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11 No-Cost Gifts You Can Give Them Right Now
(That They'll Love Even More Than Gifts You Pay For!)


Seeking to avoid the financial "holiday hangover" that often comes in January, many consumers are planning to spend less than they did on holiday gifts in 2008 or 2009. In fact, although overall holiday spending is expected to increase this year, a survey by Prinicpal Financial Group found that just 9 percent of workers and 5 percent of retirees planned to spend more money than last year.

gift ideas baking

Looking for a thoughtful gift idea? A pretty package of your homemade Christmas cookies is sure to please (and you get to enjoy the moments you share with your family while making them).

Further, fed up with the increasingly prevalent materialistic aspects of the holidays, many Americans are seeking ways to bring back the real meaning of the holiday season.

Finally, some people are just plain old very last-minute shoppers, and are therefore, well, pushed to consider alternatives to typical purchased gifts.

One such way is giving gifts from the heart, which cost no money but impart a lot of meaning.

1. Give a family heirloom. The holidays are an ideal time to pass down grandpa's toy train to your son, great grandma's engagement ring to your daughter -- even your favorite baseball card to your close friend (and baseball fan).

2. Give a "Freebie Certificate." Give your neighbor a "get out of snow shoveling" free certificate. Give your spouse a free day to play golf while you watch the kids, breakfast in bed for week, or a back massage. Just choose your FREE favorite certificate at this excellent and free website fill in the blanks, chose "Make My Certificate" and then print it out! You can also create your own "coupon" out of construction paper, glitter, sequins and whatever else you have around the house.

3. Create a painting or poem. Use your talents to paint your significant other a picture of the view from your hotel balcony during your last vacation, or write a poem telling mom how you really feel.

4. Baked goods are always welcome. Most people really appreciate the time and effort that goes in to giving homemade cookies, fudge or Christmas cakes. Package them with a pretty doily and ribbon, and you're ready to go! And if they're not into sweets, something like a frozen container of your famous chili or minestrone soup will likely be just as well received. (NOTE: Be sure to grab this FREE "55 Top-Rated Healthy Party & Get-Together Recipes" cookbook for a host of easy, delicious and healthy recipes; also check out the other free e-books below!)

5. Share your plants with an avid gardener. If you have a garden, make up a basket of clippings that your gardening-enthusiast friend will adore.

6. Give the gift of your talents. If you're a computer genius, give your friend the gift of helping him back up his computer. Expert piano player? Offer to give your relatives free lessons. Make jewelry? Gather up your nieces and nephews for a Saturday of jewelry-making.

7. Plan a special outing. The gift of your time is the most cherished gift of all. Plan a day at the zoo with your kids, a day hiking with your nature-loving spouse or sleep outside in the backyard for a campout with your grandkids. When you "give" this gift, draw a picture of it, or create it out of construction paper, cut-out magazine photos, etc., wrap it up, and present it.

8. Make a scrapbook. New parents will adore a scrapbook of their new baby, but others also like to receive scrapbooks. Consider a scrapbook for grandma that chronicles her life, one for your co-worker showing all of her work achievements -- even a scrapbook for your favorite pilates instructor, with photos of everyone in the class, and comments about how the course has helped each of you.

Give Them -- and Yourself -- a Truly Worthwhile and FREE Book Such As ...

gift ideas books

One great gift idea -- perfect for everyone on your list, including yourself because they are FREE -- are these no-cost books. Download them now, either directly or via free subscriptions, and then print them out (and perhaps create your own personalized covers for them, with your personal sentiments right there on the cover)"

9. Send a video. This year, instead of sending out Christmas cards to your relatives, make a video. You can describe what's new in your life, let them in on "a day in the life of … " and even use it as an opportunity to tell the recipient how much they mean to you. This is an especially touching gift if you won't be able to spend the holidays with your family.

10. Homemade dog treats for a pet-lover. Don't forget about Spot during the holidays. Here's a recipe you can use to make your own dog treats, an excellent gift for your friend's (or your own) pup.

Homemade Dog Biscuits

Biscuit dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 275°.
  2. In a large bowl: combine the flour, oatmeal, wheat germ, peanut butter, vegetable oil, honey, baking powder and water.
  3. Mix the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  4. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes and place on baking sheets.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the egg and milk. Brush the glaze on the biscuits.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, until biscuits are golden and firm.

11. Make Them a Salt Dough Ornament (Perfect for Kids)

See our Basic Recipe for Salt Dough Ornaments for this simple recipe!

Recommended Reading

How Much Should You Spend on Holiday Shopping?

The 10 Worst Gift Ideas to Keep in Mind This Holiday Season


Sources December 5, 2006

Faith Heinauer, "Homemade Food Gifts and Gift Wrapping Decoration Ideas"

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