photos on the spine and front and back covers.
Treat mom to an hour alone getting her feet and toes ready for sandal season. Many salons offer pedicures for $50 or less. Trim the cost a bit by searching for coupons and deals online, on grocery receipts, or in coupon packs in the mail.
ADULT COLORING BOOK
Price: Starting at $5 | Buy it at Michaels
Coloring for adults is still relaxing fun. Get mom set up to try this therapeutic hobby with adult coloring books and packs of colored pencils, also starting at just a few dollars.
ESSENTIAL OILS RELAXATION KIT
Price: $12 | Buy it on Amazon
Give mom a treat of relaxation, stress relief, and cleansing. An essential oils starter kit with lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, lemongrass, sweet orange, and peppermint oils promises all those things, and will leave her house smelling fresh and clean.
Price: Starting at $11.50 | Buy it at Home Depot
For a mom who doesn't have space for an outdoor garden, or simply doesn't want to mess with gardening outside, opt for an easy-to-care-for indoor plant. Some good choices include aloe plants, ficus, peace lilies, and rubber plants. A quick search online pulls up aloe among the cheapest, peace lilies for $17, ficus for $30, and rubber plants for $33 .
PERSONALIZED PHONE CASE
Price: $40 | Buy it on Snapfish
Head to a photo site to put together a personalized phone case with one of mom's favorite pictures.
Price: $33 | Buy it at Kohl's
Give mom a lightweight bathrobe for spring. Retailers offer lots of choices for less than $50, including a comfortable cotton version from Jockey. That's less than you'd likely spend on flower delivery, and she'll get more use out of it.
Most busy moms, especially those with young children, know how much gunk can accumulate in the car. Under the car seats is a whole school of fish crackers, not to mention other lost items and fingerprints on everything. Professional car detailing can run $50 to $150 or more, but the cost can be minimized by looking for a deal on general interior cleaning at a local car wash, then doing the detailing yourself.
A DAY OF SLEEP
No, really, this is not a joke. Moms who take care of everyone and everything sometimes need to rest up. Get a pillow and a blanket, roll them up, and present them to mom with a pass to sleep all day. What parent wouldn't enjoy that gift?
FAMILY BIKE RIDE
Warm weather is just setting in by Mother's Day in many parts of the country, and what a perfect excuse to dig out the bikes and helmets and organize a family bike ride. Pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
STICKY NOTE SURPRISES
Remind mom how special she is by writing little sticky notes and placing them all over the house. Anywhere she looks, make sure she sees one: the bathroom mirror, a kitchen cabinet, her spot at the table, in a dresser drawer, etc. Tell her what you love about her, your favorite things to do together, and more.
Price: Under $50 | Buy it at Umbra
Regardless how much jewelry mom has, help her organize it with a jewelry tree or tray. Check out storage options with a modern twist -- many are less than $50.
Price: $31 | Buy it at Dick's Sporting Goods
May is a beautiful time of year to hang out in the yard and relax in a hammock with a good book. There are good options from many places for less than $50. If mom doesn't have a yard or trees for hanging a hammock, a portable chair could be just the gift for her to take to the park, to the beach, or on a day trip.