I often find myself thinking of all I would do to show gratitude to those around me….if I wasn’t broke. Or, I picture myself winning the lottery and buying someone a home or paying off their debt. Why set such unrealistic expectations for ourselves? Have we forgotten the significance of a simple gesture? Think of the magical way a small compliment can transform your day. Words resonate more than we realize, as do inexpensive tokens of appreciation. The cost of the gift has no bearing on its value. Check out these ideas for gratitude on a budget for some inspiration.

1. A handwritten note has such a personal touch and remains one of my favorite gifts to receive. Yes, it’s old-fashioned, but it holds as much sentimentality as it did in the days of pen pals. There’s just something refreshing about receiving¬† a gift that required minimal technology to create. Send it through snail mail for an extra old-school touch.

2. A chocolate bar or other favorite confection is a “sweet” gesture. Be considerate, however, if they are currently sticking to a stringent eating plan. Buy their healthiest favorite or buy something that can be enjoyed in moderate portions, i.e., individually wrapped pieces or something that is scored into sections. Handmade is also a nice thought, but only if you know it’s edible.

3. Pitch in. If there’s a chore or an errand you often hear this person complain about doing themselves, offer to take it off their plate one day. Help out with laundry, lawn care, or hanging holiday lights. You could even offer to babysit their kids if they are craving an evening alone or with their significant other. Sometimes, offering someone a little extra time is the best way to show gratitude on a budget.

4. If you’re a crafter, make them something. Nothing is more special than receiving a heartfelt handmade gift. If you’re not imaginatively inclined, Pinterest always has a wealth of easy, inexpensive ideas.

5. Tell them! Paying someone a compliment is completely free, but this holds so much value for the recipient. Something as simple as “you look nice today” or “that was a really great idea you had during the meeting today” can make someone’s day. Just be sure it is done in an appropriate manner and not at the cost of someone else’s feelings, i.e., complimenting the person’s attributes by degrading another’s….”you’re so much better at this than he/she is.” This makes it difficult for the person to feel good about accepting the compliment.

Now that we’ve got that covered, share with us some of the simple ways you show gratitude on a budget. Take account of the gestures others have made that stuck with you. It’s great to keep a list of these ideas in a desk drawer for a quick resource, not just during the holidays, but all year long. And, don’t forget to show yourself some appreciation.