Low-cost holiday gift ideas that celebrate the spirit of giving

#Managing your money

The holidays can still be meaningful without expensive gifts

It’s that time of the year again. You decorate the house inside and out, warm up with mugs of hot chocolate and eggnog as you sit before your TV, and watch films that celebrate the holiday season. 

On the flip side, it’s also a time that brings gifting stress for many of us. From finding the right gift for each person on your list to keeping it all within budget, gifting can be a challenge. This holiday season, take a different approach. Instead of taxing your wallet, use this alternative gift guide to make your giving truly meaningful.

1. Chronicle your family history:

What better way to get together as a family than to record the journey of your family through generations? Collect photographs, letters, important documents (certificates, medals, etc.) from family members to get started. Save letters and greeting cards you receive and create a family scrapbook. Take advantage of the digital revolution and record interviews with older family members. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can even make a family history quilt and dedicate blocks to each member of the family or make individual quilts. Designs on the quilt can be simple or detailed, depicting the interests and personalities of different family members.

 

2. Give homemade baked goods or a dried herb wreath:

From cakes to brownies and cookies, who wouldn’t appreciate homemade goodies you made for them? If you enjoy baking holiday treats for your own family, make a few extra batches, put them in cellophane bags that you can tie up using colourful ribbons. If you’re a culinary enthusiast and grow herbs in your garden all summer long, you might have a large surplus of fresh herbs. Using next to no equipment, you can make your own herb wreaths and give them as gifts. Alternatively, you could also put the herbs in a jar and give that.

 

3. Make an emergency kit gift basket:

We all need to be prepared for emergencies for there’s no telling when one could strike. So no matter who you give this to, this can be a really practical gift. Putting together an emergency kit gift basket is easy. Include a few non-perishable food items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors, combs, soaps, toilet paper; first-aid items like band aids, self-adhesive bandages and dressings; flashlights; gas cans; jumper cables; and sleeping bags. Provide a backpack to hold all these items together, and your gift is done!

Instead of taxing your wallet, use this alternative gift guide to make your giving truly meaningful.
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4. Visit a local nursing home:

Your time is an intangible, yet is one of the most profound gifts you can give, especially to a senior, who may not have too many material needs but would appreciate human companionship. Call up your local nursing home to fix a time when you can visit the seniors. If it is allowed, take your children too, and have them prepare handmade greeting cards or craft items to take as gifts for the nursing home residents. During the holiday season, you might consider adopting a senior and lending them a hand in their day-to-day requirements or simply to chat with them for a few hours a week.

 

5. Make your own gift

Lastly, you always have the option of making your own gift. The biggest investments you’ll need to make for this will be your time and creative imagination, not money. The ideas are limitless. You could embroider handkerchiefs with lines from poems or witty messages; customize plain mugs by drawing on them; make jewelry storage frames and handmade jewelry; or put together in-a-jar food mixes – brownies, chutneys, sauces and more.

As you ponder your giving plan and budget this holiday season, take a moment to reflect on how there might be people who would benefit more from the gift of your time, attention and care than a showering of material items. Every time you’re able to do so, the value of your gift becomes priceless and memorable.