There are times in our lives when we simply don’t have the money to afford to buy Christmas gifts for everyone that we want to buy for. Perhaps unexpected bills have appeared, or debts have piled up too high; in any case, there are people out there who we desperately care for that we want to give a Christmas gift to – but we just can’t afford it. Instead of worrying about finding that perfect gift and racking up even more debt, consider one of the following three options.
Write a letter
Instead of worrying over a material item for someone, spend an hour and hand-write a letter to them. Start off by telling them how important they are to you, (if you want) let them know how current circumstances in your life have made you think about the value of them in your life, tell them everything you’ve ever wanted to tell them, and at the end wish them a merry Christmas. Be sure to hand-write the letter, not type it (although you can draft it a few times by typing – just recopy it by hand when you’re ready); the letter is meant to be a personal expression.
A gift of a handwritten letter is great for:
Family members with whom your relationship has been rocky with This is where a letter gift really shines. A long, handwritten letter can fix a relationship that has been damaged over the years. Not only is it a powerful gift, it can re-establish a connection that was greatly valuable in the past.
Distant relatives and friends If you don’t see people too often, it’s a great way to keep in touch and let them know how important they still are to you even if distance separates you.
Older relatives and friends As people get older, they get sentimental and want to believe that they have established good relationships in their lives, plus their material wants are lessened. You can help with both aspects with a personal letter.
Make a meal
Volunteer to make a meal for someone. Go to their house, prepare the food, and serve it to them. You can do this on Christmas day if you wish, or give them a certificate that you’ll do this at another time during the year. You don’t have to be a stellar cook for this to work, just willing to prepare a basic meal.
A gift of a homecooked meal is great for:
Parents Particularly new and expectant ones, but parents of any stripe will appreciate the gift. Time is very valuable, particularly when parents are getting used to being parents. In this case, almost anything homecooked will be nice as long as you clean up after yourself.
The elderly If you have older relatives, go to their house, prepare a meal, and dine with them. More than anything, they’ll appreciate the time that you spend with them.
Very busy people When I was young, my oldest brother was working two full time jobs and a part time job. The amount of appreciation he had for a meal where he could show up and quickly enjoy a homecooked meal was impressive. Go there, prepare a lot of food (for leftovers, of course), and just allow them to eat and go on with their crazy lives.
Give some time
If you have plenty of spare time but not plenty of spare money, you can offer some of your time as a gift: after all, time is money. A card with a coupon inside for some use of your time is a great way of giving this gift.
A gift of time is great for:
Socially conscious people Tell them that you’ll volunteer a number of hours to the local charity of their choice. This way, they can choose a charity and know that they’ve contributed to a good work.
Parents Offer to babysit, especially an all-night one if you can do it. This can actually reduce parents of toddlers to tears of joy.
Children Offer to spend an entire day with a child, taking them to a zoo or something. If you plan the day well, it can be extremely low-cost and it will mean more to the child than any cheap plastic toy that they’ll forget by the turn of the year.
These gifts mean much more than the typical material goods that are usually given and received for the holidays; plus, they provide relief to an overstressed pocket book.