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How to do Mother's Day on a budget

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There's nothing better than spending this Sunday April 5th 2011 putting a big smile on your Mum's face. To show your appreciation for all their hard work over the years starting with uh... giving birth to you! You're often tempted to go all out, and spend money on one of the many lavish Mothering Sunday Lunches or Dinners advertised in all the expensive restaurants, or splashing out on a spa treatment that certainly isn't in your monthly budget. Regardless of whether or not your Mother is the type who adores a fancy day out, there really is no need to spend money you don't have to show her how much you care. From the early days of a hand scrawled card, Mothers have always known it's the effort that counts!
What you'll need: 
Your Mother!
TIME: First and foremost, it's a cliche but it's true. The most valuable thing you can give is your time. Your mother is unlikely to be as offended if you turn up to spend Sunday with her without a present than if you send the present without you. So make sure that you do your best to keep Mothering Sunday free or make an effort to do the whole shebang another day if you really can't make it.
SET YOURSELF A BUDGET: Mothering Sunday, Christmas, Valentine's Day... we all complain about how commercial these days have become and yet we all end up spending way out of our budget. This year stick to your guns: Sit down and write down EXACTLY what you're happy to spend. Do this BEFORE you look at prices of meals, experiences etc. being advertised as it needs to be based on nothing but what cash you actually have to spare.
PICK YOUR OWN FLOWERS: It's often a tradition to give your Mum flowers on Mothering Sunday. Florists, well aware of this, hike up their prices to match demand. It's illegal to go pick flowers in most public parks and spaces, but if you have your own garden there is nothing to stop you creating your own little bouquet. If fresh flowers aren't a possibility, try a quirkier approach to the tradition: look online for origami techniques and make your own paper flowers, buy some cloth flowers and tell her they'll last much longer or buy a little packet of seeds for her to grow her own!
HANDMAKE YOUR CARD: Greetings cards companies are getting sneaky, and so are those clever creative cardmaker individuals- they know how busy we all are whilst still desperate to turn up to birthdays, parties and the like with stunning, handmade cards perfectly personalised for the person of honour. But -for the most part- it's really not that difficult to make your own card. Kids have been doing it for years and while some are covered in sticky glue and cut at dodgy angle, the majority of us are actually capable of creating acceptable offerings with some glitter glue, shiny pens and a smooth sheet of paper without spending the equivalent of £2/£3 everytime it's partytime.
COOK YOUR OWN MEAL: Why do fancy restaurants have to have the monopoly on Mothering Sunday cuisine? For years Mothers have been seen as the overlord of the kitchen. Surely feminism hasn't come on so fast and strong that we can't cook a meal for our own families anymore? Admittedly Mum herself should get a rest that day but hasn't she taught us anything? So put your family hand-me-down recipes to good use and show Mum that she's done a good job. If you haven't come from a particularly culinary family do not fear! Mum's going to be even more impressed after you get a little advice from friends, online and cook books and scrape together a simple yet lovingly prepared meal.
GIVE HER THE FULL SPA EXPERIENCE: ...Just maybe not AT the spa! Many spas now have their own ranges of home treatments that can be bought at Boots or Superdrug for much cheaper than geting them done professionally. Buy sweet smelling face masks, skin exfoliators, hot polishes, hair conditioners, deep moisturisers...even if you buy travel sizes it'll be enough for a day of pampering at home.
TALK: As obvious as it might sound, talking is a very central part of communication and it's not always given enough importance in a mother/child relationship- particularly as the child grows up. You either simply aren't in touch enough or all communication starts to take on a somewhat business like feel- 'Have you done the washing', 'What time will you be over', 'no i'm a bit busy to see you today Mum'. So making the most of Mothers Day could be as simple as hunkering down with some coffee and cake and talking, catching up with news and discussing life a little more deeply than your busy day to day lives allow.
DO THE THINGS MUM WOULD NORMALLY DO: Whether you live at home or not, being a Mother is still fraught with a great deal of work. For one day take the pressure off. Clean the house, wash the dishes, feed the cat, get the car washed, do the laundry, pick up the dry cleaning, deal with the gas man...
START AND END THE DAY WELL: Whatever you plan for your Mothering Sunday make sure that you begin and end the day on a loving and caring note. If you live at home perhaps you can get up and make breakfast in bed, if you live elsewhere perhaps you can swing by early in the morning as a surprise? At the end of the day give Mum that extra little kiss, special hug and make sure she goes to bed knowing just how important she is to you.
This comes over rather sappy and perhaps cringeworthy for some of you hard nuts out there! Some families also aren't ones much for talking or kissing and that's fine too. All this how to guide is really here to do is to point out that there is so much you can do on Mothering Sunday without breaking the bank.


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