The best gift in the world can’t be bought in a store, wrapped in pretty paper, and tucked under an evergreen tree. Yet it’s the one thing that we wish for above all others. What is this perfect gift? I’m glad you asked! It’s time! Let’s discuss. I also shared some of my favorite quotes about gifts from the heart throughout.
The Best Gift Comes from Your Heart, Not a Store
I’ve talked about this before, how time is both short and endless. It’s all we have, yet it’s never enough, especially when it comes to time with the people, we love the most in this world. Ask anyone who’s ever lost someone to name a gift that can’t be bought in a store that they’d want most, and I can almost guarantee that they’ll say, “more time.”
The sad thing is, we don’t realize just how much we want that gift until we can no longer get it. It’s not really something we think about asking for as children. We can’t circle it in a toy catalog or add it to our Amazon wish list, after all.
But as adults, when we look back over all of the holidays, it’s the one thing we remember above all others. Time spent with family shines through all of our memories. I was talking to a friend about this recently. She told me, “Every year, we went to my grandparent’s house on Christmas Day. I couldn’t tell you a single gift that I unwrapped from them, but I can vividly recall every moment spent in the kitchen with my Gran and every conversation with my Pop at the table.”
In other words, she can recall every moment of TIME spent with them, not how much they SPENT on her gifts. All of these years later, now that they’re long gone, it’s that gift of time with them that she treasures more than anything else. She’s long outgrown the toys and the clothes that they wrapped under the tree. She’ll never outgrow those memories.
Time is the one gift that no one ever outgrows
Years from now- or even one year from now given how fast our children grow-your kids will have long since outgrown every single thing you put under the Christmas tree this December.
That hot toy you spent weeks hunting down will find its way to the Land of Forgotten Toys (aka your attic). The cute matching pajamas, the stylish sweater, the super cool shoes…all gone to Good Will long ago. Oh, and let’s not forget about that new iPhone you surprised your teen with. It was obsolete before they even unwrapped it!
But like I said above, there’s one thing that no one ever outgrows. One thing that never, ever, ever becomes obsolete: memories. And the only way to make those lifelong-lasting memories of tomorrow is to give the gift of time today. The best thing about this gift is that it doesn’t have to cost a single dime.
5 Fun Ways to Give the Gift of Time Without Spending a Single Dime
Okay, so yes, you can get “fancy” with this gift if you want. I love giving my whole family meaningful experience gifts, like vacations and whatnot.
But if you’re on a tight budget, there are SOOOOO many ways to spend time together and make beautiful memories without opening your wallet. I’ll skip the usual “eat dinner together four times a week” or “take walks together.” Those are great ideas, but let’s have a bit more fun with this and make some really amazing memories, shall we?
1. Create a secret family language together
Spend a lazy Saturday afternoon coming up with a secret language that only you and your kids know. You don’t have to make this complicated. I’m not saying make up new words for every word in the dictionary or anything. Just pick a few phrases or words that you say often (like “I love you”) and get creative!
I had a friend who used to say, “elephant shoes” to her aunt, because when you mouth those words, it looks just like “I love you.” Now, every time she sees an elephant, she thinks of one wearing shoes and thinks of her aunt.
2. Put a fun scavenger hunt twist on a family book club
On its own, a family book club is a great way to spend time together and encourage your kids to read. Rather than just choosing Oprah’s latest favorite, though, put a fun spin on it. Here’s how:
- You pick the first book to read as a family. Say, Alice in Wonderland.
- The next book has to start with the last letter in the title. In this case, D.
- Together as a family, hunt through the library to find a bunch of books that fit.
- Then, you can either vote on which to read or choose one at random. Either close your eyes and grab one or ask your librarian to pick one.
- Repeat with the next book, and the next, and the next.
FYI, this idea works for all book clubs, not just for those with kids. So, if you don’t have children, try it with your siblings or even your best friends.
3. Research your family history together
I know what you’re thinking, those genealogy websites are very expensive. You don’t have to use them, though, to research your family history. Use free resources like libraries, archives, and your family.
In fact, make calling on your family your first step! Not only will it help you put together your family tree, but it’s a great way to reconnect with a cousin you haven’t talked to in ages. Plus, you may actually find that someone in your family has already done the family tree!
4. Write the story of your family
You can do this on its own or along with the last idea. Ask everyone in your family- even those 3rd cousins you’ve never met- to write down their favorite family stories and memories. Tell them anything goes, no pressure. They can jot down a few lines or fill a whole journal, totally up to them.
Then, gather all of those stories into one big word document and either print it yourself or turn it into an ebook (printer ink is pricey, but an ebook is free). If you do go the digital route, though, make sure you back up a copy on a thumb drive and put it in your family treasure chest.
Wait, you don’ have a family treasure chest, you say? Well, let’s make that our next idea, then!
5. Make a family treasure chest together
First, find a strong box or bin that won’t break down or degrade over time (so, a cardboard box won’t really work). If you’re crafty with wood, you can even make one. Instructables has a good tutorial. Decorate it together as a family.
Once it’s done, you have a great “forever box” that can hold all of the little things that remind you of each other, or time spent together. Ticket stubs, photos from a special day (or thumb drives with them), love notes, your kids’ artwork, etc. Basically, anything that will remind your loved ones of that special day when they look at it years from now.
These are just a few of the countless ways to give the gift of time without spending money. Anything goes, so get creative!
Remember the cardinal rule of giving: it’s the heart in your gift that counts, not the price tag on it. Nothing says “gift from the heart” quite like time.