This time of year, a lot of time is devoted to carefully selecting meaningful (and budget-friendly) presents for our kids. (Pssst … I have a gift guide for toddlers and preschoolers if you need help!) And that is a lot of fun. I love thinking about what will bring my kids joy, and it gives me joy to watch them open the gifts I’ve chosen for them.
But there are a lot of gifts we can give our kids that are absolutely FREE! Yes, kids are super fun to buy gifts for (a little too fun sometimes!), but we don’t need to spend a lot of money on them to show our love and to bless them. (And to be perfectly honest, I think spending too much money on them actually fosters a spirit of entitlement and greed.)
Sometimes the very best gifts we can give our children don’t come from the store, they aren’t wrapped in a box, and they don’t cost any money. They’re simply gifts of ourselves, and when you come right down to it, that’s usually what kids really want. More of YOU.
So here are 20 FREE (or nearly free) gifts to give your kids. These gifts will not only bless them, but they’ll bless you, too, by building stronger bonds with your kids.
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20 Free Gifts to Give Your Kids
- Hugs & Kisses
Take every opportunity to give physical affection, especially if their love language is physical touch.
I’ve heard it said before that love is spelled T.I.M.E., and I have definitely seen the evidence of that in my relationship with Aidan.Here are a few ideas of ways to spend quality time together: play catch, do a puzzle, take a hike, go camping, cook together, play together, work on cars or projects, go fishing, or play sports.
Listen intently with no distractions.
- Read together
Reading together is such an awesome bonding activity, and it also encourages your kids to read more!
- Do their favorite activity
Is there something that your child loves to do that you don’t do very often? Maybe because it’s “too messy” or “too loud” or “too tiring?” Surprise him/her by doing that activity with them one day (with a good attitude!).
- Take them on a one-on-one “date”
Admittedly, this one might not be totally free, depending on where you go on your “date,” but the gift itself — the one-on-one time with you — is, and you could definitely find a free activity to do together.
- Go on an outing
Get out of the house and go on an outing together. It doesn’t matter where; all that matters is that you’re going there together.
- Tell them what you love about them
This is a great one for kids whose love language is words of affirmation, but I think every child needs to hear affirmations of your love.
- Play a board game
This goes back to T.I.M.E. and having fun together.
- Sticky note messages
Write little love notes to your kids and stick them in places they’ll find them later — their lunch box, their bathroom mirror, their car (for older kids), their dresser drawers, etc.
- Display their artwork
I know, kids make a lot of art (at least mine does!), so you can’t possibly save it all. But every once in a while, display some of their artwork in a prominent place where they’ll see it later, such as on the fridge, in your office, or on your bathroom mirror.
- Make their favorite meal
Show your kids how special they are by putting thought and effort into making their favorite meal.
- Let them cook with you
Bring your kids into the kitchen and include them in preparing a meal or tasty treat. (I know cooking with little ones can be tough, but I have some really helpful tips in this post.)
- Take pictures together
Do an informal photo shoot together. Pose with props, make funny faces, and have a great time being silly together.
- Affirm their strengths and talents
This is another great one for words of affirmation kids. Tell them about the strengths you see in them, recognize their gifts and talents, and encourage them to think of ways to use them to help others.
- Talk to them
Take the time to sit down and chat. Put your phone away, set your to-do list aside, and give them your full attention. Be ready to listen to whatever they have to say.
- Have a family night
Designate one night a week to be a family night. Watch a movie, play board games, or do some other family activity together.
- Start a family tradition
Family traditions are incredibly bonding. It doesn’t even matter what the tradition is; simply having a tradition acts as an anchor, grounding your family and drawing them closer together.
- Try a new skill or activity together
Trying new things together can be a very bonding endeavor. Do something with your child that neither of you has ever done before. Try cooking a new dish, learn to paint or sew, learn a new card game, or go geocaching, to name a few.
- Go out for a treat
Okay, this one’s not completely free, but it doesn’t have to be anything expensive. Just getting out and breaking out of your routine makes the simplest outing feel like a real treat. In the summers, we like to go to our local ice cream shop and take our desserts to the park. It doesn’t cost much, but it’s a lot of fun for everyone!
Kids may love their toys, their games, their technology, and their electronics. But their most basic need (other than a relationship with God, of course) doesn’t cost any money. It’s us. Our time, our attention, our affirmation. These are very basic (very inexpensive) gifts, but they’re the gifts that will make the biggest impact and leave the biggest legacy.
I hope you enjoyed the list! Tell me, what’s your favorite (free) way to bless your kids? Share in the comments below!
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