Jenny | Edited by Steve N
Updated 7 Dec 2015
Presents don't have to mean spending big bucks. Whether it's a promise to give your special someone a back rub, letting the kids have a sleepover or babysitting for friends 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.
Print as many cheques as you like to give to friends
Christmas gift cheque suggestions
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 with candles, 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.
Ideas for kids
For younger kids, one of the best gifts is time with their parents. Promises could include an outing to town, a favourite activity such as an afternoon painting or a kickabout at the park, a trip to a local museum or a cinema trip with popcorn.
If you need ideas for older kids, consider something like an evening out, promising a sleepover with friends, or control of the TV remote for a weekend.
Ideas for parents (from their children)
Younger children could go for something like making their parents breakfast in bed or being their butler for an afternoon. They could also take on some hated chores, such as cleaning the car, washing up for a week or walking the dog next time it rains.
Adult 'kids' could be their parents' taxi driver for the day - perhaps to a party or weekend trip to Ikea - or could treat them to a home-cooked dinner.
Ideas for friends
Think about what specialist skills you have to offer. You could dig their flowerbeds, clean their kitchen, fix their PC or cook their favourite meal. If your friends have young kids, try offering up your services as a babysitter for the night.
It might not be that exciting, but promising financially-challenged mates a Money Makeover is a present that'll last long after the festive season. Or if you’re a whizz on eBay, help them set up their listings (see our eBay selling guide for more help).
More thrifty Christmas tips
The last-minute Christmas shopping stampede is here, and retailers hope 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.
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 challenged 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 children's eyes as wide as their smiles. See 50 Festive Fivers for a full list of winners and inspiration.
Join in the discussion. See the Xmas Gift Cheques forum thread.