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From Our Readers: Christmas Presents For Little or No Money

Last Christmas we asked our readers how they celebrated Christmas on a budget. Let me just say---our readers had some great ideas! Many of their suggestions cost very little or even no money at all. If you really want to give someone a gift, but you can’t fit it into your budget, here are some ideas for gifts from the heart not the pocketbook:

  • The Gift of Service

This idea was sent in by Natalie, a friend of the ministry. She suggested volunteering to do something for someone that they didn’t have the ability or time to do themselves. Specifically, she suggested the gift of putting up and taking down someone’s Christmas decorations. What an awesome gift idea to give an elderly woman or a single Mom!

Other ideas for the gift of service would include:

Volunteering to shovel someone’s snow all winter long. (Who wouldn’t love to hear that they didn’t have to worry about snow removal whenever a big storm hit?)

Offering to bring the family over on a Saturday to do whatever chores or home repairs needed done.

Offering to change the oil in someone’s car.

Another friend, Angela, wrote: “One of my favorite gifts from my boys was the gift of them painting three rooms for me. They are good painters, too. I've also made gift certificates of things I'll do for people that I know they need or might enjoy. They can redeem the certificates whenever they are ready.

The possibilities are endless, and it’s a win/win for everyone. You’ll be avoiding credit card debt, they’ll be saving money on a service they’d ordinarily be paying someone to do, and you’ll all be feeling the joy of the season. I love this idea!

  • The Homemade Gift

When asked “How do you celebrate Christmas on a budget?” another Facebook friend, Evelyn, suggested focusing on homemade Christmas gifts rather than store-bought gifts.

When I was growing up, this was one way that my Mom stretched our family’s Christmas budget over the years. I remember she embroidered a tablecloth for my Grandmother, she painted ceramics for extended family members, and she made baskets of homemade candies for family and friends. All of these items showed people that we loved them and cared, without spending a lot of money.

Maybe this year you could use your talents or your children’s talents to make gifts for family and friends. Not only will it help your budget, but you will be creating memories as you work together creating your gifts.

  • The Gift of Pictures

One of the most popular suggestions we received through social media for gifts on a budget is the gift of pictures. One woman wrote, “I love gifts of pictures of my grandchildren -- simple and unposed are fine.”

All you need is a camera and some creativity to take some awesome pictures of your family. Print them out on with a color printer or take them to Target and they’ll print them for you. It’s you choice whether you frame them or not. If you’re looking for inexpensive frames, check out the clearance racks of department stores or second hand shops. Maybe you’ve even got some extra frames packed away in boxes that you could give fresh life through “recycling”.

Here’s a great twist from one of our Facebook friends who’s combining the homemade gift with the gift of pictures. Heather wrote, “I'm loving the homemade idea this year. I'm taking pics of my kids while they are making the gifts to include with the gift.”

  • The Eventful Gift

Another way to save money while still giving a meaningful gift is to plan an adventure or an event with someone. Again, this would be especially meaningful to an elderly person or person who struggles with a physical disability or even loneliness. Rather than buying a gift that takes 30 seconds to open, take them out looking at Christmas lights, to a community Christmas carol, or a special holiday production.

I remember when we were kids, we would take my great grandmothers out for the night to look at Christmas lights. Neither of them got out much, so a night on the town was a big deal. Maybe we’d stop for a milkshake on the way home. These nights were better for them than presents. They loved being out of the house with people enjoying the holiday. Although this adventure cost us very little, for them, the memories were priceless and they talked about it for the rest of the year.

  • The Gift of Invitation

This idea came from Bethany, and it’s a suggestion that I absolutely love! She wrote: “We have done no gifts for our family for the past 3 years. Sometimes a big family meal and just getting together is more special anyway. Play a special game, share stories, watch a Christmas movie, eat dessert first, read the story of Jesus birth in Luke, carol for the neighbors..that's what it's all about anyway, right?”

Perhaps, this year, the best gift you can give your family or friends is an invitation to join your holiday celebration. If you know someone whose holidays would otherwise by lonely, perhaps the gift of an invitation to join the party would be the best gift of all.

  • The Gift of Food

Food always makes a great gift. That’s why specialty food stores and catalogs pop up everywhere this time of year. It is a special treat to be given a food that you don’t usually eat and that you don’t have to prepare yourself. However, gifts of food do not have to be purchased from a high-priced gourmet chain. You can make delicious gifts in your own kitchen and have a blast doing it. You have the opportunity to enjoy some Christmas cheer as you prepare the gifts and as you give your creations to others.

  • The Gifts of the Magi

This is another great idea sent in from one of our readers via social media. Amber wrote: “With a large family, spending less is always tricky. The boys each get three gifts from us...we tell them, if three gifts were good enough for Jesus (1 gift from each wise man), then three gifts are good enough for you!!!!”

Later on in the day, Emily wrote that she did the same thing---3 gifts per child just like the wise men and Jesus. Sounds like a great idea to me!

Thanks to all of our readers for giving us some great ideas for giving gifts for practically no money at all. (Kind of makes me wish I was on someone’s "no-spending" gift list) I hope these ideas start your creative juices flowing and remind you that there are lots of ways to show people love this Christmas. In the end, it really is the thought that counts! Merry Christmas!

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