Time’s are tough. But being flat broke doesn’t mean you can’t make your mom feel special on Mother’s Day. Here are 27 awesome and totally cheap Mother’s Day ideas for gifts, outings, activities and fun!
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Has record-breaking inflation got your wondering what to get your mom for Mother’s Day if you’re broke? You are not alone. Most people are having a hard time scraping together enough money for gas and groceries let alone gifts for special occasions.
But since moms are super smart, if you’re flat broke then she is well aware of that fact. And I highly doubt she wants you to spend your last remaining pennies on a box of chocolates for her.
Which begs the question:
What do Moms really want for Mother’s Day?
I’ve been a mom for 10 years. And I know exactly what I want. I want to feel loved, appreciated and valued. I want my family to be thoughtful and considerate. I would much rather they not spend a single penny on a gift and rather spend the time to plan and execute a fun activity or create a homemade card and experience.
You don’t have to spend much, or any, cash on making your mom feel special. You just have to put some careful thought into it.
And FIY, all of these cheap Mother’s Day ideas will also work for her birthday. You’re welcome.
Cheap Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day
Most of the cheap Mother’s Day ideas in this list are acts of service, time spent, etc. Not much in the way of physical gifts. Because in my opinion, it’s hard to pull off a cheap gift in a way that’s not obvious you spent a tiny amount. Unless you’re a kid under 16 who has produced a gift of any kind. Then you get a pass. lol
(If you’re in the under 16 category, check out this post of 22 Easy Mother’s Day Crafts for Kids.)
But I’m assuming the readers of this post are in the 18 and up category. Let me say it loud and clear: YOUR MOM JUST WANTS TO KNOW THAT YOU CARE! The way you do that, on the cheap, is to spend time and effort on showing her that you treasure her.
So, here we go!
What to get Your Mom for Mother’s Day if You’re Broke
1. Tasks Around the House
Off the top of my head, here are a few handyman/woman tasks that you could spend a few hours doing for your Mom. You can even make it a yearly tradition so that next year she has a list of tasks ready for you!
- Clean the gutters
- Clean the tops of the cabinets
- Fix a leaky faucet or toilet (Youtube can help!)
- Paint touch ups on doors and trim
- Hang photos or shelves
- Patch holes
- Replace hardware
2. Participate in an Activity She Loves
You could offer to be her dance partner in the classes she’s always wanted to take. Or find some online cooking videos to do together. Take an interest in the things that interest her. That will speak volumes of love.
Draw on your memories of the hours she spent listening to you go on and on about Pokemon or Minecraft as a child. Remember those times and realize that she’d be ecstatic if you took an hour a week to focus on her interests.
3. Detail Her Car
Wash, vacuum and scrub inside and out! Apply a coat of wax and get that car nice and shiny.
4. Go to Church with Her
Mother’s Day falls on a Sunday. So if she’s a church-goer, I’m sure she’d love it so much if you attended a service with her. Followed by spending some time together in another way. It will mean so much to her and you’ll earn some serious brownie points!
5. Get a Friend to Take Family Photos
Find a great location with lots of light, maybe a public garden or an atrium with big windows and make sure everyone gets the memo to wear their Sunday best. Then ask a friend (preferably one who has a good camera, but even cell phone pics will do the trick.) to take some family photos. Parents absolutely cherish family photos.
You can even offer to swap with a friend, if they take your family pics, you can take theirs. Keeping the whole thing as free as possible. 🙂
6. Game Night
Plan a fun game night with some family favourites, or introduce mom to a new game that you’ve borrowed. Make sure there are snacks!
7. Movie Marathon
Line up a series of movies to watch together. Plan out a movie bingo game, (or drinking game if your mom is into that) and have lots of popcorn ready! You can buy a big bag of kernels for very cheap then have fun assembling some flavouring and toppings.
8. Cook Her a Nice Meal
Yes it’s a little cliché, but for good reason. Spoil her with a 3 course meal and a delicious dessert. Choose simple recipes to keep the ingredient cost down. Things like carrot soup, homemade biscuits, fruit & ice cream and a pasta salad won’t cost very much.
How Can I Surprise My Mom With No Money?
You can surprise her by doing tasks with a smile that you might normally grumble about having to do. Surprise her with thoughtfulness. Surprise her by making her a priority for the whole day.
9. Help Her with Technology Issues
She taught you how to use the toilet, you can teach her how to use Instagram. Maybe her printer won’t connect or she can’t get Netflix to load on her tablet. Help her sort out all the tech problems she’s been collecting and she’ll be so happy!
