It’s that time of year again; the excitement is in the air, holiday music is playing everywhere, and you’re looking for some meaningful, free Christmas gift ideas (because let’s face it, every penny counts when you’re broke).
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that you can’t celebrate the holiday or give awesome gifts to your loved ones just because you don’t have extra funds.
In fact, some of the best gifts I ever got cost absolutely nothing!
All it takes to put together these zero spend gifts is a bit of creativity with some potential sweat equity.
Here are 17+ free homemade gifts to get your wheels turning.
These are great free gifts for your family, friends, or even your significant other this Christmas.
17+ Gifts That Don’t Cost Money
Feeling broke? I’ve been there! When you are in debt, saving up, and you have no money in your bank account, the holidays can seem a bit difficult to navigate.
But, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Who said gifts have to cost money anyway?
So, what things can you give someone for free?
Here are 17+ meaningful ideas that cost nothing!
1) Put together a time capsule.
This can be a great gift for your partner, friend, or family member.
To make a time capsule, sit down and think of all the wonderful memories you have shared with the person.
If you have the resources, you can even print out some photos, or add ticket stubs.
Get creative here! The goal is to make them feel special and thought of. Anything goes – favorite book quotes, family recipes, pieces from board games that are meaningful, etc.
Then, put all the pieces into a box, or add everything to an album. Seal it up until next Christmas!
This is a heartfelt, sentimental DIY idea that any recipient will love. In fact, I think this might be the best gift you can give a mom!
2) Make a recipe book.
Here’s another great idea for anyone who loves to cook.
Put together a simple recipe book filled with your recipient’s favorite family recipes. It doesn’t matter if the dish is complicated or easy, as long as it brings back memories.
You can even make the recipe book themed. It could focus on the holiday season, or a certain cuisine.
If you’re feeling ambitious, why not hand-write all the recipes in a notebook or on index cards?! Or perhaps bake up a dish or two from your cookbook to go along with it?
This is one of those meaningful gifts for people who have everything. It’s a universal winner!
3) Create a photo collage.
Here’s a free virtual gift that you can easily give to someone that is a bit more sentimental.
Create a photo collage featuring meaningful memories from your relationship. For example, if it’s a sibling, you may want to include pictures of the two of you on Halloween as kids, or playing with an old family pet.
Include one photo per year for as long as you have known each other for extra points.
This is one of my favorite free gifts to make for family members and friends that live far away.
4) Gift some quality time.
Spending time with a friend or family member is one of the best gifts you can give, really.
Your recipient will feel loved and appreciated just knowing that you are trying to be present in their life.
So, what do you do? Plan a fun activity that the two of you can partake in. For example, go on a walk together, or grab coffee at your favorite spot.
I did this last year with a close friend of mine who is one of the most special people in my life.
We went for a long walk and stopped at our favorite local ice cream shop afterward. I’ll never forget spending time with her, and it’s a memory that I will cherish forever!
By the way, you can do this remotely too – just set up a video call and hang out together.
5) Write a set of heartfelt letters.
This is one of the sweetest free Christmas gift ideas ever!
To make this gift, simply write a letter to someone special in your life. You can even include photos that relate to what you’re saying (such as a picture of the two of you).
Remember, letters take time and thought, so anything sincere will do!
You might want to talk about how much they mean to you or how their life has changed your own.
Remember to include specific memories as well! It doesn’t have to be long, just thoughtful, heartfelt and authentic.
Want to take this gift up a notch? Write a series of letters instead of just one. Some blank postcards would make a perfect way to do this!
You could write 12 and tell them to open one every month, or write letters for special occasions that are coming up in life.
If you are looking for no money gift ideas for a romantic partner, this one will definitely get you brownie points. 😉
6) Whip up a mix in a jar.
A mason jar filled with a personalized mix is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful free gifts for any occasion.
As you can see, there are many ways to create this gift – it’s a DIY that can easily be done by anyone.
To make these free Christmas gift ideas, all you need are:
- a mason jar (to store the goodies in)
- printed or handwritten gift tags (with the recipient’s name and “from _____” on it, along with the instructions to bake the item)
- the dry ingredients to the mix (I suggest sugar cookies or hot chocolate mix if you want something festive)
- a pretty ribbon or recycled tinsel garland for a bit of pizazz
7) Create a series of video tutorials
This is a free gift idea for your family and friends that love to learn.
For this, you’ll need an inexpensive digital camera (your phone will work great), and basic editing software (also can be found on your phone).
And here’s what you do: step-by-step video tutorials! The style is up to you, but I suggest something that teaches a skill or practical living task for this free gift idea.
Here are some examples: how to sharpen knives, how to make the perfect pie crust, how to play your favorite song on guitar, etc.
The sky is the limit with this one, and it costs very little cash.
8) Dream up a scavenger hunt
This is one of my favorite no spend Christmas ideas for kids!
Basically, you give them a list (or set of clues) and tell them to go find the items on it.
For example, if I gave my nephews this gift, they would have to search around our house for “1 LEGO piece that is green”, “a special shaped leaf”, etc.
This is such a fun way to re-engage with kiddos, and it gets them a little extra exercise too!
Honestly, this is the most fun you can have with or without money!
