Five Frugal Mother’s Day Ideas

By Mike Peterson
In May 4, 2012

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend $150 on Mother’s Day gifts this year.  That’s a pretty big chunk of change – but when you factor in about $30-$40 for a flower arrangement and $75-$100 to take the family to Mother’s Day brunch at a local chain restaurant, you see how quickly those two traditional gifts can add up.  This year, instead of shelling out way too much money for the same old overpriced (and hastily planned) flower arrangement, try something a little different.  All of these ideas are unique, thoughtful – and they won’t blow your budget.


1.  Indulge her green thumb.  Sure, Mother’s Day flowers are sort of cliché, but lots of moms do love to get a colorful bouquet.  But the typical bouquet of cut flowers can run $30 to $40 – that’s a lot to spend on a gift that’s going to wither away in a week or so.  Instead of hitting up the flower shop this year, cruise by your local gardening center instead and spend $10 something that mom can plant in the garden and enjoy for years to come.  Or, if flowers aren’t Mom’s thing, consider a houseplant to brighten up her favorite room.  You can get a nice bamboo plant, an orchid, or an interesting succulent for around $20.


Savings:  You’ll end up saving anywhere from $10 to $30 by getting a little creative with flowers.


2.  Get crafty. Handmade gifts are cost-effective (you can spend as much or as little as you want), and they’re a great way to get kids involved in the fun. Create a personalized coupon book for mom, full of “gift certificates” redeemable for things like a week of dish-washing or an afternoon of “me” time, or an afternoon.  Or, create a “memory book” — comb through family photographs and mementos (plane tickets, programs from concerts or recitals, drawings from the kids – anything goes) and paste them into a scrapbook.  Use stamps and stickers to decorate it, and you’ve got a completely unique gift that Mom will cherish.


Savings:  Varies.  With DIY projects, you can spend as little (or as much) as you want – just be sure to factor in the cost of any art supplies – like markers and stickers.  If you’re doing a scrapbook, you can pick up a nice one for around $20.  Even if you splurge on some fancy paper or decals, you’ll end up spending way less than the national average of $150.


3.  Treat her to a fancy dinner . . . at home.  Let’s face it:  Waiting for two hours in the lobby of a noisy, expensive, filled-to-capacity chain restaurant is probably not Mom’s idea of fun.  When Mother’s Day rolls around, just about every restaurant in town offers some sort of special – and people turn out in droves to take advantage of two-for-one specials or free dessert offers (in most cases, these “specials” are still pricier than a nice dinner at home).  Want to give Mom something really special?  Cook her favorite meal (don’t forget to clean up after!), put on some fun music, and celebrate at home instead.


Savings:  Varies.  Eating at home will save the family from the stress of getting dressed up and fighting the crowds – and it’s also cost-effective – no tipping, and no expensive add-ons like overpriced drinks or desserts.


4.  Plan a fun family activity.  This Mother’s Day, treat mom to a day of something really priceless:  Quality time with the people she loves.  Plan a day of family fun centered around the things she likes to do:  Go on a hike or a picnic; plan a marathon of her favorite movies; break out the board games and order takeout from her favorite restaurant – whatever makes her happy, do it!


Savings:  Varies – but again, much less than $150.  A nice picnic lunch or a takeout meal might cost around $30 – but a hike or a movie marathon might cost less than $10.  A fun family activity is a super-frugal option.


5.  Hunt for bargains.  If you shop smart, you can find some great prices on more traditional gifts for Mom this year.  Scour daily deal websites like Groupon or LivingSocial to find deep discounts on indulgences like manicure/pedicure services or massages.  And many online and brick-and-mortar retailers such as, Best Buy, and Target run great specials on movies, music, and books.


Savings:  For around $20 to $30, you can get Mom a season of her favorite TV series, a mani/pedi at her local salon, or that new paperback she wants.  Look for the best deal and you can spend around $100 less than the national average.


Here’s wishing you (and Mom) a happy Mother’s Day!

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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