50 Ways to Simplify Gift Giving This Holiday Season

by Tess on December 9, 2009

En Hemmelighed

Creative Commons License photo credit: Risager

There are many ways to enjoy gift giving this holiday season. If you have lost your job, want to cut back on your budget or find joy in simplifing the holidays this list is for you.

Tie an imaginary ribbon around your gift, then sprinkle with love from the bottom of your heart.

You'll find something for everyone below.

50. Offer to watch a child, a pet or a house for someone.

49. Write a poem for someone, post it on your blog and send a link.

48. Send a special photo in a recycled frame.

47. Call each person on your list and tell them "I love you. I appreciate you."

46. Invite some friends over for tea or coffee. Serve cookies.

45. Ask someone if there is any way you can help them. Then follow through.

44. Kiss and hug someone you normally wouldn't.

43. Be authentically yourself around others.

42. Make a mixed CD of inspiring songs and give them to your friends.

41. Hand write a letter and state how much someone means to you.

40. Create a box of hand-made greeting cards. Decorate the front with a favorite photo and write a personal message inside.

39. Give a genuine compliment to someone.

38. Give a favorite shell, pressed flower or stone as a reminder of your friendship.

37. Spend time with someone.

36. Offer to clean someone's home.

35. Offer to wash someone's car.

34. Offer a class, workshop or another one of your services for free.

33. Give away an article of clothing to a friend who has admired it.

32. Offer to run errands for someone.

31. Give one of your favorite ornaments with a note of appreciation.

30. Make a paper chain and write a message on each link.

29. Invite a friend to go on a trip through the neighborhood and enjoy the decorations and lights together. Play holiday music and take along a thermas of hot chocolate.

28. Go Christmas caroling to the homes of friends and families.

27. Create a gift from from recycled material.

26. Give someone a massage.

25. Copy your favorite recipes , creatively decorate them and place them in a gift box.

24. Give away some of your books with a note sharing a message.

23. Give the gift of listening. Make a coupon offering your listening skills. Suggest a person call you with their troubles.

22. Write a thank you note to a friend. Thank them for being in your life.

21. Send someone an article that would help them in some way.

20. Ask someone, "Is there a way I can help you today?"

19. Ask someone how you can help them make their dreams come true.

18. Introduce someone to a person you know that can help them.

17. With a special person in mind look for blogs you think they would like. Write down the domain name and description of each.

16. Gift someone with wild flowers, something from the woods or your garden.

15. Surprise someone with a plate of homemade cookies.

14. Make homemade salsa and attach a invitation to your home for Mexican food.

13. Write thoughts of good times in a scrapbook and decorate it with photos and bright markers. Thank someone for the memories.

12. Give homemade granola.

11. Collect favorite memories from others about a friend. Write out each memory on an index card. Include the name of the person who gave the memory.

10. Create a calendar with favorite photos, poems, quotes and stories.

9. Give a coupon offering to make a friend laugh when they're down or send them to www.JannieFunster.com

8. Teach someone a skill or a hobby.

7. Host and invite friends to a manicure/pedicure party.

6. Host a holiday food drive. Invite others to come with a canned good to donate to others.

5. Tell a friend you will drop off and pick up her/his child from school for a period of time.

4. Invite your neices and nephews over for a sleep over. Make popcorn, watch a movie and play games.

3. Make a video of yourself reading a children's book. Give it to someone special.

2. Offer to groom a pet.

1. Offer to forgive someone. Write this person a letter offering them another chance.

Please leave us with your favorite way to gift someone spending little or no money.

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    { 43 comments… read them below or add one }

    Tabitha December 9, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I love making journals for friends, cousins and my sisters.
    .-= Tabitha´s last post…Wishing & Believing =-.


    Peggy Nolan December 9, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Tess – I LOVE your list (but I’m a list maker myself!)

    This year, on my side of the family, my husband and I are donating $100 to the Wounded Warrior Project on behalf of my family.

    On his side, we do a secret santa (only it’s not so secret) gift exchange and I will be looking at your list again to see what I can do/use for the name on my list.

    As for our combined six kids – most of whom are just starting out as parents or newly marrieds or on their own, we’re doing what parents do – helping by being their support system.

    I do have something special saved for my youngest step daughter – a pressed flower from her wedding which will go into a frame with a collage of photos I have.

    And the grand baby – well, she’s only 6 months old…but it will be special!

