While it might seem that Mother’s Day was invented by a clever conglomeration of florists and greeting card companies, the modern-day celebration of motherhood was actually introduced by one woman, Anna Jarvis, in the early-1900s. After the death of her own mother, she fought hard to make Mother's Day a national holiday. It was made official by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914.

Since then, the holiday has spread to many other countries around the globe, sometimes combining with other, existing celebrations of motherhood. For example, in the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, and was originally based in religious tradition.

One thing most celebrations have in common is that they occur during springtime—appropriately, the season of rebirth and growth.

However, some folks decry the commercialization of the holiday—including, later in her life, Jarvis herself. Indeed, current expectations of the holiday might include expensive chocolates and flowers, high-end spa treatments, or hard-to-get brunch reservations.

But if you’re looking for a more personal and affordable way to celebrate the woman who brought you into this world, here are seven ideas to surprise and delight her...

1. Pack a Picnic


Instead of waiting in line at a restaurant, take some time to put together a simple, portable meal just for mom, with her favorite foods and maybe some childhood throwbacks (ants on a log, anyone?).

If you’re not the cooking type, grab a few prepared dishes from a local catering company or deli. Toss it all in a basket, grab a blanket, and chauffeur mom to the prettiest corner of the park for some one-on-one time.

2. List Her Lessons

Mother and son sharing special moment together

Every mother wants to know that her guidance has influenced her children's lives for the better. Whether it’s skills she taught you, advice you’ve taken to heart, or traits that she embodies, she’ll love to know that her efforts have made a difference.

Write a list of “Lessons from Mom” in a letter, print it up and put it in a frame, or read it out loud. You can even get your siblings to contribute if you really want to bring a tear to her eye.

3. Recreate Old Family Photos

Siblings recreate old family photo

This is a fun one! Get together with your siblings to bring those embarrassing memories back to life by staging recreations of your childhood photos. They key is to find clothing, accessories, and settings that look as much as possible like those in the original picture. Find some inspiration here, here, and here.

Frame the best shot or print it on the front of a card. Or, if you’re really ambitious, stage 12 different pics and compile a calendar so mom can enjoy a different goofy memory each month.

4. Plant Flowers Together

Planting flowers

Sure, you could take mom to the crowded botanical gardens to see the spring blooms. But wouldn’t it be more fun to plant something she can enjoy all season, and maybe even for years to come? Visit a nursery to pick out some seedlings or bulbs for her garden, or get together as a family to plant window boxes or potted herbs.

Don’t feel like getting your hands dirty? Another option is to buy a bunch of cut flowers and make your own flower arrangement just for mom.

5. Take Her to Work

Take Mom to work

Whether your mom is proud of your career, or isn’t sure exactly what it is you do, she’ll enjoy learning more about the place you spend so many of your waking hours. Have her stop by your office for a visit—give her a tour, introduce her around, and show her your workspace. Then, treat her to lunch.

Your mother will be touched, and your coworkers will be tickled to meet the woman who started it all. (If your workplace happens to be open on Sundays, you can do this on Mother’s Day proper. If not, it might have to wait until the following week.)

6. Give Her Homemade Chocolates

Homemade chocolates

Everyone loves bonbons, but the mothers in your life deserve something a bit more personal than a box of chocolates you picked up at the drug store.

Luckily, truffles are easy to make at home. Try Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites, Cabernet Chocolate Truffles, or Skinny Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Truffles. Present them on a pretty tray or pack them in a bow-topped box for a gift that’s sure to make her feel special. This would also be a fun activity to do together.

7. Make It Meaningful

Mom and daughter volunteering together

Is there a cause your mom’s passionate about? If so, Mother’s Day can be an opportunity to give back to the community while spending time together. It could be walking dogs at an animal shelter, reading to kids at a neighborhood library, or sorting donations at the food bank. This can make a great family tradition.

Find volunteer opportunities in your area at VolunteerMatch.org or AllForGood.org.