12 Meaningful and Inexpensive Christmas Ideas
by Anita Agers-Brooks
You might find my favorite Christmas gifts from childhood surprising. We were poor—you were lucky to get anything for Christmas poor—but I received a wealth of happy memories.
I can still recall how I felt the year I pulled the newspaper wrapping off and saw the Nancy Drew book I wanted, The Secret of the Old Clock. My only other gift was some fruit and nuts in my stocking. I read and re-read that book, thankful my parents had given me something I truly desired.
Another year, my only Christmas gifts were a purse I’d asked for and some candy, in addition to the fruit and nuts in my stocking. But again, I understood my parents were doing their best. Sure, it was hard when I went back to school and heard other kids bragging about their many presents, some very expensive, but I held onto the knowledge that what I’d received was given in love.
I would not exchange that time in my life, because it left me with an enduring sense of gratitude. My favorite gift from that period was the present of my parents’ presence. They played board games with us, told us stories from their Christmas’s past, and engaged us in family charades. In truth, it didn’t matter what we did, what mattered was their investment in connecting with us, in distraction-free quality time.
My experiences also helped me fight against anxiety when as a parent, I couldn’t afford to buy my children every present they wanted. I understood it isn’t the gift, or the number of them, under the tree that’s most important at Christmas, it’s the heart behind them that adds meaning.
Today, even though our finances have lightened, I still include gifts from the following list. Some of these personalized presents were the catalysts for my children’s own favorite holiday memories.
12 Meaningful and Inexpensive Christmas Ideas
- 52 Things I Like About You: Take a deck of cards and a permanent marker, then on each card, list something you like or love about the person you are gifting. Your recipient can shuffle or pull and read in order, one weekly. All year long, they will appreciate your kind acknowledgements and personal compliments.
- Uninterrupted Attention: Create a certificate for two hours or more of uninterrupted time together — no phones or other electronic devices. Offer your loved one a Daycation, Weekend Getaway, or Playcation with you. Even better? Suggest you spend this quality time together, giving to the poor or serving those in need. There’s no greater gift than shared experience.
- Think of Me Meal: Write out one of your specialty recipes, buy the staple ingredients, and make a basket so the person you give it to smiles as she prepares a convenient home cooked meal that makes her think of you.
- Gratitude Plate or Mug: Take a plain, white dinner plate or mug that can be baked in an oven, write a message of thanksgiving on it with a permanent marker. Bake 30 minutes at 150 degrees. It’s the gift that will keep on giving gratefulness.
- Movie in a Jar: Fill an empty jar with movie tickets or a DVD, microwave popcorn, their favorite candy, and a coupon saying you will watch with them at a pre-scheduled time.
- Money Balloons: This is a unique twist on giving money. Place folded up bills, coins, and notes telling this person why he or she is valuable, inside un-aired balloons, then blow them up. This priceless gift will brighten anyone’s Christmas.
- Family Origins and Crests: One year, I looked up the origin of family last names and family crests for some special people in my life. I typed the information on heavyweight paper, added an image of the family crest, then framed them for hanging. Many holiday seasons later, these lasting gifts are still displayed.
- I Remember When Story: Write out a short, one-page story from your past or about one of your ancestors. Choose a tale that’s funny or fascinating, then print it on decorative stationary paper, or for an even more personalized touch, hand-write it. Sign at the bottom and put it in a frame. You can feel confident your loved one will not receive the same gift from someone else.
- Family Heirloom Cookbook: Choose a dozen or so recipes and add something personal about each one: a short anecdote about its origin, why you like the dish so much, or perhaps a humorous story related to a time you served it. This gift will become a legacy-maker.
- Our Memory Book: Include carefully selected photos that capture your relationship with the person you are giving to, and include short captions, or “Remember when” statements. Tell the story of your connection through pictures and words.
- My Reason for Celebrating this Season: Record the reason for the season by writing down how Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection changed your life. Your personal testimony can make a meaningful impact on someone who might need to hear His story and how it affects you today.
- Great Books Club: If the thought of writing something yourself feels intimidating, give the gift of a favorite book, or one you’ve wanted to read. Create a family book club and on a monthly basis, either in person or online if you are separated by miles, buy your loved one a new book, then have a discussion about how it entertained and/or transformed you.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to make Christmas gift-giving even more meaningful this year. Personalized presents can touch hearts, minds, and spirits and infuse the giver with a renewed sense of purpose.
This holiday season, why not give yourself the gift of staying within budget? You can start the new year right, with no big credit card bills. A creative Christmas isn’t just good for your bank account — it’s also great for lowering stress and strengthening bonds. A peaceful holiday may just be the best present of all.
Anita Brooks motivates people to dynamic break-throughs as an inspirational business/life coach, international speaker, and certified personality trainer. Her latest books are Exceedingly: Spiritual Strategies for Living on Purpose, with Purpose, and for an Abundant Purpose and Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over. Her new book, Woven: Discovering Your Beautiful Tapestry of Confidence, Rest, and Focus, releases in early 2020 through Bold Vision Books. Discover more about Anita at tendyourdreams.com or anitabrooks.com.
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