Erma Bombeck, one of America’s favorite Moms, once said “Before you try to keep up with the Joneses, be sure they’re not trying to keep up with you.”. Talk about fabulous – not to mention frugal – advice to live by! This year, honor the special Moms in your life (including Grandmothers, Stepmothers, Godmothers and Mothers in Law!) with wonderful, personalized gifts that they will adore, yet won’t break the bank.

Mother’s Day Cards: Sure, they’re everywhere in the stores. They’re also pricey, unimaginative and completely forgettable. If you have school age kids, help them create a card out of colored paper and – depending on their writing skill level – a small note in crayon. Trust me gang, the standard Hallmark card will be appreciated, but it’s the jaggedy cut-with-the-kindergarten-scissors construction paper special that your child spent 20 minutes carefully writing “Thank you for being my Mommy!” in 5-year old script that will really get Mommy bawling with pride. While the Hallmark might eventually find its way into a keepsake box, rarely to be seen again, the handmade one will be framed, hung with beaming pride in the family room, and quite likely insured.

Breakfast in Bed: A timeless, priceless classic, off the charts on the brag-o-meter scale, and loads more potential for fun stories than taking Mom out to eat in an over-crowded, over-priced restaurant. Depending on the age of your kids, menu suggestions range from toast, jelly & a juice box (don’t forget to put the homemade card on the breakfast tray!) to older kids carting scrambled eggs, a scone and perhaps a champagne glass of sparkling apple juice up the stairs. Whatever you decide for the menu, trust me, Mom will adore it – proudly taking it to new brag-worthy heights as she recalls it in perfect detail to friends, family and strangers on the street later that day.

Mommies need bling too!: Whatever age the Mom/Grandmom/Mom-in-Law on your shopping list might be, chances are excellent she would love to add some new jazz to her wardrobe. Hit your local consignment stores and thrift stores (a.k.a. “Tiffany’s for Tightwads”) for a fantastic selection of jewelry, scarves, handbags and other fabulous accessories. My favorite finds at local thrift stores: Hermes scarves for $5 each, Prada and Coach handbags for $7 each and gorgeous antique diamond jewelry sets for $10. Nuff said.

New Mommy Gift: When there’s a new baby in the house (especially if it’s their first), Moms will find it virtually impossible to throw out anything the baby uses, drools on, talk to, teethes on, adopts as a woobie, or generally smiles at. A perfect gift for the new Mommy is a keepsake box to hold anything and everything that commemorates Baby’s Year One. Take any larger-size box (a box used for copier paper, compete with lid, is perfect, and often available for free at your local copier, Staples, Kinkos, etc). Cover it with sturdy wrapping paper in appropriate colors, ribbons, whatever makes it fabulous. Mom will love it.

Nana/Grandmother’s Gift Idea: My daughter and son are blessed with grandmothers that adore showing off anything they create. When it comes to my kids, seeing their artwork on Nana’s refrigerator door is the equivalent of winning the Pulitzer Prize. Somehow, defying all science, their creations constantly manage to stick to the door despite none of the prior artwork being removed first. To keep up at this rate, ever more powerful magnets are clearly called for. A fantastic and appropriate gift: a small, framed picture of your kids with their Nana, with a (need I say it) powerful magnet attached to the back, the perfect accessory to attach future artwork to the refrigerator door. It’s a fabulous gift from miniature Michaelangelos to their Art-Affecionado Grandmothers.

However you decide to celebrate May 8th this year, make it memorable and priceless with your creativity, rather than your cash. To all the Moms out there (including mine!) that make our lives so special, Happy Mother’s Day!

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