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The Gift of Presence: 7 Free and Affordable Gifts to Give This Season

Rather than focusing on giving physical objects as gifts this holiday season, think about offering the gift of your time instead. Being present in our loved ones' lives and sharing memorable experiences is perhaps the best gift of all to give, and it will keep things affordable for you, as well.
the gift

Priceless Gifts to Give This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a joyous time for gathering with friends and family, but it’s easy to start feeling a little stressed when it comes to figuring out your gift-giving plan. Spending money on presents can easily get out of hand, leaving your budget strained or even putting you into debt.

Rather than focusing on giving physical objects as gifts this holiday season, think about offering the gift of your time instead. Being present in our loved ones’ lives and sharing memorable experiences is perhaps the best gift of all to give, and it will keep things affordable for you, as well.

Here are 7 free or very affordable (under $10) gift ideas for this holiday season.

1. Volunteer at a local shelter for the day.

Give the gift of time twofold by volunteering with your giftee. The holiday season is a busy one, and that often means shelters and community centers of all kinds can use extra help. Whether it’s volunteering at a local animal shelter or helping distribute clothing or meals to the homeless, volunteering with a partner brings you both closer together while also giving you the opportunity to help others.

2. Go on a hike or wander through a park.

Winter weather can make you feel like staying inside, but going out on a winter hike or a walk around a local park will do your body good and give you a chance to bond with a loved one. Invite your giftee out for a quiet hike or walk, complete with a thermos of hot chocolate or apple cider. If you’d like to throw in an additional gift, a pair of warm gloves, a hat, or a scarf can all be purchased for less than $10 and will remind your giftee of you every time they bundle up.

Some other ideas include a nature walk, snowshoeing, sledding, or ice-skating. If you or your giftee isn’t able to go on long walks or hikes, you can still find ways to get outside and enjoy the winter landscape. This gift of time can also be wonderful for children, though spending the afternoon building an igloo or an army of snowmen might be more entertaining for them than for you.

3. Pick out a tasty recipe and bake together.

A big part of the holiday season revolves around sharing delicious meals and baking various desserts. If your giftee enjoys baking, a great idea is to spend an afternoon baking treats together. Depending on how much time you both have, you can choose one recipe each or make a bunch. The gift-giving portion will be quality time spent together and giving one another a portion of the finished baked goods.

Baking goods aren’t the best thing to eat when it comes to dental health, so take it easy on the sugar and look for tooth-friendly dessert recipes. Switching out sugar for xylitol sweeteners is a good idea for keeping your teeth healthy while still indulging your sweet tooth.

4. Offer to babysit for busy parents.

Giving the gift of your time doesn’t always have to be spending time with the giftee but rather providing a service that allows them to have some free time for themselves. An excellent example is offering to babysit for busy parents that never seem to get time alone. This idea also works for a single mom or dad who simply would like to have a day or night to themselves to relax.

Parents don’t often get a lot of time for themselves, especially new parents or parents of young children. Just one evening of babysitting is a tremendous gift that will be truly appreciated.

5. Turn off the TV and have a board game night.

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in television and scrolling through our phones when we should be paying more attention to one another. Getting together for a movie night with friends and family is a wonderful idea, but think about taking it a step further by hosting a board game night.

Banish electronics for the evening and spend time playing some old-fashioned games. If you don’t have many board games, check out your local thrift store to find some. Add to the fun by asking the giftees to bring their favorite games to share. Provide some snacks and drinks to top off the evening. 

6. Gift a cookbook and make them a meal.

Is your giftee a bit of a home chef? A new cookbook is a wonderful gift idea on its own, but you can add a more personal touch by having your giftee pick out whatever recipe they’d like you to make for them. Even someone that loves to cook will still appreciate being able to sit back and relax while someone else prepares a meal, a dessert, or even a fun snack.

If your giftee seems to already have every cookbook out there, you can still surprise them with a home-cooked meal. Going out for a meal is always nice, but there’s something very special about spending some time with a loved one and making them a tasty meal.

7. Set up an at-home spa night.

A DIY spa night can be a real treat for any giftee who doesn’t get nearly enough time for themselves. Going to an actual spa can easily cost hundreds of dollars, but you can achieve just as much fun and relaxation at home without spending as much. As far as items go, you can pick up face masks, hair masks, foot scrubs, body scrubs, body butter, and a number of other products for under $10.

You can also pair up the at-home spa night with some of the other ideas featured above. For example, you could have a bake session with your favorite gal pal while watching your favorite holiday movies at the same time.

Make the focus of this holiday season about spending quality time with the people you love rather than buying them that expensive item you think they want. Giving the gift of presence makes for a lasting impression and opens up an opportunity to create new memories with family and friends.


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