Non Cheesy Free or Almost Free Gift Ideas

Christmas will be here before you know it! But as soon as I promised to lay off the holiday posts (Gift Ideas for the Impossible People on Your List, Gift Ideas for the EXTRA Impossible People on Your List, Unique, Affordable Stocking Stuffers That Won’t Make You Fat, and How to Win at Gift Giving This Year) I was asked if I had any ideas for free or almost free gift ideas. So I spent some time putting together a list.

If you’re still stumped on what to give someone, if your budget is running low, or if you simply don’t like someone enough to spend any money on them, this is the list for you.

A Gift of What You Do

Are you already spending your day doing something that can help others? Or do you have skills to do something to really help someone out that you wouldn’t mind offering up? I know giving a coupon book can be a bit cheesy, but a nice holiday card offering a whole day of babysitting, some work around the house – or a more professional skill, like photography or graphic design – can be very thoughtful. Just make sure to follow up and actually schedule a time to go through with the offer.

Organize a Swap

If you’re looking for free ideas for your kids, organize a swap with some friends. Everyone brings toys that are in good condition (sanitized beforehand) and you trade them so everyone goes home with new toys. This works especially great if you have parents with children of different ages.

A Calendar

Everyone has that one family member that always seems to be forgetting birthdays and holidays. For them you can put together a calendar with everyone of the family’s important days for the upcoming year. This can be personalized as much as you want, even down to the images for the month.


This can either be some of your own that you’ve had sitting around but don’t seem to have the time to read, or gently used ones from thrift stores. I wrote a post about How to Build a Mini Kid’s Library for Cheap here if you are looking for gifts for kids. But this method can really be used on anyone. I don’t recommend gifting beat up items, but like-new items are just as good as new items if you ask me.


If you feel confident in your skills, any form of art is a wonderful gift idea.  I would be thrilled to receive a drawing, sketch, or even a poem framed. One year my brother wrote a song and performed it for the family and while I can’t remember the other gifts from that day, I still know some of the lyrics to his song.

Encouragement Jar

We could all use some kind words every day – and what better way than to have a jar filled with them for days when you really need them? Use colorful paper and fill a jar with slips of encouraging quotes, reasons why you care about that person, and anything else you think they would appreciate.

Play Dough

Who doesn’t love play dough? You can create the following mix to give in a jar – 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar and 2 packages unsweetened flavored drink mix. Add instructions: Add 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons baby oil, mix and microwave for 4 minutes. Stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Let cool and then play!

Homemade Lotion

This certainly isn’t free, but it makes enough for a good number of gifts and it is more thoughtful than just buying a thing of Bath and Body Works lotion. Mix together 27 oz. of baby lotion, 7 oz. therapeutic ointment, 8 oz. Vitamin E cream, and 8 oz. extra virgin coconut oil. That’s it.

Winning Giveaways

While this one isn’t guaranteed, it doesn’t hurt to take few minutes to enter! Each fall I share a few giveaways, mainly in my Friday Favorites posts. And if you’re on Pinterest and interested in entering more holiday giveaways make sure to follow me – I try to share as many as I can each week from my other favorite bloggers.

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I was asked if I had any ideas for free or almost free gift ideas. So I spent some time putting together a list. See my free or almost free gift ideas!Do you have free or almost free gift ideas you turn to each year?

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  1. Great ideas! I especially love the calendar one! I’m always forgetting important birthdays 🙁

  2. I love organizing swaps! Great list 🙂

  3. LOVE the encouragement jar idea. Thats clever – and so thoughtful. I may want to make one for myself! haha…
    Karen |

  4. Encouragement jars would be cute and I also love when someone gives me a calendar. Especially when they know me well and get one that fits my personality 🙂

  5. The encouragement Jar is a great idea. I love planning so I would love to get a calendar!

  6. I’ve done homemade gifts since I was a kid, and my family still appreciates those best so I try to find a new craft project to do every year!

  7. Similar to the encourgement jar, you can fill a jar with things you love about your spouse/significant other and they can read it throughout the year.

  8. Love all of these ideas! I REALLY like the encouragement jar – it’s awesome and I will definitely be making one! Thank you!

  9. I love the swap and encouragement jar ideas Alexandra!

  10. Great ideas. My husband often makes painting for people. I love making calendars too.

    • That is so fun that your husband paints! I really should dust off my art supplies and make something for someone… probably not enough time this year though ha

  11. Great ideas! Giving a book is personal and also affordable!

  12. Great list! I love the idea of the calendar, the encouragement jar and the swap!

    Doused In Pink

  13. I’m a big believer in giving gifts that don’t contribute to household clutter – so many of the ideas here are perfect for that! I am super excited to learn how easy it is to make lotion – who knew!?!?!? Note to self the next time I am feeling like a little DIY project. =D

    • Thanks Emily! I usually am too, though sometimes I like to get something completely ridiculous haha but I lean towards these types of gifts 🙂

  14. Great ideas! I just realized I need to get going on teacher gifts. The room parent usually coordinates one but not this. year.

  15. Love these simple ideas! I can always use a nice calendar/planner. I don’t feel right trying to go a day without mine.

    • Thanks Chonce! I keep hinting that I need a good planner every Christmas 🙂 It’s the perfect time to gift one too!

  16. Great ideas! The holidays can get so expensive so it’s nice to know that there are some great free options out there!



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