It can be overwhelming—and even a little embarrassing—to feel financial strain as everyone around you checks items off their holiday wish list. But there are plenty of ways to give a gift without spending much money—or any at all.
This is a perfect opportunity to let your creativity shine. Being thoughtful and generous with your time is more in the spirit of the holiday season than adding debt to your credit card. Here are some suggestions for how you can still feel like Santa without breaking the bank.
Offer Your Time
We are all so busy these days that most people have many things they need to get done. Imagine how thrilled your loved ones would be if you offered an extra set of hands to get the job done.
Do your parents need some help cleaning out the attic or the garage? Do you know someone who has been saying they want to clean out their garage or attic? Could a friend use a couple days away from their kids to rest or catch up on chores? Does an elderly family member seem lonely? Offer your time. You can’t put a price on that type of gift.
Believe or not, Groupon, and similar sites such as LivingSocial, can be a valuable resource if you’re shopping on a budget. The cool part is that you could buy certificates for experiences that are different from anything else they might get this year. Maybe they’ve never tried Paint Nite or hot yoga but your gift could push them to try something new.
Restaurant and movie gift certificates, massages, and manicures/pedicures tend to be well received and welcomed by almost everyone!
Who doesn’t love holiday treats? Okay, some people don’t (and some might have allergies so snoop around first) but many people love all of the delicious goodies that are associated with this type of year.
For a relatively low cost, you could buy enough supplies to bake lovely holiday classics such as sugar cookies, gingerbread, and fruitcake for a surprisingly large number of people. Go to the dollar store and look for festive tins or bags to hold your creations.
Make “IOU” Vouchers
It might sound cheesy but another “free” gift idea is to hand out “IOU” vouchers for a half hour back rub, no dishes for a week, or remote control privileges. Have fun and come up with a mix that is both meaningful and lighthearted.
To take the presentation up to the next level, you could buy fancy paper and design elaborate handmade certificates, or you could search for templates online and print yourself.
Write Heartfelt Letters
Most of us communicate in short-form through text messages and email. The days of long phone calls and interruption-free conversations are behind us. As a result, our relationships might be lacking a certain level of depth, honesty, or appreciation.
Unless your handwriting is absolutely abysmal, you should grab a pen and paper and tell the people in your life how much you love them. List all of the reasons you are grateful to have them in your life. You might be surprised by how much this means to them.
You don’t have to dig deep in your pockets to give a wonderful and impactful gift this year. Let your heart—and not your wallet—lead the way and you can’t go wrong.