Don’t have much to spend on presents this year? These ideas cost next to nothing, but offer priceless memories.
1. Smile! Take a wonderful photo of your recipient’s child or pet. Make a paper frame or enclose it in a pretty card.
2. Lesson Plan. Volunteer the gift of a skill: Show a friend or relative how to knit, swim or use a digital camera.
3. Snow Day. Give a neighbor a card promising to shovel her driveway on the day of the first big storm. If you live in a warmer climate, guarantee to tend the lawn one weekend.
4. Babysitters’ Club. Offer the couple down the street a free evening of looking after the kids. Or you can promise them some pet-sitting while they’re on vacation.
5. Portable Gardens. Give plant cuttings that can be nurtured throughout the winter and planted in the spring. If you’re in the South and your garden is in season, give flowers, fruits or vegetables.
6. By the Book. For the constant reader, use holiday or other cards to make bookmarks. Cut the cards into strips that show complete scenes (Santa coming down the chimney, for example). Punch a hole at the top of every strip and pull a ribbon through it.
7. Site Map. Give your recipient a list of off-the-beaten-path Web sites related to her interests (gardening, antiquing). Add a brief comment for each site. For a striking holiday background to your list, download free color pages from activityvillage.co.uk. (Click on the Seasonal Pages link on the left side of the main page.)
8. Words of Love. Send an audio letter to a faraway relative. If you have young relatives who don’t live near you, record yourself reading a children’s book so you seem that much closer.
9. Write It Down. If you like to write, compose a poem or a very short story for your recipient. Include references to events in her life and jokes that just the two of you share.
10. Clip and Save. For your favorite hard-core coupon clipper, assemble a collection of the best coupons you can find, plus a guide to coupon sites like coolsavings.com.
For more affordable gift ideas for everyone in your circle, check out QuickandSimple.com’s 100+ under-$50 gift picks, including cool gifts for guy, fun gifts for deserving divas, and under-$10 gifts that don’t look cheap.
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.