    We’re also hosting Christmas Eve for both our families – I will be making gift bags for everyone – coffee mugs filled with candy and hot cocoa mixes. The Dollar Store is my favorite place to shop for something of this magnitude!
    .-= Peggy Nolan´s last post…Merry SITSmas & Christmas! =-.


    Peggy Nolan December 9, 2009 at 9:50 am

    PS – I am hosting my niece the weekend before Christmas – I do this EVERY year :-)
    .-= Peggy Nolan´s last post…Merry SITSmas & Christmas! =-.


    Tess December 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Me too!

    We are supporters of Wounded Warriors as well. And I love the idea of gift bags and the dollor store. As for Baby I’ll be expecting some photos of her first Christmas posted soon after!


    suzen December 9, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hi Tess!
    Oh how I would love to go to the mall with your list printed out and hand it to EVERYone – you know there are so many shoppers out there fixated on spending money (they may not have) to buy presents (stuff – do we need more stuff?) and not realizing that true giving is from the heart, not the mall! LOVE the list and love you too! Thanks for this gift – your wonderful blog!
    Hugs and Happy Holidays
    .-= suzen´s last post…Consenting to Feel Icky =-.


    Hilary December 9, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Hi Tess .. I’m going to be seriously worried when you can count beyond 50!!!

    Great list – and yes there are so many ways we give, without costing a fortune. Mine will be decorating my mother’s room .. etc etc

    Love the ideas – read to someone at a Care Home, or in hospital ..

    Thanks – enjoy the time .. Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
    .-= Hilary´s last post…Cricket Ball Squash, Santa Claus, Italy and us … =-.


    Hayden Tompkins December 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Make brownies! That way you give away deliciousness AND you get to lick the bowl!

    Also, I simply LOVE the mix tape idea. :)
    .-= Hayden Tompkins´s last post…10 Ways to Get Your Winter Awesome On! =-.


    Joy December 9, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Wonderful ideas Tess! And not just for the holidays…but any day you want to spread some cheer:)
    My finances are minimal this year…but my heart is still quite big so…
    -I handwrite a note of appreciation to my children, my family, my neighbors, my co-workers to let them know specifically how their time, energy, and/or emotion has touched me this year. And to acknowledge something they have accomplished or encourage something they are working on.
    -I am opening my boat to anyone who wants to join us for parade of lights this year. That gives access to parking and prime seating for the parade and light viewing, and the food will be potluck. Plus, I guarantee the company will be grand :)
    -I have an abundance of books and am sorting through and passing them on to people who will best enjoy them
    -I am an excellent cook, so I am bringing a special very delightful food dish to whatever function I am invited to. I recently cooked breakfast for my co-workers and am planning on surprising a few families I know with a homecooked dinner.
    -The biggest “present” I know is to not let myself get caught up in worry or doubt but to stay mindful and present and actually enjoy the moments I am in/functions I am at. Peace and joy are silent but wondrous gifts:)


    Positively Present December 9, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Love this post! So useful that I just HAD to retweet it! :)


    Lance December 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Tess,
    I’m working on #48 as we speak…and excited about how it is going to turn out!

    This whole list just really is about giving from the heart…and that is really what this season should be all about. Love it all!
    .-= Lance´s last post…Frank and Me: A Legacy of Mentoring (Giveaway Post) =-.


    Patricia December 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    oh I love this whole list Tess – terrific
    you could add write and ecookbook for UNICEF and get 1000 reads for $1000 by enlisting all your fellow bloggers!

    we did it….! Thank you for your help…and assistance Hope you got your free ebook the recipes are delicious and love foods?
    .-= Patricia´s last post…1,000 Thank Yous =-.


    Julie December 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Gifts from the heart. They ARE the very best. :)

    My family was always big on this. I remember, as kids, that we received even more pleasure making our gifts than in giving, even though there was always a huge to-do by the recipient. What was so joyous was all the happy delighted giggly tingling that went on within while making things—just knowing how much the other was “just going to LOVE” the item. ;) As we became older, we made “coupon books” of just the sorts of things on your fantastic list. We shared homemade gifts at the office, too. Other workers always said ours was the happiest, homiest of offices and could they please join our group, too? What a nice compliment! They felt the warmth we shared. Really, that’s what we all want, all the time. Someone’s heart to touch ours…
    .-= Julie´s last post…Nothing =-.


    Cheryl December 9, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Every year, I give my immediate and extended family and co-workers homemade fudge. They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! And they love the fact that I take the time to make it.

