We’re all seeking ways to connect and feel close to our loved ones. If we can’t physically be with our friends and family, it’s nice to find little ways to show people that we’re thinking of them. And since actually hanging out is off limits, the next best way of showing love often comes in the form of gifts.
With these uncertain times, it’s normal to feel nervous about spending money. With a little creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, there are fun ways to show love without spending a dollar. Whether it’s for a special occasion or simply because we could all use a pick-me-up these days, no-cost gifts are a fun way to spread positive vibes. Plus, these ideas will give you some new activities to work on.
Here are six (nearly) free ways to show your friends and family you’re thinking of them.
1. Host a Zoom surprise party
Video chats are all the rage right now. It’s the perfect way to gather from afar. If there’s a special occasion coming up—birthday, anniversary, a new baby on the way—set up a Zoom surprise party. And let’s be real, any occasion counts as a special occasion these days. Best friend’s half birthday? Dog adoption anniversary? Sure, that counts and is worth a party. Just like with a standard surprise party, have the guest of honor show up a few minutes after everyone has gathered on the line.
2. Compile a fun video
Whether this strange time is one you want to remember forever or are hoping to forget, a video is a nice way to commemorate this time in our lives and pass along some laughs. Have friends or family members send in a quick 15-second video with a special memory, heartfelt message, inside joke, or even a dance. Edit together the video and your recipient is sure to feel the love and thought that went into their special video message.
3. Create a digital recipe book
It’s always nice to pass along a recipe you think your friend would like, but instead of the random text here and there, compile a list of recipes and send it over as a custom recipe book. This doesn’t need to be fancy. It can be as simple as an email with links and a message saying that you think they’ll like these recipes and that you’re thinking about them. Recipes that use pantry staples are a sure bet right now.
Take it one step further and host a virtual brunch date. Have your friend select their favorite recipe from the list and both of you can prep it while video chatting, then can sit down to a virtual meal together.
4. Send a letter
Been a while since you sent snail mail? Now is the perfect time to send a handwritten note to a friend. And since stamps are under $1 and there are probably some in the back of your junk drawer, we’ll count this as free. If your kids are spending lots of time crafting right now, add a few pieces of their art to your letter and send it off.
5. Pass along a book, puzzle, or toy
You probably have a few books that you love but aren’t planning to read again. Same goes for puzzles. It’s never that fun to do an 800-piece puzzle twice, right? Give them a second life and drop them off on your friend’s porch. Put a little thought into the book selection and tell them why you think they’ll love it. And if your kids have toys they are no longer using, hand those along to friends with little ones. Everyone could use new ways to pass the time.
6. Make a Spotify playlist
Like a mixtape for the current era. Use Spotify or a music-streaming service of your choice and create a custom playlist for your friend and/or their kids. It can be songs from the year you met, songs that bring back good memories, or songs that their kids can rock out to. If you’re feeling extra creative, find a photo of the two of you that would make a funny album cover and use Photoshop or Canva to make your own album cover.