Homemade Holidays

285 HomadeGiftExperience the joy of giving without spending a dime.

Many people equate the holiday season with busy shopping malls, long lines, and credit card debt—but the true meaning of the season doesn’t require us to spend a dime or to battle crowds. If you want to put the joy back into your holiday season, consider giving gifts from the heart—you’ll enjoy making and giving them as much as your loved ones enjoy receiving them. Your heart may even grow three sizes.

You don’t have to be crafty or skilled to create gifts from the heart. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started.

1. Make a photo album. Use your scrapbooking skills to create a special, personalized book of memories for a loved one.

2. Make a CD. Create a personalized mix you know the recipient will love.

3. Preserve family memories. Take old photos and/or videos and have them digitalized for easy viewing with current technology. The whole family will enjoy watching old family movies and they will be preserved for future generations.

4. Make homemade treats. Do you have a specialty such as jam, jelly, cookies, granola, or soup? Make large batches and package them in small portions to share with friends and family.

5. Write a “warm-fuzzy” letter. Take the time to write a meaningful letter that outlines all of the things you appreciate about the recipient. Words leave a lasting impact, so this will be the gift that keeps on giving—we all need to be reminded of how loved we are.

6. Create a piece of art. We all have some sort of creative skill. Perhaps you can paint, sculpt, draw, or blow glass. Create a special piece of art for someone. Your time, skill, and thoughtfulness will be appreciated for years to come.

7. Give the promise of a weekly letter. In the era of email and text messaging, the handwritten letter has become a lost art—but who doesn’t love receiving mail? Write a letter to your loved one for Christmas with the promise of one year of weekly letters. Yes, that’s 52 letters—52 opportunities to show that you care. This is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

8. Make a personalized calendar. Find 12 fun photos and create a personalized calendar. Your loved one will enjoy this gift all year long.

9. Create a personalized cookbook. Compile a book of special recipes. You may even want to include photos and stories.

10. Make a video. Get out the video camera and photos, choose meaningful music, and create a special video for a loved one.

11. Give the gift of time. If you have a particular talent or service you can offer, give a coupon redeemable for your time. You could babysit, do gardening work, clean out the garage, or any number of things.

12. Sew, knit, or quilt something. Everyone appreciates the time and effort that goes into handmade items. If you are a skilled seamstress or knitter, make a blanket, hat, scarf, sweater, or anything that will warm your loved one’s heart from the inside out.

13. Teach a skill. Can you play the guitar, ski, or knit? Give a series of lessons to help someone who wants to learn.

14. Pass something along. It’s okay to give a used gift if you’re giving it with love and intention. Perhaps your friend has a newfound interest in golf and you have a set of clubs that is collecting dust. She’ll be thrilled to have the equipment she needs to pursue her new passion, used or not.

15. Give a recurring monthly gift. It could be anything—dinner, homemade cookies, cleaning, or more. Your loved one will look forward to the monthly treat and you will foster a heart-to-heart connection that lasts throughout the year.

Often the gifts that cost nothing at all are the ones that are most meaningful. Take the time to ponder what is important to your loved ones and think outside the box to give gifts that honor your friends and family in personal and special ways. You will rejoice in giving without feeling financially strained.