5 Pandemic Gifts that Don’t Cost a Penny


If you’re struggling to think of last minute gifts for the kids on your shopping list this year, here are a few ideas for gifts that don’t cost a penny. Whether your loved one’s toy shelves are already overflowing or you’re unable to travel to be together for your usual traditions, here are a few ideas to make this holiday season extra special.

One-on-One Zoom Time

There’s nothing that beats one-on-one face time with loved ones when you can’t be together at the holidays. Take some time to have a special call where your attention can be solely focused on the kids in your life. That means if you have three grandkids at one house, schedule three separate calls. This one-on-one time is the most amazing gift.

Elementary aged kids love to be “the host” of Zoom calls – they may even teach you how to draw pictures on a shared screen or share their favorite videos with you. Don’t worry about what to talk about, they’ll be happy to fill any silence with all of the excitement in their life.

If you want to plan a few ideas in case things get too quiet, consider playing Pictionary, Charades, Scattergories, or I Spy. Making up a scavenger hunt is a great way to keep younger kids engaged – simply say “find something…” (blue, sparkly, snuggly, etc.) and wait for them to return with it and tell you about what they found. Here are some other tried and true games that are sure to entertain both of you.

Interview Each Other

Kids loving talking about themselves. They also like being the “reporter.” Each of you should spend a few minutes writing interview questions before a phone or video call, then enjoy the laughter as you learn something new about each other.

Teach Them Something New

It’s been a long year with a lot of days that have felt pretty similar. Change things up this holiday season by taking the time to teach your loved one something new. If you have a special talent, share that. If you aren’t sure what to teach, consider an singing your favorite song, sharing a phrase in a new language, telling each other jokes, learning a magic trick, etc.

Enjoy an Old Tradition in a New Way

Technology has made it easier than ever to connect during these unusual times. If you have a favorite holiday tradition that you’re missing this year, consider finding a way to adjust and make it work this year. 

For example, if your family always goes to a Christmas Eve production of The Nutcracker, but you can’t be together this year, find an online streaming option. There are dozens of options, both free and admission-based. You could make a plan in advance to have similar snacks and drinks, and then have a family video call after to talk about the show and celebrate the holiday season together. 

Make a Future Plans Book

If it’s been way too long since you’ve been able to spend the day with your loved one, making a future plans book can give you both something to look forward to. Consider skipping every other page, so your loved one can fill in things they can’t wait to do together the next time they see you. Ideas might include swimming, baking cookies, playing a favorite game, having a sleepover, making ice cream sundaes, and so on.

The pandemic has changed a lot of people’s holiday plans. However, just because you can’t be together doesn’t mean you can’t make lasting memories. Consider one of these pandemic gifts that don’t cost a penny before you click “order” on your shopping cart.