Does the cost of a dozen roses cut into your weekly grocery bill? Even greeting cards are getting pricey. And candy? A box can almost double in price come May 1st. The price of gold or silver jewelry? Ouch.

Moms deserve to be recognized, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on her (especially if she knows the household budget is already stretched thin.)

Here are 10 economical ways you, and even the kids, can tell Mom she is special — without having to go into debt and eating ramen noodles for the rest of the month.

Make vouchers

Make up a packet of vouchers by cutting out paper squares or using sticky notes. Create one for a night of doing the dishes, another for doing two loads of laundry, another for one hour of dusting and vacuuming, etc. You can even have the kids draw pictures on them. Then staple them together and gift wrap the packet. This way she gets to turn in each voucher when she feels she wants a break.

Buy seed packets

As a family activity, grow flowers (or herbs if she prefers it) in little pots placed on the window sill. This gift will last longer than a bouquet in a vase that becomes stinky and dies in a few days. Weeks later, after the seedlings push through the dirt and mature, you can even get a bit mushy and tell her they represent your love, which still grows daily.

Don’t take her out to eat on Mother’s Day

Unless you want to deal with everyone else’s unruly kids, noisy crowds, waiting forever to get a table, and the grouchy, rushed wait staff, here is another idea. Instead, have a family backyard (or neighborhood park) picnic or barbecue with one stipulation: she is not allowed to step foot in the kitchen. Yes, that means you clean up as well.

Give her a spa day... at home

Send the kids off to a neighbor’s or the grandparents’ for a while. Fill the tub with her favorite aroma of bubbles. Play soft music and add candles. Massage her feet, and if you dare… give her a mani-pedi.

Purchase travel size goodies

Go to the discount store and pick up items such as lotions, tissue packets, colognes, and body washes. Wrap each in tissue paper and put them in a gift bag along with a few chocolates. They are great to keep in the purse, glove box, or overnight bag — the goodies, of course, not the chocolate. That’ll be gone by that night anyway.

Create vouchers for things she wants to do

This is similar to the chores idea, but this booklet is full of veto power — such as choosing what shows to watch on TV, spending an evening listening to the music she loves, or going for a romantic drive. How about one that is good for a half hour of listening, without interrupting, as she tells you how she feels? Get creative.

Make homemade cards

Homemade cards are always more meaningful than store bought ones. Have each person in the family create one, including the pets. (Well, you should probably make the ones for the pets, and the kiddos under two, perhaps use a handprint as the toddler’s signature. Place the toddler’s sticky hand on the card and trace it.) Don’t be surprised if these masterpieces stay on the fridge or taped to her computer for months.

Give her breakfast in bed

It’s always nice to be pampered in this way, especially if you clean the kitchen to her standards afterward. Oh, and make sure it is what she loves to eat, even if it is kale yogurt with almond slivers.

Make a banner

Hang it on the front porch, garage door, or between two trees in the front yard so everyone in the neighborhood knows she is special. That’ll make her hold her head high when she gets the morning paper or the mail. It’ll also pick her up each time she returns home after a long day.

Clean the windows

While she relaxes and watches a chick flick — uninterrupted — wash the windows inside and out. After a long winter they probably need it. She will enjoy looking outside at the lush, green world without squinting through the filmy build-up.

Moms do so much for everyone else. This Mother’s Day, finding creative ways to tell her you care and appreciate her is probably what she really wants deep down inside.

By the way, you may want to bookmark this article. Choosing one or two of these 10 things will work for her birthday, Valentine’s Day, or your anniversary as well.

This article was written by: Julie Cosgrove

Photo Credit: Tanja Heffner