05/05/2015 02:59 EDT | Updated 05/05/2016 05:59 EDT

How to pamper Mom this weekend: from a themed brunch to hiring a personal chef

TORONTO - You don't have to perform grand gestures to pamper your mom on Mother's Day, says Julie Albert of the website Bite Me More.

"The smallest things can make Mom feel great," says Toronto-based Albert, who along with sister Lisa Gnat dishes up easy entertaining ideas, food and drink recipes, and crafts on their website.

"I like to do something special for my mom — and our grandmother who's 95 is still alive — so we've got lots of moms to celebrate. So I like to bring everyone together for brunch."

The sisters are mothers too, with six teenagers between the two of them.

Albert suggests selecting items that can be prepared ahead, like french toast that can be assembled the day before and baked in the morning. Any sort of egg dish, salads or mac 'n' cheese are crowd pleasers.

"For us, everything stems from a theme, from the food, to the music, to the decor," says Albert, who with Gnat will publish their third cookbook next spring.

"What is Mom all about? What does she love? Does she love being in the garden or does she enjoy being indoors and spa-ing it?"

Dad and the kids can make high tea with simple mini grilled cheese sandwiches or traditional cucumber sandwiches. Older children can help bake cupcakes or cookies, which tots can ice or top with sprinkles.

"If Mom loves coffee, make something that has coffee in it. It will jolt her awake, lets her escape the daily grind."

Most props used by Albert and Gnat for theme parties are from the dollar store.

If Mom loves gardening, Albert suggests creating a garden path down the centre of the dining table with an array of inexpensive artificial flowers. Put seed packets in mini terracotta pots at each place setting.

For a spa theme, fathers can help kids choose a face mask, hair accessories and lotions, and infuse Mom's favourite fruit in water. Combos could include strawberry, lemon and kiwi or cucumber, lime and mint.

For those who lack culinary skills or want to surprise Mom with a treat at home, a personal chef can be hired.

"No busy mother ever minds being told that a chef is going to come in, is going to do all the cooking, all the serving and a thorough cleanup," says Jonathan McDonough, whose Toronto-based company Chef Jono Catering and Fine Foods charges $75 a person for food, tax and any staff he has to hire.

"You're paying just retail price for wine from the store instead of having to pay restaurant prices," he points out. He also notes it can be easier to eat at home for families with newborns or older parents who don't like to brave busy restaurants.

Albert says another nice touch is to make a playlist of Mom's favourite songs.

And one of her favourite Mother's Day gifts was "Julie Bucks," which allowed her to exchange the pieces of paper for whatever she wanted, such as having her hair brushed or a massage.

The worst thing to do? "Give Mom a mop."



For recipes and entertaining ideas, visit Bite Me More,

Chef Jono Catering and Fine Food,

Follow @lois_abraham on Twitter.