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35 Things to Do on Mother's Day (That Cost Practically Nothing)

Adult with two children
Hey Mamma

Do you ever think about how busy you were as a child? Sure, compared to how things are now, it's laughable, but your schedule still had a lot going on. There was sporting practice, music lessons, art classes, and playdates—just to name a few. And, they were all likely coordinated in one way or another by your mom. So, when Mother's Day rolls around, it's ironic that her child would often struggle to think of a single way to fill her time. So we're here to help with a comprehensive list of things to do on Mother's Day. Though you certainly don't have to wait until the holiday itself to spoil the one you love.

Instead of putting together a last-minute celebration, follow the example she once set for you and plan ahead. Whether you have just a few free hours or you've set aside the whole day, there are plenty of things you can schedule in those time frames to show how much you care.

From small acts of kindness you can handle alone to grand gestures that can include family, here are 35 (mostly free) things to do on Mother's Day.

01 of 35

Deliver Breakfast

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Instead of braving the crowds at a popular brunch spot, bring over a breakfast you've assembled the night before. You'll just have to pop it in the oven to cook.

02 of 35

Go For a Walk

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Take a walk with your favorite woman in the world to clear both of your minds and give you some time to chat. You can both explore a new part of town or do an old-favorite loop of your neighborhhod.

03 of 35

Read the Newspaper

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When was the last time you sat across from a loved one and read a physical newspaper? Stick to the arts and culture sections to keep it light, and enjoy this simple act of being together in silence.

04 of 35

Brew Coffee

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An instant coffee maker gets the job done for a busy Monday, but since it's the weekend, opt for a manual brewer like a French press to make the process feel special. You'll get accolades if you bring over specialty beans, too.

05 of 35

Do the Dishes

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If never again, do the dishes for mom on Mother's Day. Because it's an easy way to show you care.

06 of 35

Plant Herbs

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Pick out a few of your mom's favorite herbs—rosemary, thyme, and basil are always good choices—and plant them in individual pots for the kitchen or in one big one she can keep outside.

07 of 35

Call a Loved One

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We all have older relatives that we probably don't check in on as often as we should. Call them with your mom for a fun surprise.

08 of 35

Provide Tech Support

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If your mom has a smartphone, there's a good chance she has a question or two about it. Take a deep breath, and help her out.

09 of 35

Head to the Park

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As it turns out, the park is as entertaining as it was when you were a kid. You probably shouldn't play on the jungle gym, but you can bring some books, snacks, and drinks to enjoy under a tree instead. Craving something more active? Grab a kite or a football, too.

10 of 35

Play Board Games

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If young kids are involved, this is a great way for every generation to do an activity together. Stick to something easy—dominos or Uno are good choices.

11 of 35

Take a Class

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Whether you sign up for yoga or pottery, do something together that could turn into a shared routine. Maybe she wants to try your thing—or you hers—but trying an activity together on Mother's Day is great for bonding.

Try a virtual workout subscription service like The Ness. Though it would be great to spend time with mom in person on Mother's Day, an online or virtual class will allow you to work out together no matter where you both are.

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Check out an Art Exhibit

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Head to a new exhibit at your favorite art museum or gallery. It's a good excuse for some quiet time, at the very least.

13 of 35

Shop Locally

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Whether you wander through a farmers market or visit a few specialty stores, hit up retailers that are unique to your area. The crowds will probably be smaller, you can support the local economy, and you can pick out a unique gift.

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Peruse a Makeup Counter

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In the market for something new? Take your mom (and her opinion!) along for the ride. Plus, free samples are always a thrill.

15 of 35

Go for a Drive

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Short drives are always a pleasant Sunday activity, especially if you go on a scenic one. And if it's been a while since you've spoken to Mom, a drive might be a good idea—it gives you both somewhere to look as you ease into a conversation.

16 of 35

Organize a Closet

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Put on some music and finally get to that hallway closet that hasn't been opened since 1998. As long as this stays constructive, it will be a fun walk down memory lane with an accomplished feeling at the end.

17 of 35

Go Through a Stack of Magazines

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Has a stack been piling up on your coffee table for what seems to be the better part of the past year? Wrap up a few new ones like a present and bring them over to read.

18 of 35

Make a Playlist

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All families come with soundtracks. Chat about the songs you grew up with or the ones you know she loves, and then help her make a playlist that she can listen to whenever she wants.

19 of 35

Chat About Old Memories

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Do you know what your mom was like at your age? Or some of the travels she did before you were born? Feel free to ask—you'll likely be surprised by the answers.

20 of 35

See a Play

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Community theaters can always use patrons, whether it's showing a classic or something a little more avant-garde. Hey, you might discover the next Hamilton.

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Cook a Beloved Meal

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Remember the lasagna your mom used to make when you were a kid? See if you can re-create her signature meal for her (at her instruction, of course). Make sure she writes the recipe down for you, too.

22 of 35

Set the Table Outside

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Weather permitting, set a table outside that's fit for the occasion. Get linens and a few flower-filled vases, and then gather everyone for an alfresco meal. It's even better if you can string up some lights.

23 of 35

Do Your Own Paint and Sip

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Buy a couple of small canvases, some paint, and your mom's favorite bottle of wine to have a "paint and sip" night at home. Bonus points if you wear pajamas. Pro tip: Pick something to paint that's fun and easy. That way, it's ensured to be a fun activity for all.

24 of 35

Snuggle on the Couch

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Just want to pass the time close to the one that raised you? We get it. You used to spend hours with your head on her shoulder, and now the opportunities are just too few and far between. Take that opportunity on Mother's Day. A good mom is never going to refuse this, at any age.

25 of 35

See an Episode of HER Show

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She'll probably be more than happy to watch what you want, but leave this decision up to her. It's a small act of kindness in our modern times.

26 of 35

Play Bartender

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Wine is one thing, but when was the last time your mom made a cocktail for herself at home? Take her order beforehand, and bring over some supplies to make happy hour happen.

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Watch a Classic Rom-Com

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There are so many good romantic comedies to choose from that this could turn into a marathon. Try an old favorite like When Harry Met Sally or opt for a newer classic like Miss Congeniality.

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Check out a Winery

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Whether it's a local jaunt or a longer trip, consider heading out to a winery for a fun Mother's Day trip. You'll have a nice day of wine tasting and learn a lot, too. Make sure you know your mom's preferred wine type before you select one, and open the invitation to friends and family.

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Make a Reservation at Her Favorite Restaurant

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Know the meal she always craves? Indulge her—if only for this night. Make sure all she has to do is show up and that you foot the bill.

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Explore a New Neighborhood

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Plan a few activities in a new neighborhood that your mom would enjoy, and explore together. It could be as simple as a walk through the park or maybe a full day of gallery hopping in a hip new part of town.

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Book a Spa Treatment

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Pamper your mom while actually letting someone else do the—well—pampering. Book joint appointments at a spa, and make a day of it.

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Take a Day Trip

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Set a radius to no more than a two-hour drive from where your mom lives, and go on a mini road trip. You might just discover a part of town that you never knew existed.

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Hang out at a Sporting Event

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Baseball games are fun and a great way to chat while eating hot dogs and nachos. Why not even dress up for the occasion?

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Go to an Amusement Park

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Invite a small group of family members to make the most of it. Mom gets to pick the first ride.

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Get a Day Pass at a Hotel

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Splurge on a cabana by the pool for the day, and it will feel like you're on vacation. You might even want to piggy back it with that aforementioned spa day.