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What Mom Really Wants (the perfect gift - you'll be surprised)

Updated on September 23, 2008

Make Your Mom Happy and Save Money

Pay attention, everyone who has or knows a mother or grandmother. I'm going to save you a great deal of frustration by helping you find the perfect gift for Mother's Day, her birthday or any other gift-giving occasion. The best part of it is that this perfect gift will be free or pretty cheap.

I'm about to let you in on the secret of what mothers really want. You moms might want to print this and leave it somewhere to be discovered by your loved ones (the bathroom seems like a good spot).

It's a Good Time to Save Money

With the current economic climate, many of us are hesitant or unable to splurge on an expensive gift for Mom. The good news is that your mom probably doesn't want or need that crystal vase, or those pretty-smelling bath salts, or even a big bouquet of roses. And, with a few exceptions, we DO NOT want cute stuffed animals. It doesn't really require a whole lot of thought to go out and buy whatever is being advertised. Grab a card, buy the gift and you're done. But what if you could make your mom even happier and save money at the same time?

The best gifts often cost little or nothing, but they require some thought and effort on your part. Here is my list of what I would like, and I'll bet a lot of other moms want the very same things.

This doesn't necessarily mean going out to a restaurant. Of course, going out is nice, but it's a special treat when a loved one cooks for you. And you can save a ton of money. It can be simple or a multi-course meal; I don't care. You can make spaghetti with sauce out of a jar as long as I don't have to cook it, serve it or clean up after it. You get extra points if you take the time to find out Mom's favorite food. Don't use paper towels;get out some real napkins, even if they are paper. Moms are so impressed when you make a fuss over them. Light a candle, steal a few of the neighbor's flowers for a nice centerpiece. If you love to cook, you don't need to read the rest of this section. Otherwise, read on for some good meal ideas. Please remember to clean up the kitchen afterwards. How to Set a Table

Here are some meal plans that you might want to try as a special surprise for Mom. Keep your skill level in mind; make something that you know will be successful.

Simple Brunch

Scrambled Eggs (How to Make Scrambled Eggs)

Bacon or Ham or Sausage

Biscuits (home-made or from the store)

Strawberries (dipped in chocolate?)


A Little Fancier Brunch

Quiche (make it yourself or get it frozen or fresh at the supermarket)

Fruit Salad

Rolls (Make your own yeast rolls or bake those pop-em-open cinnamon rolls that come in a tube)

Mom's Favorite Juice


Simple Supper

Chicken Caesar Salad

Loaf of French Bread from the Bakery

Wine, or Iced Tea, or whatever Mom likes to drink

Mom's Favorite Ice Cream for Dessert

Fresh Italian Dinner

Pasta Primavera

Tossed Salad

Bread Sticks (Make or buy)


Fresh Fruit for Dessert

South-of-the-Border Dinner

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Mexican Coleslaw

Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Fried Ice Cream

Marguaritas or Limeade

If you really don't know how to cook:

Frozen lasagna (yes, you still have to put it in the oven)

Order a pizza

Order Mom's favorite takeout

Can you cook on a grill?

Take Mom for a picnic, and pick up sandwiches at the deli.

Don't worry; Mom won't judge your cooking. She'll just be thrilled that you were willing to make the effort.

Recipes for South-of-the-Border Dinner for Mom

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

This is from the Colorado Collage cookbook.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup chopped onion

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

8 oz. grated cheddar cheese

1 4-oz. can diced green chiles

1 cup purchased green chile salsa

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 teaspoons ground cumin

salt and black pepper

12 to 15 7-inch flour tortillas

10 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 cup chicken broth


chopped avocado

chopped tomato

chopped fresh cilantro

Place chicken in pan of boiling water to cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, cool, and shred chicken. In skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and bell peppers until just soft, 5-8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Add chicken, cheddar cheese, green chiles, salsa, cilantro, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well.

Note: you can do this much a day ahead and store in the fridge. It's pretty tasty just as is without the rest of the recipe, but since you're making a special dinner, read on.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 10x15x2-inch baking pan or 2 smaller pans. Place 1 flour tortilla on flat surface and place about 1/3 cup chicken mixture along 1 edge. Roll up from filling side, and place, seam side down, in prepared pan. Repeat process with remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle Monterey Jack over enchiladas.

Combine cream and chicken broth and pour over enchiladas. Cover pan with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish individual servings with avocado, tomato and cilantro, if desired.

1/2 to 3/4 cup garlic vinaigrette salad dressing

16 oz. bag of shredded cabbage for coleslaw

1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 large tomato, diced

1 red pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients together and serve.

If You Can Afford to Spend More

Photo courtesy of Flickr

If you happen to have the extra cash on hand, there are a number of options other than just taking Mom out to a restaurant. You can hire a private chef (find one now) to come to your house and cook or deliver the meal to you (cooked or ready-to-cook). Many grocery stores today have gourmet sections with an astonishing variety of yummy treats like tapenades, pestos and fancy olives. I would be thrilled to have a meal made up entirely of dips and sauces and other things from the gourmet section. To go with them, I would like a nice crusty bread, some vegetables and some fruit, please.

Mom loves you, but she doesn't love your mess. Surprise her by cleaning your bedroom (get tips here) without being told. Or the bathroom. Or any room. We are so grateful when kids and spouses clean without being told (and told and told). Your mom is likely to do a spontaneous Happy Dance when she discovers your good deed.

