Guys, it’s December 24th and I know what a good majority of you are thinking right now Shit. Fuck. Shit. I didn’t buy that person a gift and now it’s too late and shit. Fuck. Shit. I’m so screwed. But I am here to tell you not to panic, dear friend, for I have come to bestow upon you a list of inexpensive, easy-to-access, quite thoughtful, seriously heart-warming presents that any old, broke, North American will likely be able to toss together in under an hour. I myself plan to follow my own advice and spend most of today transforming the below ideas into real, legit goodies. These free gifts are so timely that they could be used for the forthcoming holidays or be applied to basically any occasion that requires a fun offering (birthdays, weddings, funerals, St. Patrick’s day parties, three-month anniversaries, three-month sex-versaries, etc).
The reactions to these gifts may vary greatly depending on the type of people you’re friends and fam and colleagues with (colleagues are probably the least tolerating of the three groups), but there’s something in this batch for any style of human (mostly for your understanding loved ones though who get that you’re an artist and consistently broke but you care about them so you give them stuff that is all 100 per cent homemade or used or experience-y). Enjoy these free gifts. I hope they bring you peace and love and less family-related stresses. May your holiday season be as frugal and creative and genuinely giving as these beautiful babies are:
1. Post a very nice status about them on Facebook
These may seem superficial or silly or not gift-like whatsoever but it’s actually the total opposite of all of that. The majority of the world has social media these days and it is used by the population to not only display their personal lives and share photos and advertise their work, it’s also used to show affection to your bosom buddies. I have read Facebook statuses written by loved ones on my birthday that have legit made me weep like a happy baby. So, do your best impersonation of a hip Hallmark greeting card and pour your heart out in the most public way possible: on the internet. I promise your roommate will feel like a hundred bucks after getting a hundred likes.
2. Give them a coupon for a free phone-photography session
I LIVE for the concept of make-it-yourself coupon books. I have given them many times in my life because I am the consistently broke artist I described above, but also I like doing stuff for people. And you know what people always need and always love and always blush in response to? Photos of their face/body! After they read that amazing status you wrote about them they’ll want to change their profile picture to something attention grabbing and you’ll have the perfect pic. Phones in 2015 have incredible cameras so that’s truly all you need to for this but if you have a snazzy DSLR, even better.
3. Schedule a night in the future to make them dinner and fill them with wine
This one will definitely cost you some moneys down the road but you can start up a food/drink savings plan now so you can eventually pay for a couple of steaks, a bag of potatoes, a head of garlic, a stalk of broccoli, a bag of arugula and a sweet bottle of Pinot Grigio. Every living creature on this earth is a fan of delicious edibles being made for them and if they’re not into alcohol you can totally swap out that wine for some sick sparkling water or quality espresso or organic tea or a case of cream soda. Whatever the ingredients, this will surely be a fantastic evening that I’m sure your bestie will remember for a long while to come.
4. Find something in your house that you don’t use which they’d use a lot and wrap that shit up
Now, this is where the whole giving a clearly used thing to your colleagues might not be the hottest of objectives. BUT I am personally very into used everything. Used clothes. Used technology. Used vibrators. Okay maybe not the last one but I would consider it! And if you have something that you’ve used a bit, or something that’s still in a sealed box and that you’ve never put into action, hand it over to your companion who will use it. My sister had a hot chocolate-maker that she literally turned on once. When she heard me raving about steamed milk she tossed it my way. And I’ve used that baby like at least… three times. Success.
5. Write a hilarious personal essay about your favourite memory of them
Even if you’re not a wordsmith at heart this is a supremely endearing gesture. All you gotta do is log into google, open a fresh new doc, search your brain for a funny/thrilling/happy story that features the two of you as the leads and get typing. I promise you it will flow out of you faster than you imagined it would. If you’re writing from personal experience and just speaking the hilarious truth about what went down it should be a piece of cake and your sidekick will like consuming it as much as they like consuming cake. There will be tons of laughs and tears and reminiscing, which is exactly what we should all be doing when we’re on vacation.
6. Offer a free 30-minute massage
Not everyone is comfortable with being touched by people they know rather well but if they are comfortable with it, there’s nothing more relaxing and tension-relieving and tingly in an excellent way than getting a massage. Head rubs are my particular jam and if a compadre volunteered their services to get at my temples for a while I would be over the moon.
