Five Alternative Cheap Gifts to Create this Christmas

Leila Bou Chaaya
6 min readDec 15, 2021


Chelsea Al Arif

Nour El Baba

Leila Bou Chaaya

December 2021

Lebanese Students have found their way around the economic crisis through the creation of alternatives for expensive gifts this Christmas.

The economic crisis has affected all Lebanese citizens from different social classes, and with the holidays around the corner, the number of gifts under the Christmas trees has relatively decreased. Therefore, a number of students and Lebanese youth decided to change the narrative by providing themselves, and other people, with creative ideas to gift their loved ones without any financial constraints.

A Flow of Emotions Through Lyrics

One of the many creative gift ideas this Christmas is gifting loved ones a song from the heart. According to Open Minds (2020), music can elevate one’s mood and motivation, decrease levels of stress, enhance focus, aid in relaxation, and reduce levels of anxiety.

Vincent J, for example, a singer and songwriter, decided to use his talent to write a customized Christmas song for his loved one by filming it and putting it on a CD. Anyone with a nice voice and a passion for writing could resort to this option to come up with a gift from the heart.

“I think what people need this Christmas is not materialistic. I think they need something that touches their soul because we have all reached the end of 2021 with drained energies and nothing will make up for the pain and fatigue other than feeling that our loved ones have invested their time and energy in their gifts and not their money”, expressed Vincent.

Vincent J singing his own song.

Organic and Locally Made Lip Balms for the Cold Weather

Around Christmas time in Lebanon, the weather shifts and the temperature drops. According to Cleveland Clinic, the increase in temperature has a great impact on lips and causes them to become chapped. Although this case is relative to every person, the most recommended way to get rid of chapped lips is to apply lip balms. Most lip balms in Lebanon are important and this has caused their prices to drastically increase.

Maria Asmar decided to come up with her own organic lip balm by using local ingredients to gift her loved ones. “I discovered this on my own during quarantine, and now that I am left with not a lot of pocket money, I thought to myself why not create lip balms and give them to my relatives this Christmas”, she said.

Maria making organic lip balm.

Express in Color

An article by Eikowa (2020) showed why gifting a painting could have several benefits. One of the main reasons is that gifting a painting is a very unique and unexpected gift in addition to the personal and intimate aspect of it.

Luna Husseiny, an ambidextrous painter, meaning she can paint with both hands, believes that using her talent to express her feelings to her friends and family through painting is an intimate act that ties the sender to the receiver more than any randomly chosen expensive jacket at the store.

“This Christmas, I am using color to pour my feelings out to mom and dad”, said Luna.

Luna painting one of her gifts.

For more visual insight on the preparation of these gifts, click on the following link to watch this video:

A video that contains interviews with Vincent, Maria, and Luna

To know more about the raw material used in the making process of these creative gifts, listen to this audio:

An audio that provides insight on the raw material used in the making of these innovative gifts.

Food For Thought

Tala Michel Issa published an article on Al Arabiya English (2020) that revealed Lebanon’s inflation rate has increased to reach almost 85 percent and reporting that the rate has not been that high since 1992. All products, local or international, witnessed an increase in prices day after day. Therefore, Rhea El Haibi decided to benefit from her father’s bean company and use the excess left at home to gift her friends and family using plastic bags and previously used perfume boxes instead of buying new ones.

“I think that this Christmas people are focusing more on necessities than on luxuries and that is what I will try to focus on while gifting my cousins and friends”, said Rhea. She added: “I get the plastic bags from empty bread bags and the boxes from my perfume or cosmetic packages. So, I am basically recycling used materials and trying to provide with my loved ones with what they need this Christmas”.

Rhea adding all the material in the box.

A Mix of Flavors

Based on the Central administration of Statistics by Bloomberg (2021), the prices of alcoholic beverages have increased during 2021 by 392.5 percent. The number of drinks ordered at restaurants has decreased drastically due to the high prices of raw material used in the mixing of drinks.

Zahi Sayegh has worked as a bartender for quite a while and has gained enough experience to use it this Christmas. “All the bottles used are recycled wine bottles from my friends, family, and friends of friends. Every person who knows me and has a frequent usage of bottles gives them to me after they are done with them. A local supplier provides me with the caps to close my bottles at a very low and reduced price”, said Zahi.

He reinforced that all the products he uses are ecofriendly and “pocket friendly” as well. The most interesting part of Zahi’s Christmas gifts is that he plants most of the fruits and vegetables he uses in his drinks such as basil, strawberries, lemons, and oranges. His alcohol supplier is a local supplier that ferments his own alcohol.

Zahi mixing drinks at work (to the right).

This year, Christmas gifts have taken another path. Students and Lebanese youth decided to focus on the emotional aspect rather than on the materialistic aspect. The alternative gifts provided by students can be a solution to many Lebanese citizens who are unable to buy ready-made gifts from the store. The inflated prices in Lebanon do have a positive outcome and that is giving people the chance to explore their talents and potential to come up with creative ideas.

“Two years ago, I would have laughed at myself for thinking of such a gift, but today I am glad that this economic crisis has helped us let go of our materialistic nature to focus on what matters the most and that is what people need and not what people want”, said Rhea.


Al Arabiya English. (2021). Lebanon food prices become MENA’s most expensive: World Bank.

Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Chapped Lips (Cheilitis): Causes, Treatment & Prevention.

Jumde, A. (2015). 6 Reasons to gift a painting. EK.

Khraiche, D. (2021). Bloomberg — Are you a robot? Bloomberg.

Open Minds. (2020). 5 positive effects music has on your mental health.



Leila Bou Chaaya