40+ Gifts That Don’t Cost Money: Gift Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

Written by: Lara
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Free gifts with a yellow box, ad red gift and a blue background

Have you ever found yourself in the tricky spot of wanting to give a great gift but your wallet is just screaming “NO!”? Luckily, you no longer have to choose between breaking the bank and giving awesome gifts because we’ve gathered over 40 epic gifts that don’t cost money!

Just because you’re looking for a way to cut costs on gifts, doesn’t mean you’re cutting on thoughtfulness and meaning. In fact, I actually think that many of these free gift ideas are among the best and most heartfelt gifts I have ever received or given.

Now, I do want to give you a fair warning before we dive in. Because nothing in life is free. So even though most of these gifts don’t cost money they do require your time, your creativity, or some crafty items that I am just going to assume most of us already have at home. So please, bear with me and accept that some of these gifts are almost, but not entirely free.

Are you looking for a quick idea? Check out the editor’s favorite free gift ideas

  • Best overall: Pass on heirloom (#4)
  • Best gifts that require your time: Teach a skill (#6)
  • Best personal gifts: A DIY ‘Tell me…’ book (#20)
  • Best crafty gifts:
    • Easy: A cookie jar mix (#25)
    • Medium: Plant hangers from rope (#35)
    • Advanced: A DIY board game (#39)

Save these free gifts

Don’t forget to save these gift ideas on Pinterest to save on your next gifting occasion!

40+ amazing free gift ideas for anyone

Overall best gifts that don’t cost money

#1 Take them to a free event

Photo of people at a concert
Find free concerts in your city

Did you know that studies have shown that experienced gifts form stronger bonds between giver and receiver compared to physical gifts? (Find out more here).

So if you’re looking for a gift that will strengthen your connection with the recipient, then check out the awesome free experience suggestions below.

  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Concerts
  • Theatre
  • Festivals
  • Playgrounds

Museums and zoos often organize certain days with free access, so simply check out the website of your local zoo or museum to find out when the next free admission day is happening. And then all you need to do is arrange transportation, get some snacks and drinks, and you and the recipient can have an awesome day together.


#2 Regift something

Alright, I know that the opinions on regifting vary and for some people, this is a big “NO”.

Personally, I think that if you regift thoughtfully and only regift valuable items that the new receiver will actually love, there is nothing wrong with regifting at all.

The gift will finally be used, it didn’t go to waste, the recipient is happy, and you were able to cut some expenses while still rocking the gifting game.

Of course, there are a few things you should always keep in mind when regifting gifts

  • Only regift something that the new receiver will actually use and love
  • Don’t regift to the person who gave it to you in the first place (this goes without saying, but I just wanted to make it clear)
  • Don’t regift to someone who knows the original giver
  • Wrap the new gift nicely
  • If they don’t ask, don’t mention it was regifted

#3 Bouquet from flowers in your garden

Flower bouquet
Make a bouquet with flowers from your garden

If you have a beautiful garden and you’re looking to give someone a nice bouquet of flowers, why not make your own bouquet with your own grown flowers?

It’s a beautiful way to give something that doesn’t cost money, and that has a personal touch to it.


#4 Something of value you own

A necklace
The necklace my grandmother passed on to me

Another great gift that doesn’t cost any money, is to pass on something you already own, such as jewelry, heirloom, paintings, sculptures, clothing, or furniture.

Now, just like regifting, you do need to be thoughtful about this type of gift. Because if done the wrong way, it could make the recipient feel unappreciated. But when done the right way, this could turn out to be one of the most valuable gifts ever.

The most precious and beautiful gift I have ever received was actually a passed-on gift. It was a necklace from my grandmother that I had been obsessed with ever since I was a little girl. And she decided to pass it on to me on my 18th birthday. And to this day, I consider it one of the best gifts I have ever received and one of my most precious possessions. 

So to make sure your passed-on gift will have the same effect as my grandmother’s gift, here are some tips.

  • Only give something that the recipient will actually love and use
  • The gift needs to have some emotional value. Maybe because they’ve told you in the past how much they love the item, or because it has been in the family for decades
  • Do not give something because you’ve bought a better version. It’s wonderful if you want to pass your old laptop, bicycle, clothes, or whatever on to someone. But I highly recommend not presenting it as a gift for a specific occasion such as Christmas or a birthday. Most likely, it will feel like a hand-me-down gift and make the recipient feel unappreciated. However, if you give it as a random occasional gift, it will be a surprise, which will make the recipient truly appreciate the gift and create a stronger bond between you two.

