What to give as a gift when you have no money

kavin24 asks: Our mum’s b’day is coming up. My younger brother (7) and I (12) don’t have any money with us, and even if we had any we couldn’t go to a shop as our mum always comes with us (our dad works abroad). Can you suggest some things to surprise her?

Hi kavin24 –



I love this question.  Because it brings up a really important topic.  You see, our world today largely relies on economics, which means people buying and selling things.  And in order to keep economies going, people are taught (by other people, by economists, and especially by advertising) that they want to buy and buy and buy, and that their value is determined by what they buy.  So here’s your mum’s birthday, and you can’t buy her anything, and you’re totally lost as to what to do.


I see dogs all the time whose owners give them very expensive presents on their birthdays.  Like fancy dog treat cookies in the shape of birthday cakes, etc.  And it’s silly – dogs don’t care about stuff like that.  Sure if our owners get us a nice treat, we love it.  But you know what we like better?  TIME.  Time together with our families.  Time with our friends.  Time spent running and playing and getting petted and hugged and rubbed.  That’s what makes a birthday special for us.


Well, you know, your mum isn’t all that different.  If you had more money, you could go out to a mall and spend five minutes to find her something you’d seen advertised as “What Mums Like” and buy it and have it gift-wrapped, and give it to her.


And okay, that’d be fine, I guess.  But with no money, you can…


– Get up earlier than she does, and make her a really nice breakfast and serve it to her in bed

– Give her a book of gift certificates you two make, offering to do special chores or favors that you normally don’t have to do.

– Draw or paint her a beautiful picture

– Write her a poem or an essay about what she means to you

– Sing her a song (maybe over that breakfast!), either one that she likes or one you make up for her

– And if you’re really good at cooking and all, you could invite some of her friends over and cook them all dinner!


The point I’m making is that she will be so much MORE affected and pleased by seeing you and your brother DOING something for her, and having THOUGHT about it.  That means more to a mother than all the money in the world (and you’ll find as you get older, it means more to pretty much everyone else too).  Just your asking me shows your wonderful, kind, thoughtful spirit.  Now just put your two heads together and think up what she’d really like.


Then when you do it, she’ll feel like the luckiest, most loved mum EVER!


Have a great time, and if you think of it, wish her happy birthday from me too!





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