    When my daughter was younger, I used to give her coupons for outings with a friend, complete with pick-up and drop-off (no public trans in our area).
    .-= Cheryl´s last post…You CAN Find Time for A Retreat =-.


    Lori December 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Tess!
    This is cool! You listed so many great ideas; this is lovely!
    I especially liked #49 – I think I might use that one this year!
    I love to recycle holiday wrapping paper as often as possible. The last two years, I’ve made my own wrapping paper by cutting images/words from catalogs and magazines and using craft glue to affix to typing paper (or cut brown paper bags from grocery stores). That has actually gone over quite well, it makes the person feel good to see his or her personality (as I see it) all over their gift wrapping (even if the gift is only a pair of socks or a CD I’ve made for her! – ha).

    Thanks, Tess! You’re getting me in the ’spirit’ this year, for sure!
    .-= Lori´s last post…I’m Showing – Not Telling =-.


    joyce at I TAKE OFF THE MASK December 9, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I wish I read this before I bought gifts for Christmas! ;-) Thanks for the list, maybe it isn’t too late to give extra gifts to those we love.
    .-= joyce at I TAKE OFF THE MASK´s last post…Day 18 of Being Jobless =-.


    Jodi at Joy Discovered December 9, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Hi Tess!
    These are great! Each idea is so sweet, thoughtful and fun! I will hold onto this list to use now and throughout the year. Best to you!! Jodi
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last post…Planting Seeds for the New Year =-.


    Karen Chaffee December 9, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Great ideas, Tess…and so many would fit a tight budget. I also like that they are in keeping with the true meaning of the holiday season, so thank you :)



    Tess December 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    You’re the best and I’ll go with you to the mall! Happy Holidays:)

    What fun…decorating your mom’s room and what a daughter.

    Yum yum on the brownies and bowl. Oh and I love CD mixes.

    Yes I want in on your boat and I’ll bring a dish to pass! Thanks for your wonderful suggestions!


    That doesn’t surprise me one bit. The receiever is blessed.

    Congrats on all your dedication and work. The world is blessed because you’re in it.

    That’s correct. We want someone’s heart to touch ours. Thanks for sharing your stories and wisdom.

    What a great gift for you kids. I love you’re creativity. And please send fudge.

    I love the way you decorate with words on brown paper. That’s so great!

    You’re not to late. You can use these for all occasions. Thanks!

    My idea exactly….all year!

    Thanks for stopping by. Happy Holidays.


    Wilma Ham December 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Oh all these presents are so much more valuable than the store bought empty vessels.
    AND so much more creative. Oh, if we all stopped buying and started doing things differently.
    One must start and then many will follow.
    I have always made presents, I have made over 200 sheepskin slippers to give away, people loved them.
    I spin wool and make jumpers and when people like them they can have them.
    It is so much more fun to give and get a present which is manufactured by loving hands.
    And look what a list to choose from, I bet I cannot get that many ideas when I have to go and shop for someone.
    In Holland we nationally celebrate Sint Nicolas and we make fun parcels with a fun poem for a person whose name we draw out of a hat. No surprise that we all love to celebrate that holiday as it is so hillarious and so creative.
    Love to you all and may we all receive this type of gift. It means we are loved, Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last post…Don’t let change in your circumstances fool you. =-.


    Barbara Swafford December 9, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Hi Tess,

    My friends and I have #46 planned. We are going to do a cookie exchange over lunch at our house and reminisce as we sample everyone’s great creations. Yum!!!
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last post…Requesting Two Minutes Of Your Time =-.


    Des December 9, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I always make a lot of gifts at Christmastime. For instance, my little godson is getting a handknit military-style cap and matching mittens, my bosses are getting a little basket each with an assortment of handmade cookies, a mug from the dollar store and a $1.75 12cup package of flavored coffees.

    Love the other ideas on your list! I retweeted it!
    .-= Des´s last post…Winter Warmies =-.


    Zeenat{Positive Provocations} December 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Awesome List Tess!
    Wouldnt we have fewer dents in our pockets and better relationships if we all gave gifts from the heart….
    Your suggestions are just beautiful.
    Thank you.
    Lots of love.
    .-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last post…The Decision To Be You =-.


    Ann-Marie Fagan December 10, 2009 at 2:32 am

    This years presents for our families are photos that we had taken in Ireland and home made shortbread is on the cards for the neighbours. This is a different kind of doing around christmas pressies for me and I’m having such fun doing it.
    Tess you rock, you always focus on being love in action. x
    .-= Ann-Marie Fagan´s last post…Don’t let change in your circumstances fool you. =-.


    janice December 10, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Good to be back! What a fabulous list!!

