5 Meaningful Mother’s Day Gifts You Can Make for Free

A child works on an art project at home
Getty Images

Many stores aren’t open and online ordering is getting old, but not to worry. Moms have always loved gifts from the heart more than anything store-bought. 

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This Mother’s Day especially, there’s more reason than ever before for children of all ages to make a gift for Mom. They can make something that will be remembered for years to come as a gift of love and hope during this difficult time. 

Here are some ideas to get the creative and sentimental juices flowing.

Portrait Made From Found Objects 

Pictured is a portrait of a man with a mustache made out of found objects.
A portrait of Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, made from found objects. He is featured in the Netflix true crime documentary miniseries “Tiger King.” Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

No drawing or painting required. Just objects. You don’t have to be an artist to create a striking portrait of yourself, your mom, your mom’s favorite celebrity or perhaps, just, an icon of the moment.

Take tips from Hanoch Piven, Israeli mixed media artist known internationally for celebrity caricatures. He barely draws a line, instead using found objects that have a connection to the person in the portraits. Broken chains form Abraham Lincoln’s beard. Albert Einstein’s nose is a bright-idea light bulb, while Barbara Streisand’s is a microphone. Bob Dylan’s mouth is a harmonica. Get the idea? 

So if Mom works in IT, use a jumble of old cords for her hair and flash drives for eyebrows. If Mom is a math teacher, try dice for her eyes, and pencil pieces forming a smile for her mouth. If she loves to read, print out titles of her favorite books to make up her eyes and mouth, and try a light bulb for her nose.Get the idea?

Not every feature has to correspond to her profession or interest. You can also incorporate sticks, leaves, candy, coins, nails and bolts. (The red rind off all the cheese that’s being consumed these days makes for a perfect mouth.)

A Mom Book

Instead of Mom filling in a baby book about a child’s first steps, first foods and favorite lullabies, children ages 5 to 65 can create a book with questions about her and her experiences as a mother. 

  • What other names did you think of for us but decide against? 
  • What children’s books did you like the most and the least ? 
  • What TV shows or movies drove you crazy? 
  • What did we do that landed us in timeout?
  • What caused some of the most memorable tantrums?
  • What songs did you always play in the car? 

Write each question at the top of a page of notebook paper. Decorate the pages with a pattern or small design. Tie the pages together with yarn or ribbon.

The most important part of the present is to have Mom answer the questions herself or dictate her responses to a “family historian” by the end of Mother’s Day. Unlike many baby books, The Mom Book must be completed to become a true treasure. 

Coupons for Time Together, Not Tasks

Home-made coupons have been a go-to gift for many years. But usually they are to wash the car or walk the dog. And often, the well-intended offer never actually comes to fruition. Give coupons that MUST be redeemed on Mother’s Day that offer the gift of togetherness. Children any age offer to: 

  • Give mom a hand massage.
  • Read mom a book. 
  • Watch a movie together, her pick.
  • Go through photo albums together.
  • Go on a walk together. 

My Mom Rocks

This photo shows a pile of hand-painted rocks.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Find rocks in the yard and paint them with nailpolish or leftover paint from the garage. Paint cute bugs, flowers, the sun or a pattern. Put them together on a plate on which you can paint: “My Mom Rocks!”

Game On for a Custom Necklace 

Make a pendant or pin using some of the board games or jigsaw puzzles your family has pulled out recently. 

If you can find a magnetic or pin-on name tag, use that for your base. If not, glue together two or three poker chips or game cards, then glue those to a pin backing from a craft store. (You can get a pack of 26 for $3.19 at Michaels after the fact if needed.)

Then customize it:

  • An older child or adult can glue puzzle pieces or game cards to the base. 
  • A younger child can paint this abstract creation and sprinkle glitter on it.
  • You can incorporate a Monopoly house, a Clue candlestick, or a car from the game of Life, or dice from any game.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in St. Petersburg, Florida, and author of the book Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.