Holiday gifts don't have to be expensive or even be purchased from a store. Many of the best gifts are experiential in nature, and often are more memorable that way.
Here are some gift ideas that are either free, or close to it.
Donate in their name
It may not be flashy or glamorous, but there is real meaning behind it. You can donate money to an important cause, serve those experiencing homelessness, or even give blood and put it in someone's name. At St. Jude you can donate to childhood cancer and have the donation placed in someone's name, in honor of their child or the person you're donating as.
Food for Live gives some good tips on how to do it.
Create a time capsule
One is idea it to use container that will withstand moisture have a tight seal. You can add fun memories from your time together.
Fill it with printed photos of vacations, concert ticket stubs, clothing items and many other things that connect you with the person you're giving the gift to. Then you can both bury the item together with a specific date to open it, or tuck it away in an attic or basement. In the future when the date comes to open it, you'll be reminded of all of those memories.
Create a gift basket filled with homemade treats
We often have the staples in our home to get baking or cooking. Find the foundation items for cookies, or brownies or cakes and leave room for just the extras while you're at the store, like dried fruits or a few other items that you might need. Then, one day when you're free, bake items like cookies, or create homemade granola or other simple items. It will be the variety and the way you package the items up with leftover holiday gift boxes, that really make the gift special and thoughtful.
A year filled with adventures
For someone special, fill 12 envelopes with slips of paper naming an outing each month and you will do together. Block off times for those trips or little adventures. It will be a sign of commitment that you will not cancel or change the plans and you will both work together to build lasting memories.
Have the person open the envelopes to see each adventure that awaits.
A stroll through a museum together is a great way to have a chat, see art, learn and offer a springboard into going out for a nice lunch or dinner. Museums are sometimes free, and often times low cost and tickets can be purchased ahead, many times for a discount.
It's a good way to get people together, even when it's cold or raining outside.
Plan a picnic
A great gift idea that won't break the bank, or might even cost you nothing extra than what you have in your home, is an outdoor gathering like a picnic.
You can really make these fancy as well. Find a nice big blanket, a large basket and a cooler and load up the car. Invite friends and tell everyone to bring a bottle of wine or some non-alcoholic options.
You can even suggest a one dish contest so everyone will bring their A game in that competitive spirit and everyone will have a dish to try.
Don't forget your bluetooth speaker for music and search the internet for the best local spot to meet up.
Free samples and travel essentials gift basket
If you travel often, or safe free samples, you might have been collecting all of those tiny containers of products. Those bottles of conditioner, shampoo and lotion can go along way in creating a trendy gift basket as a gift. This can me mix in with other items, but many of those samples and unopened bottles from travel are from some of nice brands.
Put all of those bottles to good use in a nicely-styled gift basket while also helping to clear out clutter from your home to prepare for the new year.