Gift Guide: Zero Cost

All too often, the Christmas spirit is chased away by stress. For years, I thought Thanksgiving was the perfect holiday-- all the food, family and relaxation without any financial burden! But since then, I've become much more low key about the holidays. This next gift guide is dedicated to showing loved ones you care without spending any money.

1. Give something you already own. I'm not talking about re-gifting, which implies giving away something you were given but despised. Instead, give away something you've loved and cherished, but noticed that someone else has admired as well. My mother has always been the perfect example of this. The year I went away to college, I begged her to give me her apron. It had been given to her from a friend, and she loved it. She refused, but come Christmas, I found it laundered and wrapped up for me under the tree. I still have it.

2. Start a Christmas Book. My husband and I both come from large, close families. We'd love to buy gifts for our parents and siblings, but it's rarely financially feasible. So I stole an idea from my mother {told you she's the best!} and started a family Christmas book. Each year, one couple chooses a set of questions {one fun, one spiritual} that each family member must answer in writing. With J's family, we are fortunate to live close together, so we gather for a party {sans children- hallelujah!} to eat and read all our answers together. Copies are then distributed so that each family has a book of testimonies, memories, and entertaining family history stories. This has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions, and all it costs is time.

3. The best cookbook, ever. This was given to me right before I had Little Miss C. I lived far away from my family, and was about to start one of my own. Jennifer saw all this and gave me what has to be one of the best gifts I've ever received:

It's a cookbook full of recipes from both side of my family. Each recipe is written in the contributors handwriting, making it extremely personal. They also include photos of each loved one, and a bit of baby advice.

Whenever I miss my family, I flip through the book and bask in the familiar handwriting, my brother's crazy baby advice {"don't let the dingo eat the baby"} and whip up a batch of my grandpa's amazing Brown Beauty Icing.

4. Give unselfishly. This small kitchen stool may look old and worse for wear, but it's precious to me. The only memory of my grandmother involves me, at four years old, sitting in this stool while my mom talked with and cooked for my dying grandmother. Years later, when my grandpa died, I asked that I inherit the stool. Unfortunately, my uncle also wanted the stool-- he associated it with his childhood and his mother. Of course, he had stronger claim to it, so I retracted my request. But my uncle found out that I had wanted it, and told me I could have it. I couldn't even hold back the tears when I heard, and rushed to hug him. The point is, I firmly believe that if one is looking for ways to serve or give unselfishly, the opportunity presents itself. This time of year, unselfish service can mean much more than any trinket found in a store.


Marci said...

Loved this post!!! Great ideas and great stories...the last one about the stool made me tear up :-).

The Dragonfly said...

All great suggestions! I do something for my in-laws each year similar to your Christmas book and they LOVE it!

Jennifer said...

Great post. I loved all of the ideas and the story about the stool was heartwarming :)

Tru Stories said...

I am honored, you consider the cookbook, one of your best! Your shower memory for me, is easily one of my best of my mom and grandma. I am happy, I've done something to make you smile!

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