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DIY, Easy Gift Ideas for Mother's Day or Any Time of the Year

Updated on July 3, 2018
Natalie Frank profile image

Natalie, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, is a freelance writer who is always searching for what lies within the potential.

Mother’s Day is almost here but if you haven’t found the perfect gift idea or haven’t had time to pick up anything don’t worry. Try one of these homemade last minute gift ideas, most created with things you can find around the house. Your mother will love any of these gifts you can make inexpensively in a short amount of time.

Test Tube Flower Vases

For a unique twist on a traditional bouquet give mom flowers in a test tube vase
For a unique twist on a traditional bouquet give mom flowers in a test tube vase

For those of you who have an old science or chemistry set at home, you can use the test tubes to make cute mini-vases for short stemmed flowers. If you have a set of test tubes and a holder you can make an entire display by putting flowers of your choice in the different tubes. Choose the same type and color of flowers for a classic look or use a variety for a more modern, less formal look.

You can also make a cute floating vase in a matter of minutes. These are great gifts from children to give and they can help fill them with their own selections from the yard. Take clear fishing line or or clear beading filament and cut pieces to the desired length. Use perma glue or a hot glue gun to attach each end at opposite sides to the top of the test tubes. Add a rose bud or other favorite flower to tube. Make more than one and deliver in a rack (you don’t have to fill the rack - I have found that three is the perfect number of vases). Alternately, an empty egg carton can be used. Just turn it over, cut a hole in the bottom of the sections and put a test tube in each.

If it is really the last minute, gather wild flowers from outside and add some green leaves, berries, fern or a narrow twig. Add a bit of gravel at the bottom or if you have clear or white gravel wash it and color it with food coloring for variety. (If you do this make sure the food color isn’t water soluble and that the gravel is completely dry before adding it to the vase).

With a bit more time, you can create unique stained glass effects with glass paint. Paint each vase a single color or come up with your own design. Pick up air succulents and avoid the need for water all together. Be creative and gather items to add that are unique to your location. I live on Lake Michigan and there are also small pieces of lake glass on the shore that I like to put in the bottom of my vases.

Hang these on a wall by putting a small nail where you want the vase. Group them or scatter them around the kitchen or other rooms. Since they are light and small, these vases also look great against a window or glass door. To accomplish this, you can hang them from a clear suction cup with a hook attached.

Note: If you are making these with time to spare, you can pick up test tubes or vials at Michaels or another art supply store or order them online from Amazon or Ebay. Party supply chains also often have test tube shot glasses that can serve the same purpose

Chocolate Coffee Mixing Spoons

Satisfy your mother's sweet tooth with these Chocolate Coffee Mixing Spoons for Mother's Day
Satisfy your mother's sweet tooth with these Chocolate Coffee Mixing Spoons for Mother's Day

If your mom is a coffee fan, these special mixing spoons will delight her. Use any extra or mismatched spoons you may have lying around (or if you have the time, pick up some fancy stainless steel spoons, buy vintage ones at a local thrift or antique store or even borrow a few of hers - you’ll be giving them back, after all!)

Use your mom’s favorite type of chocolate (white, milk, dark etc.) or if she doesn’t have one make a variety. If you don’t have chocolate melting wafers (available at most grocery stores in the baking aisle or online) pick up chocolate bars. Melt and pour into the spoons. Make them extra special by adding a drop of extract to each such as vanilla, coconut, rum, hazelnut or butterscotch. Top with crushed candy such as candy canes, chocolate mints, or peanut butter cups. For an easier version pour magic shell into spoons you have chilled and add a drop of extract and extra toppings. Freeze for an hour to fully harden.

Wrap spoons in cellophane and tie with thin ribbon or baggy tie twists. Lay them out on a small white plastic platter. If you have made a variety, write the flavor for each one in marker (white chocolate rum with candy cane etc.) or tape a small, handwritten label below each. You can also put them spoon side up in a jar with the flavors written on a handmade label. As an added gift you can choose a nice coffee mug and put the spoons inside it with a label attached to the handle.

Note: If you want to make a larger number of these mixers or don’t have any extra metal spoons, you can always use heavy duty plastic spoons.

Herbal Tea Sugar Scrub

Use tea, sugar and essential oil to create a body scrub your mother will love
Use tea, sugar and essential oil to create a body scrub your mother will love

Body scrubs are always a welcome gift but they can be quite expensive. Making your own to give for mother’s day is quick, easy and best of all inexpensive. This body scrub is a favorite for mothers who are herbal tea fans. All you need are four tea bags of your mother’s favorite herbal tea, some sugar, some oil and something to store it in. To make this scrub open up the tea bags and combine with the other ingredients listed below.


