What do you give the woman in your life who has never let you down - the woman who has been there for you through thick and thin?
This Sunday is Mother's Day, and though you may want to buy a nice gift for your mom, it may surprise you that what she wants the most comes at little or no cost.
Chattanoogan Kristi Strode, an English teacher at Dalton State College, said her favorite gift is her son's art.
Ivy Strode is 7 and, according to his mom, a budding artist.
"I always like his handmade art. His cards are the best because they are so sweet. He gets right to the heart of what he wants to say, like 'I love you.' His pictures are a joy," she said.
Victoria Meek Underwood, 29, owner of the Insyde Outsyde Shop in Red Bank, said she also wants art for Mother's Day.
"My little ones (Max, 2, and Bear, 1) are still little, so I'd love some drawings from them, which really just end up as scribbles, but in their little minds, they know what they are trying to draw," she said.
Getting a handmade card from her adult daughter is the gift cherished most by Hedi
Lee-Hesse, an office manager at Lookout Mountain Fairyland Club.
"One of my daughters is an artist, and her cards are the absolute best - funny, irreverent and full of love," she said.
Angie Williams-Daly wishes only to spend the day with her daughter, a college student in Louisiana.
"My daughter is 19 and in college at Southeastern Louisiana," she said. "Probably my most special Mother's Day was when I was going through my divorce. She was 7 years old. She made me a handmade card, and we hugged and cuddled all day. She will never know how much I needed this and how special she made my day by just being with me.
"It wasn't about the gifts or the brunches at expensive restaurants. It was about the love and knowing that just because my marriage didn't work, I wasn't a failure as a mother. Medically, I wasn't supposed to be able to have children. I still refer to her as my miracle baby."
Though these moms cherish handmade gifts, many children, especially adult ones, will spend money on their moms for Mother's Day gifts.
According to the National Retail Federation, the average person celebrating Mother's Day is expected to spend $140.73 on gifts in 2011, up from $126.90 last year and a return to 2008 spending levels. Total spending is expected to reach $16.3 billion.
Lee-Hesse said that if her daughter didn't have time to make a handmade card this year, she has a gift suggestion. "I'll take an hour massage with no argument," she said.
Consumers will shell out $1.6 billion on gift cards and $1.2 billion on personal services such as a trip to a day spa, the National Retail Federation survey reported.
Some local moms, though, said they'd be happy with gifts of "good behavior," "breakfast in bed," "hugs and kisses," and "a morning to sleep in."
Gift Idea No. 1: Scan children's artwork into your computer to make a custom calendar for Mom or buy a ready-made calendar, and let children glue copies of their art over the existing photos. Mark family birthdays, anniversaries and special events on calendar pages.
Gift idea No. 2: Buy or make a small book. The one above, made by Lisa Norris, can be opened from the front or the back. Interview your mother's friends about words of wisdom or advice they remember getting from their mothers. Write them in the book for your Mom.
Gift idea No. 3: Make a custom paper doll. Copy a photo of your mother, cut out just the head. Find a suitable body in a magazine, and cut it out. Glue both onto cardboard and cut out. Punch or cut holes where fingers can stick through for legs. Add card stock banner and crown. Painted nails make nice shoes.
Gift idea No. 4: Give Mom a personalized card. Fold card stock like a fan. Draw a simple outline of a female. Make clothes using magazines, craft paper, fabric scraps and yarn.
Message on card above is, "God made each mother unique, but some he made more special than others.
Gift Idea No. 5: Make Mom a cover girl. Copy her picture in repeating rows and decorate faces using hair, lips, glasses and hats cut from magazines. Glue faces on heavy card stock paper. Message on card above is, "Chattanooga's Top Mom ... no matter how hard she tries to disguise it."