Hire someone to clean the entire house. Hire professional organizers (find one here) to clean up the closets and the garage. DO NOT give your mother a vacuum cleaner, even if she asks for one. A vacuum cleaner is never a gift. If she wants or needs a new vacuum, give her one, but it doesn't count as a gift.

Photo courtesy of Emily Roesly

Photo courtesy of Emily Roesly
Photo courtesy of Emily Roesly

3. Mom Wants Back Rubs and Foot Rubs

Don't make those goofy coupons for back rubs and hugs. Just give Mom a back rub as a special treat, and I don't mean that 15-second pat-on-the-back thing. It doesn't have to be a full-body massage either, because that's just a little creepy. Devote 5 or 10 (or more) minutes to providing your mom with a totally blissful experience.

If You Want to Spend More

You can send your mom for a professional massage with that hunky Sven at the spa. Mom probably won't complain about a pedicure or manicure, but make sure she's the pedicure type (not all moms are).

If you know for a fact that your mom wants body products, go ahead, but make it something really special.

4. Mom Wants Some Peace and Quiet (especially the peace part)

Kids, I know this will be a tough one, but make a contract that you and your siblings won't bicker, quibble, hit, push, insult, argue, gripe......with each other for a whole week. Better yet, make it a month. And each of you has to sign the contract. If you pull it off, your mom will be the happiest woman in the whole world. And if she's in a good mood, she's more likely to let you have that new video game you've been wanting. Helpful tips for getting along

If You Want to Spend More

I suppose you could send Mom away for a couple of days, but the no-arguing contract is probably the best gift she could ever get.

5. Mom Likes Mushy Stuff If It's from the Heart

Spend some time on this one. Write your mom a poem telling her how special she is. Make it real and make it personal. Why is she special? What's your favorite thing about her? To make this gift work, you have to write it on something other than notebook paper. Spruce it up a little. Use your best penmanship. For just a little bit of money, write your poem on the first page of a beautiful blank journal, and present it to your mom.

Make a list of the "Ten Best Things About Mom." Put it in a frame and give it to her. Better yet, send it as a letter to the editor to your local newspaper.

Here's a nice journal

6. Mom Wants Chocolate

You didn't think I would leave this out of the list, did you? Chocolate is always appropriate, unless Mom has specifically nixed the idea. The inexpensive, yet perfect way to give Mom chocolate is to make it yourself. Truffles, I mean. Simple, endlessly variable, and oh so good. Truffles are incredibly easy to make. Here's one good recipe. Good quality chocolate will make a big difference here, so splurge a little if you can.

Basic Truffles



12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine chocolate and cream. Cook, stirring, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in flavoring. Pour into a small dish and refrigerate until set, but not hard, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Use to fill candies or form balls and roll in toppings.

You can roll these in powdered sugar, cocoa, crushed nuts, sprinkles, or anything else that makes you really happy.

To dress them up, add 1-3 teaspoons of additional flavoring to the truffle mixture. Try Kahlua or other liqueurs. A little grated orange zest is good. Just be careful not to make it too liquidy, or you'll end up with gooey truffles (not the end of the world; you just have to eat it with a spoon).

This is the catch-all category for other things to give your Mom. Once again, the secret is to put some thought into it. Does Mom garden? Has she been thinking about some new kind of flower or bush to plant? Ask her. Is Mom rabidly fond (isn't that an interesting pair of words?) romance novels? Give her a membership to the Romance Book of the Month Club. Does she weave? Find out what gadget or new yarn she might like. You get the idea.

Truly the Most Important Thing

Let your mom know that you really do appreciate everything that she does for you.

Now Go To It

I hope I've given you a few ideas for special gifts for Mom. You might want to keep this list, because it works beautifully for birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, and Tuesdays. Good luck. Now, go tell your mom that you love her.

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    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi there, this is an awesome lens. Once for mothers day, although I could not be there, I gave my mother "vouchers" which translated into favours similar to those above from those around her. I did favours for those around her so it all worked out evenly. She loved the idea. I am going to place this lens on the links in my frugal lens Food Prices and The Credit Crunch

    • LDWorld profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens! So true and so simple.

      Check out my new lens for moms - tips on all natural products, harmful ingredients issue and more...


    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens, and a Squid Angel Blessing for you on Mother's Day. I love the part about stealing the neighbor's flowers!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you for providing these great Mother's Day ideas, Bee! We actually did something like the "A Little Fancier Mother's Day Brunch" (as you described above) for my mother. (We later took my mother-in-law out to dinner and went back to her house for pie.) Most importantly, we were able to spend time with family members with whom we often don't spend a lot of quality time.

    • carrieokier profile image


      10 years ago

      Such a nice lens. Great job! The pics are precious.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      GREAT lens! Bookmarked, favorited and 5 stars. Being a relatively new mother, I can say you hit the mark with this one! Thanks, Kelly

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Don't forget all those Dads, Aunts, Uncles, Grandmas,Grandpas and non related 'Mom' surrogates that give their love everyday to many. Happy Mothers Day to all of them! Shelina

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      10 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Lovely, lovely lens! Perfect!

    • gurneywagon profile image


      10 years ago

      Perfect timing for certain and great ideas to go along with it! I love the "hang it in the bathroom" idea! 5* :)

    • Di Annesley profile image

      Di Annesley 

      10 years ago from New Zealand

      Lovely lens.......5 stars.


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens and great timing. Mothers Day is always hard for me because my mom deserves so much more than any of us can afford to give her, BUT you're so right on with this lens. Moms just need to know that they're appreciated and with some thought, effort and creativity there are many ways to show her how much she means to you without going broke. 5*'s!!


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