Marvelous Free Gifts

Electronics glimmer from their glossy ad space. Svelte stars insist their allure comes in spray bottles. Television families cheer while unwrapping the luxury gifts of their dreams. With marketing campaigns at full-throttle this season, your carols might warp into less festive groans.
“It’s the most wonderful . . . HUMPH! It’s the most expensive time of the year.”
Commercialism attempts to dispel the old truism we learned as children. After listening to the jingles for months and watching advertisements until our heads spin, we begin to doubt whether the best things in ¬†life are truly free. Yet, the most precious gifts we can offer don’t come with sticker shock. Loved ones crave our time and thoughtfulness far more than how much we spent. Anyone with other expectations needs a healthy dose of coal in their stocking.
Here are some impressive gift ideas you can offer at little or no cost:

  • Repurpose a container or tote bag as a way to convey honor. Decoupage or iron-on the recipient’s name along with all the things you love most about the person. Include a favorite candy, cookie, or comfort snack.
  • Print a collection of inspirational quotes and attach them with to a ring (or loop a thick braid of thread). Tape the ring to a container of homemade treats along with the suggestion to fill the soul and tummy with bites of joy.
  • Share your favorite family recipes on cards printed with photos of each ancestors who made them special.
  • Repurpose light-colored blankets into a quilt with iron-on photographs of friends and family members.
  • Refinish a thrift-store lamp and stencil the recipient’s name onto its shade. Add a tasseled tag to the switch which reads, “You brighten my life in so many ways.”
  • Create a photo collage of your loved one, or mat a favorite photo. Wrap an old frame with ribbon (or use strips of burlap, whatever pattern-free paper or cloth is on hand). Write your favorite memory of the person on the frame. Add a printed cut-out of the word “unforgettable” to the collage or mat.
  • Find a cheap clock and open it to the face. Choose twelve photos to represent the recipient’s favorite things and crop them into equally sized shapes. Put one photo over each hour’s number. You could also add a favorite quote or a photo to the clock face.
  • For intimate gifts, foot massages and candlelit picnics offer excellent options.
  • Ask your loved one to free up a certain block of time in advance. Drive them to a mystery location for quality time doing something they love. Walk on the beach at sunset. Plan to have a friend (or student from a nearby school) play an instrument at your picnic in the local park. Get pedicures together (which are super-cheap at beauty schools) and relax over coffee while they dry.
  • Create a photo album entitled, “The Funniest Things Ever Seen at (choose a place).” Include pages of snapshots to make your friend smile. For extra fun, add blank pages with a challenge to expand the collection.

All marvelous gifts must come from the heart, for the greatest gift of all is love. Share it with time, thoughts, and conversation. Demonstrate it with a willingness to listen and readiness to hug. Do you have an idea for Christmas blessings? Include your tips in the comments. I look forward to reading your suggestions.

¬†“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Merry Christmas,

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