#5 Plant cuttings

Vases with small plant stecks
Make your own plant cuttings to give

Are you looking for a free gift idea for a housewarming party?

Why not go for a plant cutting from one of your own plants? It’s a beautiful way to create something you and the recipient share together (the same plant), and it won’t cost you anything.

You could even combine it with a homemade planter, check out #35 if you want to learn how to make a planter yourself.


Free gifts that take your time

#6 Teach them one of your skills

A young woman and a grandmother on an online meeting
Teaching my grandma how to join online meetings

One thing that’s way more valuable than your money, is your time.

So if you’re looking for a gift that doesn’t cost any money, but that is still costly, give them your time.

Not only is it a far more personal gift, but it will also have a longer-lasting impact. One of my favorite ways to give your time is by passing on one of your skills.

Whether you’re great at cooking, driving, knitting, or baseball, offering someone to teach them your skills is a beautiful way to spend more time together and give a gift that doesn’t cost any money, and will last forever.

Not sure what skills you can teach? Here is some inspiration

  • Knitting
  • Sports
  • Languages
  • Crafts
  • Digital skills (your grandma will love you teaching her how to use her phone or laptop)
  • Photography
  • Cooking

#7 Organize a scavenger hunt

A photo album of a Scavenger hunt organized for kids
Photo album of the Scavenger Hunt my mom organized

My mom actually organized a scavenger hunt for me and my friends when I turned seven years old. I can still remember the whole hunt vividly and it’s one of my most precious birthday memories.   

Now this probably requires a bit of time to prepare, but a scavenger hunt is a super fun way to spend time together and if you organize yourself, it doesn’t have to cost anything!

You can find plenty of helpful tools online, so you don’t have to start from scratch.


#8 Organize a tournament or board game night

People playing a board game
Organize a board game night

Whether you’re looking for free gifts for kids or adults, a game night or game tournament is a fun idea for both.

Let them pick their favorite game, invite friends and family over, and have a tournament or game night in honor of their birthday (or whatever the occasion is for).

Need inspiration for fun games? Check out these 25 epic travel-inspired board games.

#9 Favors

Empty DIY coupon templates
Give a coupon book with personal favors

Sometimes a gift doesn’t need to be big, it can just be a small gesture in the form of a favor. Such as

  • Cleaning
  • Walking the dog
  • MassageCooking dinner
  • Lending them your car
  • Breakfast in bed
  • Foot massage

Honestly, the list of favors is endless.

Now, I can imagine that simply telling someone you will walk the dog for them doesn’t really excite you (nor the recipient). So to present your favors in a fun and thoughtful way, check out my guide on how to create a DIY homemade coupon book. It also comes with 74 more ideas of favors you can add to your coupon book, in case you need some more inspiration.


Personal gifts that don’t cost any money

#10 Personal letters or cards

A card with "I love you with all my bum, I would say heart, but my bum is bigger"
A card I sent to my boyfriend

There is nothing better than a personalized gift. And I am not just making this up, there are a lot of studies about what makes personalized gifts such great gifts.

So if you’re looking for a meaningful gift that doesn’t cost any money, go for something personal and from the heart.

The easiest way to give from the heart is to write down what they mean to you in a letter or on a card. Everybody loves receiving letters, it’s something they can reread as often as they want.

This is one of my favorite free gift ideas for just about anyone. Especially, if you’re looking for random occasional gift ideas. I’ve sent countless cards and letters to my friends and family just to let them know how much I love them, and they are always received with great pleasure.

Now, I can imagine that finding the right words or the best cards is a challenge, so to help you out check out my list of funny and heartfelt card message ideas for any occasion.


#11 Jar filled with compliments

A mason jar with a black and white print
My personal compliments jar

Who doesn’t love a well-meant compliment?

And what a great free gift it is to give a jar filled with compliments!

All you need is a jar, some paper, a pen, and inspiration. Write down a sweet compliment on each piece of paper, fold it in two, and keep adding to the jar (or box, or can, or whatever you use) until it’s filled to the notch with heartfelt compliments!


