This year, skip the cut flower arrangements that are too expensive and will wilt in three days. Instead, check out this list of 25 gift ideas for under $50, so you can splurge on mom without busting your own budget. And we’ve added a few ideas this year for helping mom reach her own financial goals with your thoughtful gift.
1. Time Alone
As a working mom of two, I can tell you that the ones out there who are actively momming would probably appreciate this gift just as much as I do each year. Let mom sleep in or start the day off slowly at a coffee shop all by herself. We adore our children, it’s true. But time alone is precious these days. This is the perfect gift for moms who still have littles in the home.
2. A Family Day
Second only to time all on my own is fun time with my family, especially fun time I don’t have to plan and manage. Again, if the mom you’re celebrating still has kids at home, have them help come up with ideas for a fun, relaxed family day together–one that involves no effort from mom. And if you’re treating an empty-nester mom or grandma, family time can be even more special.
3. A Meal She Doesn’t Need to Cook
I’ll admit that my husband does most of the cooking in our house, but that’s not true for a lot of moms. If your wife or mom does most of the cooking, plan a meal that she doesn’t have to plan, shop for, or clean up after. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Keep things simple, but keep the focus that mom doesn’t have to lift a finger other than to enjoy the meal, and she’ll be happy.
4. Home Decor Items
These can be tricky. You can quickly blow your $50 budget on fancy home decor items. But you can also go too far into kitsch-land for moms who don’t love knick knacks. Still, if you take stock of mom’s decorating style, you can probably find an interesting item to fit at a local store or even on Amazon for well under $50.
5. Flowers for the Garden
Cut flowers are nice and all. But they wilt pretty quickly and then are gone for good. If you really want to impress the mom in your life, buy something she can plant in her garden, preferably a perennial she can enjoy year after year. If you know nothing about gardening, be sure to consult a friend who does before you dive into this territory. If mom is an active gardener, feel her out for what she might like. If she isn’t, look into something that can fill a spot in her back yard without creating more work for her in the long run.
6. A New Book (and time to read it)
Libraries are great, but sometimes having a new book of my own is wonderful, too. This is especially true if it’s a helpful non-fiction book and I want to be able to underline profusely and scribble in the margins. There’s bound to be a relatively new publication out there that’ll fit her reading preferences, regardless of what they are. Just be sure the book comes with a certificate for a hour to herself to start reading it!
7. A Share of An Interesting Company
Whether or not the mom you’re gifting already invests, she might be interested in an investment in a company she likes. This could be a company she shops with often or one that gives back to causes she holds dear. Either way, a share of a company can be a great way to add to mom’s retirement investments or get her started on the way.
Also, think about introducing mom to Ellevest–a robo advisor with a female-focused investing approach. The best part is there are no fees and no minimum to join. So you can open an account for free and even put a bit of money in there to get mom’s investment journey going. Learn more about Ellevest.
8. The Start of a Dream Fund
Often times moms are the ones who put their own dreams on the back burner to further everyone else’s. That’s just part of motherhood, but it doesn’t need to be that way forever. If you know your mom or wife has been dreaming of something big, whether it’s traveling to a particular destination, renovating a room in the home, or even going back to school, help make that dream a reality. Open a high-yield savings account just for that dream, and kick off the fund for Mother’s Day. And if you’re her husband or partner, see if you can commit to setting aside even a few dollars of the family budget each month to help the fund grow.
9. A Donation to a Charity
What about the mom who has everything? She might love a gift to a charity she supports on her behalf. Such a gift shows her she’s done well in raising you, and that you know about the types of things she cares about.
10. A Handmade Gift
Handmade gifts can be great when they’re done right. Let’s be honest; any gift with my two-year-old’s handprints or seven-year-old’s handwriting on it is automatically precious to me. But if my husband wants to hand-make something, I prefer that it be useful, beautiful, or both. So help the kids make their own gifts for mom or grandma. Then put your own real skills to work to make something she can use or enjoy.
11. A Bottle of Wine
Wine and coffee are the mom things du jour, and many of us do enjoy a glass of wine when unwinding in the evening. In our house, we generally buy affordable wine from our favorite store, Aldi. But I like a more expensive wine when I can get it, and I bet the wine-loving mom in your life does, too. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a nice bottle of wine that may be different from what she typically drinks, and so a real treat.
12. Family Photos
A $50 budget might be tight for family photos, which usually cost upwards of $125 per session, at least in my midwestern area. But you might be able to connect with a new photographer or a student photographer who is willing to take family photos. Here’s one thing, though: don’t spring these on any mom in your life! Most moms want to have some say in what everyone wears and how they, in particular look. But if you can find an excellent deal on a mini family photo session, snap up a gift certificate and help mom get it scheduled.
