Gifts That Don’t Cost Money

By Abby Diaz and Melissa Sfakianakis

Gift-giving is a wonderful part of the December holidays, but it can also be overwhelming. Whether you are feeling the stress of holiday budgeting, or simply wanting to take a break from the materialism that is encouraged by retailers, cost-free presents are a delightful way to simplify gift-giving. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to inspire you.

Family Coupons
Think of some special privileges your child requests or activities he or she enjoys, then make a coupon for it. Children will love deciding when to redeem their coupons and even the simplest things will become extra special gifts. Some coupon ideas include: staying up 15 minutes past bedtime, choosing what dish to have for dinner, having a cup of cocoa with a parent, and going to the park to play. Get creative and have fun making the coupons, too. “Official” looking or colorful coupons just add to the fun!

Volunteering
The experience of giving to others can bring about such a warm, fuzzy feeling in both adults and children that is a gift in itself. By taking your children to volunteer time in order to help others, you’ll not only be making them feel good inside, but they will learn values such as selflessness, caring for others, and gratefulness for all that they are fortunate to have. Some great places to start are homeless shelters, soup kitchens, toy drives, donating clothes and shoes, putting together “care boxes” for the homeless that you can hand out and even simply buying gift cards for fast food places and giving to those in need as the opportunity arises. By volunteering together as a family, you are giving your children the gift of caring for others. A day spent volunteering as a family and helping those in need is sure to bring smiles to your faces!

Family Keepsake
Take stock of your own keepsakes or reach out to an older relative to see if there is any piece of family history to pass along. Children will love to receive a toy or book from your own childhood or a grandparent’s. If keepsakes aren’t available, pass on a family story. Taking a few minutes to write down a piece of family lore costs nothing and will be far more valuable to your child than the most costly book. If you’re feeling ambitious, fill a whole notebook with family stories, memories, and pictures!

Family Night
Between school, work, after school activities, homework, and social gatherings, families often are running from place to place and don’t get quality family time as often as they should. Family Nights are a great way to give your children the gift of quality time together. Some ideas for Family Nights include a movie night, game night, craft night, baking night, creating a new family tradition, taking a bike ride somewhere, or a trip to the park to enjoy the outdoors. Let your children help plan and prepare for the family time and they will get even more excited to participate. Whatever activity you choose, your children will love spending time together and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Hopefully these ideas help you keep in mind this holiday season that sometimes the most special and treasured gifts are ones that come from the heart. Years from now, children might not remember the expensive toy they got one Christmas but they will surely remember the special childhood memories from time spent with family.  You and your children will look back on these special times and relive the joy all over again. Wishing you and your families a wonderful, special holiday season!