5 Alternative Christmas Gifts That Won't Break the Bank

Religious or not, most of us will be buying Christmas gifts for loved ones this year, but the gifts we have in mind are often costly. It's almost a cliché to talk about the commercialism of Christmas, but the truth is that we've come to believe that the pricier the gift, the more it will be appreciated. While this may be true for some gifts, most of the time a small gift with meaning trumps a flashy gift that the receiver has little or no use for. Bearing this in mind, I've compiled a list of 5 gifts that you might want to consider, especially if money is tight.

1. Make a cookbook

I don't expect many students to be skilled chefs, but the internet is well and truly your friend. I once made a vegan cookbook for a friend using recipes I found online that I thought would be easy for her to follow and help with finding new meal ideas (since vegan meals can be somewhat tricky given the restrictions). If you have friends who live away from home, a cookbook is an excellent idea to give them a beginner's guide to simple meals that they can make after campus. If your friend has special dietary requirements, giving them practical ideas would be thoughtful and useful. You can make your own cookbook by copying recipes off of the internet and putting them onto a Word document. All you have to do is make the format easy to read and design a cool cover then print. If you have access to a binder, this would add a nice touch.

2. Bake some treats

If you have a talent for cooking or baking, an edible gift would be a great way to show your loved one that you took the time and effort to prepare their gift. If your friends or family have a particular snack or food they enjoy, making this and packaging it in an attractive way would be an incredibly thoughtful gesture. Pinterest is a go-to site for packaging ideas, and if you are going to be making your own packaging, try to go green and use recyclable or re-usable materials.

3. Use your talents

Having a skill like writing, drawing, playing an instrument or anything creative could be a source for creating a personal gift. For example, you could write a letter or poem, paint or draw a card, portrait or image that your loved one has an attachment to, or record yourself playing a song they love. If your loved one has had a particularly difficult year or you would like to show your appreciation for them, this is the perfect way to express your feelings for them. These gifts can be kept for decades and will always remind the receiver of your relationship and how much they mean to you.

4. Spend time and help out

If your loved one needs some help with a household chore or activity that you can assist them with, this is a free but highly appreciated gift that can make someone else's life much easier. Particularly if you have friends or family with medical or mental health conditions that prevent them from being comfortable or able to do something, this small gesture would mean the world to them. Some examples of activities are: helping them clean their home for the festive season, taking them to the mall or elsewhere if they cannot drive or find alternative transport, looking after younger relatives if their parents need to go shopping or just take a break, or just visiting a loved one that needs the company. Often, our elderly loved ones are forgotten or not given as much time as they need. Spending time with family and friends can be the little bit of attention and love that will get them through the festive season. 

5. Share what you have

I don't mean re-gifting, but that's also an option if you have a gift you've never used and think that someone else might benefit from it. What I mean is looking at your own possessions and evaluating what you don't need anymore. This especially applies to toys and games that you've perhaps outgrown and could give to a sibling or younger relative. This isn't meant to be a way of getting rid of trash; the gift you pass on should be meaningful and something that the receiver will appreciate. Computer games that are meant for younger players or toys that are still in good shape could provide a child with the same joy you experienced when you first received the item. For older loved ones, sharing a book that you enjoyed and feel that they will too can be extremely touching. 

If you choose to use any of these ideas, we would love to see what you create or do! Wishing you a merry festive season and hoping that you will make dear memories with those you choose to spend your time with.