13. Dinner Out
You don’t have to spend a fortune to treat mom to a nice dinner out. For a mom who usually eats at home, this can be even nicer than a homemade meal she doesn’t have to plan. Something about not being at home, too, can be good for moms who often have trouble turning off the running list of stuff that needs to be done in their heads. (Ask me how I know!)
Related: Best Credit Cards for Dining Out
14. A Coffee Date with a Friend
Want a time out that’s a little less spendy than a full dinner? Get her a gift card to her favorite local coffee joint, and then arrange for her to go out to coffee with a friend. Too many moms don’t get to spend one-on-one time with good friends, which can be refreshing for the soul. This may take a little work, since you’ll have to plan for two moms instead of one. But it can be worth the effort!
15. Chores Around the House
Whether the mom you’re gifting works or stays at home, chances are she feels like there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done. I, personally, keep a spreadsheet list of all the home projects and deep cleaning issues I want to tackle someday in the future when there is finally time. The mom in your life is likely no different. For this gift, focus on tackling one or two big chores–cleaning out the garage or the basement, doing some back yard work, etc.–that she likely feels she’ll never be able to get to.
16. A Make-and-Take Date
There are lots of great make-and-take places popping up around the country. Whether it’s paint your own pottery, make your own pottery, or the places that let you paint a canvas and drink wine, they’re a great way to spend time together and come away with a memento, to boot. Scheduling a date for one of these places is two birds and one stone: mom gets time with you and a gift to take home.
17. Gifts From The Littles
When you’re looking at shopping for the mom in your life, make sure that she gets gifts from her littles–whether her children or grandchildren–too. This is a pretty easy gift, and you can probably add it to whatever other gift you’re already planning on. Here’s a hint: If the kids in question are under the age of five, Google “Mother’s Day handprint crafts” for a place to start. You’re welcome.
18. A Spa Appointment
This could be one of the more expensive items on our list. But if you check out places like Groupon, you can get discounted spa services like massages and more. And even if you can’t, you may be able to find a place locally that is running a Mother’s Day special for pedicures or shorter massages. You can pamper the mom in your life and stick to your budget.
19. A Fun Subscription Box
Subscription boxes are some of my personal favorite gifts because it’s so fun to receive a gift long after the gifting occasion is over. On a tight budget, you may only be able to do a month or two of a subscription box, but it’s still a fun surprise. Check out this list of subscription boxes for ideas to start with. (Hint: The Earring of the Month Club, which I’ve used personally, is only $10 to $12 per month, so you could actually stretch that $50 budget over several months!)
20. A Cooking Class
This could be a cruel joke for moms who don’t love cooking but have to do it anyway, so tread carefully! But if the mom in your life does love to cook, a cooking class can be a way to help her spice things up, literally.
21. A Surprise Family Gathering
I know all the grandmas in my life love nothing better than having all of their children and grandchildren together. And now that we’re into the fourth generation on my side of the family, that’s harder than ever. Not only do the kids have kids, but their kids have kids, too, and everyone has sports and work and generally busy lives. Any time we can get everyone together, even if only for an afternoon, my grandma is over the moon.
22. Digital Photo Storage
If the mom in your life doesn’t already have a digital camera, you can get one pretty cheaply. But then you need to hook them up with digital photo storage in the cloud, which could be free. Teach them to use this tool so their photos stay safe! My grandma once lost a year’s worth of photos on her digital camera, and she was so upset. So now we teach her to back up her phone photos online so she can always review them.
23. A Personal Documentary
Take your smartphone around for a few days and chat with different people who know and love this mom in your life. Ask questions about how they met, what she’s like, and what they love about her. Then use a free video editing tool to pull it all together into a personal documentary guaranteed to be a tear-jerker, in a good way.
24. Photo Gifts
If I’m a sucker for handprint gifts, I might be even more of a sucker for photo gifts. And online services have just so many photo gift options these days that there’s literally something for everyone. For young moms, pictures of her babies are always a good option. Grandmas might not have enough photos of the grandkids. Or if you can dig up retro family photos from when her kids were young, that could go over even better.
25. A Heartfelt Letter
Finally, you can never go wrong with just telling mom how you feel about her. You could do this with an email, a handwritten letter, or a mini video documentary of just yourself. Taking time to express memories of your mom, grandma, or wife and tell her what she means to you will always be a treasured gift that doesn’t have to cost a dime.
Shopping for moms around Mother’s Day doesn’t have to break the bank to end up with a gift that is truly meaningful for the mom in your life!