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5 Thoughtful Gift Ideas When Money Is Tight


A few years ago, I wrote an article about “non-random acts of kindness.” The holiday season, which is nearly upon us (is upon us if you listen to the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio station), is a great time for specific acts of kindness.

The pinch I’ve felt this year and at various other times in my life (e.g., as a college student), is a lack of financial resources for giving. That’s why it’s great that many acts of kindness carry no price tag. Here are a few ideas:

Free babysitting. This weekend my husband and I are babysitting for our pastor and his wife. We had wanted to do something for them during Clergy Appreciation Month in October but were tight on funds. However, when I mentioned free babysitting, my pastor’s face lit up. “We haven’t been able to go on a date since September!” he said.

Gift cards. Each year I receive an assortment of gift cards. A grocery card from work. Multiple Starbucks cards (everyone knows about my habit). And various other cards to restaurants, movie theaters and stores. I’m not advocating re-gifting Mom’s sole Christmas gift to you, but if an extra gift card comes your way, why not pass it on to someone who needs it more than you do?

Food. The holidays are a great time to make someone a meal or prepare plates of cookies for neighbors or shut-ins. My high school youth group used to spend an evening caroling to all the older people in our church and taking them plates of cookies.

Hospitality. Give the gift of your home. People love a warm, happy place to gather. Host a Thanksgiving or Christmas get-together. Serve Christmas treats, play some games and watch a holiday movie. I have a friend who loves to put on a “romantic dinner” at her house each time one of her friends gets engaged as her gift to the couple.

Nice stuff you don’t need. Do you have extra items you’re thinking of selling on craigslist? Why not give away quality items instead. When Kevin and I got married, we ended up with an extra king-sized bed. Kevin learned that one of his coworkers was six months pregnant and sharing a double bed with her husband. When we offered her the bed she was thrilled and offered to pick it up the next day!

The holidays are a great time to reach out to people, though opportunities to bless others with kindness exist year round:

Part of being a blessing to others is being alert to opportunities. If an affirming thought comes into your mind, say it. If you wonder if someone is in need, offer to help. If you find yourself thinking of a person, go a step further and act. A little deliberate kindness goes a long way.

And the great news is … kindness is absolutely free.


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About the Author

Suzanne Gosselin
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin is a freelance writer and editor. She graduated from Multnomah University with a degree in journalism and biblical theology. She lives in California with her husband, Kevin, and her four young children: Josiah, Sadie, Amelia and Jackson. When she’s not hanging out with her kids, Suzanne loves a good cup of coffee, conversation with friends, musical theater and a trip to the beautiful California coast.

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