Who said the best things in life aren’t free? Why not think outside the box this Christmas and give thoughtful, meaningful gifts that don’t cost a dime? After all, with the economy still down in the dumps and money being tight for most families, why make things even more difficult by spending money you don’t have this holiday season?
Here are ten ideas to get you started:
- A Year’s Access to Your Kindle Lending Library. Download free books from Amazon. Check the list daily for new titles. Create a list containing all the titles that you own and give it to your friend or family member for their Christmas gift. Let them know that you’re willing to lend any of the titles on the list to them for a year.
- A CD Containing the Recipient’s Favorite Genre of Music. Download free music from Amazon and burn it to a CD. There are hundreds of songs to choose from. Choose the style of music that the recipient would enjoy most. (If you don’t already have blank CDs in your home and would rather forgo purchasing them, choose another gift to give.)
- A Personal Enrichment Class. There are thousands of free online classes to choose from. Most are easy to sign up for and only require a person’s name and email address. Send your friend or family member an email explaining what you chose to do for them. Also send them a link so they can learn more about the class and what it entails.
- Free Lessons for the Year. Do you know how to speak a foreign language? Play a musical instrument? Cook a mean soufflé? Juggle? Why not give your loved ones the gift of you? Create a gift certificate for the recipient and give them access to your skills, talents, and expertise. Offer your lessons through Skype or another video conferencing site. This is a particularly useful gift if you have loved ones in another state or country that you need a gift for.
- A Personalized Photo. Take one of your favorite digital photographs and use an app to alter it. I personally like WordFoto, aTypo Picture, and ToonPAINT. Each manipulates the photo creating a totally artistic copy of the original. Post it to the individual’s Facebook wall or send it to them by email with a holiday message.
- A Seedling from One of Your Own Plants. Create seedling pots out of newspaper. Fill with dirt and your seedling. Write out instructions for caring for the plant before giving it away. You can use the popsicle sticks you’ve been saving to create plant markers for the recipient of your gift. Paint, decoupage, and stamp the stick with the name of the plant you’re giving away.
- A Voucher to Attend a Free Concert or Festival Together. Take advantage of all the fun and entertainment being offered in your community. Go to http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/08/07/where-to-find-free-activities-and-events-in-your-area/ to learn how to find free activities and events in your area. Create a gift certificate for your loved one with the intention of attending the art gallery show, concert in the park or free museum day with them.
- Endless Access to New and Amazing Recipes. Create a Pinterest board specifically for housing recipes that you know others would enjoy. Include a link to the board in your Christmas emails and cards this year. People that are new to cooking or looking for some new recipes to try will appreciate this gesture tremendously.
- A Gift of Servitude. If you’re a writer, offer to help one of your friends promote his or her business. If you’re a photographer, take your niece’s senior portraits or your cousin’s wedding photos. Provide lawn care to a neighbor, offer to babysit for a family member, share a box full of produce from your garden to your boss. Time is the only cost you’ll have when it comes to giving a gift of servitude. You already possess the skills and the know-how.
- Something Handmade by You. Bake a loaf of bread, bead a bracelet, knit a sweater, carve a door knocker or paint a picture for the recipient to hang in their living room. The World Wide Web is full of inspiration. Check out MAKE and Tipnut for inspiration.
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Filed Under: Personal Finance
About the Author: Charissa Arsaoui is a freelance writer with a love for thrift. You can read about her adventures by visiting her blog, Confessions of a Closet Coupon Clipper.