Hustle and bustle … bells ringing … trees to trim … cookies to bake … gifts to buy?

Why not try something a little bit different this year? Instead of a “thing,” give a gift of service or love. Take your list of loved ones and think about how you can really bless them this year without spending a lot of money. If you need ideas, we’re here to help! Check out our gift guide below to find gifts of service and love that won’t cost a lot.

Try one of the Christmas Gift ideas below to make your season a little more merry!

31 ways to celebrate Christmas

1. Personalize a calendar with photos of your family and birth dates, anniversaries, and other special family occasions (annual family reunion, family vacations, etc.).

2. Create a photo book of your little darlings’ milestones (Snapfish, Walmart, & Walgreens all have options).

3. Give each of your children a map of a different state or park. Their gift is to plan a family weekend away in that state: choose the area to stay, activities, and places to eat.

4. Give a disposable camera with a gift certificate for developing and a scrapbook.

5. Give a “________” of the Month. Bake someone a different type of cookie, pie, or soup, and deliver it every month.

6. Create an Encouragement Jar. Write down 31 things you appreciate about someone with a Bible verse on slips of colorful paper. Put in a decorative jar with instructions to open one a day or whenever they need a little pat on the back.

7. Write your parents or someone special in your life a meaningful letter explaining how they have impacted your life. Dennis Rainey’s book The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents gives helpful instruction and shares stories of how this gift has blessed others.

8. Give a cow, honey bees, a goat … For someone who has everything, give the gift of self-reliance to a third-world family in your loved one’s name through Heifer International.

9. Create a hobby scrapbook with pictures, articles, and fun things about their favorite activity.

10. Do you garden? Give a seedling to grow using one of your own plants.

11. Need a gift idea for your husband? Here’s a great one he’s sure to love!

12. Contact a loved one’s friends, family, and co-workers, and ask them to write memories, verses, something they appreciate about that person, etc. Try to compile 365 of them so they have one to open each day for a year.

13. Visit one of the local nursing homes in your area with your children to carol and visit with the residents.

14. Create Christmas Sugar Cookie Art

1. Make some sugar cookies, or buy slice-and-bake.

2. Make icing using lots of powdered sugar and a little milk. Have three colors by using red and green food coloring and having plain white.

3. Provide lots of sprinkles of varying shapes and colors.

4. Place a sheet over your table for easy clean up. Allow your children to decorate to their hearts’ content. While you ooohh and aaahh — remember not to critique or correct — just let them create and enjoy! Those will be the sweetest Christmas cookies ever.

More Great Christmas Ideas from Readers

1. All I Want for Christmas … 

Take a shoe box, wrap the top and bottom separately, place a hole in the center of the top, and place it under the tree. Each person is to put what they really, really want for Christmas on a small piece of paper and put it in the box. On Christmas day, read each note out loud and have everyone guess who wrote what. Then write that person’s name and age on the back of the paper and put it back in the box.

Repeat each year by reading the old ones and the new added ones. It is enlightening to see how early on children choose self-wants and needs like trucks and dolls, but as they age, they begin to be more others-focused and ask for good health for a friend or funds for a mission trip. This is a great way to teach your children to be others-focused and see how it begins to play out in their own lives.

2. Wise Gifts  

Before I had children I used to watch other families struggle with how many gifts are too many and how to top the gift giving the year before. Upon having our own children, God laid on our hearts to have St. Nick bring our children three gifts, just as the wise men brought baby Jesus three gifts.

This has actually brought more anticipation and excitement to our children as their three gifts in the morning mimic the Bible story we read together the night before … and this has helped us not to get trapped in consumerism.

3. Take a Gift-Giving Lesson from the Victorian Era

Several years ago, I found this sweet poem in a Victorian Era Ladies’ Journal. This has simplified buying gifts for my children at Christmas considerably and has also made figuring out what to purchase or make much easier on me.

“One Thing You Want
One Thing You Need
One Thing to Wear
One Thing to Read”

4. Make Christmas snow globes as a family.

Other fun things to do in December

1. Go to a live nativity setting. Kids always love real donkeys.

2. Celebrate Advent.

3. If you have older children, on Christmas Eve have a wrapping party. Put the little ones to bed and have everyone wrap each other’s gifts, perhaps in their own corners so no one peeks.

4. Make a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child.

5. Go get Christmas books from the library. Snuggle up on the sofa and read aloud.

6. Check out Christmas lights.

7. Watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV. If you don’t have TV, it is probably online too.

8. Attend a Christmas party hosted by a city organization. Perhaps the historical museum, library, or some other place in your town has a unique, fun family-friendly Christmas celebration.

9. Have a snowball fight with your kids. And with your husband!

10. Introduce the kids to Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It’s A Wonderful Life is the most-seen movie in America–and with good reason! Or wait until the kids get in bed and get cozy with your man.

11. Host a small Christmas party. Play Dirty Santa (it’s not really dirty–just like a white elephant game) or a Secret Santa Exchange.

12. Get that Christmas music cranking! Learn the other two verses to “Silent Night” and sing it to your little ones as they go to sleep or in the car while driving through town.

13. Go ice skating.

With these lists, you can’t go wrong this holiday season! Which of these ideas are you and your family going to try first?