  • 1 cup white granulated sugar or brown sugar
  • 4 herbal tea bags, any type
  • ½ cup oil - Jojoba, coconut, almond, or olive
  • 2 tsp vitamin E oil - if you take vitamin E you can use a pin to pop the capsules then squeeze 6 - 8 of them into the mixture
  • 6-8 drops essential oil orange, lemon, eucalyptus, rose, lavender or whatever goes best with the herbal tea you are using
  • Food coloring (optional) - don’t use more than 2-3 drops to prevent it from dying the skin

If desperate and out of time this can be made with a cup of sugar, four tea bags, ¾ cup of olive oil and one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Vanilla tends to go with just about anything and enhances the scent of the tea. Plus most people have it in their pantry along with olive oil.

If you have a bit more time, it’s easy to find the other ingredients to make an even more luxurious version of this scrub. Match the scent of the tea with a complimentary essential oil and add vitamin E oil along with jojoba or almond oil all of which can be found in your local grocery store, health food store or pharmacy.

Some combinations of tea and scents you might want to try are:

  • Chamomile tea, 6 drops chamomile essential oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil

  • Peppermint tea, 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil

  • Ginger tea, 6 drops lemon essential oil, 1 tablespoon honey

  • Hibiscus tea, 8 drops grapefruit essential oil

  • Sage tea, 8 drops blueberry, blackberry or raspberry essential oil, 1 tablespoon honey

  • Passion tea, 6 drops orange essential oil

  • Rose hip tea, 4 drops rose essential oil, 2 drops lavender essential oil, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Apple tea, 4 drops clove essential oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract - For this scrub use brown sugar instead of white sugar

  • Lemon balm tea, 4 drops lavender essential oil, 2 drops bergamot essential oil, 1 tablespoon honey

All of these recipes can be altered based on what you have in your cabinets and how much time is available to shop for additional ingredients. If you are in an adventurous mood, take a chance and create your own unique scent.

Bonus: Vanilla Mint Latte Sugar Scrub

For those mothers who are die hard coffee fans try this scrub. Ground coffee makes an excellent exfoliate and the caffeine helps to stimulate circulation, decreases inflammation and redness. Some say caffeine can even reduce the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks. Both the coffee and the coconut oil are excellent sources of antioxidants. Due to its astringent, antiseptic and anti fungal properties tea tree essential oil has been used to keep all types of skin healthy and beautiful. This is one of my favorite scrubs and if you have the time to gather the ingredients it is well worth the effort. The Vanilla Mint Latte Sugar Scrub is a sure fire hit with any mother who loves the smell of coffee. To make this just mix all the ingredients together until fully combined.


  • 8 Tablespoons finely ground coffee or previously brewed coffee grounds
  • 1 cup brown sugar (white will work in a pinch)
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
  • ½ cup coconut oil

An easier version of this scrub is to mix together 8 tablespoons of ground coffee, 1 cup of brown or white sugar, ½ cup of coconut or olive oil, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, and 6 drops eucalyptus or 8 drops peppermint essential oil.

When you have finished making the sugar scrub you have selected, transfer it into a glass airtight container such as a canning jar, mason jar, apothecary jar or even an old, well-washed store bought jelly or jam jar. Design your own handmade label from heavy paper or card stock, and thread it onto a pretty ribbon or piece of twine. Tie this around the top of the jar and finish with bow.

Mother’s Day Shadow Box

Make a Mother's Day shadow box of memories for your mom
Make a Mother's Day shadow box of memories for your mom

Shadow boxes are the perfect way to pay tribute to mom with items that bring important memories to mind. Shadow boxes come in all shapes and sizes and you can buy them at any arts and craft store, framing stores, online or at many drug stores or other stores that carry picture frames. Select items that mean something special to your relationship with your mother. Some ideas are included below.

  • Write a short reflection of what makes your mother special to you

  • Write special memories that have always stuck with you - a day at the beach, a time when she stayed home with you because you were sick, a surprise she gave you, a sacrifice she made so you could do something or have something you really wanted etc.

  • Write a short poem funny or poignant, rhyming or not about your mom.

  • A picture of her holding you for your first birthday with a birthday candle next to it

  • Other pictures of her, the two of you, your family together or other events or things that are memorable (label underneath)

  • Dried, silk or paper roses/rose buds
  • Something you collected together like coins or shells
  • Something you remember seeing on a walk you took together
  • Extra buttons from a suite or dress for a special event that you picked out together
  • Something that represents a skill she taught you for example:

    • A small vial of sand from the beach where she taught you to swim

    • A small bicycle trinket if she taught you to ride a bike

    • Some old car keys if she taught you to drive

    • A toothpick knitting swatch if she taught you to knit (Just paste a seed bead on the end of two toothpicks, then cast on with embroidery thread and knit as usual)

At a loss for ideas? Flip through magazines and cut out small pictures and words that represent your view of your mother. Go to a craft store or scrap-booking supply shop and look through the scrap-booking items. There are tiny replicas of all kinds of thing that will jog your memory and give you ideas.

You can paste anything you want into a shadow box to represent your image of your mother and to communicate all that she means to you.

