Smart Buying

10 Affordable Gifts for Mother's Day

You don't have to spend a lot to show Mom how much you love her.

Finding the perfect gift for Mom on Mother's Day isn't always easy. You might assume that you need to pull out all the stops and spend big bucks to show her how much you appreciate all that she does. But, the truth is, you don't have to spend that much to show Mom you love her. More than 40% of women surveyed by coupon and deal site Offers.com said they would prefer sentimental and handmade gifts for Mother's Day, May 12.

So if you're trying to come up with gift ideas for Mother's Day, here are ten that are thoughtful and affordable -- and, in some cases, free. Most of these ideas actually come from moms, so they are guaranteed to please.

1. Do-nothing day. Plenty of moms -- especially those with young children -- would love to spend the day not having to lift a finger. They also would like the opportunity to have a day to do just what they want to do, without the kids tagging along. So give your mom (or the mother of your children) a card that tells her she's entitled to a day off -- and be sure to honor it.

2. Spa day. About a quarter of the moms surveyed for a recent Ebates.com poll said they would like to receive a spa day for Mother's Day. Many spas offer Mother's Day specials for massages and other services, so call around to find the best deal. Or you can purchase a SpaFinder Wellness Gift Card, which won't expire and can be redeemed at 20,000 spas, yoga, pilates and fitness studios nationwide.

3. A clean car. Mom's car can get downright disgusting after shuttling kids around all the time. So grab the kids and a garbage bag and put them to work picking up all the junk they deposited in the back seats. Then have them help you wash the car (or take Mom's car to the car wash if the kids are too little to help).

4. Customized necklace. May isn't a good month to buy jewelry because stores often hike prices in anticipation of Mother's Day. However, you can find affordable necklaces with charms that can be engraved with children's names online at Etsy.com. Prices start at about $25, and moms love this sort of personalized gift.

5. Photo mug. Plenty of companies, such as Snapfish, will let you create mugs with photos on them for about $11. This gift is ideal for a grandmother who would appreciate a creative way to show off pictures of the grandkids.

6. Plants and flowers for the yard. Rather than opting for the typical bouquet, buy a potted plant, flowering bush or tree that will last for years. Or let Mom take a solo trip to the nursery to buy plants for the garden -- then plant them for her. For a more budget-friendly gift (a free one, actually), you could weed the yard for your wife or mom.

7. Photo album (for the non-scapbooking mom). A year after my first daughter was born, I created a photo album with pictures of her for my mom. I recently came across the album and wished I had one of my own. All of our photos are digital and we rarely print them out -- and I'm sure my household isn't the only one where this is the case. So print out your pictures, put them in an album and let mom enjoy looking at them the old-fashioned way. Or upload your digital phots to a site such as Shutterfly to create a photo book.

8. A clean house. Give Mom a break from her daily chores and do them for her (the way she would want them done). Wash the dishes, do the laundry, sweep the floors and make up the beds. Or consider hiring a maid service to do some serious spring cleaning to spare your mom (or wife) from this day-long task.

9. Frame the kids' art. Moms with young children will surely get a few pieces of handcrafted art from the kids for Mother's Day (and countless drawings throughout the year). Make it easy for her to display and store them with a frame that lets you do both. DynamicFRAMES Lil Davinci Art Cabinet allows mom to display one 8.5 x 11 work of kid's art and store 50 more ($29.95).

10. Make a donation in mom's name. For the mom who already has everything, make a donation in her name to her favorite charity or motherhood-related organization. To find a charity you can trust, see Charity Navigator.

Bonus idea. Give a gift to yourself that you'll cherish when mom no longer is around. Take the time this Mother's Day to sit down with your mom and ask her to share family stories that you can record or write down in a journal that can be shared with other family members.

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