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For several years in college and the beginning of our marriage, we didn’t have a lot of money. It could be stressful trying to think of something thoughtful to give to family and friends around the holidays that didn’t break the bank. But do you know what? Some of the gifts that came out of those years are still family favorites. I am a firm believer that gifts don’t have to cost a lot to mean a lot.
Here are five gifts that you can put together without spending a lot this year:
Five Gifts to Give When You Are Broke
- A Family Cookbook: I have done this twice. Once when I was a teenager I collected a recipe from each of the women in my family. (I asked for a special recipe they would want to be remembered for, and even got some recipes to include from aunts and great grandmothers who had passed away.) I typed them up, and compiled them into a cookbook. I printed copies on our computer at home, and then my dad let me borrow the binding machine from his office. I gave a copy to each woman in our family for Christmas. After I got married I did the same thing again, but that time the book was a merger of recipes from both of our families and a few close friends. I still refer back to my family cookbooks, and my aunts tell me they do the same.
- Make Something. Our kids like to make homemade applesauce ornaments for their Sunday school teachers every year. There are only two ingredients in these ornaments: applesauce and cinnamon. They are easy to make, smell great, and they last for years. When I buy our ingredients at the dollar store, I can usually make at least thirty ornaments for roughly $5. You can get the recipe on my blog here. We have also used these as neighbor and hostess gifts around the holidays on years when our budget was tight.
- Something Sentimental. Last year my best childhood friend got married. For Christmas we made her and her new husband an album of pictures that we took at their rehearsal dinner. There wasn’t a photographer there, so she didn’t have very many pictures of the day before the wedding. It only cost us a few cents to print each picture, but her reaction was priceless. My aunt once gifted me with a pair of hand-painted hand towels that had been a wedding gift to my grandparents. Maybe there are old letters from a previous generation you could frame for someone? Or a recipe card in a special person’s handwriting? Or maybe you could get the sheet music from someone’s wedding song?
- Write Something. When my grandmother turned 80 years old, she really didn’t need or want any gifts, but I will always remember that every person in our family was asked to write a special memory about her. We put them all together into a binder and presented her with that. My favorite was from my dad, who had taken the time to write his mom a letter that described 80 memories he had of her.
- Give your talent. When friends of ours were preparing to become missionaries in Papua New Guinea, they held a birthday party for their one-year-old daughter shortly before they left. They asked people not to give gifts, because they were downsizing significantly to prepare for their new lifestyle. Not giving anything felt wrong to me, especially because they were giving so much of themselves. So instead of bringing a present to the party, I offered to take family photos for them instead. Those photos only cost me a few hours of my time, but wound up meaning a lot to them and being the ones that were used on their prayer cards for years, until they added another baby to their family. Maybe you aren’t a photographer. Can you give a couple a night off with a few hours of babysitting? Can you draw well enough to take a Facebook photo and turn it into a pencil sketch of someone’s family? Use those talents!
Photo Credit: Ammza12
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