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How To Save Money on Family Holiday Presents

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No money? No problem!

If money is tight and you’re stressing over what holiday gifts to buy your friends and family, good news! Maybe the time to buy ready-made presents isn’t the way to go. 

The past two years have made everyone stop and think about what is most important to us. Is a weighted blanket really going to make Grandma happy? Or would she rather spend two hours with you in her kitchen making cookies? 

Most of the time the people we love would rather have our presence than our presents. Struggling for gift ideas that won’t break your budget? Here are five that are free (or almost).


If Christmas is your celebration, several churches in the area are doing Christmas services (search: Christmas Church services in your browser of choice). If not, there are other free seasonal events nearby.


A few museums in our area offer no-cost admission days (search: Dayton museum free days 2021 in your favorite browser). By the way, the National Museum of the United States Air Force offers year-round free admission and parking, too!

Hand-written Notes

Has someone ever written you a note so encouraging that you still have it? 

You can make someone’s holiday just by telling them how much you appreciate something they did for you. If you have a notecard and envelope, use them. But if not, pencil and notebook paper work just fine. The words are what’s important; not what they are written on. 

Hand-written notes are especially great to send to family and friends whom you won’t get to see in person this holiday season. Imagine the look on your aunt’s face when she opens a letter from you and reads about how you still remember the fun you had spent a week with her two summers ago. Well worth the price of a stamp!

 Holiday Light Night

If you have a driver, then choose a night and go look at neighbors’ holiday light displays. Every town has at least one neighborhood known for trying to outdo each other with their holiday decorations. 

Think about where you’ve seen yards with inflatables or even displays timed to musical accompaniment and plan a route. Some public parks string lights in their evergreens which make great backdrops for photo opportunities. For a truly memorable ride, try these additions to your plans:

  • create a seasonal song playlist
  • wear your ugly holiday sweaters
  • make a couple of to-go cups of hot chocolate.


For example, has your best friend ever said they wish they could play the piano as you do? Create a gift certificate for them for five hours of free piano lessons. Be sure to follow up before the new year to get the five dates on your calendars. 

Will they be able to play like you in just five hours? No. But they will know if learning to play the piano is something they want to continue to pursue or not and that is a gift. 

The same idea can be applied to anything you know how to do and are either willing to teach or do as a service. For example, you can teach your grandpa how to use his smartphone, pet-sit for your best friend, or clean every bathroom in your home for your family. 

Have you noticed what these five suggestions have in common? They cost you more time than money. Your time is the most precious gift you can give someone because once it’s spent you can’t make more of it. 

Happy holidays from Fairborn Digital Academy!
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