By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
This holiday season I felt the same mad crush that many of you feel. The crush to find the “perfect gift,” the feeling that I need to get something special for everyone I care about. But times are tough and not everyone has the disposable income to buy gifts. And in the case of people like my parents, they already have most everything they need. What more can I give them? A dancing chia pet? Puzzles they may never use and don’t want? A tube of processed meat or cheese?
When I think of the thing my parents and many people I love really want it is the gift of my time. Running a business and going to graduate school means my time is extremely limited. Many of my clients are the in the same boat. Between work, long commutes, kids and household tasks, time is at a premium. But time is something that is nonreturnable, nonrefundable and to people you love, priceless. This year I promised my parents to see them more often even with my crazy schedule. And yes I did get them some tangible gifts. But the gift of time, the pledge to spend time together in the new year, is likely the most valuable gift I can give.
One way you can give someone you love time is to make gift certificates for specific events. Then print up the certificates or hand write them on gift cards or party invites. Or if you really want to be creative and environmentally conscious, scrap out your message on tree bark! Here are some ideas of events you can give to those you care about:
1. An offer to babysit for a set amount of hours. A great gift for harried parents (that trust you with their kids!)
2. A certificate to shovel a neighbors walk for one day.
3.A certificate to walk an elderly or infirm friend’s dog for a week.
4. A homemade meal at your house to a partner or friend.
5. An offer to watch any show or movie your partner wants to even if you wouldn’t normally watch it. (And no grumbling during the show!)
6. A gift certificate for a 10-minute back rub.
7. A certificate for a 10-minute foot rub.
8. A certificate to take the kids out to dinner without your spouse so your spouse can take a bath/ can go work out guilt free.
9. An offer to visit your parents on a non holiday weekend (this works only if your parents like you and want to spend time with you!)
10. A certificate for a 4-hour “It’s Your Day” event. This can be 4 hours spent with someone you care about doing whatever they like to do: shopping, attending a sporting event or free concert, going for a walk or hike in the forest preserves, or whatever you both like to do together.
Make sure you do not give gifts of time that you really do not want to give. Be thoughtful in your gift. If you give someone an event or offer for you to do something for them they really would not want (giving your wife a trip to see the Bears game if she doe snot like football for example).
- Print Your Own Unofficial, Value-Free Woot Gift Certificates (woot.com)
- The Spirit of Giving (Too Much?) (blogher.com)
- Americans Share Moving Stories and More than $11 MM in Free Restaurant.com Gift Certificates through Feed It Forward Program (prweb.com)
- 6 Holiday Gift Ideas… that Don’t Cost a Thing! (quizzle.com)