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What to Do for Mother’s Day with No Money

Updated on May 12th, 2023
Retirement Income for Women Entrepreneurs

What mother doesn’t want to be spoiled and shown how much she means to us? This is probably why approximately 84 percent of American adults celebrate Mother’s Day. However, showing mom this affection comes with a cost.

According to the annual consumer survey released today by The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, Mother’s Day spending reached $31.7 billion in 2002, up $3.6 billion from 2021’s record spending. If you’re curious, that’s a record high.

When you’re living on a budget, however, one-off spending events like Mother’s Day can throw your finances off. What’s more, to keep your credit card debt to a minimum, you must be savvy.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for a Mother’s Day celebration without spending a dime – or even next to nothing.

Take her to the movies — at home.

When it comes to gifts for mom, sometimes the most effective ones are the ones that require effort. In this case, converting her home into a movie theater.

To start, rearrange the furniture so that she feels comfortable. Ideally, make sure she also has something to prop her feet up on. Keep some of her favorite snacks and drinks available. And, most importantly, have her favorite film(s).

It is critical to let her know that you will clean up afterward so she will relax.

If the weather permits, you could even host an outdoor movie night thanks to a projector.

Create a custom video or sideshow.

Why not wish mom a happy Mother’s Day with songs, throwback memories, or a personalized video greeting? Best of all, you can do this easily and cheaply with tools like Canva, Vimeo, FlexClip, and Animoto.

Perform the chores she dislikes.

According to one study, an average American mother working with kids between the ages of 5 and 12 “clocks in” at 6:23 a.m. and “clocks out” at 8:31 p.m. That’s 14 hours of work a day on average. According to the survey, four out of ten moms report that the week is filled with never-ending tasks.

As such, offer to assist her with a chore she usually handles — especially chores she hates. For instance, cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, or organizing the fridge. This free time can then be used for reading or taking a leisurely walk with friends.

Assist her with big projects.

As your mom grows older, or because of work deadlines and childcare, she may not have the time to do larger house tasks. You can help her with those tasks for free and it will be a huge relief for her.

For example:

  • Remove junk from her attic or basement.
  • Refresh rooms with a fresh coat of paint.
  • Update the kitchen or bathroom, like installing new cabinets or sinks.
  • Weed the garden or plant shrubs.
  • Organize the hall closet.
  • Stain the deck.

As long as it’s within your skill set, go for it. After all, more than anything, she wants those big tasks off her plate.

Give her a wildflower bouquet.

It’s true that roses are stunning, but wildflowers make for some of the prettiest arrangements. Choose beautiful wildflowers from a field near you and make a bouquet of them. In addition to giving your mom a cheap, but amazing gift, you’ll show her you care.

When picking on someone’s property, just ask first. There’s no point in trespassing for a bouquet of flowers!

Go on a family outing.

This is a relaxing and fun idea. Why? Because Mother’s Day always falls on Sunday. Consider having a picnic in the park or by the pond nearby for the entire day.

Consider visiting a botanical garden or going on a hike in the area if it allows picnicking. Spend a few dollars on some cheap party food and listen to the birds sing as the sun shines.

Here are some other ideas for a family outing:

  • Go antiquing. If your mom has a passion for collecting things, take her to a variety of antique shops. Help her find items that hold a lot of meaning for her. Often, the simplest petty things are the most valuable.
  • Take a trip to a farmer’s market. You might want to check out a farmers market on the other side of town. Discover new cooking inspiration with fresh produce, spices, and flowers.
  • Visit a museum. There’s one thing all the nation’s best museums have in common – they’re free to enter. There are many examples of this, such as all of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums and galleries, the Mencil Collection, the Getty Center, the Frye Art Museum, and the Saint Louis Science Center.
  • Volunteer for her favorite cause. You can also bond with mom by lending a helping hand. Donate your time to a cause that fills your heart with warmth and helps others. The only cost you’ll incur is time together.

Create an appreciation jar.

In some cases, a thoughtful gift is more valuable than a pricey one. Don’t spend a fortune on material items she doesn’t need; instead, create an appreciation jar. Decorate a jar with notes telling her what you appreciate about her and what she’s done for you. You can also have your kids write notes to Grandma.

As a family, you can read some of the notes on Mother’s Day. When she misses you or needs a reminder of your love and appreciation, she can dig through the jar whenever she needs it.

Take a trip down Mom’s memory lane.

Ask mom about her life for an hour or two. Listen to what she has to say. It’s possible you’ll discover that your mom had some adventures you didn’t know about. I learned several years ago, for instance, that my mom spent a week in Europe alone after high school graduation. I don’t know that woman!

