According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend more than $465 billion this holiday season, with the average family spending $704. If that seems a bit “above average” to you, it may be because many of us are concerned about how the future might influence our jobs, income, savings not to mention emergency fund. But even if you’re short on cash this year, you can always afford to be generous with your time, attention, and most of all, love. Let’s take a look at some of the best holiday gifts available that don’t cost a dime.
TIME DOING NOTHING, NADA!
Everybody is so busy running around staying busy with something, that sometimes the best gift is nothing. Think back over your life: Haven’t some of the happiest memories been sitting around the house with your friends and family laughing about things that only your group finds funny? (Seinfeld did nothing for 10 years!) So don’t be too quick to dismiss this gift: Time Doing Nothing may be the most rewarding gift of the season.
Another hot item this year is Playing Together. It doesn’t matter if it’s playing a card game, video game or sports, nothing brings family together (or makes them take sides) more than a little friendly competition. We all like to tell the epic tales of familial victory or defeat: Like the time your brother finally beat abuelo at dominoes, or the one when all the cousins had a footrace in the snowy street. Playing family-friendly sports or other activities can create holiday memories for years to come.
ENCOURAGING ONE ANOTHER
Holidays can sometimes be a mixed bag of emotions. But by offering the gift of Encouraging One Another, you plant the seeds of self-confidence that will last long after the Christmas tree has been turned into mulch. Haven’t we all benefited from the gift of encouragement from time to time? It doesn’t matter if it’s a huge bag of “You’re really great at ________” or a small box of “I really appreciate you because ________,” make an effort this holiday season to compliment everyone who matters to you.
Nothing puts people in a better mood than seeing pictures of themselves with their loved ones. Fortunately, living in the digital camera age means no longer does the whole clan have to get dressed up, then caravan down to your local Sears, pose for an awkward family photo, pay fistfuls of money for copies, wait weeks for delivery and hope no one’s eyes are closed. Throughout the holidays, you or the designated family photographer can snap buckets of photos of the kids and other family members. After the New Year, create a digital scrapbook and email it to the group with a cheery note.
So while this list doesn’t represent the latest gadget or coolest toy, or even a savvy handcrafted Sandwich Bag Christmas Wreath, these gifts prove that not all gifts have to cost you an arm and a leg—but they do have to come from the heart.
May you truly enjoy your holiday season!