20 Great, Free Gift Ideas

By Mikey Rox on 3 December 2012 (Updated 25 November 2013) 1 comment

If you’re minding your budget this holiday season — and who isn’t? — you might be looking for creative ways to give gifts that have meaning but won’t break the bank. These gift ideas are just the answer, and they work for just about anybody on your list. Create a coupon for a service you can offer for the recipient to "cash in" when it's convenient for them. One of the great things about these gifts is that while they’re free for you, the services they provide have real value, so recipients will feel like they’re receiving a thoughtful and worthwhile gift despite its lack of tangible heft. Take a look at some of my suggestions to give this holiday season, and then let me know some of yours in the comments below. (See also: 10 Gift Ideas That Cost Almost Nothing)

1. Babysitting

Every parent needs a night off every now and then. If you have friends (or a friend — single parents probably need a break more than anybody) with kids, give them babysitting coupons that they can use whenever they need a breather. Make sure you stipulate on the coupon that you’ll need advance notice so you can avoid being called upon at the 11th hour to fulfill your promise.

2. Pet Sitting

As a proud pet parent who likes to travel, I’m often in need of a pet sitter for a day or two. I would definitely like to receive one of these coupons so I can save the $100 per night it costs me to board both my dogs.

3. Winter Dog Walking

I would love to receive this coupon from my husband so I can use it on one of those blustery, blizzard-y mornings when I can’t seem to pull myself out of bed.

4. Home-Cooked Meal

When the recipient of this coupon is in need of a little TLC in food form, he or she can hand it over for a comforting breakfast, lunch, or dinner of their choice.

5. Massage

Give your significant other a coupon for a 10- to 20-minute massage that they can redeem on a day when work was especially stressful.

6. Car Wash

Everybody feels better in a shiny, sparkly car, so give this coupon to a friend or relative who lives nearby. Suggest to them that this coupon is perfect to turn in before a big date or other special event.

7. Takeout Run

You and your roommate want to order from your favorite restaurant but they don’t deliver. Who’s going to pick it up? That decision is made easier with a coupon redeemable for a takeout run.

8. Movie Night

There are some Friday nights when I just want to sit home, curl up on the couch with my hubby, and watch a couple movies while noshing on snacks. If that sounds like someone you love, give them a coupon for a movie night at home that they can turn in for a relaxing evening watching great flicks with their favorite movie buddy.

9. Resume Review

Provide a coupon to a friend who’s in the middle of a job search for a resume review. It’s ideal, of course, if you have the actual skills to review and revise a resume; you don’t want to do more harm than good with your coupon.

10. Lawn Mowing

I don’t know about you, but I hate mowing the lawn, so this is another coupon I’d love to receive from a friend (if I had a lawn to mow). It goes without saying that you should probably know what you’re doing before you hand over this coupon if only so you don’t butcher your friend’s yard and draw their ire.

11. Garden Weeding

My grandmother used to guilt me into helping her weed the garden when I was a teenager. I wish I had thought of giving her a coupon for that service instead of the restaurant gift certificates I had to shell out for.

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12. Pool Cleaning

If you plan to give a pool owner a coupon for a cleaning, make sure you include the caveat that it’s only a light cleaning — skimming the top, vacuuming the bottom, and cleaning out the filters. Otherwise you might be expected to do much more work than you bargained for.

13. Exercise Partner

Like many people, I need a workout buddy to stay motivated at the gym. That’s why this coupon is sort of a gift to yourself if you need someone by your side, too.

14. Taking on Someone Else's Chores

If your spouse or roommate typically does a certain set of chores like cleaning the bathroom or washing the dishes, give them a coupon that lets them off the hook for one session.

15. Breakfast in Bed

Treat your mom or significant other to a breakfast-in-bed coupon that they can redeem whenever they want. When they turn it in, go all out for the breakfast by making their favorite dish (perhaps you can even provide a menu), pairing it with a mimosa, preparing it on a nice tray, and finishing it off with a single flower in a small vase or glass.

16. A Leisurely Bath

Ahh, who doesn’t like a nice long soak after a hard day in the dead of winter? When this coupon is redeemed, run a warm bubble bath and outfit the bathroom with a few other luxuries like a soft robe, a favorite magazine, and a glass of wine.

17. Small-Space Organization

Create this coupon for spaces like the recipient’s desk, car, or closet. Avoid the urge to be a hero. Don’t agree to organize spaces like the garage unless you’re fully prepared to get in way over your head.

18. Control of the TV Remote

This might be my favorite coupon on this entire list. I mean, how many times a week do you want to snatch the remote out of your honey’s hand so you can watch what you want to watch? He or she probably feels the same way when you have it. Do them a solid and give in — but just this once.

19. Cuddle Time

A coupon for cuddle time is a win for both parties in my opinion. Get your snuggle on.

20. Creative Service

If you’re good at a creative service — like graphic design — create coupons specifically geared toward what the recipients might want. For instance, give your friend with kids a coupon for custom-made birthday invitations. It’ll be a nice gift for the recipient, and it’s something brand new to add to your portfolio. Good deal.

Have even more ideas on free coupons to give this holiday season? Let me know in the comments below.

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Perfect for the holidays!