Funky Frugal: Great gift ideas for mom

by Tanner Cangelosi

I cannot believe that nine years has passed since 501 LIFE started. What a journey and blessing it has been in my life.

I’m so very thankful that 12 years ago I invited Sonja Keith to our little newlywed duplex for an “art show.” What I mean by “art show” is a very rough version that a 22-year-old put together to make a few extra dollars to pay for food. When I was truly nothing, she gave me confidence. When I was just starting out, she called the potential out of me. Who could you be a “Sonja” to today? She changed my life.

I would have never thought I would be writing for a magazine for nine years . . . with six kids. But the staff was patient with me and so kind in their suggestions and encouragements.

As the magazine begins its 10th year of publication, I wanted to share 10 ideas of things to get your “Sonja” or mom for Mother’s Day under $10.

  1. A fancy breakfast in bed. Step one is to let her sleep in, for goodness sakes. You can look up wonderful recipes on Pinterst, from eggs benedict to a simple country breakfast. I’ve also seen some free printables of menus and order forms. What a treat for her to catch some extra shut eye and be treated like a queen. You could even spice it up by decorating the tray you serve the food on.
  2. A good book. From a fictional novel or encouraging devotional, you could truly bless her with some relaxing down time to read her new gift. 
  3. Paint her a Bible. I know this sounds crazy, but she would love it, and you could have a little creative time of your own. You could start by finding a Bible or hymnal at a garage sale or thrift store. If you wanted to go above and beyond, you could order a new journaling Bible along with watercolor pencils for her to doodle with a later date. The book preferably needs to be fabric covered. Step one is to cover the pages with a grocery sack, and then prime the cover, binding and back. When that is dry begin to do your own doodles. Finally cover that with a polyurethane sealer.
  4. Her favorite coffee or tea. I love tea. I can get lost in a cup that, of course, I put heavy whipping cream in. Because I’m smart and love delicious things. You could order some nice loose leaf tea off of Amazon or go to Little Rock to Teavana. For coffee, I’ve found that T.J. Maxx has great coffee at an even better price. You could even decorate a mug from the Dollar Tree for her to combine with this gift.
  5. Some expensive chocolate. Whole Foods would be a great place to spend $10 on some fancy and yummy sweets that she would never purchase for herself. You know she’s too practical for that.
  6. For the mother of little ones. Listen up, dads. The mother of littles doesn’t want you to spend a dime. She just wants a day that she doesn’t have to clean and wipe bottoms, and she can do whatever she chooses, whenever she chooses. If she wants to nap, watch a Netflix series or go on a walk. You just wait on her, take care of the kids, wash the dishes and do the laundry. It’s no fun to take the day off if you come back to a tornado that hit the house and have to clean it all up. So, make the house better than when she laid down to take that nap. (This isn’t for me. It’s for a friend . . . OK, just kidding, it’s for me.)
  7. Bath salts. Another Dollar Tree gift is making your own simple bath salts. Just combine equal parts of baking soda and Epsom salts and stir. Then add her favorite essential oil. I like lavender and peppermint. You can put this in a pretty container from a flea market or Home Goods. 
  8. Framed art. Here you can get a little creative again. Buy a small canvas and paints and create her something from the heart — even if you’re grown. You never stop being your momma’s baby, and she will love it. I bought frames at Dollar Tree and spray painted them. I then did watercolors of each of my kids. I sell these on my Etsy shop if you want to check them out. Just search Neon Southern Lady.
  9. Flowers with a vintage vase. Go out and pick your own flowers, preferably not out of your neighbor’s yard (although, that never stopped my husband). You can find a beautiful vase at a flea market and take time to arrange them. Presentation is everything.
  10. Write her a letter. Not just a note, but a real handwritten letter. Tell her your favorite memories together, how she impacted your life and how you notice the things she does for you and others that she might think go unnoticed. Remind her that she is valuable and because she changed your diapers, she enabled you to go out and change the world.



A graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, Tanner Cangelosi owns
her own business – – and has done a variety of projects, from individual home décor items to painting murals in private residences. For more information, Tanner can be reached at 501.908.1338 or[email protected].