Finding gifts for your loved ones over the holidays can always be a bit stressful, but on a tight budget it can start to feel overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like you’re caught between your finances and the expectations of the people you care about the most. If anxiety starts to rise as you think about how to get your friends and family gifts that they’ll love, it’s so important to remember that a gift is just a representation of your relationship with someone else. The price tag will never matter as much as the amount of effort, thought, and love that are put into a gift, and many of the greatest gifts don’t have to cost a thing. Here are a few ideas for free gifts that will make the holidays shine for your loved ones.
Create A Free Gift from Things Around Your Home
A gift doesn’t have to come from a store to be valued and appreciated; here are a few meaningful gifts you can make out of things you already have.
Pass Along a Favorite Book. If there’s a book you think someone on your list would love, consider taking it off your shelf and inscribing it with a thoughtful message. The fact that you love it will only make your loved one appreciate it more.
Press A Flower for Them. If you’ve got a garden or live near an area with wildflowers, pick a few that are your loved one’s favorite kind or color and press them inside a heavy book— when it’s time to present them, you can glue them inside a card or scrapbook or even put them in an old frame as a piece of decor they’ll treasure forever.
Give Them a Cutting From One of Your Plants. If you love gardening and have a plant that’s easy to propagate like a pothos or a succulent, you can plant a cutting from one of them in an old mug with some soil. Giving your loved one a plant grown from something you have is a beautiful message and will always make them think of you when they look at it.
Give Them A Photo Gift. A photo can be great gift that can have a lot of meaning without costing much. Either print or regift a photo you already have and put it in an old frame—for added sentiment, you can write a personal note on the back of the photo for them to read and think of you.
Create an Affirmations Jar. If you have a free jar on hand, the perfect gift is only a few steps away. Create a bunch of paper scraps and write either an affirmation, a favorite memory, a word of encouragement or an inspiring quote on each one. Fold them all up and put them in the jar, and your loved one will receive the gift of a little burst of positivity whenever they need it the most.
Give the Gift of An Experience
A memory or adventure can be just as much fun as a physical gift; here are some ways to give someone an amazing experience as a gift.
Plan An Outing. An experience can be a great free gift that provides your loved one with a memory to cherish forever. Map out a tour of places in your town where the two of you have memories, or find a special or interesting place to take them that’s within driving distance. You can just even take them for a walk on a nearby trail or park and save any leaves, flowers or interesting rocks you find on the way as a keepsake.
Make Them Coupons For Services. If you’re trying to find a gift for someone who appreciates acts of service, the old homemade coupon route can be a great way to show them you care. Think about the things they’ve mentioned wanting or needing, whether it’s a night of complementary babysitting, a clean house or car, or a lesson in something you know how to do, and customize your free gift to these needs.
Give the Gift of Your Voice. If you live far away from your loved one, consider making a recording of yourself reading a section of a book you both love or recounting a story from your past. You never know how much someone might be missing your voice, and giving them a way to feel closer to you whenever they’re feeling lonely can be more meaningful than you realize.
Whether you’re artistically inclined or not, there are many ways to make the perfect gift without spending money at all.
Give the Gift of Art. If you’ve got a creative outlet, whether it’s drawing, writing, poetry, or any other kind of art, think about how you can channel it into creating a thoughtful free gift for a loved one. Draw a picture of their favorite animal or place, write a story about them or something they love, write a poem for them and frame it, write a song and perform it for them. You have so many options to use your skill in a way that will be so meaningful when received.
Make a Memory Book. Either print up or handwrite a bunch of your favorite memories of your loved one or list the things you love about them. You can even attach any photos you have. Your loved one is sure to appreciate the thought you put into writing down all your favorite stories and will love having the book to look back at.
Give Them a Glamorous Photoshoot. If you have a camera, or even a nice cameraphone, you can plan out a photoshoot for your loved one in a nice local park or garden. It’s always nice to feel beautiful and you’ll be giving them the chance to look their best and have the photos to keep forever. If they have a partner or child you can include them in the fun and give the gift of a free family photo session.
Make a Recipe Book. If you’re an accomplished cook, try writing down your favorite recipes in a book or stowing them in a box to give the free gift of some fresh and exciting meals. You can even recruit other mutual friends or family to add their own favorite recipes to the mix!
Create a Special Playlist. If you have iTunes or Spotify, curate a playlist for your loved one full of songs you think they’d like or ones that are important to your relationship. If you have a CD on hand you can even burn the playlist to the disk for a physical element. Even if you don’t have a go-to music service, you can create a playlist of songs on Youtube or even find free music from your local library. No matter how you put it together, music can be such a powerful way to communicate feelings and memories and your loved one will be sure to appreciate the gesture.
No matter what your budget is this holiday season, finding gifts to suit your loved ones can be simple if you have a little time and creativity. Some of the best gifts are ones that don’t cost anything at all; something on this list is sure to stay in your giftee’s heart for years to come.