5 amazing (and free) Christmas gifts to remember

As a one income family, this time of year can be a bit of a stretch. But that’s nothing new – it was a stretch when we had an extra salary coming in, a stretch before we had kids (somehow) and even a stretch before we really knew the flipping meaning of ‘a stretch’.

It’s got me thinking though about those ‘gesture’ gifts, and whether people would really like a pair of socks, a novelty bit of tat – or something much more thoughtful.

I can tell you my favourite Christmas present of all time. It was from my Mum, a few years ago, and was a beautiful surprise on Christmas Day. We’d been chatting some weeks before about childhood memories and I mentioned Nanny’s old button tin. It was a round vintage quality street tin, filled with toggles, silver, black, red, gold even mother of pearl buttons. There was the odd coin, brooch, medal and a wooden Angel in there too. I used to play with it as a child, and can still remember each one, how they felt and which were my favourites. Mum couldn’t remember where the tin could possibly be, and the conversation moved on. Until Christmas Day, as I opened that tin again, thirty years older with tears in my eyes and my heart about to burst with nostalgia.

Needless to say the buttons are now busy being planted into a new generation of memories.

So with that little story in mind, here’s a few ideas to make someone’s Christmas extra special (and save you some pennies to boot).


This is one that can be gifted in loads of ways. To someone with children, the obvious is a babysitting token. Print it out, offer an actual date, just make sure it happens! A great way to do this is to offer to have someone’s kids for a few hours before Christmas – when we are all drowning in doing, I promise it I’ll make someone’s day.

For someone elderly, they really don’t want or need more stuff – they want companionship, so offer to bring them to your home for a meal, and give them something to look forward to.

For a sister, or girl friend, a similar approach but with the promise of pampering, prosecco and quality time is a really special way to build on bonds that have been neglected. Send the fellas off to the pub and engage in some proper girl time.


Im channeling my Mums amazing button tin gift idea here. Do you have a long forgotten treasure that a parent, a sibling or a child would be overjoyed to be reunited with? As a total hoarder I have some special bits squirrelled away – drawings by my baby siblings, toys, old photographs, favourite books.

This year I’ve bought my daughter a book that was one of my favourites as a child – I found it on amazon for 15 quid, then when I excitedly reported to Mum what I’d found, she told me my original copy was up in her attic. Lesson. Learnt.

Another one up my sleeve is a toy dog bought on a drunken girly weekend years ago which I’m desperate to pass on to my friends baby boy…I just need to convince Tigs first which is proving tricky.


Having gone full circle thanks to the digital era, we have regressed to a time when a hard printed photo has become somewhat precious again. For relatives you normally whatsapp, e mail or text images of your kids, why don’t you print out some special shots, pop them in a bargain frame and gift them to family you know will really appreciate them. You can pick up prints and frames for under a few pounds so although not exactly free, it’s cheap as chips.


For the significant other in your life, how about a gift that keeps on giving. Make a list of all the things you would like to do together in 2017, or brainstorm a hundred indoor date ideas to start the new year as you mean to go on. Write them on sticks, or on pebbles and display them in a jar. A beautiful thoughtful gift that will go down a storm on Christmas day and for many more days to come.


You have kids, therefore there has never been a better time to pull off some hand crafted crap. I mean, it may even turn out pretty nice? Flower pots, plates, mugs, cards, tree decorations or frames. Hand prints turned into funny faces, finger prints turned into smudgy animals, or just their squiggles. Carefully select he right paint for the right job, supervise, and seal afterwards. Voila. I’ll be doing this one for the teachers for sure.

Be creative, be frugal, may your cockles be warmed by their reactions. It really is all about the giving, so enjoy.


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17 thoughts on “5 amazing (and free) Christmas gifts to remember

  1. Wendy Reply

    Lovely gift ideas. I really like the idea of a date night jar, hubby and I have been almost like strangers since baby number 2 arrived..it would be nice to give the gift of quality time together for Christmas. Your nans button tin sounds wonderful, I think I would have cried too if I’d been given something like that xx #coolmumclub

  2. Back With A Bump Reply

    Thoughful gifts always mean more. Me and the big one are planning on making her nan some homemade goodies and shes decorated a box ro put them in. Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  3. beautybabyandme Reply