Cutting Board Tablet Holder/Chalk Board

Try this great cutting board iPad/tablet holder for a one of a kind Mother's Day gift
Try this great cutting board iPad/tablet holder for a one of a kind Mother's Day gift

Is your mom a tech wiz whose transitioned from recipe books and cards to reading recipes on her tablet? This simple holder is adorable, easy to make and can be used with any tablet and recipe cards and small recipe books as well. All you need is a wooden cutting board (choose one that’s slightly larger than the tablet), scrabble rack, a wooden wedge (a doorstop work great), and wood glue or perma-glue.

To make this great gift, paste the scrabble rack, curved side up, to the edge of the cutting board (the end that doesn’t have the handle). Next glue the wedge to the back of the cutting board to form a stand. If you choose, after the glue dries, paint the entire thing in chalk paint and add chalk pencils to the gift. When not being used to hold your mother’s iPad or tablet, the rack is the perfect size for a chalk pencil, and the chalk board can be used for a to do list, grocery list or reminders/notes to family members.

Alternate Idea: If you have the time to order a cutting board and don’t want it to double as a chalkboard, you can use a premium cutting board. There are some beautiful options available in different woods such as bamboo, teak,

I’ve also recently used the Catskill Craftsmen Large Measurements and Liquid Equivalents Paddle to make a version of this for a housewarming gift. It is beautifully made with the measurements burned permanently into the board. This is a great choice for this project since it provides all of the measurement equivalents to make substitutions easy especially when a recipe calls for measures many of us are unfamiliar with such as a jigger, a bushel or a peck.

Relaxing Bedtime Linen Spray

Give your mother the gift of a good night's sleep with a soothing linen spray you make yourself
Give your mother the gift of a good night's sleep with a soothing linen spray you make yourself

There’s no underestimating the importance of a good night’s sleep. Certain scents have been shown to help you relax and drift off into a peaceful slumber. With a few sprays of this formula on her pillow a few minutes before sleep, your mother will fall asleep quickly and wake up in the morning feeling more refreshed. The first version is the most complete formula for essential oils that help improve sleep. The ones after it are simpler to make and also help promote relaxation and sleep.


  • 4 drops ylang ylang essential oil

  • 14 drops lavender essential oil

  • 16 drops chamomile essential oil

  • 6 drops bergamot essential oil

  • 1 tablespoon vodka, rubbing alcohol or witch hazel

  • distilled water

  • 4 oz cobalt blue or amber glass spray bottle (can be found in health food stores, vitamin stores, online or in many grocery stores and pharmacies)

  • Adhesive label


  1. Pour the vodka, rubbing alcohol or witch hazel into your spray bottle

  2. Add the essential oils

  3. Add the distilled water, filling until about ½ inch below the top

  4. Shake the bottle to mix the ingredients

  5. Create a handwritten label to stick on the bottle

  6. For the label, mention that to ensure a great night's sleep, spritz a spray or two on pillows, sheets, and pajamas before bed.

Basic Essential Oil Linen Spray

If you don’t have the time to get the ingredients for the formula above just put fill the spray bottle halfway with the vodka, alcohol or witch hazel, add 15 drops of lavender and 25 drops of either chamomile or cedar wood and fill with water. For an even simpler spray just use 30 drops of lavender by itself.

Though lavender is by far the most common scent used to help with sleep not everyone likes this scent. There are a number of other essential oils that are associated with peaceful slumber. If your mom is not a lavender fan choose a scent she’ll like from the list below and add 30-40 drops of the essential oil to a bottle filled with equal parts vodka, alcohol or witch hazel and water.

  • Lavender

  • Sweet Orange

  • Jasmine

  • Ylang Ylang

  • Marjoram

  • Bergamot

  • Frankincense

  • Roman Chamomile

  • Cedarwood

  • Vetiver

  • Geranium

Mother’s Day Scrabble Picture

Tell your mother what she means to you with a Mother's Day Scrabble Picture
Tell your mother what she means to you with a Mother's Day Scrabble Picture

Use letter tiles to create a scrabble layout with words that describes your mother. First, brainstorm as many words as possible that come to mind when thinking about your mother. Then start laying out the tiles. Maybe start with the word mother or your mother’s name for the central word. Build off of letters in your central word and then off of those new words until you have a layout you want to keep. Paste the letter down on a pretty background that consists of card stock, a printed photograph or other background of your choice and frame.

You can also use the tiles to create an acrostic poem. Spell out “Mother” and paste the word on the background you want vertically, i.e. paste down the M tile towards the top, place the O tile under it the place the T tile below the O etc.

Use each letter the beginning, end or middle of a word that expresses something about your mother (See description for more detailed instruction).

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, these ideas will help you create a gift that makes your mother’s special day even better. Use the ideas as they are, tweek them to make something you know your mother will love or let them inspire you to come up with your own last minute, DIY Mother’s Day gift. No matter what you choose to do, a specially made gift is bound to let your mother know just how much she means to you.

© 2018 Natalie Frank


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