I love our Foolanthropy season, because I invariably end up being introduced to some amazing charitable organizations. Take last year, for example, when I got to know Co-op America. (This year, we're supporting another five nifty organizations -- and I urge you to learn more about them and consider chipping in a few dollars along with us.)

In one of its recent newsletters, Co-op America listed some simple gift ideas that make a lot of sense and can save you a lot of money. Permit me to share some with you:

  • A homemade "coupon book" full of coupons for free babysitting services, a homemade meal, or any other service you might want to provide, such as washing a car or cleaning a yard.
  • A photo album full of photos meaningful to the recipient.
  • Something you made yourself, such as knitted socks or a plant you grew.
  • A CD full of (legally downloaded) music you love and think the recipient would like.
  • A card or letter expressing how you feel about the recipient.

To these, I can add many more. (I've actually shared a bunch of ideas on our Great Gift-Giving Ideas discussion board.) Here are two more:

  • Give experiences, not things. It's been shown that we tend to remember wonderful experiences more than wonderful things we receive. So take a loved one to a concert, or on a trip, or out bowling. Hunt truffles in the woods, or drive somewhere remote to enjoy the winter scenery. Shoot pool with him or take her to a basketball game. Take the kids to a fancy restaurant for a meal they'll long reminisce over.
  • Consider giving a gift of stock, too -- especially for children. It can be a great way to introduce youngsters to the idea of being a part-owner of a real and growing business. Focus on companies that the recipients know and admire, but which also have decent growth prospects. For instance, young kids can appreciate Disney (NYSE:DIS) and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), while fashion-aware teens might gravitate toward Nike (NYSE:NKE) or Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF), along with cell-phone maker Nokia (NYSE:NOK).

It doesn't take much to be a little more creative than usual when getting gifts for your loved ones.

The Motley Fool appreciates your support of its annual Foolanthropy campaign.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of PepsiCo. Disney is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.