Being a good, responsible, and dedicated mother is perhaps one of the hardest jobs in the world. There are no off days or sick days. You get no salary, no benefits package, and the working conditions and hours can be insane. But the role does come with huge upside potential – a lifetime of purpose, memories, rewards, personal growth, and meaning. So why would I “cheapen” this by opting for an inexpensive Mother’s Day gift?
I believe that the best gifts that show your deep appreciation and love also happen to be the ones that you just can’t grab off of a shelf. In fact, I believe that many “traditional” gifts can sometimes come off as being easy and thoughtless. In my opinion, the best gifts are from the heart and made with your time and efforts. As author and evangelical pastor Rick Warren said,
Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life… and the greatest gift.”
Here are 5 gifts that I feel are quite meaningful yet inexpensive. But they do require your time and efforts.
5 Meaningful Inexpensive Gifts
1. A handmade card. I’ve received many cards over the years, especially when I was an educator. But the ones that stand out from all the rest are the ones that are handmade. They are one-of-a-kind, thoughtful, and priceless – just like your mum!
2. A photo collage. Gather your favourite photos and put them together to make a photo collage or mosaic. There are plenty of free collage templates or collage-making software available on the internet (here are some great examples). I once made a photo mosaic of my father for Father’s Day using Andrea Mosaic. The software program is free and fairly straightforward. The company I use to print personalized photo gifts is artscow. (They are based in China, so shipping can take up to 2 weeks.) For faster same-day service, you could check out your nearest Kodak Express print centre.
3. A personalized video message. There are tons of free video editors on the web. If you have a PC, Windows Movie Maker is one of the easiest video editors I’ve ever used. If you really want to keep it simple, you can just record a video using your smartphone and not bother with editing. As long as it’s sincere and from the heart, chances are your mum will love it.
4. Personalized artwork. Whether it’s a drawing, poem, song, or a craft, your creativity is sure to impress and touch your mum’s heart. Perhaps you want to give her an award. There are plenty of free printable certificates on the internet to choose from. But if you are using one as a template, just make sure you write something meaningful in it. You could also decorate it to give it some flare. I recommend going to Daiso for art and craft supplies.
5. A jar filled with personal messages. This is an idea that I remember from way back in secondary school. My then teacher told us to write something nice about everyone else in the class. We had to start each sentence with “I” (e.g., I think you are nice) instead of with “You” (e.g. “You are friendly”). The teacher said that “I” statements are thought to be more powerful, sincere, and meaningful. For the purpose of this class exercise, we were told to keep the comments anonymous.
This one exercise yielded tremendous results. It brought everyone in my class closer together. There was more respect, harmony, and happiness among the students. The notes helped to build up each person’s self-esteem at an age when self-image and self-worth were highly fragile. We were told to take all our notes home and post it in our room so that we can read it from time to time.
You can do something similar for Mother’s Day. Why not put 20 or 52 (one for each week) positive “I” statements in a jar that express your love and appreciation for your mum. Whenever she needs a boost from a stressful day, this “jar of love” will be there as a reminder of how valuable she is in your life.
Dresses, shoes, handbags, and even jewelry will go in and out of fashion. And eventually these will be discarded once they are no longer fitting. But these simple, inexpensive, yet meaningful gifts, will never go out of style!
I’ve lived through a few natural disasters, ones in which you had to abandon your belongings in an instant. Not long ago (in 2008), the homes of two of my good friends burned down completely. One of them was lucky enough to quickly grab some items before the flames engulfed her home. What did she take before evacuating? Her photo albums, cards, and other mementos given to her by her kids and husband.
Save your money, and spend your time. Isn’t that what your mother would have advised anyway?