    My favourite is #43. Everything else stems from it. We can create with resourcefulness, love and imagination if we value the original gifts, the ones God gave us to share with others.

    Every year for twenty five years, I’ve made our Christmas cards, using various techniques. One year, I simply wrote and sent a Christmas poem. (Illness thwarted me this year.) The kids always used to make theirs, too. A simple way is to buy an embossing pen and cheap card offcuts in bulk, let them draw little simple outline pictures of Christmas images with it, then sprinkle on embossing powder and heat it, which raises up to a solid gold (or black or copper) line. They can then colour in the images with felt tips and they look stunning. A friend of mine still displays the Rudolph card my daughter made when she was four. They also used to use rubber stamps to create and emboss images.

    I’ve just finished making peppermint creams for friends and calendars with photo collections for friends abroad; they take ages to print out and compile, but cost very little.

    My kids surprised me last year with a selection of laminated vouchers, promising me everything from breakfast in bed to a romantic dinner for two that they promised to cook and serve for my husband and me.

    They also each wrote me a short story, typed it up and tied it in a scoll with a velvet ribbon. Cue Christmas day floods of tears!

    Maybe your blogging readers could compile a list of their favourite free ebooks, found on the sites of blogging colleagues and idols. It’ll give the recipient a year of reading pleasure and help those free ebooks become a gift that goes on giving.

    For the musically talented, recording a CD of special songs can be touching. Audacity is a free online programme that converts cassette recordings to MP3.

    Thanks tess. I’ve missed you and your readers, but this was a wonderful blog to come home to. I didn’t even intend to leave a comment!
    .-= janice´s last post…Angels at my Table =-.


    Stacey Shipman December 10, 2009 at 5:56 am

    I’m not a crafty person, but I love to cook. Every year at Christmas I make fudge and chocolate covered peanut butter candies and pass them out to friends, family, colleagues. People love them.

    After that, I love to give the gift of “experiences” especially to my niece and nephew…not a toy they play with alone, but something we can all enjoy (and create fond memories of) together. Sometimes it’s as simple as a hug and an “I love you” because we don’t always hear that enough.

    As for volunteering – I volunteer all year long and don’t see the holidays as a volunteer specific time.

    I love the holidays! It’s so “feel good”…


    Tess December 10, 2009 at 6:21 am

    How did I know you’d like this kind of thing? Ohhh sheepskin slippers sound so warm. I love the simple live out in the country you’ve chosen. Any you are heading into your warmer season and gardening right?

    I’m your friend…can I come…can I come? I love cookies!

    Well how great is that? It sounds like fun planning it out and the giving is a bonus.

    If everyone was as loving and thoughtful as you we’d be so bright we wouldn’t be able to be so grounded.

    I love shortbread cookies…see Barbara above and the word “pressies” is so cool!

    What wonderful family memories. Those cards you’re giving annually added up over the years are treasures. Blessed receivers. That’s a great ebook idea and I think I’ll do that myself!

    What wonderful memories you’re creating for your neice and nephew. And the goodies sound divine. Good for you with volunteering. Knowing you it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Happy holidays my friend.


    Karl Staib - Work Happy Now December 10, 2009 at 9:01 am

    My mother always sends me articles about job hunting, writing books, and other things I’m interested in. It always makes me feel loved.

    I try to do the same things for others. I’ve fallen out of this habit and it’s time I started this back up.

    Creating a homemade calendar is another great idea. I think I may make one for my wife of our son. She would just melt. Thanks!
    .-= Karl Staib – Work Happy Now´s last post…Yelling Only Makes Your Mustache Look Uglier – Cartoon =-.


    Joy December 10, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    I buy an inexpensive, small photo album (no more than $10) at the start of each year for each set of grandparents. Then, as I develop pictures I slip them in the sleeves. By the end of the year I have the growth of the grandchildren in a tidy little album. They make great Christmas gifts for the grandparents who already have enough “things.”
    .-= Joy´s last post…Day 1 – Snail Mail =-.


    Keith December 10, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Hello Tess,

    There are so many great ideas here. I was thInking it’d be great to have this list and use it all year!

    You always have such good ideas Tess!
    .-= Keith´s last post…Risk The Unusual! =-.


