three generations of family

Mother’s day is fast approaching. Have you considered what you can give mom that she’ll love that won’t break the bank? What follows are a dozen frugal, yet practical ideas to impress mom with a thoughtful gift. A little patience and planning are all you need to give her a day to remember while staying on a tight budget. The majority of these gift ideas will cost $20 or less.

little girl planting a plant

Instead of buying a bouquet of flowers that will wilt and die in a couple of days, consider purchasing a nice large planter at a flea market and fixing it up. You can also purchase large terracotta pots at many retailers and paint them.  Plant a couple of her favorite herbs in a good potting soil. Herbs are very versatile and grow well in pots. She’ll love the personalized planter and make good use of the plants.

photo album

Scan old family photos and place them on a flash drive.  If you’re Photoshop savvy, you can even digitally enhance and repair the images. I’d also recommend storing the images in a private folder on Google drive in case the flash drive fails at some point down the line.

mom and daughter at spa

People tend to remember and value experiences more than trinkets.  Check Groupon for a great deal on a fun experience and give her a certificate for a future event. You can also do a simple search on the main page for “Mother’s Day” and you’ll see hundreds of results for gift ideas under $20.

photos on a table

Create a free photo collage using tools like Canva. Print your creation and frame it.  You can use a simple store bought frame, or go to the craft section and purchase a customizable frame and decorate it.

girl creating a video on her phone

Does your mom live far away? Don’t spend $50 sending flowers. Instead, create a custom video for mom. Lumen5 is a website that allows you to create a video out of an article for free.  Write a nice message, include favorite photos and compile a digital video message mom will love.  You can also record messages using your phone and compile them with Kizoa to share on FB or by email.

father and son with mother's day breakfast

Breakfast in bed.  Dad and the kids can all participate in preparing a nice meal and taking it to mom.  Let her stay in bed and read a favorite book or sleep in. Be sure that you clean up as you go along. It defeats the purpose if mom gets up to a wrecked kitchen and sink full of dishes.

father and daughter looking at news paper

Check your local paper.  Many businesses will offer great specials on or around Mother’s Day to attract more customers. In our area, free breakfast or brunches are the most common.  Keep in mind most of these specials require advanced reservations. has an extensive list of restaurants offering Mother’s Day specials.  Be sure to call ahead to double check the offer details.

repurposing old glass jars

Make something new again. Many flea markets have lovely smaller furniture pieces that are affordable and simply need some TLC.  We purchased a small vintage shelf for $10 that was dingy, but had “good bones”. With a bit of scrubbing, some paint and decoupage, it was a transformed into a beautiful, custom display case for her entryway.  Consider repurposing an item with mom’s favorite colors or style in mind, ideally something practical that she’ll enjoy using.

mother's day mug

Is mom a coffee lover? Purchase a large, solid-color mug and a couple of sharpies at the dollar store.  Make sure that the markers you use are indeed Sharpies or another oil based permanent marker. Wipe the mugs down with rubbing alcohol and allow them to air dry.  Touch them as little as possible and use your markers to customize the mug. Let the mugs sit for 24 hours and then place them on a cookie sheet in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 350, allowing the mugs to heat up with the oven.  Bake for 30 – 45 minutes. Remove and allow them to sit for another 24 hours. They will be usable but should only be hand washed for the best results. Fill the mug with a couple of sample packets of gourmet coffees.

basket of bath products

Help mom relax and soak her cares away with a custom bath basket.  Find someone who sells handmade soaps, bath bombs and similar items. You might look at a local gift shop or attend a local craft fair.  Purchase a dollar store basket and fill it with a rolled up washcloth, candle, body pouf and a couple of bars of nice, handmade soap or bath bombs etc.  This is more unique than buying a standard basket at a local chain retailer. Handmade bath products are a small luxury many women love, but won’t purchase for themselves.

woman scrapbooking

Scrapbook pages are fun, completely personal and very inexpensive.  There are hundreds of resources for free printables. I recommend going to Pinterest and doing a search for “free scrapbook printables” and “free scrapbook paper”.  Put your printer to work and design a few great pages and add them to a scrapbook. Every year you can create new pages and keep the tradition going. The Graphics Fairy is my favorite resource for free printables and tutorials.

decoupaging a vase

Create a custom vase using a simple decoupage technique.  You can purchase a small bottle of Mod Podge at many dollar stores.  Print your favorite image onto archival quality paper, seal it with a spray sealer and then decoupage it onto a jar or vase. Glass photo vases sell for up to $60 retail and you can easily make your own for $10 or less. Use Pinterest for inspiration and to get ideas on how to customize yours. Decoupage is a very simple crafting technique that yields great results and tutorials on how to do it are everywhere. You can find great glassware and vases at flea markets and even discount stores.

Any of these ideas will allow you to give mom a great gift for under $20 in most instances.  Most moms appreciate gifts that come from the heart and have some thought put into them. They don’t need to be expensive to be effective.

About Christin Sander

Christin is a simple living, frugal, DIY enthusiast who loves showing others how to live their best by embracing simplicity. She works full time as a freelance writer and artist.


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