Christmas is coming and we all know what that means: Extensive and expensive shopping lists.

Somehow, giving has become synonymous with spending money, and gifts are almost becoming more of an obligation to splurge rather than an opportunity to bless.

But cultivating the expectations of giving and getting the perfect gift – with the right price tag – can deprive us of the cheerful attitude that should be behind all our exchanges. So instead of fretting over your budget, here are some presents you can give without buying.

After all, as Frank Sinatra once crooned, the best things in life are free.


1. Spend time, not money

Time is the best gift anyone can give. We are so busy every day of the year that sometimes the grind can keep us distracted from what truly matters – the people we love.

I know of friends whose parents would buy them birthday presents but not spend the day with them. It’s so easy to compensate time with money, but time lost is time lost forever. You can’t earn it back, neither can you conjure illusions of it up.

As Rick Warren once said, “Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.

“Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”

This Christmas, take time to enjoy the special occasion with your loved ones. Feast together, watch a rerun on TV together … Maybe even visit some special Church services together!

2. Presence over presents

Christmas can be a mad rush of events. In my family, we celebrate Christmas with my extended relatives and there are always many things to prepare for the big family gathering. There’s food to be made, plates to be set, drinks to be served. We get so caught up in trying to do everything that we forget to slow down and simply be present in the moment.

Living in a multitasking, fast-paced society can make devoted, unhurried presence a rare entity. But we need to live in the moment before it passes us by. When we care about people, we pay attention to them. Our undivided focus quietly conveys, “You matter more to me than anything else that’s going on.”

We need to question ourselves: Have we considered relationships over rushing? People over pressure? And meaning over mania? The scale of urgency and importance needs to be balanced. After all, spending time together is not just about quantity but the quality – It’s hard to feel like we matter to someone if we are constantly being under-prioritised.

This Christmas, be wholly present at wherever you are.

3. Wrap people in hugs, not just gifts in paper

A hug is an expression of affection. We hug when we want to say, “I’m here for you.” Hugs connect one person to another and convey feelings of warmth and tenderness.

And it doesn’t always have to be in a physical embrace. Even if we may not be comfortable with hugging everyone, but we can definitely envelop people with warmth and love in other ways, in a heartfelt act of service or handwritten Christmas card.

We can also take into consideration those who are without their loved ones – from migrant workers to the elderly who live alone. It can feel even lonelier seeing everyone else have someone to spend the holiday season with. And what about service providers who are working on Christmas just so that the rest can celebrate the special day fuss-free?

Let’s extend an act of kindness to friends, family and even strangers this Christmas.

The best things in life are free, and this cannot be truer when it comes to the Gospel. 2000 years ago, God showed up on earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. He spent good time with mankind – all of 33 years – gave us His presence even after He returned to Heaven, and wrapped us in His everlasting love and mercy.

If you’d like to invite Jesus into your life, simply recite the following prayer and believe it in your heart.

Dear Jesus,

I confess that I’m a sinner, and I invite you to come into my life to be my Lord and Saviour. Help me to become the person I was created to be. Thank you for this gift of grace and eternal life.

In your name I pray,


Through the birth of Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross, God has made salvation free for all so that we can enjoy the best gift ever – Himself.

If you’ve just said the prayer, we encourage you to find a church to root yourself in so that you can experience and enjoy the full Christian life. We’d love to help you kickstart this journey, so feel free to email us at [email protected].