#12 List of things you learned from them or reasons why you love them

A book made for mom
Personalized book I made for my mom

Whether you just write a list on paper, fill another jar or box, or go full crafty on Canva, this is an awesome free gift to boost their confidence and share your love.

You can write all the things you learned from them, all the things you are grateful for, or all the reasons why you love them. Whatever you decide to add to the list, they will read it with the biggest smile on their face. I actually did something similar in a book for my mom (though this was a premade book I bought, but you can easily recreate it yourself).

Not sure how many things you should add to the list?

Take the age they are turning, and use that number!


#13 Box filled with fun memories and keepsakes

Create a memory box by gathering all the tickets, flyers, and treasures from every event you and the recipient went to together, and adding them to the keepsake box.

Did you throw out all the tickets?

Simply print the photos or logos of the events and add them to the box.  


#14 ‘Open when…’ letters

A collection of envelopes with instructions on when to open them
Photo courtesy of Amazon

If you like the idea of giving letters or cards, but you’re looking for a way to make it a little more unique, then this is a great option!

“Open when…” letters are letters that you write for specific occasions, moments, or dates, so the recipient can open them when they think the moment fits the description of the envelope.

For example

  • When you’re sad
  • When you need a confidence boost
  • When you’re happy
  • When you miss me
  • When you’re bored
  • On the first of the month
  • On Valentine’s Day
  • On your birthday  

You can simply buy a plain envelope and write the moment to open on it, or unleash your inner Martha Steward and make and decorate the envelopes yourself.  


#15 Make a personal video for them

A woman in front of a camera
Make a video for them

If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth a million words. So if you are looking for creative gifts that don’t cost any money and you’re not afraid to shine on camera, then a personal video for the recipient is perfect!

Even if you don’t like being on camera yourself, you could put together a video with personal anecdotes and photos, and simply do the voiceover, or use text.

You will need some editing skills, but in the present digital world, you can easily find instructions online if you don’t have the skills yet.     


#16 Make a personal playlist for them

A self-made playlist on spotify
Me and my boyfriend’s playlist

For the older generation, a mixtape was something that lovers would make for each other. And though you probably won’t give a CD or mixtape nowadays, you can still give music by making a personal playlist for the recipient.

It’s a gift that doesn’t cost any money, but that has a deep personal touch because there is something magical in music.


#17 Organize a trivia night about them

A note with "trivia"
Organize a trivia night with questions about them

Just like the scavenger hunt, a trivia night is a super fun experience to share with the recipient and friends. Gather interesting facts about them, and see who knows the recipient best!

The only thing it requires is time for preparation, but other than that, it’s completely free to give.   


#18 Recite a poem

A Romea and Juliet book
Recite their favorite poem

Do you have a poem that reminds you of the recipient or do you know which poem is their favorite?

Then memorize the poem and recite it to them!

It’s a beautiful gesture and gift that doesn’t cost any money. And if you’re feeling even more inspired, you could also go for the next gift idea.


#19 Write them a poem

Someone writing on a notebook
Write them a poem

Release your inner Shakespeare and write the recipient a personal poem, which you can then recite if you want.  


#20 A DIY ‘Tell me…’ notebook

Two books with "tell me" grandpa and grandma
‘Tell me…’ books I gave to my grandparents

If you’re not familiar with the ‘Tell me …’ notebook, it’s basically a book filled with questions for the recipient to answer. Once they’ve answered it, they return the book to you. So it’s actually a gift for yourself, a keepsake with all their memories, thoughts, and messages in one book.

I actually bought this book for my grandparents, and it’s a beautiful and funny book that I love to glance through every now and again.

But you can easily create it yourself for free. All you need is a notebook, and a set of questions you would love to ask the recipient and you’re all set!


#21 Pass on family recipes

A notebook with cooking equipment layong around
Make your own recipe book with family recipes

This is an awesome free gift for your children or grandchildren; a DIY recipe book with your own (family) recipes.

You just need a notebook and your memories, and you can make your own cookbook to keep the delicious family traditions alive. 


#22 Personalized screensaver

A cup of coffee with a laptop screensaver in the background
Make a personalized screen saver to start each day with a smile

If you’re looking for cute small gifts that don’t cost money, this is a great option.