    This is lovely! I’ve been trying to make the extra effort in such ways this year – some Christmas cards have special photos printed out inside them, and I’ve been looking at taking part in GMBs 1 million minutes where you spend some time with an elderly person at this time of year. It’s nice to spend this time of year looking out for each other and being kind. xxx #coolmumclub

  4. Chilli Regina Reply

    Loving these gifts…You’ve really got me thinking. It seems in a way harder (which is kind of sad) to give someone this personal and thoughtful gift as we have to go a bit deeper and take time instead of just going to the near shop and buy whatever we think they would like..Thank you for sharing! x #coolmumclub

  5. Janine Reply

    In my family we now literally only buy for own children and partners and that’s it because there are just too many of us now. We’ve done this for a good few years and nobody minds. Christmas is about all those simple gifts you mentioned (great gifts by the way) especially time. I love visiting my extended family and spending some quality time with them that we don’the necessarily have time for the rest of year. There’s no greater gift than that.

    Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub

  6. mommyandrory Reply

    Some lovely ideas here. I particularly like the idea about time. I sometimes feel like I struggle to make time for everyone, particularly my girlfriends. Giving the gift of s prosecco night would go down a storm!

    I’m also thinking of using the date night jar as a gift for my other half. We did something similar a while ago where we had a jar filled with countries. When we had a date night at home we’d pick a country and cook a meal and watch a film that fitted in with the theme. It was great fun


  7. Talya Reply

    What a lovely post…and you know what they say…the best things in life are FREE and that is certainly the case at Crimbo my #coolmumclub lovely xxx

  8. Ursula (AKA Mumbelievable) Reply

    I’ve always felt that time, experiences and memories make such special and unforgettable gifts, and we quite often don’t actually have that many actual presents under the tree to give out as lots of the gifts we give are things along those lines. But this post has given me so much inspiration (as mega panic is now firmly set in at how un-ready I am) and reminded me that I don’t need to feel so fraught with it all. Happy Christmas lovely! #coolmumclub XXXx

  9. Abi Reply

    We have done photo gifts this year of Alfie’s first nursery photo and I know they will be really appreciated. I also always take my nan on a date as her Christmas present – usually afternoon tea or something similar, and she loves the time we spend together. We were hoping to take her to London like she used to when we were kids but unfortunately she just isn’t well enough, so instead we will just spend the day at hers, looking through photo albums and remembering the fun times we had when we were younger – I know she will appreciate that more than any scarf or bath set! #MarvMondays

  10. Winnettes Reply

    This is lovely! I am taking the next three weeks off online activity (or at least just a bit of Instagram in the evenings as I am addicted after all) so that I can spend some real quality time with my family. I wish I had known how unstretched I actually was all those years ago! I guess it is all relative.

  11. Mrs Mummy Harris Reply

    All close relatives have photos in a frame and a salt dough handprint from Ben. They’re so precious this kind of gifts and probably better than what we’ve bought them haha #coolmumclub

  12. rockandrosesmama Reply

    LOVE this post… Im all about the handcrafted gifts. Ive made a few this year to save on pennies! Christmas cards are always made by me and my little man too. All of the females and my little boy have a button tin too… was always my mums fans thang and then she had one… i had one… my cousin wanted one… and I got one for my little boy as he LOVES buttons! Great idea for a post… #coolmumclub

  13. alifeinpracticeblog.com Reply

    This is a lovely post and I absolutely agree. This year will be the first year my Husband Grandfather will be facing without Husbands grandmother, so we have invited him over for dinner on Christmas eve. I also made my mum one of those ‘one a day for year’ jars with 365 slips of paper inside with recipes, memories, fun facts, jokes, affirmations and compliments. She loved it so muhc and tells me her latest slips every time we talk on the phone. xx #coolmumclub

  14. Alana - Burnished Chaos Reply

    Great ideas, these are the kinds of presents that actually mean something and will be remembered for years to come x

  15. Helena Reply

    Great gift ideas here and I’m very touched by the button tin. #coolmumclub

  16. Rhyming with Wine Reply

    Aw these are such lovely ideas! I love that I have an excuse to make home made gifts now that we have the kids. I would never really have considered whipping up a batch of fudge and a home made card (with 3 kilos of glitter thrown at it) as a gift but now we’re all over it! I sincerely hope that there is a babysitting voucher under our tree. That’s such a lovely idea – and genuinely priceless! Thanks for hosting #coolmumclub all year and I hope you all have a lovely Christmas xx

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