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A day in the life of a pampered mom

Your mom is worth a million, but you don't have that -- or much else -- to spend. That's OK, you can still spoil her.

We've developed a plan to pamper and delight her for an entire day -- from breakfast in bed to dining in style -- with lots of gift ideas, too. Whether this special lady is your mother or the mother of your children, she deserves the royal treatment (and you don't have to break the palace bank).

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No morning rush allowed ...
Think day spa. Allow her the luxury of rejuvenating with a long, hot soak. You could either splurge and send her to a day spa, a beauty pampering alternative, or create a relaxing spa atmosphere right at home. In which case, think aromatherapy, candles, soft music and warm towels.

Start her day off on the right note -- turn off her alarm clock. For most busy moms, nothing is more delightful, decadent or longed for than sleeping in. Let her stay snuggled under covers while you prepare her a delightful breakfast in bed.

Fluff up the coziest chair in the house for your special lady. Deliver her a steaming cup of coffee, or tea, if she pleases. Bring on the reading material. Has she been anxious to delve into a book, or simply browse through a stack of magazines? You could buy a couple of her favorite magazines or books, or pick up a couple of her favorite titles at the library in advance.

Cozy cafe, light lunch and your company ...
Stumped for a casual slow-paced afternoon activity? Don the tourist garb and enjoy your own hometown culture and beauty. Sometimes it takes a special day to break from our hectic schedule and enjoy our surroundings. Visit your local visitor's center and department of tourism for an afternoon's worth of ideas that you've not had the time to enjoy. Or revisit a favorite romantic spot.

While deciding what to do for the afternoon, have lunch. Your cozy cafe might be a blanket spread out in your backyard or a secluded spot under the canopy of trees in a nearby park. Fill your picnic basket with goodies and enjoy the outdoors.

If you're wanting to dine out at a quaint French cafe or new restaurant on the water, do lunch. Midday menus usually offer similar dinner entrees, just lighter portions and a cheaper check. Don't forget to check the newspaper, ad mailers and tourist coupon books for lunch specials and coupons.

Create a romantic evening ...
You want to surprise her with just the right gift. But it's a tossup among flowers, perfume and jewelry. Check out these tips for buying the perfect gift:

With flowers in mind:
Buy a picture-perfect floral arrangement
Take it out of the house -- create an outdoor floral arrangement

Perfume scents and sensibilities:
A guy's guide to buying fragrance
6 common scents to choose from

Jewelry to shine by:
Basics of buying a diamond
Fabulous fakes for your true love

While decidedly unromantic, topping your lovely lady's list of "I really want ..." just might be something practical. So if she's been hinting for a new big-ticket appliance or summer barbecue supplies, this is the right time. May is the season retailers traditionally put these items on sale. Don't just pay the asking price. You can get a better deal by haggling. Those who ask, receive a discount!

Looking for dinner plans that will last longer than an evening? Consider a cost-effective alternative to eating out: Hire a personal chef. You'll relieve her from the monotony of planning and preparing every dinner but still eat a delicious meal at home. And, even when you can't go wild with wine, you can still serve terrific wines at terrific prices. Plus you'll avoid the high markup on alcoholic beverages in restaurants.

A special evening out doesn't have to be expensive. Or instead of dinner out, go sweet. Enjoy a candlelight dinner at home, then go out for coffee and dessert. Add a touch of adventure to her day!

-- Amy Fleitas, Laura Shanahan, Cynthia Brodrick, Susan Fenton,
Amy Feldman and Pat Curry contributed to this story.

--Updated: May 2, 2005




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