5 Gifts That Don’t Cost a Penny But Are Worth a Million

painted rock last minute gifts

Some of my favorite gifts don’t cost much. They are gifts that are filled with appreciation and love. I guarantee they are cherished by the recipient long after the holidays are over.

These 5 gifts that don’t cost much all have three things in common:

  1. No money required. You will not have to spend a penny. They can all be made with a few supplies that you should have on hand.
  2. Your time. They all include giving your most valued resource, your time.
  3. Small actions. They are all small, meaningful gestures that make a huge impact.

You can use these 5 gift ideas to give as a coupon or wrapped as a gift under the tree. However you choose to present them, they are all gifts that focus on relationships instead of “stuff.”

1) Schedule a call.

Skip the online messages and give a real, live, uninterrupted¬†phone call. You can give a coupon that includes a schedule or a date to call every week at the same time, or an agreed-upon time throughout the year. One year, this gift brought my dad to tears. It’s the perfect gift for those on your list who don’t live close by, or whom you don’t get to see often. In the case of my Dad, he just loved the idea of having a nice chat with me once a week. So simple and so appreciated.

2) Do a good deed.

This one involves making a card or a handmade coupon that describes a service you will complete. It can be running an errand, baby or pet sitting, giving a ride, making a meal, or doing a chore that they absolutely hate (washing dishes, cooking a meal, cleaning a closet). This gift of your time and service and is always a big hit.

3) Write a personal note.

Write a simple note to let a friend, team member, client, colleague, or boss know how they’ve made a difference in your life. Be specific and authentic. Include a photo if you have one. In the age of text and email, the hand-written word is especially powerful and appreciated.

4) Volunteer for a favorite charity.

Pick a favorite charity and volunteer in your recipient’s honor.¬† You can choose the food bank, an animal shelter, or their favorite local charity.¬† Send them a note or card describing the work you will do. You can present this in a card or you can be more creative. Try making a simple wreath ornament from construction or other scrap paper. Write the year on the front in glitter pen, and on the back describe the charity where you’re donating your services.

5) Write a word of inspiration.

Look in your garden, at a local beach, or anywhere you may find an interesting smooth stone to write on. Write a word, or words on it, in a sharpie pen that reminds you of them. Include a special date, words of inspiration, or simply “I love you.” You can write on more than one stone to give a small collection (or give a new one each year to build a collection).

More than Just a Gift

Try one of these ideas that focus on a specific relationship and your appreciation and gratitude for that relationship, or come up with your own variation. Remember to keep it personal and to have a plan to follow through with your gift.

A gift of appreciation and gratitude may just be one of the favorite gifts your loved one will receive this year.


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

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