These Holiday Gift Ideas Have No Cost, Bring Happiness

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Wellcoaches founder Margaret Moore says skip the stores and deals on Black Friday and give gifts of joy that have no cost and bring happiness.

Stretching your holiday budget will take on new meaning this year, and it can have nothing do with money.

Ben and Roz Zander, in their wonderful book titled The Art of Possibility, describe the delight we get from experiences that make our eyes shine. What makes our eyes shine most are our connections with people who matter the most, not from the material things we collect or consume.

“The best gifts to give and receive don’t have to cost a dime,” says Margaret Moore (aka Coach Meg), founder and CEO of Wellcoaches Corp., the leader in health and wellness coach training and certification. “Research shows that what people want most is to be happy and satisfied with their lives – and also that happy people are healthier people who live longer. Few things in life provide as much satisfaction as doing something meaningful for another person, such as finding creative ways to show gratitude.”

So this holiday season, indulge in something proven to have powerful health benefits, Moore recommends. “I’m suggesting you put your wallet away and really think about what makes you and those you love happy and how you can share that joy with others. I know it’s not yet a mainstream idea, especially considering how much money is spent to encourage you to shop, but it will be soon, and you’ll be ahead of the curve.”

Recent consumer research indicates that high food and energy prices combined with anxiety about job security have moved 76% of consumers to cut back on holiday spending this year, and 60% say they will give fewer gifts, according to a Consumer Reports poll just released.

Here are ten no-cost gifts that will bring happiness to others (and yourself). They can be delivered in the form of a special or handmade card, a handwritten or borrowed poem, or a photo. They can be accompanied by an inexpensive and meaningful token like a candle, a treasured book, or a favorite CD:

1. Express gratitude – The simple act of thanking people can bring happiness and well-being. Saying thank you, as it turns out, is not just good manners; it's good for you, too. University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons has found that grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that boosts the immune system.

2. Share precious time with others -- Your well-being is dependent on giving and sharing in ways that make a difference in the world. Your time is the most valuable thing you can share. Make someone her favorite home-cooked meal and don’t drop it at the door, savor it together. Give your time to see a movie, hike, walk, or visit a museum -- any fun outing together that is a simple pleasure and generates fond memories.

3. Forgive - Release negative emotions that follow you around like little rain clouds by forgiving those you love. You’ll both benefit. Memorialize it – make an occasion to mark, share, and celebrate your forgiveness.

4. Laugh – Arrange times with people you care about to laugh by reminiscing about old times or enjoying favorite jokes. Watch a funny television show or movie. Laughter is infectious and safe to spread.

5. Cherish family and friends – Unconditional appreciation can make anyone feel like a million bucks. Be fully present and listen mindfully without a trace of judgment. Accept people you care about wholeheartedly as they are today. Often it is best to choose a close connection over being right.

6. Say 'I love you' – The ability to love and be loved is one of the character strengths that correlates most with happiness. Make the demonstration of your love unforgettable.

7. Give a compliment – You know how good you feel when someone gives you a compliment. Return the favor and feel good too.

8. Pass along a family heirloom – Give a sentimental gift to someone close, an old framed photo, a cherished book, a sweater, or trinket. The recipient will never forget a gift close to your heart.

9. Give a "Freebie" certificate for an experience or service that would make a difference in someone’s life – an exotic home-cooked meal, a cooking lesson, a hobby session, help organizing a closet, or babysitting duties.

10. Create flow experiences – Help friends and family engage in activities that bring them flow, a state of complete absorption in a challenging activity that uses one’s strengths and stretches one’s skills. To learn more, read this article on flow at


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