If she needs some prompting, ask questions like:

  • Can you recall your earliest memory?
  • Is there an embarrassing moment in your life?
  • Growing up, what did you enjoy most?
  • What would you change about your life if you could?
  • When you became a parent, did you promise never to do anything your parents did?
  • How did your mom make you feel?

Similarly, you could ask her to share her favorite family recipes, and then compile them into a book. Give copies to all your family members as low-cost gifts.

Write her a letter or poem.

It’s rare to find handwritten notes these days, so why not drop your mom a note? What if you went one step further and spent a month or a year creating a journal just for her

Whether you give it to her on Mother’s Day or any other time, she will be able to reminisce about how much she is loved over and over again.

10 Create a coupon book for her.

The thought of “What can I do for Mother’s Day” begins to dominate your thoughts as the date draws closer. However, you can make this time memorable by making her a handmade coupon book.

Obviously, she’ll enjoy grocery coupons. However, don’t just give mom coupons on daily chores. If you want to make her feel special, give her coupons for movies, museums, her favorite restaurant, spa treatments, and boutiques. Besides your time, you won’t spend a dime.

Try scrapbooking.

Give mom a keepsake gift she will cherish. You and your mom will have a lot of fun creating your scrapbook. You will be appreciated for taking the time and effort to create something for her.

Cook together.

Spending time together while cooking is fun for the whole family. By cooking together, you can form closer bonds and create lifelong memories. In addition to listening, sharing, and talking with your mom, you can also use the time to catch up.

Choose a recipe from your family that has been passed down — ideally using ingredients you already have. And, now that you have this recipe, you can prepare it for mom next year.

Split the bill among the siblings.

Consider splitting the cost between your siblings if you need to spend money to make your mother feel special. You may want to ask your siblings if they would be willing to chip in as a family to get mom one grand gift or a bigger outing.

Call her.

I know. This is cliché. As far as I know, this advice has existed since the invention of the telephone. Even if you live far away and haven’t talked in a while, pick up the phone and call your mother — or even better, have a video call. You won’t have to spend anything, and she will be grateful.

Better yet? Make sure you call her regularly by setting up a recurring reminder on your calendar. This is the perfect Mother’s Day gift that keeps on giving. Besides putting a smile on her face, a study from Wisconsin’s Child Emotion Lab, found that hearing your mother’s voice over the phone reduces stress just like a hug.


Who started Mother’s Day?

Today reports that Anna Jarvis was the one who created the current version of Mother’s Day in the early 1900s. Her efforts led to Congress recognizing Mother’s Day, founding the Mother’s Day International Association, and even trademarking the phrase “Mother’s Day” and “second Sunday in May.” In the Civil War, Jarvis’ mother had called for “Mothers Work Days” to improve conditions for soldiers on both sides.

What is a traditional Mother’s Day gift?

It’s not unusual for florists to sell huge bouquets of exotic flowers and designer names, but traditional gifts are single carnations.

In addition, a research study explains why moms love getting flowers. Nancy Etcoff, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, conducted a study that concluded that flowers affect human behavior, making people feel more compassionate and happier.

For Mother’s Day, what are some ideas?

We recommend spending time outdoors during this time of year since it is usually sunny and warm. A picnic, kayaking, hiking, or a stroll in the park are all fun ways to spend this day.

A good, homecooked meal is a must if you choose to stay at home. You can also organize a movie night, play board games, look at family photos, or karaoke session at home. You could also give her a gift card to a spa or restaurant.

Can I get free food on Mother’s Day?

During Mother’s Day, moms deserve some freebies and discounts. This is why on Mother’s Day, many places offer free food to moms.

It is not always the case that restaurants offer free meals as a whole, but sometimes only a specific course is offered for free. TCBY, for example, offers free frozen yogurt, wine, and burgers. The Shoney’s chain provides free strawberry pie slices to mothers, and Primanti Bros gives away free sandwiches.

For Mother’s Day, what are the best homemade gifts?

Depending on your skills and abilities, there are many options to choose from. The perfect gift for a mom who doesn’t want anything is original artwork and flowers. Embroider fabric flowers or pillows with unique messages.

You can also make molds of your hands or feet. Create your own treasure hunt with your own “Why I love you?” messages. Or, give your mom a day off from chores, and let her enjoy sleeping in, reading, or whatever else she wants to do.

John Rampton

John Rampton

John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old, while attending the University of Utah, he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months, he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time, he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and Finance Expert by Time. He is the Founder and CEO of Due.

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