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May 072014
 May 7, 2014  Posted by  Expired

This year, I’ll celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mom, which only occurred to me when someone pointed it out recently.  I had been thinking of a day for MY mom.  As a coincidence, Mother’s Day will fall during our first family vacation, where we’ll be across the country visiting my sister, who has also recently become a first-time mom.

While I consider the vacation to be a perfect way to spend my first Mother’s Day, what I really want as a gift is a promise that my 6-month-old will do well on both three-hour flights!  Since that’s not guaranteed, I started thinking about what would make a good Mother’s Day gift for a first-time mom (or any mom, really).

Personalized and sentimental


Birthstone jewelry would make a nice gift for a new mom.  The piece could feature baby’s birthstone or a birthstone for each member of the family.  A hand-stamped necklace or bracelet with the baby’s name and birthdate written on a charm is also a great option, but you may need to order personalized jewelry weeks ahead of time.  If you’re limited on time, initial necklaces or earrings to represent baby’s first name are a good option and can be found in stores.  Personalized jewelry is a keepsake – she isn’t going to want sell it at the next garage sale, and charms can be added for any subsequent children.  Hand-stamped, initial, and birthstone jewelry can be found on Amazon, Etsy, and most stores that sell jewelry.

Hand- or footprint crafts

One lesson that I learned about arts and crafts with an infant is that it’s much easier to get a footprint than a hand print. Infants like to keep their hands clenched, and even if you get them open and get paint on them, getting them to press down evenly (or at all) is nearly impossible.

Luckily, there are a bunch of footprint crafts that are just as cute and perfect for spring, like footprint butterflies or bees.

Photo shoot or canvas photo

A mother can never have enough photos of her baby and family. Schedule a family photo session so she can have an updated family portrait to display. You can often purchase a small package of photos at most department-store photo studios for less than $20.

If you already have a favorite recent family photo, have it printed on canvas for a professional and elegant look. offers inexpensive photo canvases (and often has deals on them).  Be sure to order them “stretched” unless you plan to build a frame to display them.

If Mom is the one who is always behind the camera, take a nice photo of her with the baby on Mother’s Day, and every Mother’s Day to come, so she can look back and see how much her little one has grown each year.

Gifts of time

Adjusting to motherhood is difficult, but the biggest challenge that I face, especially after returning to work, is that there’s not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Even with an extra-helpful husband, I still struggle to find time for cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping and gardening.

House-cleaning certificate

This is perfect for spring cleaning. Who has time to think about dusting baseboards or cleaning windows when you’re just getting the hang of taking care of a tiny human being with lots of needs?  If the price of a professional house cleaning isn’t in the budget, take a day and do it for her (but actually do it – don’t just promise to do it). It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to focus on the easily overlooked and tedious tasks, like cleaning windows, baseboards, the oven, etc.

Dinner’s on the table

Let Mom take a couple of days off from dinner by buying a meal delivery certificate, take-out certificates from her favorite places (cheaper than dining out), or prepare a few freezer meals like lasagna, casseroles, or soups for her to pull out and heat up at her leisure.

Planted flowers or a garden

Flowers and plants are a common gift for Mother’s Day, but a first-time mom may have trouble finding the time to plant these gifts (or keep them watered if they are indoor plants). Instead of just giving her these items, plant them for her (with her approval of location, of course). If she has a vegetable garden that she hasn’t gotten around to planting or tending, buy some seeds or plants and plant them for her.

Personal care


Birth is hard on the body, as is carrying around an 8- to 25-pound baby all the time.  Let mom enjoy the gift of personal time with an hour-long massage while you watch the babe. Price too steep? Dim the lights and light some scented candles while you give a massage during baby nap time – even just a shoulder, hand and arm, or foot massage will make any mama feel better.


I got a pedicure the day before my son was born and I finally took that polish off when he was 2 months old. Luckily, it was during winter, so the polish was still fairly intact and very few people were seeing my toes.  Since then, I’ve only changed the polish twice, which is way less than I did BC (before child). There’s just always something else that I think needs done, so if someone “forced” me to get a pedicure, I wouldn’t be mad. Again – if the price is too steep, give her a pedicure yourself!  Think homemade sugar scrub and massage, and a re-polish. It doesn’t have to be perfect – men are perfectly capable of painting their ladies’ toenails.

A “new” her

It’s common for a new mom to be more focused on her new baby and the household than on herself.  Get her a certificate for her favorite salon for a new haircut (or other spa treatment that she prefers), or to a favorite store to buy some new clothes. It’s probably been close to a year since she wore her pre-maternity clothes, and even if they fit again, she deserves something new that will make her feel great.

Date night

Arrange for a babysitter (whom she’ll trust) and take her out for an activity she enjoyed before baby, like the movies, sporting event, a concert or a wine tasting. Some moms aren’t ready to leave their babies for more than a couple of hours for a few months, especially if they have to account for breastfeeding/pumping, so keep that in mind before purchasing non-refundable tickets if the event will fall in the first couple of months postpartum. You can always print off a certificate for the event and get mom’s approval before buying the tickets if you aren’t sure.


Let her sleep in (or relax in bed if she’s an early riser) and get up with the baby. At the very least, make her an extra-special breakfast for Mother’s Day, and plan or prepare the meals for the rest of the day as well, so she doesn’t have to think about feeding anyone except the baby.

What not to give

I’d shy away from suggesting exercise classes or equipment, even if a new mama talks about wanting these things. Most moms want to lose the pregnancy weight and will talk about it, but lack of time and energy can make it hard to follow through, and giving those as gifts may give the message that you think she needs to lose weight. Instead, get her a gift that she’ll enjoy, and the next time she mentions wanting to go for a walk or run, or to a yoga class, offer to watch the baby, or encourage her to purchase the membership or new clothes/shoes that she may need for this.

If you put a little thought into a Mother’s Day gift for a first-time mom, chances are good that she’ll appreciate it.  After making her new baby her primary focus, she deserves a day to celebrate her new role as a mom.

Val McCauley

Val McCauley was drawn to writing about Living on the Cheap after moving to Columbus from her small hometown after college. She realized that there were a ton of events and activities going on around the city, but there wasn't a website that made it easy to find out about these things. Her love of travel and desire to get out of debt after college cemented the need to live on less while still having fun. Over the last several years, she has paid off all of her debt and still has fun. In her free time, she loves to workout, play sports, and cook gluten-free meals. Val is the owner and operator of Columbus on the Cheap and That’s What We Did.

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