…face-to-face, eye-to-eye, listening to them, truly engaging—for their sake more than our own, is sometimes better than any physical gift.


One of the bright sides to having a low to no budget Christmas is we tend to put more thought into our gifts! And isn’t that how it should be? Christmas has become so centered on money and business that many of us have lost the joy of it all (or never found it). We sometimes overspend on gifts or overthink our gifts and under-think true thoughtfulness.

What’s the purpose of Christmas? Well, that’s a whole different conversation, but for those of us who like incorporating gift-giving into this special holiday, having little to no funds should not be an issue. Or wanting to spend little to know funds out of principle, even if you have it, should be easy. With little time and some creativity, this could be the best Christmas season yet—for you and your gift-receivers.

Here are


Even if your singing voice sounds like a garbage truck compressor, when you put some thought into it, a personalized Christmas song could be one of those gifts they never throw in the trash. This is an opportunity to use a free app (a voice-changing app for example); or you could take a Christmas song, change the lyrics to something meaningful to them, and they may think it’s the best gift they’ve ever received. You could sing a capella or even play a karaoke Christmas song in the background if you don’t have a live band handy. Search the internet for a variety of free Karaoke choices.
Tip: personalize it even more by throwing their name somewhere into your musical masterpiece.


Something as easy as recording a heartfelt Christmas message could bless someone’s socks right off (which would be something interesting to catch on camera). Depending on your relationship with them and their sense of humor, consider utilizing a free mobile app to take your Christmas Video Greeting to another memorable level. Or, be your own app, get those creative juices flowing, and record something meaningful for them. Maybe an inside joke in a song? A dance? A mini-movie? A parody of a Novella? You could also do it “live” and make a video call on Christmas Eve or Day!


Don’t freak out, you heard me right—not a text or meme but a real LIVE phone call! A phone call is an opportune time to incorporate your creative “card” or song, or you could just call and, this is a crazy idea, TALK. For some people, you taking the time to dial their number and deliver a Christmas greeting are all they need to feel loved.
Tip: Gauge who needs your call and when—on Christmas Eve, Day, or afterwards. Or err on the side of caution and call every day for a week!


I know, pics are a dime a dozen and publicly accessible. We have high-end cameras right in our hands and a plethora of photos on social media so they don’t seem as special as the olden days (the 2010’s???). But that depends on the picture. Whether you’d like to give a picture to a group or one person, this is another opportunity to get creative—apps or not.
Note: friends of mine give the gift of a regular family photo (not even Christmas-themed) printed on letter-sized paper, along with a letter. The letter contains an opening greeting and how the family is as a whole, a breakdown of what each family member has been up to that year, and a closing greeting. If that’s something that would matter to them, receiving it would me a joy! If not, it’s junk mail but at least you had fun putting it together.


It’s amazing what you can find at both dollar and five-and-under stores. Some of my friends have never stepped foot in one and never will, but they don’t know what they’re missing! I’ve bought things I needed, things I didn’t think I needed, and at the very least, got great gift ideas. These places, like most stores, really plump up their inventory for each holiday and often test out more upscale products there before releasing them at major retail stores. These are great places to buy one big gift or multiple stocking-stuffers. I’ve purchased toys there, games, Christmas cards, and frames for my award-winning Christmas pictures. Don’t forget, they carry gift-wrapping accessories galore. It’s especially easy to purchase items there for children.
Tip: these types of stores are the perfect places from which to make themed gift baskets—men’s toiletries, hair accessories, auto goodies, bath and body products, nail polishes, etc. I even gave one family member a gift basket filled with different sized batteries and labeled it, “For all your Kids’ soon-to-be-broken toys. Merry Christmas”, and they loved it!


Whether your grade-school art teacher said you had the talent or not, you too can make a Christmas Card. You can write what you want, glue what you want, paint what you want—no limits here! You can match your ugly sweater and make a purposely (or accidentally) ugly card. You can usually find supplies around the house (or a dollar store) to help express your inner Crafter. If, after racking your brain, you still can’t figure out what to create, then send a digital card or find ideas on Pinterest or YouTube; the possibilities are endless. Seriously, they’re endless, so don’t get stuck in the rabbit hole.

Tip: draw, paste, fold, and especially writing from the heart is the point. Homemade seems to mean more lately because it is getting rarer. That DIY CARD will be worth it. And possibly therapeutic for all involved.


Whether it’s someone you know or someone you don’t, spending quality time with someone could mean the world—and sometimes save a life. Sadly, Christmas is a time when depression and suicide rates are all too high. If you visit someone—a senior citizen’s home, foster home, a hospital—the potential relief, joy, and love you bring may literally be life-changing. Or, you and a bunch of your friends or family might want to plan a volunteer day. A friend of mine gathers all of her friends at her home to make packages with everything you could think of for a huge family dinner. People chip in money, food, supplies, and time. Then they hand-deliver them with love to families in need. The hand-delivery is the clincher and often the tear-jerker. If you can’t plan something like that yourself, join a group that has mastered it.
Tip: sitting down with someone—face-to-face, eye-to-eye, listening to them, truly engaging—for their sake more than our own, is sometimes better than any physical gift.


Even if it’s a five-dollar card from their favorite store, it’s always fun to receive one! And increasingly, many stores are offering digital cards so it’s even easier to get it to someone if they’re online; they receive it right in their email!
For some, it’s more fun to receive gifts via snail mail, so splurge on a stamp, add your crafty, homemade Christmas card, and send it off confidently—it’s like a double-gift!
Tip: if you’re sending a physical gift card instead of a digital one, many of them come in their own mini-cards. One suggestion is to write down how much the card has on it (especially if it’s a small amount), so they won’t have a different expectation when they go to spend it; and write something like, “Just a little something ($5.00) to put in your wallet. Merry Christmas!”


Do you have something old or new that you know someone else would want or love? Re-gift it! Some of us don’t care if something is fresh off the shelf or fresh out of our friends’ closet, if we like it, we’ll take it! You know the sensibilities of the people in your life—ask yourself who commented on that pair of jeans they saw you in, or who would want the scarf given to you that you’d never wear. Consider also that you can actually buy something at a resale store—it’s okay, it’s not taboo. Then go to a dollar store for your box and wrapping paper!
Tip: just like the gift-card disclaimer, make it fun by laying it all out there—don’t try to hide it, let them know it’s a “re-gift” and add a humorous note like, “I’ve only worn these jeans seven times, but you’re worth it.” 


You can forever secure a place in their heart by securing a future event! Many couples do this regularly but it can be applied to all types of relationships: “One Free Coffee on Me. Merry Christmas!”, “I Promise to Do All the Laundry for One Month Straight. Merry Christmas!”—you get the picture. Ask yourself what they want or need and think about how you could cater to that. Send your coupon or promise in a voicemail, text, email, or hand-delivery. This one has the potential of having a greater impact than any of the above listed—that’s if you keep your promise—so get to brainstorming!


I hope this list helped stir up some ideas, or even better, THE idea. Whatever you decide to give, make it sincere—please don’t do it out of obligation, guilt, or pressure, but with all the love you can muster.
Express love in the way they feel and know they’re loved. Have you ever read the book “The Five Love Languages?” The idea of it is to not necessarily love people the way we personally feel they should, but to do or say things that cater to their definition and reception of love. If you don’t know their love language, don’t be afraid to just ask them.

BTW, I have an interesting VLOG on the art of giving and receiving called STRINGS ATTACHED. Check it out!





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