5 experience gift ideas for Christmas that don’t cost lots of money

Christmas is coming which means…. GIFTS. If you want to give gifts that connect with your recipient, think about giving an experience rather than a thing. Here are five of my favourite ideas to create the warm, fuzzy feeling we all want to express and feel when connecting with the people we care about.

Many of these gifts take time, consideration, and effort to make so if you want to try any of them I suggest you start early. The good news is, most of them require minimal financial outlay.

1. Personalised crossword

If your family is anything like mine, you have your own language; words and sayings that are unique to you, like your own little ‘in jokes’ that only you get. Use those words to create a crossword. Give clues such as ‘Mum’s nickname for my brother’ or ‘my sister’s favourite pop group when she was growing up’. You know, all that good stuff that’s filled with memories (and probably some embarrassing moments).

If you’re looking for a family game to play on Christmas Day, split the family into teams, give each team a copy of the crossword and make it a race to see who completes it first.

You can find instruction on how to make your own crossword here.

2. The amazing race

Whenever we ask my dad what he wants for Christmas, he usually says, ‘I don’t want anything’. He isn’t a fan of expensive presents but when he gets something personal and thoughtful, he loves it.

One year, my son and I decided to create an ‘amazing race’.  We telephoned a couple of his best friends, told them our plan and got them to agree to participate. Then we mapped out a route around our neighbourhood and designed challenges for different points.

Each challenge was pretty easy (coconut shy, obstacle course) and consisted of a task and a riddle (clue) for the next challenge. At one point we had three adult men, dressed in ridiculous clothes, racing each other on bikes around our local park. Even the neighbourhood kids got into the spirit of things and lined up to squirt them with water guns as they rode past (note that Christmas is summertime here in New Zealand).

All of the participants were extremely competitive so there was quite a bit of cheating going on (someone noticed the first lot of clues as they approached the house and collected them all up so their competitors couldn’t find them); naughty but funny.

Obviously there is quite a bit of planning, coordinating, and choreography required for this one so make sure you have plenty of time to get it set up.

3. Memory jar

A memory jar is a sure-fire way to melt your recipient’s heart (especially your mum). Usually it consists of keepsakes but you could make it a little different by collecting stories from friends of the recipient about their relationship. Write each story on a separate note and pop it in the jar. Each time the recipient opens a note, they get to read something (hopefully nice) about themselves.

Here are some questions you could ask the friends to help them come up with a story:

  • Tell me a funny story about you and the recipient.
  • What do you like/admire most about the recipient and why?
  • How has the recipient influenced or changed you?

Put a word limit on it so that they don’t end up writing a novel e.g. 30 words.

If you wanted to take this up a notch, you could ditch the written approach and just use your mobile phone to film the friend telling their story. Afterwards, edit the films together and create a little video to play as your gift on the day. It would be like a montage of heartmeltingy-ness (that’s definitely a word now, I’m owning it).

4. Magazine subscription

Ok, so this one is not strictly homemade but it is the gift that keeps on giving for 6-months to a year depending on the subscription you get.

If you belong to a loyalty programme and have enough reward points you could use those and end up not paying anything at all.

I once did this to get a 12-month subscription to a House and Garden magazine for my mother and she loved it so much she ended up recommending it as a gift idea to her customers at work.

5. Cake in a jar

What would a Homemade and Humble blog post be without a food gift idea. You’ve probably all heard of the ‘cake in a jar’ concept and there are so many recipes online. Pinterest has lots of them.

Maybe you’re famous for your brownies or chocolate chip cookies. This is a great way to share your delicious food without the problem of having to eat it straight away at a time when there is already plenty of food around.

If you have special dietary requirements such as gluten-free or vegan, you can use this as an opportunity to share easy recipes for tasty treats with those who are not familiar with your diet. Just be sure to adjust the recipe and instructions on the label if necessary.

So what are you waiting for? Get going!

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration and motivation to make your own thoughtful and meaningful gifts. If you have any other ideas for experience gifts, please share them in the comments.



Author: homemade and humble

Hi, I'm Ana. Welcome to my blog. I live in Wellington, New Zealand with my partner in a little cottage on a hill. We are working to build a life free from the rat-race, where we get to design our days around spending time together, enjoying good food and hunting for treasures for our home. We are both homebodies and prefer homemaking and cooking to outdoor pursuits and sport. This is where I share stories of our experiences as we set our course for a life full of warmth, comfort and beauty. I hope you enjoy it.

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