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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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?
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: $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.