If you are like me, when you reflect on your most favorite gifts you’ve ever received, they are the ones that are gifts of gratitude that have come from the heart. Last Christmas my favorite gifts – by far – were the original artwork made especially for me by my toddler grandkids.

Meaningful gifts that come from a heart filled with gratitude are the gifts that are treasured and remembered. And they often don’t expire or wear out!

I’ve gathered up my top 10 favorite gift ideas that focus on gratitude, are low-cost, and require only a little bit of your time and creativity.

Coupon book

1. Coupon Book

Give the gift service. Think about something the recipient doesn’t like to do such as laundry, picking up dog poop, or running errands. You can add things they do like to do such as a monthly coffee date, or glass of wine together.

You can make a free coupon in a Word doc, Canva, or easily download a template online. Here’s an example of a coupon book I got for bosses one year. I loved it and enjoyed it for months as a redeemed the coupons. And, I still have it!

2. Gift of the Month

Similar to the coupon idea, use your specialty (cookies, running errands, casseroles, soup, bread, salsa, babysitting, document editing, etc.) and give a certificate for a Gift of the Month, that says something like, Congratulations! You are a member of the Cookie of the Month Club. Once a month for the next 12 months you will receive 2 dozen cookies, delivered to your doorstep.

3. Write a Heartfelt Card or Letter

Share how the recipient has impacted your life and share your gratitude for what they’ve done for you or how they’ve influenced you. I have a friend who got a letter from her teenage grandson, who didn’t manage his money well enough to buy gifts one year. He wrote to her about how she had always been in his life and shown up — at this games, important events – and how glad he was she was his grandma. She told me it was the best gift she has ever gotten, and it still tugs at her heart to think about it.

4. Create a Personalized Music Playlist

Make a list of retro songs from when a favorite decade, a power list for commuting, or a workout playlist. I guarantee they will think of you every time they play it.

5. Collect Favorite Recipes

Print out and staple together your (or their) favorite recipes and include with something you have baked for them. I did this for my mom, and now have a wonderful book of favorite family recipes collected for others to enjoy. It started as a project of gathering up unorganized recipes and turned into a gift that has been a favorite of many of my friends and family.

6. Bundle of Inspiration

Write a few cards, letters or gather inspirational quotes and label them. Examples: read this when you are sad, when you are missing me, when you need inspiration, when you feel homesick, etc. Seal each letter and tie the bundle up with a ribbon.

Top 10 graphic

7. Create a Top 10 List

Make a list (David Letterman style) that starts with #10 and works down to #1 of the top things you appreciate about them. Have fun with it and simply share what you love about them. Write it on fancy paper or in a nice blank card. You can add a favorite treat, coffee card, or a small item if you want.

8. Pass on Something Sentimental

Give something you own that you know they would love to have and will enjoy as much you do (maybe more). I had a friend who collected beautiful candle holders that I always admired. One year she gave me one. It was my favorite gift that year.

My mom gave me the Nativity set that I played with as a child the year I was pregnant with our first child with a note that read, I hope your little one loves playing with this as much as you did. I keep the note with the Nativity set and read it each year.

A few ideas of items you could pass on include:

  • A poster, photo, dish, knickknack, collectable, journal or book you own that you know they would love.
  • A picture of the two of you together (always a hit).

9. Make a Date

Share plans to enjoy time together – at an event, on a hike, or whatever activity they enjoy. Time together is a gift they’ll look forward to. My son gave me a gift of lunch together at a future date – just him and me. No other family members. We had a wonderful time without the usual distractions and interruptions that come with kids underfoot.

10. Make a Journal

Take a blank notebook and write in the front of it what you hope they’ll do with it such as write down your daily gratitude, journal about life, their next trip…

Remember, often the simplest gifts are the most genuine and heartfelt. Take some time to think about the personality of the person and tailor a creative, personalized gift from you. Don’t overthink it. Give with gratitude and love and you can’t go wrong.

Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of several books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.

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