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The Most Memorable Christmas Gifts that Wont Cost you a Dime (or hardly any)

Christmas is in the air and the excitement is all over the streets. From lights and Santa statues decorating our lawns to wreathes hung on the doors of our favorite shopping stores, strolling around outside this time of year has become a daily breathtaking and magical experience.

With this kind of holiday atmosphere, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement and splurge a bit too much on things we don’t need. Even though lots of shops have Christmas sales, most people don’t remember the materialistic things in retrospect. It’s who you spend the holidays with, the long and meaningful talks you have with friends and family, and the love you feel from them that is most memorable.

So, to get in the real spirit of the holidays and make this the most unforgettable Christmas your family’s ever had, here are just a few ideas for gifts that don’t cost a dime (or hardly any), but are more valuable and meaningful than anything you can hope to buy at the shop.

Image courtesy of  Danilo Rizzuti at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at freedigitalphotos.net

Swap your most treasured belongings with other family members

This idea is courtesy of my friend, Diana Bell. She told me how the most memorable Christmas for her was when each family member gave another family member his or her most prized possession. It’s much harder to give someone something that you own and love than buying something new at the store. However, the fact that it comes at such a sacrifice for you is true to the very meaning of Christmas, and will make you savor the gifts you receive, knowing they were all loved and cherished by your loved ones who are trusting you with it.

Create a scrapbook of you’re favorite family moments

Creating scrapbooks and decorating them makes for a memorable Christmas gift. There are many online tutorials on how to decorate and personalize your scrapbook, all you need to do is to choose the ones you relate to the most, gather up old family pictures (or specific pictures of that family member growing up), and voila – you have the perfect gift that will be looked at again and again, for many more Christmases (and family gatherings) to come.

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at freedigitalphotos.net


The wheel goes round and round, and when you give back to society, not only do you help out those in need but you earn yourself a tremendous and very special feeling of satisfaction. Each family member can volunteer in another person’s name to an organization that that person chooses. Or, you can spend the day volunteering together. Whatever you decide, helping those less fortunate than you will definitely be a memorable and humbling experience, and make your Christmas unforgettable.

Get creative

Bake your kid’s favorite Christmas cookies, prepare your husbands favorite Christmas dinner, write a poem, draw and craft – whatever you create, your family will love you for it as long as you take the time and put in the effort. When I left home, my mom gathered up all my favorite holiday recipes and wrote them down for me in a personalized recipe book so I can continue her tradition and make them for my own family. I treasure that recipe book and plan on giving it to my (future) child one day when they leave home.

Adopt a dog/kitten

So you’ve done the research on budget and costs, you’ve read all the books on how to take care of a dog/cat, you’ve got the experience, you’ve thought it over multiple times, and you’ve decided to get your kid a puppy or kitten for Christmas (fully prepared to take responsibility for it as a family and to commit to it forever). While many people prefer to buy pets from reputable breeders, there are many cats and dogs that are fighting for survival in animal shelters across the country. These animals are sometimes put in high-risk shelters, and their adoption can literally be a matter of life and death for them. What better way to teach your child about the spirit of Christmas than to save a life? Take your child with you to the shelter and pick out the dog or cat that suits you and your needs. Your child will remember the experience and understand that by taking their new pet in they are giving them the greatest gift of all – a forever home. (Bare in mind – this idea is only for people who have thought about getting a pet in general and are aware of the major responsibilities and commitment that taking care of a pet requires).

Whatever you decide to do for Christmas this year, just remember that nothing beats quality time with your family to make your kids feel loved and special. Have a merry merry Christmas and happy December holidays!

Image courtesy of  Vlado at freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Vlado at freedigitalphotos.net

About Dana Torres

Born and raised in Israel with a ten year interval in New York, Dana considers both places her home. She first made the choice to commit to a frugal life when she signed up for a degree in the Humanities. Today she loves nothing more than to share her newly learned skills and experience in thrifty living with others.

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  • Fiona Naughton

    Firstly the image you’ve used to open this post is AMAZING! Secondly, I love the idea of swapping prized possessions with other family members. I have a charm bracelet which I hope to give to a daughter or granddaughter of mine if I ever have one some day. I also love the scrapbook idea. For my grandmothers 70th birthday I made her a large, framed collage filled with photographs from her childhood to her most recent days and included all her family members 🙂

  • What great ideas! I love the idea of swapping treasured items–that would be SO much more meaningful than purchasing a new necklace, ring, book, etc. Getting a puppy or kitten for Christmas would make some children’s years! (However, at least here in Charleston, adoption costs A LOT even from a shelter. We adopted our dog five years ago from a local rescue, and her adoption costs were in the $200 range–and she’s just a mutt!)

  • Oh wow..that is a gorgeous image above to get us in the mood for the holidays. I like the idea of swapping your treasured belongings. How many times has someone you know admired a piece of jewelry or begged you to wear a piece of clothing? Gifting it really shows how much you care to make them happy…that you would part with something that you love too. And, it’s funny that you mention baking cookies. My nephew goes crazy over fun-looking sugar cookies. I am baking him Ninja sugar cookies for a Christmas gift, decorating them all fancy, and putting them in a nice tin just for him. He will really appreciate it.

  • I must say that I really love your opening photo. However, I
    do like the ideas in the post too especially the scrapbook. That is a really
    good idea and I may do that if I don’t have everyone a gift by the time the
    holiday season is too close to shop.

  • I love the scrapbook idea. I’m not so sure I could swap my most prized possessions 🙂 I also like the idea of volunteering. And since my 3 year old likes to bake, I’m sure we’ll be incorporating some baking into our holiday gifts this year.

  • Dina Demarest

    what a great idea to give your most prized possession. I love that. We just adopted a kitten so we can cross that off our list too. 3 kids and 3 pets all inside…what was I thinkin!

  • I love all these ideas! 🙂 we decided not to give each other gifts this year, and it has lifted such a huge burden off me.. that i can actually focus on spending time with loved ones and creating memories rather than rushing around trying to look for gifts. it’s still such a crazy time of year though.. i hope we can make the time to volunteer at least a little bit.

  • I agree nothing beats quality time with family and friends, I think as years have gone by we as the public have become so materialistic and forget the true meaning of christmas. I love the ideas you have and i think they are great, volunteering around this time is just perfect

  • There are so many other ways of giving. This year, I have decided that I’m giving family and friends selections from the World Vision Holiday Catalogue. It speaks to me about giving a gift that will help others. Most of my family don’t need more, they probably need less but this kind of gift says I am still thinking of you during the holiday season.

  • Another great post! These are some really great gift ideas. I know my kids and I plan on doing a few crafts this year, making homemade gifts are the best at Christmas, shows you really put your heart into what you made, that it was made with love. Sometimes, that’s better than the newest gadget.