It’s that time of year again…Christmas! That can only mean one thing. It is time to pick out the perfect present for your loved ones. But what if there is no money to buy gifts? Perhaps you are a college student strapped for cash or a family that lives on a very tight budget…what do you do then? How do you give gifts when you are broke and there is no money left to give?
First it is important to remember that you aren’t obligated to give gifts. If you truly can’t give gifts, that is Okay. Your family and friends will understand. Christmas is about more than just how many presents you have under the tree or how much money you spent. It is about spending time with those we love and having a good time together. If you feel you must give a gift though, remember that gifts don’t need to cost a ton of money. Some gifts don’t require you to even spend a dime. Here are some of my favorite gifts to give when you are broke.
GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME
Perhaps you have a busy family on your list….give the gift of time in the form of childcare, housework, or even running errands.
Sometimes parents just need a break but don’t have the cash to hire a babysitter. Offer them your time by babysitting their kids. You can either watch them while the parents go out or take them to your place so they can have a relaxing night in together.
You can also offer your time in the form of housework. Maybe you have a set of new parents on your list. Offer to come for a day and help out. This could mean running the vacuum, doing a load of laundry, cooking dinner, or even watching the little one while mom/dad grab that much needed shower or nap.
Perhaps you could offer to run errands. This one is not only great for families but grandparents as well. Families get busy and sometimes between shuffling the kids to and from school and activities there isn’t much time left to go grocery shopping or run to the post office. Give the gift of time by offering to run errands for them. This will not only save them time but a little bit of their sanity as well. This would also be a great gift for your grandparents. Instead of having them go out in the winter cold, why not run their errands for them? This keeps the elderly away from slippery ice and limits their chances of getting sick.
GIVE THE GIFT OF SERVICE
I bet if you think long and hard you have a skill or talent that could be used to help others. Can you paint? Are you handy with a sewing machine? Do you own a camera? Are you a whiz in the kitchen? All of these things can be used to make amazing gifts!
Do you have a friend who recently moved? I bet they would love a hand with painting their new place. Perhaps you are great at drawing…you could make custom artwork for their new home or paint a mural on their wall.
Own a sewing machine? How about offering to mend/hem some clothes or offer to sew some pillows, curtains or even a quilt. If you have the fabric already this won’t cost much or you can use a child’s baby clothes to make the sweetest memory blanket.
Aspiring to be a photographer? Why not offer some photography sessions. Are your friends recently engaged or perhaps someone just had a new baby? Offer to shoot some photos for them. Maybe you know someone who is pregnant or even getting married. Offer to photograph or even video tape their wedding, kids birthday, etc.
Know your way around the kitchen? Why not offer some cooking lessons to your friends and family. Not only are you teaching a skill to someone but how much fun will it be to cook together and try new recipes! You could even make it a monthly thing….every month you get together and cook a new dish together.
D.I.Y (CRAFTS & EDIBLES)
Maybe you want to try your hand at making something for someone. There are definitely some d.i.y projects out there that are very low cost. The first one is edibles. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love receiving homemade goodies. Why not whip up a batch of your killer chocolate chip cookies or your world famous banana bread. You can even go a step further and include a note offering to teach the recipient how to make it. You can also go the route of of homemade cookie dough, if you want them to be able to bake it later whenever they want. Don’t forget about mason jar cookie mixes…also works great with soup mixes!
If baking isn’t your thing but crafting is you can choose to go that route. Why not create a set of homemade stationary or a set of homemade cards? Are you into scrapbooking? Make a mini scrapbooking album. You can do this one of two ways. A finished scrapbook album complete with photos or a pre-made album that is decorated but missing the photos. Both of these options are a great, personal gift to give. Perhaps you have a friend who loves the look of scrapbooking but doesn’t have the time to do it. Giving them an album where all the grunt work is done and they just need to add their favorite photos might be the way to go!
IF ALL ELSE FAILS…
You can also always choose to take the focus away from gifts and place it on something else. This is a great time of the year to focus on loved ones and spending time together, especially those family members or friends you might not get to see much through out the year. Take the time to catch up and just enjoy each others company. Shift your focus instead on each other instead of materialistic things. You can also try volunteering somewhere: soup kitchens, food banks, & shelters always need extra hands this time of year. Not only are you helping others but you are teaching your children that giving back is more important and that giving doesn’t have to always come in the form of a perfectly wrapped gift under the tree.