One of the all-time top easy and free gift ideas is to give a “personal gift certificate” that is good for a something friends or family members might value, for example: I will cook dinner for a week, including shopping and clean-up chores. Or, 4-weeks lawn mowing and weeding the garden. We love that idea, and it’s easy to be creative with it, but we’ve come up with some additional creative gift items that not only would make your friends and family happy, but are almost zero cost to you. Yes, that’s right, these will virtually cost you nothing, yep, practically free to you!
The key to virtually free gift ideas is to use what you may already have, pieces you’ve collected, objects from your yard, left over craft supplies, hardware washers, nuts and bolts, items you’ve been given, your own fabric from linens, table cloths, clothing, etc. and in addition, also take advantage of free samples, of all types. (Just be sure to make certain a deposit is not required before using the samples as is often the case with fabric or carpet). Collect all the free samples you can and combinie what you already have from around the house, the garage or attic, maybe add in a couple of affordable purchased items, and create something new. Continue to collect throughout the year, and you’ll have enough on hand to create several meaningful gifts for birthdays, thank you’s, hostess gifts, and holiday presents. In our suggestions here, we’ve added a few ideas for embellishments, and of course there’s no limit to what you could add in. Retail gift certificates (you can purchase them from someplace like groupon.com at a discount), gift cards you may have gotten from “free gift card” promotional offers, or add on your own “I’ll cook dinner for a week, including clean up chores” coupon… always sure to please!
So, here they are, enjoy!
Tiles, Stones, Fabric, Buttons, Broken China, Nuts and Bolts, etc. :
Decorative Frame: Take a plain wooden frame and glue onto it fabric, tile, buttons, china pieces, dried pasta, paper clips, spoons and forks , there’s no limit to what you can use… Don’t forget to put in a photo, or keepsake, or mirror… Simple!
Create a Cool Framed Art Piece: Make a collage with glue and fabric pieces, or other items you have on hand like buttons, trading cards, photographs, cut up cereal boxes,etc. and make a custom art piece by gluing onto cardboard. Be sure to have a specific frame ahead of time and pre-cut the cardboard so it will fit the frame when you’re finished. Easy!
A Table Runner: Sew fabric pieces together for a table runner. And you can easily make napkin rings to match! A set of coasters would really complete this gift!
House Address Plaque: If you don’t have a board, you can purchase an inexpensive small plain wooden plaque from the hardware or hobby store. Stain or paint it or leave natural. Glue on tiles, pieces of broken china, buttons, sea shells, stones, or nuts and bolts to create the house number… done!
Serving Tray: Using the same technique as the house address plaque, decorate a larger board or plaque, for handles just screw on a drawer pull on either side, and use as a serving tray! Include some cheeses and breads for an even more festive gift!
Custom Floor Mat: Use carpet tape to tape pieces together for a unique custom floor mat.
Dog or Cat Gift: Combine with a bag or box of homemade dog cookies and a new collar or tennis balls. Or make catnip sachets (see below beauty products, but fill with catnip) and a bag or box of homemade pet cheese treats. Woof and Meow!
Scrap Wood, Branches, Pine Cones:
Rustic Bird Feeders: Use scrap wood pieces to make a simple bird feeder. You can also make an easy pine cone bird feeder. First tie a piece of yarn, string or wire around the top. Next, spread the cone with peanut butter and then roll in birdseed. Kids love making this one. Enhance this gift with a bag of birdseed and a bird watching book for years of enjoyment to come.
Towel Bars or Jewelry Holders: Sandpaper the branches so they are smooth. Fasten on attachments to secure to the wall for towel holders, or attach the base of the branch to a wooden plaque so it stands up; this can then be used for holding jewelry or guest towels. Add a couple of guest hand towels to complete the package for a simple yet dramatic decor statement. (you can purchase a wooden base/plaque from the hardware or hobby store if you don’t have already on hand)
Fire Starter Kit: Drip scented candle wax on pine cones (you’ve been saving candle ends and scraping from glass candle jars, right?) Bundle them in a piece of fabric, or make a bag, and tie closed with twine. Take a bundle of small kindling branches wrap around and tie with twine. Give the scented pine cones together with the kindling branches for a nice fire starter package. Add Marshmellows and popcorn (maybe a DVD?) and you’re set!
Decorative Frame: As mentioned above with tile and fabric, you can also do the same with nature objects. Take a plain wooden frame and glue the pine cones, or sea shells, or twigs, or stones onto it. And of course, don’t forget to put in a photo, keepsake, or mirror.
Beauty Products, Lotions, Perfumes, Shampoos, etc.
Spa Gift Gags: Purchase inexpensive canvas bags from a hobby store or create your own using fabric. Fill with a variety of free samples.You can also easily make your own sugar or salt scrubs! And to further enrich your gift, add in a little cosmetic mirror, a few hair clips, a colorful bath sponge or loofa, pumice stone, and a scented candle.
Potpouri: Take perfume samples (if they are cards just cut up the cards into little pieces). Collect (or purchase from hobby shop) dried leaves, little pine cones, wood chips, dried orange, lemon, and lime peals, dried flower petals, etc. Sprinkle with the perfume, or mix in the perfumed card cut up pieces. Place the dried items into a pretty jar (of course you’ve been saving them up), or place in a piece of fabric and wrap a rustic piece of twine around the top and tie into a bow, or a us a colored ribbon.
Sachets: You can make little sachets to place in drawers, suitcases, and to hang on door handles. Take fabric and gather around a cotton ball that’s been sprinkled with the perfume from samples, gather the fabric and tie with twine, string, yarn or ribbon. Leave enough to make a nice bow or to hang over a door knob. Put together several of these in a pretty box (perhaps covered in matching fabric?) and you’re set!
Clothing, Hats, Jewlery, Make up, Purses, Briefcases
Dress Up Kits for Kids: Decorate a really bog box with fabric, buttons, ribbons, pictures from magazine, etc. Put inside: clean hats, suit coats, sport jackets, vests, dresses, skirts, shirts, blouses, gloves, shoes, aprons,costume jewlery, briefcases, purses, wallets, sunglasses, scarfs, watches, old keys, make up samples, razors with out blades, you name it… include an unbreakable mirror, and kids will stay busy in Dress-Up -Land for hours! (For dresses, skirts, pants and slacks: to prevent tripping, cut off length to shorten.)
More creative gift and present ideas in our post: The Gift… Basket?
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