Print as many cheques as you like to give to friends
Christmas gift cheque suggestions
Presents don't have to mean spending big bucks. Whether it's a promise to give your special someone a back rub, let kids have a sleepover or babysit for pals with little 'uns, your time could be the best present you ever give.
Our free DIY Christmas gift cheques above are specially designed for you to write in your own 'gift' and present them to family or friends. Here's a list of suggested Christmas cheques - please add your own ideas to the Free Xmas Gift Cheques discussion.
Ideas for your special someone
Think about your other half and what makes them smile. You could make breakfast in bed, run a luxurious bath, rustle up a romantic picnic or let them pick a movie of their choice (no moaning).
Or how about a "get out of the doghouse free" card, where you let them get away with a minor misdemeanour you’d have normally chewed their ear off about.
Of course, the possibilities are endless. You could promise a back rub, foot massage, or - ahem - something steamier.
Ideas for kids
For younger kids, the most cherished gift is time with their parents. Promises could include an outing to town, a fave activity or a cinema trip with popcorn.
For older kids, consider promising a sleepover with friends, or control of the TV remote for a weekend.
Ideas for parents (from their children)
Options for younger children include making their parents breakfast in bed or being their butler for an afternoon. They could take on some hated chores, such as cleaning the car, washing up for a week or walking the dog five times.
Adult 'kids' could drive their parents to B&Q or Ikea. If mum colours her hair at home, invite her to your salon (bathroom) and tend to her tresses.
Ideas for friends
Think about what specialist skills you have to offer. You could dig their flowerbeds, fix their PC or cook their favourite meal. A night babysitting for parents with young kids could be the most cherished gift you’ll ever give.
How about promising financially-challenged mates a Money Makeover? Or if you’re a whizz on eBay, help them set up their listings.
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More thrifty Christmas tips
The last-minute Christmas shopping stampede is here, and retailers hope that you’ll ignore the price tags and race for the tills. Yet there are sackfuls of ways to smash the cost of Christmas. Here are a few tricks – see Christmas MoneySaving for a full guide.
Time to ban Christmas presents?
Consider giving this Christmas a miss. This isn’t about gifts from parents or to grandchildren, but the ever-widening glut of friends, extended family and colleagues. Christmas isn’t a retail festival. We need to end obliged giving and think more about what we're giving to whom and why.
If you’re yelling over your wrapping paper “what about the joy of giving?”, remember gift-giving creates an obligation on recipients to give back. For some, the gift of “not obliging you to buy for me” is actually better. Read Scrooge McLewis's blog for more: Ban Xmas gifts.
Plus why not make a No Unnecessary Present Pact (Nupp) with friends? Or at least agree to a Secret Santa or £5 to £10 cap on gifts. If you’re scared to broach this taboo subject, our free Nupp tool generates the email for you, showing recipients you’re not alone.
It’s not all about the perfect Christmas
Too many people ask: "What will make Christmas totally perfect?" Then they attack the shops for a festive gift-grab, only questioning their finances later on.
Instead, start with the question: "What can I afford to spend on Christmas?" Then work out the best day you can have on that budget.
Free Christmas IOU generator
Christmas is the year's costliest shopping time, but January sales are often the cheapest. If you're buying a big-ticket item (a plasma TV, or a PlayStation) break this stranglehold with our specially designed Xmas IOU generator.
It produces a gift certificate telling family you're waiting for the sales to get the gift cheaper. You could also buy a small extra gift from potential savings to show the boon of waiting.
This way, kids get a triple whammy: the gift, the boon and a lesson in money sense.
Free video message from Santa
If your child would love Saint Nick to say hello, visit Portable North Pole to create a personalised video message – good for kids big and small, naughty and nice. Just put in a few personal details, and Santa will give bespoke words of wisdom.
Downshift your turkey!
Don’t feel you need to buy posh brands for Christmas. For
one ITV programme, Martin held a blind taste-test party for nurses at a hospital with champers, turkeys and more.
Half the goods were higher level brands, the others a brand level lower. The guests were blind to which was which, and preferred the lower-brand goods or couldn't tell the difference most (62%) of the time.
So don’t give in to retail snobbery – see Supermarket Shopping for more on the downshift challenge.
50 Festive Fiver gift ideas
Our Festive Fivers contest challenges forumites to come up with the best 'make or buy' sub-£5 presents. Among the inspirational ideas was the 12 Dates of Christmas, an inspirational date night package for someone you love (or lust after) - from a picnic in the park to a candlelit bubble bath.
Or how about a homemade vinyl wall clock, or 50 Sheds of Grey? For kids, plant a fallen bell from Santa's sleigh in your garden on Christmas morning to make the kids' eyes as wide as their smiles. See 50 Festive Fivers for a full list of winners and inspiration.