Get creative in a tool like Canva and create a beautiful personalized screensaver, so that whenever they open their laptop for work, they are greeted by a sweet message or photo created by you! 


#23 Sexy photos for your partner

Images of two people with a red rectangle in front
Make sexy photos just for your partner

Are you looking for free gift ideas to surprise your partner?

Then make sexy photos just for him or her!  


Easy DIY projects that are almost free

#24 Homecooked anything

A homecooked meal
Make a homecooked meal

They say love goes through the stomach, so if you are looking for a free gift for someone you love, make them their favorite dish or treat!

Though it’s not a completely free gift because you need to buy the ingredients, I figured you probably already have a lot of the needed ingredients at home, so it’s still a really affordable and fun gift.


#25 Cookie-mix jar

Three mason jars with cookie material fillers
Give them a jar with cookie mix

If you’re not much of a MasterChef yourself, this is probably a better option for you; a jar filled with the ingredients to bake cookies. That way you don’t have to bake anything, so it can’t go wrong 😉

All you need is a jar, dry ingredients for cookies, and a self-made label and ribbon to attach the recipe to the jar and you’re all set!


#26 Print your favorite photo

This is a super small and simple free gift idea, but it’s a great way to share some love. In our digital age, everyone has photos on their phones and laptops, but we hardly have any physical photos in our hands anymore, so it’s the perfect way to give them something new for their homes.

I actually did this for my grandparents and combined it with a personal letter from me, when I left for another long-term trip around the world. They loved it because they had photos of their grandchildren all around the house. However nowadays all grandchildren just send them photos digitally, and they’re not tech-savvy enough to turn this into physical photos.


#27 Mason jar ideas

A mason jar filled with jute rope and a gift
A DIY mason jar idea

There are about a million different free gift ideas you can make from mason jars, so I am not going to list them all here (that would just require a completely new post).

Instead, I am just going to share two of my favorite listicles with awesome mason jar ideas.

  • For mason jar food gifts (like the cookie mix), check out Taste of Home’s list with 35 mason jar food gift ideas
  • For Christmas gift inspiration, head over to Real Simple for 49 awesome Christmas mason jar ideas

#28 Gift basket with items from your home

Woman holding a basket with food and rustic colors
Put together a gift basket with items from your home

This is basically the same as regifting or passing on something you already own. Except this time, you gather a whole range of products (preferably in the same theme) and arrange them neatly in a gift basket!

Do you need help with putting together your basket? Check out my guide on homemade gift baskets.  


#29 A jar filled with their favorite treat

A photo of packages of lollipops, a jar and a note
Fill a jar with their favorite treats

This is another super simple, and (almost) free gift idea; a mason jar filled with the recipient’s favorite treat!

Whether it’s M&M’s, cookies, licorice, candy, or lollipops, all you need is a jar and some snacks to fill the jar and you’re done!

If you are feeling creative, you could also add a personalized label, or go for a jar filled with lollipops and compliments, like I did for my dad.  


Medium DIY projects that are almost free

#30 Candle from old candle wax  

A self-made candle
The candle my friend made

Put your old candle wax to good use, and turn them into new candles following Martha Stewart’s super easy instructions!

I actually received a self-made candle from one of my friends, and I absolutely loved this gift idea. Plus the fact that she made it herself really added that extra layer of appreciation for me.


#31 Bookmarks

A collection of self-made bookmarks
DIY bookmark ideas

Are you looking for free gift ideas for bookworms?

Then head over to The Spruce Crafts and pick one of their awesome DIY bookmark projects. It’s a small and cute way to show you care and support their love for reading. Plus every time they open a book they will be reminded of that awesome person who gave it to them!


#32 Coasters

A coaster decorated by hand
A DIY coaster gift idea

Do you need housewarming gifts that don’t cost money? Then DIY coasters are the perfect solution.

You get to craft your gift with materials you already have at home, and the recipient will have a beautiful handmade work of art (well, depending on your skills) to protect their precious new furniture.


#33 Christmas ornaments

A selfmade Chrismast ornament in a glass jar
DIY Christmas ornament idea

The holiday season is already expensive enough without the gifts, so why not make your own Christmas gifts and try a DIY Christmas ornament?

