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If you are lacking dollars, the holidays call for creativity – not despair. Maybe you have a little one hoping for a large gift under the tree. Maybe you have neighbors or friends you would enjoy being able to surprise with a small token of love. Maybe you just have the spirit of giver and the budget of a pauper. This article contains a wealth of information and, if you are hoping for inspiration this season, you will find some here.
FREE and Cheap Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers
King Soopers FREE Friday Download | Kroger affiliate stores offer at least one FREE item every single Friday. Many of these can be used as stocking stuffers (recent offers include FREE candy, FREE snacks, and a FREE candle) or as a contribution to a holiday meal. You can check their promotions page for the upcoming offer but you will need to login to your account and download the offer every Friday. I also recommend regularly searching the term “free” within every grocery store app you use – you may occasionally be surprised.
Little FREE Libraries | These are all over the place along the Front Range. You can possibly find one book for each recipient on your list totally FREE. Or look in thrift stores for inexpensive but good condition titles. Our local store has kids books starting at 49 cents. Pair a book with a chocolate bar or candy cane and you have a wonderful gift almost anyone would love!
Walgreens Photo | Stay regularly tuned to your friendly freebies blog to score a FREE 8×10 photo print every once in a while. If you print one each time this freebie is offered you’ll have at least half a dozen collected over the course of a year. Photographs can be very meaningful gifts and you can find decent frames at the Dollar Store.
Birthday Freebies | There are tons and a few of these can be stashed for stocking stuffers. Your teenager doesn’t need to know that her new mini make-up set from Sephora was your birthday freebie.
Movie Night | This can be an activity for your family or put together as a gift for a family you know. Purchase one DVD (Our Dollar Tree sells DVDs for $1, our thrift store has them for $1.99, and Walmart has them under $5). Give it as a gift with some holiday cookies or popcorn as a beautiful together-experience.
Wrapping Paper | If you have brown paper shopping bags you can use them for projects like making wrapping paper, bunting, even homemade cards. Kiddos usually love to decorate the homemade wrapping paper with drawings, paint, stickers, etc. Or you can go minimalist-elegant an add a sprig of greenery and twine to your simple packaging.
Write it Down | If you are good with the words, write them down for someone else to enjoy. A heartfelt letter will surely be appreciated by someone close to you.
FREE Stuff | Craigslist, Next-door, Facebook Marketplace, trash nothing! – they all have FREE stuff available and people post stuff all the time which can be of use during the holidays. I have seen almost everything available for FREE including toys, furnishings, and art supplies. You may need to clean things up a bit, create homemade art or craft kits (art supplies are wonderful for this), or be creative with what you find. For more tips check out the post on how I furnished my home for FREE.
Where to Get Free Gifts For Your Kids
This is often the most stressful point for families. Yes, there are community programs which provide FREE gifts for children (use the Google machine to find one in your town) but did you know that many of these programs come with hoops and barriers to their use?
For example, one such local program requires that a parent show up during the day to collect gifts and not bring their children. Ummm, yeah. Clearly, their Board of Directors has never been a single parent without a support system. So, if you don’t happen to have a support system to help with the kiddos you’re out of luck to attend the event. Or, you may end up having to pay for childcare during the time period of the free toy event making your participation an impossibility or economically moot in your household. If you do get childcare together, you’ll need to get to the event. If you don’t have a car you may be able to get there on the bus but how will you schlepp a giant garbage bag full of toys home?
So, even with the best of intentions, needs go unmet. If you are in that boat or need help with gifts this season, you may appreciate a few unconventional ideas for meeting your needs.
1. Holiday Hands | Together Rising is a non-profit where 100% of what they receive from every personal donation goes directly to an individual, family, or cause in need – not one penny they receive from individual donation goes to administration costs, unless a donor specifically authorizes that use. Yep. Their Holiday Hands program happens each November and is a place for people who have a little extra during this holiday season to meet someone’s need. You can make any request up to $100 in value or directly fulfill someone else’s need – no hoops, no barriers, no judgment. If you missed it this year, Together Rising fulfills needs all year long. For more information check out their website.
2. reddit | If you have never used reddit, I recommend lurking for awhile to get a feel for how things are done. That said, there are MANY different subreddits where you can ask to have needs meet and other redditers will decide whether or not to meet them. If you have needs, check out Santa’s Little Helpers, Random Acts of Amazon, Random Acts of Pizza, Random Acts of Kindness, Food Pantry and so many more. You’ll need to accumulate some reddit “karma” to be eligible to ask in some cases. Follow the rules here and you should be good to go.
3. Cardboard Boxes | If you’re a bit creative, hit up your local furniture store for a giant box and make a playhouse for your kiddos. Awesomeness!
FREE Holiday Fun
FREE Holiday Events | There are tons of these. They often include FREE refreshments, FREE activities, FREE Santa visits, FREE holiday lights, and MORE! There are a couple of opportunities to enjoy FREE ice skating as well. Check out our events calendar for abundant ideas!
Campout | No, not outside. Campout under your tree on Christmas Eve! Make sure to listen for reindeer!
Read The Night Before Christmas | Borrow holiday titles from your local library for FREE!
Reminisce | Tell stories, Look through photo albums or memories boxes.
Carolling | If you and yours are musically inclined, please spread the joy to those around you.
Movie Night | Remember your local library will often have many films available for FREE!
Walk | If your neighbors have made an effort to decorate, get off your tush and go outside to appreciate those efforts. Get some FREE exercise in the process.
Decorate for FREE
Evergreen | If you can’t afford a tree, scavenge for some evergreen branches. Voila! Charlie Brown Tree extraordinaire! Or simply place some evergreen strategically around your home for a festive touch.
Collect Pinecones | These can be placed individually around your home or as a collection in a bowl.
Fallen Branches | Bring in some dried, fallen branches and decorate them with whatever suits your fancy. We have used my daughter’s artwork, ornaments and baubles, and fairy lights. You can even cut out snowflakes from plain white paper and hang them up.
Cardboard | This is usually available for FREE and the possibilities are endless. Create playhouses, forts, play stores for your kiddos. Cut up boxes in various shapes to make signs, garlands, gift tags and more.
Prepare for Next Year
Preparation is important. Right after Christmas head to Target as soon as their Christmas clearance hits 90% off and buy a few items to stash away for next year. Last year I bought stickers and wrapping paper for 10 cents each and a pair of cotton holiday pajamas for $1. Also, start collecting freebies and stash them away as soon as they come available. You’ll be grateful for your stash this time next year.