Last year, I was active on a website that is sort of a mix between a blog, a forum, and a social network, called Gather. Actually, I'm still active there. Last year, people were concerned about Christmas. Many people were laid off, or hours were cut, and a lot of people around the nation found themselves worrying about how to deal with the costs of the upcoming holidays.
This is a post I made last November on Gather, which I still feel is a great gift to give, The Gift of Time.
This year, many people have lost their jobs. Many have had to take cut backs in income. Even those who haven't are feeling a pinch with the raising costs of living, and the failure to accommodate the income accordingly- though, it goes hand in hand with the economic crisis. In a few years, maybe we can all look back on these lean times, and smile that we got through it, and learned to be a bit more resourceful and frugal at the same time.
But that's the future, and this is the here and now. In the hear and now, many people are struggling on how they will survive Christmas as frugally as possible. More and more people are looking to cut back their list of gifts, by excluding people, participating in gift drawings instead of all out exchanges, and many other solutions.
The list of people signing up for help is outstripping the prior years by a lot. More and more people are in need of assistance, and because of the longer lists, and less people being able to donate, people won't get nearly as much help as in years past.
Being creative is something not everyone is familiar with. Working online is helpful- very helpful when you can earn even 1 or 2 gift cards from Gather or other places, but it still takes more than that.
One of the most frugal, but most appreciated ways to provide a holiday gift this year is by simply giving of yourself- give the gift of time.
Here are a few ideas on things you can give through the simple gift of your time-
- Parents: Offer to babysit for friends or family with young children. Two or three hours of babysitting can easily run parents $20-30 these days. That's daunting enough to make a simple trip to the theater not doable. Or even just to let them go to the grocery store together without the kids.
- The Elderly or Sick: Offer to help transport back and forth between doctor's appointments. Sometimes, they don't have transport themselves, or don't want to drive in bad weather, and those appointments can be very important.
- Anyone: Offer to spend an evening or afternoon cleaning their house up- maybe limit it by rooms or hours.
- Anyone: A get together with a friend or family member- a night of playing cards together, or watching a rented movie, or taking the kids to play, etc.
- Anyone: Offer to make dinner for someone
- College kids, or people living on their own: Offer to send them a small baked goods care package when they want it
- Dog Owners: Offer to walk their dog for a week, if they live nearby
- Pet Owners: Offer to pet sit for a week- going over and feeding, watering, and letting dogs out, or cleaning litter boxes, etc.
- Anyone: A shoulder to cry on- offer an over worked parent, or a stressed friend a quite night and a shoulder to cry on when they need one.
- Women: An at home 'spa'. Bring buckets for warm water to soak your feet in, nail polish, soft music (or upbeat if you like!), a cucumber, and some scented candles. Relax together, paint your nails together, and giggle and talk.
- Anyone: A car wash when it's nice out
- Anyone with a yard: A lawn mowing when it's nice out
- A Teen: A ride to the mall to meet up with their friends, or a ride to the movie theater.
- Your Child: A free day off from chores
- Your Child: An afternoon of 1 on 1 time
The possibilities are endless- there are so many wonderful things you can do just by providing your time. And to a lot of people, your time is worth far more than a gift card, or a trinket, or a new sweater. It's priceless to the over worked, or lonely, or sick.
Sure, there are people who won't appreciate it, but those are the people who are far too materialistic for their own good.
I hope in reposting this, it will give some of you out there an idea. I think time spent with someone is far better than money spent. The memories can last a life time.