It’s a fun way to add a bit of personalization to your friends’ and family’s Christmas trees this year.


#34 Snow globes

A woman making a snowglobe at home
A DIY Christmas snowglobe

Snow globes are another example of (almost) free gifts for the holiday season. Whether you’re looking for unique globes for kids or adults, you can find a fun (and doable) DIY snow globe idea on Craftionary’s ultimate list of homemade globe ideas. 


#35 Plant hangers

Plant hangers made from rope
DIY hanging rope planters

These rope plant hangers are one of my favorite hangers in general, and when I learned that you can easily make them yourself, I was absolutely sold!

All you need is a cord, and the right technique and you can make all sorts of plant hangers for anyone! Check out Sarah Maker to find 21 different plant hangers you can make. 


#36 Room diffuser

Five room diffusers
Homemade diffuser ideas

Give the gift of a delicious-smelling living room with a DIY room diffuser. Check out The Spruce for a full list of the materials needed. These are not too crazy, so good chance you already have those at home and can make this gift for free!

The only thing I would suggest you add is a jar that is nicely decorated or wrapped so that it’s an aesthetic gift too.


#37 Keychains

Homemade keychains

There are countless different keychains to make at home, you can check out The Spruce Crafts for 14 awesome ideas.

Of course, it will require you to buy the materials needed, but there are also some keychains that can be made with items most of us already have at home, such as the wine cork keychain (#10).


#38 Coffee mugs

Four mugs in different colors
Mugs

Assuming you already have a set of mugs and paint at home, DIY coffee mugs can be an awesome housewarming gift idea that doesn’t cost money.

I would, however, advise you to go for a set of at least two, and preferably four mugs, because one mug is just not very practical or aesthetic. But if you them at home, head over to DIY Candy and pick one of the many different methods of decorating your own coffee mugs.  


Advanced DIY projects that are almost free

#39 DIY board game

A selfmade monopoly version
Homemade monopoly version

If you have the time and patience, this is an absolutely amazing gift idea!

Every time me and some friends go away for a weekend, one of our friends makes a board game himself, with funny references and inside jokes from our group of friends. It is by far the funniest and best gift for board game lovers.

You do need quite some crafts to make the board and cards and accessories, but if you already have these at home, it doesn’t cost anything (only your time). You can simply use an existing game as an example, such as Monopoly, Life, or Trivia Pursuit. 


#40 Crochet

A jar with a crochet graduation hat
A crochet graduation gift

Are you good at crochet? Then make something beautiful for the recipient yourself.

From cute stuffed animals and baby blankets for kids to cardigans and scarfs for adults. The options are truly endless if you know how to make it yourself.

And there is something extra valuable and extra unique about a piece of clothing that someone you love made for you. Even if they don’t fit anymore they will probably still keep your gift, just for the sentiment.


#41 knitted items

A self-knitted pillowcover
My homemade pillowcase

Besides crochet, knitting is another awesome way to make your own gifts that don’t cost money (apart from yarn).


#42 Homemade Jewelry

Selfmade beaded bracelets
Homemade jewelry

Are you not so great with yarn? Then there are still awesome self-made gift ideas for you. For example, jewelry!

Just like knitting and crochet, the options for DIY jewelry are countless.

And especially if you already have some metal and beads at home, you can easily make something yourself. The only thing you have to keep in mind is to match the recipient’s style.


#43 A self-made painting

A selfmade painting of a reindeer
My aunt’s painting

Are you a great painter? Then this is probably an open door for you. But painting something for someone as a gift is a truly memorable and authentic gift that they will absolutely treasure (if you stick with their interior design of course!).

My aunt actually made this reindeer as a gift for my mom, and it’s a truly unique piece of art in my parent’s home.


Save these free gifts

Did you save these gift ideas on Pinterest yet?

40+ unique gifts that don't cost money with four images of gifts that are free

Final notes on gifts that don’t cost money

Alright, these were my 40+ favorite ideas, and remember, the best gifts don’t cost money and don’t need a receipt. Gift-giving is not about the bucks; it’s about the love.

AUTHOR

Hi, I’m Lara, a 30-year-old travel-lover (but who’s not these days?). I love reading, puzzling, world-heritage sites, researching, and making lists, which comes in quite handy when you’re making lists of travel gift ideas!