    Erin December 10, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Hey Tess, All these things you have suggested are the heart of the meaning of life. We search for it on a grand scale, but I believe it truly lies in these small kind acts and in service to others. Well done!
    .-= Erin´s last post…Courage =-.


    Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord December 10, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    I love this list!
    Number 42. Make a mixed CD of inspiring songs and give them to your friends— One year, I asked all of my family members near and far to email me one or two of their favorite holiday songs. I then used iTunes to download all those songs and made a family holiday CD that had the song name, artist, and who requested it. It was a blast and connected us in a unique way!

    These ideas you’ve shared are just fantastic, and everyone else’s suggestions are awesome, too!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last post…7 Steps for Climbing the Staircase to Joy =-.


    Tess December 10, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Sounds like you have a wonderful mother and if you can make your wife melt get going today on the calendar!

    What a great idea…such organization!

    Thanks for the compliment and stopping by. You’re the best!

    I think so too! Thanks.

    I love the way you created the CD! Wow…such creativity and love.


    vered | blogger for hire December 10, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I LOVE this list. So many great ideas. LOVE the idea of sharing recipes.


    Kirsty December 11, 2009 at 12:44 am

    Hi Tess!

    This year we decided to participate in the “Adopt a Family for Christmas” program run through the newspaper and local charities…

    Basically you buy a hamper worth of non-perishable foods and some gifts for the family. You get to select a family, so you know how many kids and their sex and ages as well as if there is a Mum or Dad.

    I truly found it a bit of a challenge buying for another family because you don’t know what they like etc, but it is a nice idea for Christmas to help out someone who is in need.

    Maybe other areas also have these programs?

    Have a great week,

    PS> I did get your email and we are working through a few things… :)


    Tess December 11, 2009 at 8:46 am

    We have a family cookbook where everyone shared favorite recipes and bound them for a family reunion years back. This would be so easy to do with today’s technology.

    Yes adopt a family is a great idea. One I’ve participated in and missed for my list.


    Katie West/The Levity Coach December 11, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Tess!!!!fabulous ideas.
    We just made homemade finger paint for all of the children in my friend group. We all had kids at the same time so have given up doing gifts for each other and just do something homemade for the little ones.
    And as a couple we do coupons like good for “one movie night together” or” good for one get out of dishes free” These are always a hit and very thoughtful
    I love your twist on gift giving and it resonates with me a lot!

    We are doing #29 tonight!
    .-= Katie West/The Levity Coach´s last post…The Levity Project: Laughter Flash Chicago! =-.


    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work December 11, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I got a car wash last year and it was so appreciated. Amazing how the right gesture can make your day. I like you numbers 47 and 44. It seems like I’m being asked to show more sincere affection this holiday season. My suggestion. Give yourself the gift of a day of silent reflection with no objective other than to be.

    Enthusiastic Blessings Tess
    .-= Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last post…First Comes … The Courage To Listen =-.


    Tess December 11, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Your suggestion belongs at the top of this list because without our own tank full of love it’s impossible to fill anothers. Thanks for your wonderful contribution.


    Evita December 11, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    This is amazing Tess! So wonderful of you to come up with such a beautiful list!

    Yes, yes, yes – to me this holiday season is all about exactly the kinds of things you mentioned in this list of 50 – and actually not about actual gifts. While those may be nice and all, I find today so much more meaning in experiences.

    So this was so warming to my heart to read – and thank you for this gift you gave all of us, by making this list!
    .-= Evita´s last post…My Experience of Reconnective Healing with Jennifer Mannion =-.


    Valleri December 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    If someone offered to babysit my kids for an evening, that probably would be the best gift I could receive! Excellent ideas shared in this post, now I just hope someone from my family is reading!


    Angelia December 12, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    This is a wonderfully informative post full of gifts to me, just for knowing about them. I am grateful that you shared this. One thing I love to gift and receive……HUGS. A genuine squeeze of pure love. Ahh, nothing like it.
    .-= Angelia´s last post…Festive Ride aboard the Jeep Express =-.


    lady kingdom June 7, 2010 at 1:50 am

    That’s a collection of wonderful gift for holiday season

    very good :)
    .-= lady kingdom´s last post…Female masturbation =-.


    James July 7, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I’ve never been particularly good at gift giving because I always seem to miss the target. I’ve managed to improve my skills by coaxing out what a person wants before a said holiday or birthday comes around, that way they don’t expect anything and I’ll know for a fact they will be able to enjoy their gift.
    .-= James´s last post…Where to Buy Nail Polish Display Rack =-.


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