As this is being written, Christmas is two days away and people are scurrying to buy last minute gifts. As people rush to buy things they can not afford and are overcome with the stress of "getting it all done," why not trade in that stress for one of the ideas below?

Here are 12 last minute gifts that don’t cost much more than your time and a few ingredients.

1) A gift certificate for time. We all know that time is money. So what can you give with your time? Shoveling the snow from a neighbor's driveway? Cooking a meal for a family in need (or just because!) and we’re pretty sure a wife/mother wouldn’t turn down help with a weeks (or month!) worth of cleaning up the kitchen, putting dishes away, and laundry duties! Or helping out at the local food bank or homeless shelter. They could use your help year round for sure.

2) Back to the basics for a year. Pick a friend (or two) to call regularly, send them a birthday card and random notecards for an entire year. Who doesn’t love a piece of snail mail?! Letting them know you care about them throughout the year (versus one day a year!) is a wonderful gift to give!  Set reminders up in your calendar so you don’t forget.

3) Make homemade body care products. Sugar or salt scrubs with essential oils (lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus) are super easy gift to make. Bath salts, lip sugar scrub, are a few other ideas. Bonus: they’ll be chemical free because you are making at home!

4) Make homemade gifts. Maybe it’s granola, a dried bean soup mix layered in a glass mason jar or dark chocolate bark, infused olive oils or vinegars or dark chocolate dipped biscotti. Homemade gifts are great to give and receive. Why? Because it shows your love and thoughtfulness via time spent in the kitchen.

5) A gift certificate for wellness. Know someone who wants to get healthy? Invite them to join you for a weekly wellness date! Head to your favorite trail and enjoy a walk (or a run) together. The gift of wellness and fitness is a priceless gift indeed.

6) Make a meal! Who wouldn’t love a home-cooked, nutrient-dense meal? Maybe someone just had a baby. Or a death in the family. Or maybe they simply need to know that someone cares about them.

7) Childcare. Know a couple who has small children that would jump for joy for some one-on-one time alone? Offer to watch the kids while mom and dad enjoy some conversation without the interruption of spilled (plant-based) milk.

8) Your skills. Like to make green juice? Photography? Help people get healthy? Art? Paint? You can use your skills to help others or simply to just make a truly personalized gift!

9) Books. Do you have a stack of books that are collecting dust? Why not gift it to someone who might appreciate reading it? Include a special, personalized note of how the book impacted you, why it is special to you and how you hope it helps them.

10) Life skill with your children. Perhaps instead of a plastic toy that will get broken within seconds, why not spend time with your children? Teach them how to ride bike, surf or swim. Or how to build something. Maybe cook a healthy meal together.

11) Show the love and kindness. With millions of websites and blogs and social media getting peoples' attention is at a premium. Why not show your favorite sites and people some love this year by commenting, sharing, liking and everything else that comes with the social media world? Once again, set up reminders in your calendar to remind you to check in with them!

 12) Others. OK, so this might cost you a little bit of cash but it’s the best way to spend it. One idea is to building a clinic in Kenya with Blood: Water Mission (a medical kit only costs $10.00!) or how about feeding some hungry children in Malawi with Advent Conspiracy? If these kids can help other kids, so can you!


Your turn! What are you giving this year?


photo credit: Josh