Freely given: Islanders share ideas for gifts that don’t cost a penny

Freely given: Islanders share ideas for gifts that don’t cost a penny

It’s the season of giving, but many people are feeling tight on cash this year.

If you’re worried about spending more money this week when looking for last-minute gifts, you might want to consider a different type of gift.

We asked islanders on social media for suggestions for meaningful – but free – gifts. And thanks to their generous feedback, we’ve put together this list of 10 thoughtful gifts that cost absolutely nothing.

1. A helping hand

Islanders are no strangers to helping one another, as seen during and after Post-Tropical Storm Fiona and more recently through our Feed A Family campaign, where we’ve seen individuals, families, schools, businesses and organizations get involved coming together with a common goal of filling 4,000 food baskets for those in need this holiday season.

So it’s no wonder that the #1 idea for gifts that didn’t cost money was for islanders to help others. Whether those gifts come in the form of a homemade gift certificate or just a note in a Christmas card, here are some of the suggestions.

In winter, Maria Terstege suggests “shoveling for an elderly relative or neighbor.” (Jesara Sinclair/CBC)

“Get her chores done,” Anna Farquhar wrote, followed by Barbara Lane, who said, “A ‘gift certificate’ worth a portion of your time to complete a chore/task for the recipient.”

Maria Terstege suggested “shoveling for an elderly relative or neighbor” and “offering a carpool for a week/a month”.

From Shelley Mills Richard: “Offer to clean for someone, take them errands.”

And Priscilla Hamelin suggested: “A smile! A kind word! Help someone with packages! Help someone across the street!”

Maria Terstege had a helpful gift suggestion that weary parents or carers might be happy about, especially after the hectic pre-Christmas period: “Free Babysitter”.

2. A collection of favorite recipes

Pauline Affleck Hager suggests making a photo album and inserting favorite recipes instead of photos. This could also be done with a folder that is no longer used for school.

Handwritten recipes for Christmas cookies in a folder.
Pauline Affleck Hager suggests making a photo album and inserting favorite recipes instead of photos. This could also be done with a folder that is no longer used for school. (Clare MacKenzie/CBC)

3. The abundance of nature

By Dana Cole, an idea that came from outside.

“Centerpiece or outdoor planter from nature’s foraging scene.”

On a similar topic, @brittginger suggested “a hand-picked sea glass collection” on Instagram.

A selection of sea glass in a small jam jar
@brittginger on Instagram suggests “a hand-collected sea glass collection”. (Clare MacKenzie/CBC)

4. Music to their ears

Monica Bambrick wondered, “Are people still making mixtapes?

The good news is that people are still making playlists, both on CDs and in various music apps.

From lists of retro songs to sing-along nursery rhymes to love song compilations, there are as many music playlist options as you can imagine, with plenty of articles online to help you when you get stuck.

5. Words from the heart

Julia Grinder Stewart came up with an idea for a gift someone can enjoy over and over again:

“A handwritten letter to say how much they mean to you.”

“A handwritten letter to say how much they mean to you,” is a suggestion from Julia Grinder Stewart. (Shutterstock/Robie Online)

On Instagram, @moon_miss22 had the same idea: “A heartfelt full-page letter.”​​​​

6. Homemade crafts

“My daughter enjoys making artwork for all of our family members and they appreciate everything she has made,” wrote Monica Bambrick on the Ask PEI Facebook group. “Last year she gave out pet stones. It was pretty cute.”

Monica seems to be pretty smart when it comes to gifts herself: “I used supplies I already had to make keychains and jewelry for people for Christmas,” she said.

@fairouz_ on Instagram suggested making paper zines – which are homemade books or comics about anything you like.

One of CBC PEI’s Instagram followers, @fairouz_, suggested making paper zines. (Courtesy of Kendra Yee)

7. Something you already have

Tracy Ward suggested, “Something you have that you no longer really need or use that could make a lovely gift for someone else.” Books, puzzles, games, ornaments, pictures, knick-knacks come to mind.

8. Food

Giving away home-baked or home-cooked food was also a common idea among islanders.

From Maria Terstege:Make more at dinner and wrap it up for a busy family” and “make and give away a dozen extra holiday treats”.

Several islanders suggested adding staple baked goods to your pantry. (Karen Mair/CBC)

Monica Bambrick: “If you have a lot of baked goods, you could make a baked good in a jar.”

“A pantry staple baked good,” @brittginger offered on Instagram.

9. Teach a new skill

Do you know someone who would like to learn to knit? Changing a flat tire? bake your own bread? Saying simple sentences in another language? Are you using the apps on a phone or tablet?

Shelley Mills Richard wrote, “Teach someone a skill you have/something you can do.”

10. Your time and friendship

Several islanders suggested an invitation to a game night at home as a fun gift anyone can enjoy with friends or family, or a variation on this theme by Anna Farquhar, who suggested, “Watch a favorite movie together.”

Many islanders enjoy socializing, and some suggested inviting friends or family over for a movie or game night. (Stephanie Brown/CBC News)

Others suggested simply picking up the phone to check on someone to show them you care, or going for a walk or having a cup of tea together.

Kathryn Anne Schelter wrote: “The gift of friendship and a great time together.”

And finally from Grant Kennedy:

“The best free gift of all is a hug. One size fits all and no one minds if you return it.”

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