11 free or cheap Mother’s Day gift ideas that cost little or no money

The value of a Mother’s Day gift is not how much you spend. It’s the time you take to prepare it, the thought you put into doing something that speaks to your mom, and the love you put into the gift. A perfect Mother’s Day gift doesn’t even have to be a tangible item, and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent.

Just because you’re on a tight budget doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to give your Mom this spring. Here are 11 Mother’s Day gift ideas that cost little or no money that she will definitely love.

Photo: Deposit Photos

1. Do the chores she hates.

Does Mom wish the fairies would come and clean all the dishes while she sleeps? Be the magical creature who makes all her dreams come true. Offer to take on a chore she usually does, like housecleaning or laundry, and send her off to read a good book or take a leisurely walk with friends.

2. Help with the big projects.

The larger house tasks might be beyond Mom – either because she’s older or because she doesn’t have time with work deadlines and childcare. Helping with those tasks is free to you and a huge relief to her. Get rid of the junk in her basement. Paint her walls. Weed her garden. Organize the hall closet. She wants those tasks off her list more than she wants a new piece of jewelry.

3. Write her a story or poem. 

If you’re an adult, write a story about something Mom did that changed your life or that left you with a good memory. Make it a short story or even write it as a poem (it doesn’t have to rhyme) and print it out to bind or frame. Little kids can gift mom a poem or drawing they did themselves; bonus points to Dad if he frames them. Alternatively, children can write and perform their own play in honor of their mom. She’ll love it!

4. Organize her photos.

Schedule a time to come over and help Mom put pictures into a photo album while she tells you all about the people and experiences in them. If she already has all of her photos in albums, you could take careful notes and type them up to add to the photo albums later. Or, help her assemble important photos to digitize. This is also a gift for you and future generations, but many moms would love to pass this information on. 

5. Let her sleep in.

Moms of young kids never get enough sleep. The baby is crying for milk in the middle of the night, the preschoolers are jumping on her bed at o-dark-thirty or she’s staying up too late to find a few quiet moments for herself. It costs nothing for Dad to wake up early, feed the baby and entertain the kids and let mom sleep in until 10 am. The family can use the time to get more surprises ready for Mom, like breakfast in bed.

6. Babysit.

A great free gift for grandparents to give their grown daughters is babysitting. Grandma gets the gift of special time with the grandkids, while Mom can enjoy the rare date night with Dad. Or, Dad can schedule a night to stay home with the kids while Mom joins her friends for a Ladies’ Night Out. After sleep, this is what a young mom wants most.

Free Mother's Day gifts - Young man and his mother using laptop

Photo: Deposit Photos

7. Collect her stories and recipes.

Oh the stories an older mom could tell! Interview your mother about her childhood and married years, and record it all on video. Ask her to tell stories or even sing songs. Or, transcribe her words or journals into an online document, print it out in a large yet pretty font and bind it together for a gift of a memory book. Maybe even pair her written-down stories with some family photos; you can easily create a gift like that on Shutterfly or another photo book site.

Similarly, get her to give or tell you her favorite family recipes, and put them together in a book for her. Make copies as low-cost gifts for the entire family.

8. Give Mom time off from family.

Let’s be honest; moms love their families, but sometimes they need a break from clingy kids. And if you live near extended family, Mom might not care to spend her special day pampering her mother-in-law. Let Mom have the afternoon off to do whatever she likes (or nothing at all) without having to entertain in-laws or offspring.

9. Spend time together.

Young adults don’t always prioritize spending time with their mothers, so a free Mother’s Day present is the gift of your time. Take mom on a hike or a walk through a botanical garden. Invite her to dinner at your apartment, even if it’s just spaghetti. If your mom is older, make a point to spend Mother’s Day with her; come for a chat and bring her flowers or treats you baked. She will cherish the time you spend together.

10. Teach her something.

Does Mom struggle to use the computer? Has she always wanted to learn about photography or how to bake your famous apple pie? If you have a skill that your mother would like to have, make your Mother’s Day gift a personal lesson from you. It’s free to you and priceless for her.

11. Give her advice.

In a similar vein, taking the time to give advice on a project that’s got Mom stumped is another free gift idea she’ll appreciate. Perhaps she needs help planning a Bucket List vacation, or is trying to figure out what to plant in her new garden. She might need your expert eye on how to rearrange the living room or what she should wear to the family wedding this summer. Your attention and thoughtful opinion will make her happy and cost you nothing.

12. Call her.

Call your mother! It’s age-old advice (well, since the invention of the telephone). If you live far away and don’t speak often, pick up the phone and call your mother. It doesn’t cost much, if anything, and she will be so pleased you thought of her. Even better, put a recurring reminder in your calendar to call her on a regular basis. It’s the ultimate Mother’s Day gift — and one that keeps on giving.

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