Broke and Single

More Holiday Gift$ To Give That Don't Cost Any Money

It seems that in today’s economic climate, the Grinch has stolen more tactile things like money from people’s pockets than the spirit of giving from their heart-shaped boxes. It’s the reality of the world we live in; things we give and receive seem to define the relationships with the people around us. The more we receive, the more we consider that person to be a special part of our lives. But what happens when you can’t afford to buy people presents for the holidays? Should you be loved less because your “gifts” to them come in the form of wisecracks, astute observations and the occasional text message where you meant to write “plans” and it appeared on their cell screen as “penis”.


Lucky for you, I’m well-versed in giving people gifts that have no monetary value, yet seem kind and thoughtful enough to get me (and you) off the Grinch list. Here are 10 things that won’t cost you a dime, but will make you rich in smiles received.

10. Coupons

I am the king of giving coupons to people as gifts. It started as a child, when I’d mosey up to my teacher’s desk and present her with a crudely cut piece of yellow construction paper that read, “Dear Ms. Baker, this coupon entitles you to one day where I won’t stand up on my desk and make mention of a mangina.” Her face registered shock, but I know my pledge was as good as any crock pot I could have ponied up for. Alternatives include “1 Free Back Rub” and “12 Free Eskimo Kisses”.

9. Babysitting

Ask any married couple with a kid what they’d want most for Christmas/Hanukkah and 99% of them would say, “Take the little bag of potatoes for a while and don’t come back for at least six hours.” You can then use that opportunity with the little hayseed to draw pictures of mommy and daddy, which you can then give to each of them for their respective birthdays. Killing two birds with one stone is sweeter when it involves markers that smell like tropical fruits.

8. A piece of clothing that is already theirs

The good thing about giving someone a piece of clothing back is that you know they’ll enjoy it. They bought it, after all. When questioned about the mustard stain on the front of the curious blotches on the crotch, ensure them that they were there when they left it at your place.

7. A video of Tom Haverford

The problem with gifts is that they have a short shelf life. A piece of clothing is seasonable or suddenly doesn’t fit after a deep dish pizza jones caught on like a drug habit. A trip to an exotic locale where European-style tanning seems like a good idea until you realize that indo-chinas and pennysavers can get sun-burned too. The great thing about classic internet videos is that they’re the gift that keeps on giving… but the apps and ‘zerts are on the other person.

6. Home-cooked meal

You may say to yourself, “Buying groceries costs money.”  True, unless you piece together those items that have been percolating in your cupboards and in the back of your refrigerator for a couple of months. Nothing says “I Love You” like vacuum-packed goodness paired with produce that is inappropriately-aged like the girl who brings the 40-year-old to prom.

5. The flu

Why would you want to give some the flu? Well, how else can you tell a person, “Take a couple days off” and enjoy movies like Top Gun and The Princess Bride then without having to actually step in and work for them? Now that’s true love.

4. A gift you already received

Re-gifting is as American as apple pie and bullying people on the internet. It goes like this: someone gets some tube socks and they give it to someone else, who gives it to someone else, who then finally gives it to you. The only time the vicious circle of re-gifting tube socks ends is when a teenage boy gets a hold of them and knows exactly what to do with them.

3. A song

I’ve always fancied myself a musician but not necessarily because I can sing or because I can tickle the ivory like my phalanges were headed to Julliard. I just like the idea of writing something that was for someone. Inevitably, it would start with the word “baby,” and end with the phrase, “don’t leave.” Those songs are what turned boys into men and Boyz II Men into millionaires.

2. Bad news that isn’t true

True story, I couldn’t afford to buy my parents an anniversary present so instead, I told them I was joining the Marine Corps. Mind you, this was during the heart of our occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and notably the worst possible time to be enlisting (or fake enlisting, like the coward I am). I let the news bake like a brisket for several hours before telling  them that I was in fact, not going off to war. Needless to say, the anniversary between their silver and gold would always be when they received the best gift ever.

1. A promise that you will actually keep

The common euphemism remains that “the truth shall set you free”. Not only that, but that self-evident proclamation will allow you to give something worth millions, yet free in the conventional sense of the word. Tell that person you will do something for them…and then do it. If people kept more promises and returned more gifts, we’d all be a whole lot happier.

Happy Festivus.

image via: freeismylife

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