10. Garden Work
It’s the perfect time of year to get the garden beds sorted out. Ask her what needs to be raked & cleaned out, add compost or mulch, plant some things.
11. Create a Slideshow
Make a slideshow, complete with emotional music, of your favourite family photos and memories together.
12. Plan an Outing
Plan an outing to the beach, or park for a hike and a picnic. It’s sweet and thoughtful.
13. Scavenger Hunt
Send her on a little scavenger hunt around the neighbourhood or around town. Pick meaningful locations and hide little notes or photos that tell her how much you love her.
14. Organize a BBQ Potluck
Invite neighbours or other family that might not have their own Mother’s Day plan. Make it a potluck. Your gift is organizing the event, planning out some fun lawn games and music and setting up the chairs.
15. Organize a High Tea
Have your mom invite her friends over who don’t have other plans. Tell them all to wear their best hats. Brew a selection of tea and make cucumber sandwiches and jam cookies.
16. DIY Spa Day
If you’ve got the skills, give your mom’s hair a blowout and her nails a manicure. Make some homemade facials and steam bowls and put on some relaxing music.
17. Run Errands
Help your mom out with some big errands like picking up furniture, building supplies or bags and bags of topsoil. Stuff she can’t do solo.
18. Clean Out the Attic
Help her out with big purging projects she’s been overwhelmed with. The garage, basement and attic are all problem areas to tackle. Those big projects can be really daunting when you’re trying to do them alone. Take a car load of stuff to donate so she won’t have to, and make sure all the trash is ready for pickup.
What Can I do for Mother’s Day Cheap?
Here are a few cheap Mother’s Day ideas that you can easily pull off for under $20.
19. Book or Movie List
Gift her a copy of a really great book you’ve read or movie you’ve seen. Level up that gift by including a list of other titles you think she’d really enjoy and where she can track them down. (Library, bookstore, Amazon.) But do the legwork for her. Level up even more by including a bag of treats for her to enjoy while she reads!
20. Memory Book
Create a memory book for her of an event you experienced together (like a wedding or a trip), or just of the past year. It could be in the form of a photobook or a scrapbook. Include lots of space for her to write in her own thoughts.
21. DIY Gift
You can always make her a beautiful and inexpensive DIY gift. Check out this post of 18 Last Minute DIY Mother’s Day Gifts. There are some amazing ideas in there.
22. Potted Plant
A cute potted plant is generally not too expensive. Level it up by painting or decorating a terra cotta pot to match your mom’s decor.
23. Normalize Thrift Store Gifts
We’ve started including thrift store finds in birthday and Christmas gift-giving. As long as the treasures you find are in good shape, then there’s nothing wrong with it! You can score some great books, art, kitchenwares, board games and other trinkets for much less than you’d spend to buy them new.
24. Dollar Store Gift Basket
Disclaimer: If you’re shopping at the Dollar Store for a Mother’s Day gift, try to only buy brand name items. As a mom, I can tell you with certainty that I don’t want any dollar store junk as a gift. (Unless the giver is a toddler. haha)
But I was at the dollar store yesterday and I scored a Neutrogena sunscreen for $4 that typically retails for $12.99. THAT’S a great find! I also spotted some interesting novels for $3 each.
So definitely give it a shot. Try to assemble a gift basket of treats, housewares, books or cosmetics. As long as no one can tell you bought it all at the dollar store, then you’re good!
25. Make a Wreath for her Front Door
You can find a wreath form at your local craft store for a few dollars. Then get creative and shop around in your own home for Spring time items you could use to decorate it. Ribbons or fabric from upcycled clothing, bits of decor you don’t use anymore, faux flowers, anything goes if you can blend it all together nicely!
26. Tourist in Your Own Town
Take your mom out for a tour of your own town, or maybe a neighbouring town. If your town is low on interesting sites, then invent some! Make it a fantasy tour with locations like “The spot where the first unicorn was born” and other nonsense. It would be so much fun! Wear touristy hats and cameras around your neck. make some signage and take lots of silly photos.
27. Garden Tour
Scout out some great local gardens ahead of time and take your mom out on a garden tour. Make it a scavenger hunt for specific plants.
That’s it for this list of cheap Mother’s Day ideas. I think it’s fairly comprehensive! I hope you are able to connect with at least one of these ideas and that your mom feels so loved this Mother’s Day. 🙂
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