9) Act as a personal shopper
If you know someone that hates shopping, offer to shop for them!
All you need is their holiday shopping list with the ages and general interests of the people, plus their credit card to purchase items with.
Make their holiday season a breeze by buying a gift for everyone on their list, then sending them a link to all the purchased items for each person.
Go ahead and wrap them too while you’re at it!
This is another no-cost idea, but it’s going to make someone’s life so much easier! All they have to do on Christmas morning is show up and enjoy!
10) Make a batch of salt dough ornaments
As long as you have salt, flour, and water…these are gifts that are free.
Look up instructions online and make them for your family and friends. If you have children, be sure to let them get in on the fun by painting designs on the ornaments.
This is another free gift idea for kids, because it will cost you almost nothing. Plus, there are tons of cute shapes available to make – reindeer, bells, snowmen…the list goes on!
Be sure to include a ribbon or string in the box when you give this homemade gift so they can hang it on the Christmas tree.
These will become favorite Christmas decorations to be cherished year after year.
You aren’t limited to just ornaments either. You can use salt dough to create all sorts of fun things!
A friend of mine did this one year when she was in desperate need of no cost presents. She ended up making salt dough and tracing her toddler’s hand in it a few times over.
Then, she allowed her toddler to paint each hand, and slightly curved the fingers upward to create the cutest jewelry bowl I’ve ever seen!
Her parents loved using their granddaughter’s tiny hand form every day—they still have it out years later!
11) Make a personalized, meaningful playlist
No money in the bank? Here’s a great gift idea!
Put together a playlist they would like – whether it’s playful, calming, happy, moody, or chill. This is a great way to provide hours and hours of entertainment using links to free songs on YouTube or another online source.
If using YouTube, just save the songs to a Playlist. If using another online source, add all the links to a single Google doc that you can share with your gift recipient.
12) Dig around in your craft room.
If you are anything like me, I am always buying random craft supplies…then tend not to have time to use them.
It’s time to put these items to good use! See what you have in there – odds are you could make someone a gift with your random supplies.
You can make all kinds of DIY projects this way, like homemade soap, essential oil sprays, or jewelry. It all depends on the supplies you have available. This is such a fun way to make gifts that don’t cost anything.
Don’t forget to set aside items to gift wrap the gift too. Presentation is everything!
This is hands down one of the BEST Christmas gift ideas when you’re broke: offer to babysit someone’s kids for free!
They’ll get a chance to go shopping, enjoy a date night, or just relax while you babysit their children.
Honestly, as a working parent, I can think of nothing I’d like more than a little downtime without my kiddos, particularly around the holidays when there are so many events and things to do.
14) Create a video slideshow with photos from the year
Wondering what to give for Christmas when you have no money? This is one of my favorite free gift ideas!
Spend time looking through old photos, and choose your favorites. Next, create a slideshow set to music that features the photos. Then use the link you created for each person on their holiday gift list!
You don’t have to use your own photos either. Pull some from their social media accounts, or even ask their loved ones to contribute some photos too.
15) Take them on a fun outing
Spend some time researching events in your area that are free. Then plan a fun day for your family or friends.
Not only will this help them have a great time, but it gives you an excuse to spend quality time together—why not catch a free art show, visit a museum that doesn’t charge for entry, or enjoy a free concert at a local high school or college?
This idea is so fun…and can be done even in the winter when there isn’t much to do outside.
16) Make a gift basket
This is one of my very favorite free Christmas gift ideas! You can find so many different things to put into an awesome gift basket for free just by shopping your own home.
For instance, create a basket with homemade bread mixes and chicken soup mix that you have on hand in the fridge or freezer, and then for fun grab some cute fabric to use as a festive gift bag.
Or, dig up an old basket and fill it with a bottle of wine and some foraged flowers and picked fruit or herbs.
This is a great way to show someone that you care without spending any money.
17) Put together a free coloring book
Coloring is one of my favorite activities, believe it or not. I enjoy doing this with my kids, but I also like to color on my own too!
I find it truly relaxing and almost meditative to sit for even five minutes and color in an image.
This is a fun gift for kids, but also makes a great gift for adults too! Everyone likes to unwind and get a little creative.
Plus, you can find so many awesome coloring pages for free, like the ones I have on my site.
Simply grab a few, print them off, and put together an awesome coloring book for your friends or family!
Here are some coloring pages to get you started! Grab this bursting blossoms flower coloring page by clicking here >>.
Or, look at these 300+ free Disney princess coloring pages – click here >>.
I hope you enjoyed this post on free Christmas gift ideas! Did you find one that is your favorite?
Remember, at the end of the day, Christmas is about love. And so is giving gifts, even when you have no money!
More Posts with Ideas for Christmas on a Budget:
- 10 Cheap Christmas Gifts Ideas for Kids (all Under $10)
- Free Printable Letter to Santa Template
- How to Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas
- 10 Personalized Christmas Ornaments that Make the Perfect Gift
- 30+ Mailable Gifts to Send to a Friend
- 30 Non-Toy Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids - 10/31/2023
- 50+ Fun Family Christmas Gift Ideas for Every Budget - 10/31/2023
- 19+ Creative Birthday Money Gifts - 08/04/2023