Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s hard for me to believe that it is May already. I mean, wasn’t it just March? Advertising gives us a whole barrage of guilt and status-based suggestions for pricy gifts. Apparently, jewelry is something that good adult children are supposed to give their mothers! Well, then call me a bad child, because I have never given my mother any sort of jewelry. If you don’t count the TV that was on sale and my siblings and I split the cost, I’ve never given my mother any gift valued over $20. For Mother’s Day? Make that $10.
Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate mothers and thank them for the, often thankless, job they do. Growing up, my mother and I had our ups and down which are completely normal and to be expected. In the end, I really couldn’t have asked for a better mom.
So what does a frugal person (or more importantly a person with a frugal mom), do for Mother’s Day? The three most common gifts seem to be flowers, jewelry, and perfume.
I never really got cut flowers. When did giving somebody a dead plant become a great gift idea? Besides, Mother’s Day is one of those holidays where the price skyrockets due to demand.
Jewelry, aside from the better quality stuff being expensive, has two problems. The first is that not everybody actually likes jewelry. My wife hardly ever wears jewelry beside her wedding ring. And even is someone wears jewelry, it’s not easy, at least not to me, to capture a person’s style and find something they will like.
If it is hard to capture another person’s style in jewelry, it’s impossible for perfume. My general rule of thumb when it comes to scents: no person has any business trying to buy one for another person. I’ve received a number of bottles of after-shave that I’ve never worn because, frankly, they smelled like wet dog to me.
5 Frugal Ideas for Mother’s Day
1) A phone call.
Almost 4 years ago, I moved 1800 miles from the home in which I grew up. I started out making regular weekly phone calls to my mother and to all of my friends. Then it slipped to monthly, then, to whenever I got around to it. I think I had a total of three conversations with my best friend last year. I stay in better touch with my mother, but not frequent enough.
Chances are, neither do you if there is any kind of distance separating you. If you live too far away to visit, take them time to call her. And not some rushed, “Happy Mother’s Day. Talk to you later” call. Have a conversation.
2) Cook a meal
How many meals did your mother cook for you when you were a kid? For Mother’s Day, return the favor. Any schmuck can take someone out to a restaurant and whip out the plastic. Showing that you truly care means taking the time to make it yourself. Don’t think you can cook? Sure you can. If you can read, you can cook!
Another role that most mothers get stuck into is cleaning the house. This year, surprise your mom by giving her a spring cleaning.
4) Other chores
With my father away so much of the time, there are certain things around the house that simply just aren’t able to get done. Last time I was visiting, I wound up chopping fire wood in August, so it would be available for her in the winter. If there are any chores that your mother isn’t able to get done herself, take care of them for her.
5) Gift cards from rewards
“Gift cards” aren’t something that most people associate with a frugal gift or particularly personal. But I think gift cards can be personal. You just have to take the time to pick one for a place that they would want to shop. If you have a credit card with rewards points, you can redeem them. Other places where you can pick up gift cards without spending any money on them are paid surveys or Swagbucks. These do work. I recently bought a Kindle Fire for just 50 cents after applying Amazon gift cards I had gotten from redeemed points from those activities.
What is your favorite frugal Mother’s Day gift idea?