Some years there is simply no money at all for Christmas. Here are some “free” ideas for gifts.
1) Burn a CD with a mix of favorite songs.
2) Make and freeze a favorite meal. (Wrap an empty box with a photo of it, so the real thing can stay in the freezer.)
3) Make a calendar of family birthdays and other special events. This could be done on the computer, handwritten into a day planner, or programmed into a smart phone.
4) Here’s a 3-way idea. Trade your services to someone who will give you something that could be gifted to someone on your list. I do this with custom knitting and web services—it works great.
5) Collect coupons for things you know will be used by the folks you need gifts for. There are loads of places online where you can print out coupons, free. If you have a little money, you could add a sample of that product to make the gift a little more substantial.
6) If you’re crafty, consider covering boxes. These can be done using quilted fabric, contact paper, decoupage, wallpaper, themed cutouts from magazines, printouts of old family photos, or coloring book pages done by the little ones, to name just a few. The boxes can be any size, from trinket to under-the-bed storage.
7) If you have a scanner and photo printer, plus access to old family photos, dig through for some gems, scan them, print them, then make a frame and you’ll have a free, thoughtful gift for someone special. (When small, old photos are scanned at high resolution, they can become bigger and better than the originals.)
8) Solicit help online. If you need a gift for a cook, find a cooking forum and ask for favorite recipes to print out. For a dog-lover it could be hints and ideas for games or dog-training. No matter what skill or passion your gift recipient likes, there’s sure to be an online forum for it. When you post your request for ideas, you’ll probably get more good ones than you can use. Here is a link to our wonderful OLA forum.