7. Drop that sweater/scarf/dress/hat/jersey/necklace/purse that they always borrow into a bag and you’re golden
Here is another used item idea but this one is more specific and more considerate and more generous because you’re giving them something permanently that they already kinda claim ownership over. You might like it too but do you like it as intensely as they do? Make a sacrifice to make them smile, also you’re broke and you don’t have many options and this is a good one.
8. Make them a deck of compliment cards with specific compliments related to them
This is the hard copy version of that Facebook status that they can return to whenever they choose. Anything written in this flattering stack of thick paper will result in warm feelings being felt by them. And make the admiration you’re dispensing as personal as possible. A card that reads You’ve got a beautiful smile is great and all but it’s generic as hell. On the other hand, a card that reads Your loud laugh is almost as contagious as your life-changing feminist opinions are is something pretty exceptional.
9. Lend them your three favourite books with no date of return
Books are killer gifts, but in the age of tablets and readers and short attention spans people aren’t buying paperbacks in the quantities that they used to. And once you read a book, you’re usually done with it, unless you become so obsessed that you read it like one more time and then you’re really done. It’s quaint to have a tall, toppling filled bookshelf (I myself do) but when is the last you even flipped through your fav novels? It’s probs been a while. So spread the literary pleasure around already. Donate those texts to your friend! And know that you may never get ˜em back, ˜cause that’s sort of part of the charm.
10. Complete their list of chores like you’re a teen whose parents are almost home
My friend Natalie is often at my house to work on our various creative projects and typically she arrives when my bed isn’t made, my laundry isn’t put away and there are piles and piles of dishes in my boudoir. Since she’s such a giving individual, she regularly takes it upon herself to help a gal out and make said bed, put said laundry away, and take said dishes to the kitchen. And every time she does it, my heart swells. I can see some people not wanting their friends acting as their maids/butlers but if I knew someone who WANTED to scrub my bathroom as a present to me ˜cause they couldn’t afford anything else and wanted to give me something, I mean, would I deny their want? Nope. I’d hand them a sponge and wish them luck.
11. Watch that show/movie with them that they adore and that you despise
All of our best friends worship a kind of entertainment that makes our skin crawl. It could be a reality TV series or a ridiculous romantic comedy or a sappy holiday movie and no matter how violently you dislike this piece of not-art, your BFF insists that you watch it with them. You usually refuse and shake your head and exit their house immediately, but consider observing a marathon of what you think is pure garbage television as a gift. They’d love the company and who knows, maybe you’d end up digging Dance Moms more than you thought you would.
12. Teach them a lesson in whatever you’re an expert in
Are you a brilliant pianist? Or a photoshop wizard? Or a talented painter? Or a gorgeous singer? Or an epic poker player? Or an award-winning knitter? Or a professional writer? Or a famous chef? Or a professor of history? Or an astonishing photographer? Or an extraordinary carpenter? Or a marvelous contemporary dancer? Or a glorious barista? Or a mind-blowing graphic designer? Or a prodigious coder? Great. Instruct your compadre on how to do it, too. They’ll have a blast and learn something useful and get to hang with you. It’s an ideal situation.
13. Tie a bow around a phone charger/a USB key/a pair of ear buds and call it a day
We all usually have five phone chargers, fifteen USB keys, and countless ear buds kickin’ around our purses/backpacks/desks so why not spare a couple and make someone else’s technological life a bit smoother? You can never have too many of the above mentioned essential tools. When your pal sees that charger they’ll probably even say Awesome! I forgot mine at home and my phone is dead. This is the best.
14. Reduce, reuse and recycle a present you were just given a day ago
Or, if all else fails, give them that bottle of red wine and that box of Lindors that you got from your Secret Santa. At this point you’ve attended a dozen holiday parties, eaten approximately a thousand shortbread cookies and inhaled a couple of barrels of Merlot, so you can take a pass on some sugar and a intoxicants. Plus, that wine and chocolate is already wrapped, baby!
15. Give them a long fucking hug
You probably don’t do it enough. None of us do. Which doesn’t make sense ˜cause they feel really freaking great. Relish in that tender body and they’ll relish in yours too.