Totally broke? You can still give these creative free gifts to someone this holiday season. We’ve rounded up some clever ideas for Christmas gifts that won’t cost you a dime, as well as a few gift ideas that are what we’ll call “mostly” free. Whether you’re flat broke or just have a very tight budget, there’s a gift idea on this list that will appeal to you. For additional holiday gift ideas, check out our gift guide page.
Who doesn’t love a plate of fresh-baked cookies? Cookies are easy to make, and not very expensive. If you already have all the ingredients in your cupboard, you don’t have to spend much money on this tasty gift. If baking is not your thing, a home cooked, savory dinner would also be nice.
2. A Good Book
If you don’t mind “regifting,” there’s probably someone in your life who would love the gift of a gently used book. You can give a book from your own library, or find a book at your local bookstore. If money is tight, you might want to browse Amazon’s huge selection of used books for only a penny. Add a personalized inscription on the title page, and your gift will feel very heartfelt.
3. Free Babysitting
Do your friends have kids? Offer to babysit the little rugrats for an afternoon, or even for a long weekend. The parents will get a much-needed break from the stresses of parenthood, and you can get away without paying a dime for their Christmas gift.
4. A Day of Fun
If you’re totally broke right now, but you won’t be in a couple of months, give the gift of a special day at some point in the future. Plan a fun outing with someone that includes an interesting activity, lunch, and some shopping. For example, you could drive to the nearest museum, splurge on lunch at their favorite restaurant, and maybe take them to a store to pick out a gift. You can go totally free as well, offering them an in-home pedicure followed by a day at the beach.
5. House Painting or DIY Home Help
Has somebody been asking for help with a home improvement project? Lend your expertise for an afternoon to help them wrap up a painting project, renovation, or other big task.
6. A Makeover
Take your makeup kit over to your best friend’s house, and offer her a great makeover. With new hair, makeup, and maybe some choice pieces from your closet, this is a great free gift. Double brownie points if you offer to give her a makeover right before she goes out on a big date.
Who doesn’t need a massage? This is the perfect gift for anyone who has a stressful job. Turn the lights down low, play some soothing music, and use special massage oil that smells nice. You can massage the hands, back, or whole body, depending on how well you know the person.
8. Mix Tape
Creating a special playlist is a great way to express your feelings for someone. You can make a playlist and upload it to their iPod, or burn them a CD. Another cute option is the Mix Tape USB stick above. You can upload the music files right onto the USB, and then place it in the included “cassette tape” housing. You can get a closer look at this clever mix tape idea here.
Professionally arranged flowers from a florist are very expensive. If you have indoor houseplants or a hot house, however, you can create a great arrangement from the blooms at your house. If real flowers aren’t an option, fake flowers could also work. You could also consider a “gift certificate” for fresh flowers every week in summer, once your garden comes in.
10. Friend Vouchers
Friend vouchers are the ultimate “free” gift. You can make them yourself, and write things like “Good for One Free Drive to the Airport or “Redeem for One Homecooked Meal.” If you have messy handwriting, you might prefer these ready-made friend vouchers, as pictured above.