Gift shopping at the last minute can not only rob you of your energy and Christmas spirit, but it can zap your bank account in the process. If these are two Christmas holiday traditions you’d like to learn to live without, there’s good news. With some creative thought and planning, you can give thoughtful gifts that will not only be appreciated your recipients and won’t empty your wallet at the same time.
The greatest gift you have that you can give anyone is the gift of your time. With that in mind, the first thing you should do is talk with your friends and family and reach a mutual agreement not to exchange gifts. When you don’t have to worry about what to run out and get for one another, you can focus on spending quality time together, which is a big part of what the holiday season is all about.
For those that are on your gift list, think about what you can do to help them, such as a service you can provide to make their life a little simpler. You can print coupons out for everything from free babysitting for a family member or friend with a new baby, lawn mowing services for an elderly neighbor, or errand running for a homebound person. Keep each person in mind when you do this and take special care to make sure you’re not stepping on any toes and that your service won’t be seen as an intrusion or inconvenience.
For the smaller children on your list, consider making a gift for them. Children love stories, so why not write a story about that child for them? You can either type it up and illustrate it using your computer, or write it in big block letters and illustrate it with pictures you’ve clipped out or drawn yourself. You can also make things such as modeling clay or bubble blowing liquid. Check your local library or the internet for more great ideas for children. The best part of these gifts is the time you spend with the youngster playing with the clay or reading the story time and again.
And though it may seem a bit more difficult to think of a gift for older children and teenagers, they also cherish the gift of your time. If you have a special skill, such as cooking, baking, or painting, why not take the time to pass it along. Purchase a canvas and some paints and show your favorite young person how to paint landscapes or pass along a favorite family recipe by teaching him or her how to prepare it.
Consider donating some of your time to places that really need additional hands around the holidays. Your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter or neighborhood nursing home might need someone to help serve food and clean, or just simply to spend time with their residents. Your time and help will be greatly appreciated by the staff and the people they serve.
The holidays shouldn’t be a time of stress and worry over how much money you’ve spent on gifts, but about togetherness and generosity. Giving the gift of your time is probably the most generous gift any of us have to give, and the one that most people are most appreciative of and enjoy receiving.