Frugal Living 

5 Green Gifts of Experience and Time

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Festival Holidays!As the holiday season of sparkle and glitter quickly approaches, it’s easy to get swept up in the costly winds of buying, giving and receiving. Personally, I’ve spent way too many hours browsing the aisles (at the last minute) trying to find the perfect thing that my friend will like love not have to re-gift!! This year, instead of mindlessly scanning the shelves, take a moment and plan a gift that will create memories, warm hearts and build friendships without adding any financial stress.

Here are some of my ideas to get your creative giving juices flowing.

Host a Potluck

To most people the idea of hosting a dinner party can be stressful and daunting. From cleaning, to menu planning and cleaning some more, the whole thing can cause a few extra gray hairs to sprout. But, there is a better way. Here are some benefits of choosing a potluck event with your friends and family:

  • You only have to cook ONE dish and supply the condiments and other table settings.
  • You can make it festive by inviting guests early to cook & prepare together, making set up and clean up a breeze.
  • You get to share your friends favorite dishes and not any one does a WHOLE LOT of work.
  • It’s FUN!!

Lend A Hand

With the state of affairs in the world today, many people are feeling the financial crunch of the current economy. Even if you don’t have a lot of green dough to give, you can still bring a whole lot of joy into someones life. Here are some things that you can do…or come up with your own:

  • Offer to paint a room in your friends home. You can even say “I’ll bring the supplies if you get the paint” or just bring it all  if you can.
  • Offer baby or pet-sitting services to give your friend a break (only if you are qualified and would actually enjoy the experience).
  • Take your friend out for some gourmet tea…it’s a small luxury that comes with the gift of time and conversation.
  • Cook them a meal and deliver it to their door, include dessert! (make sure to account for any allergies and preferences).

Start A Tradition

There are so many different ways to celebrate the holidays. This year get together with your family and create a new tradition that can be something that honors your unique group of friends or family. Here are some fun things that I would do:

  • Bake a cake together.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter.
  • Have a day in your pajamas together.
  • Create your own ornaments together using only things you find in nature.
  • Write a song or start a holiday band – no real musical talent necessary.

Make It Personal

Throughout the year we all take pictures at family dinners, outing and vacations. Choose your favorite images of friends and family and turn them into memories. Here are some ideas to get your started:

  • Turn favorite pictures into framed memories.
  • Make a calender for the following year using images from the previous year.
  • Make a collage or memory book of the year together.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the most important things you can do to help your friends and family is to take care of yourself. Make sure to do something lovely, amazing and thoughtful for yourself as well. After all a happy friend/parent/spouse makes for a happy family.

  • Get a massage
  • Plan a day for doing only the things you want to do (not NEED to do).
  • Spend a whole week saying NO to the things you really don’t want to do.
  • Take a dance/yoga/cooking/writing class…just because.

p.s. I do still love to give and receive store bought gifts. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an accessories girl all the way. However, some of the best gifts I’ve received over the years have been simple, heartfelt and simple things that I still treasure to this day.

I’d love to hear some of your ideas for making memories this holiday season.


(Photo: rebeccaanne)

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “5 Green Gifts of Experience and Time”

  1. Great starter list Jim.

    This year, by some miracle, I’ve gotten my family to realize that we’ve got all the “stuff” we’ve ever needed and we’re all making donations to charity in eachothers’ names and foregoing gifts.

    It feels great to know that we can all just get together and enjoy the holiday without the pressure to find more stuff we don’t need to exchange.

    • Elena says:

      Tyler, that really is a miracle in this month of frenzy and trend to get MORE stuff. Congratulations and ENJOY your peaceful holiday together.


  2. jsbrendog says:

    i suggest tyr making a different holiday recipe (baking or food) every year. there’s so much and so many twists on things and you’re getting good food at cheapprices and the experience of spending timetogether (whoever it may be with)

    • Elena says:

      I am a total foodie, so this suggestion is right in tune with my celebration style.

      Every year I love tot get together with friends and host a potluck at my home…the best part has been sharing recipes and preparing together.

      It truly is about the experience.


  3. ziglet19 says:

    I have four siblings, and last year we finally decided to stop buying each other presents. Instead, we bring in a homemade food item and exchange those. That way, the cost is minimal, and no one is left with extra clutter they don’t want.

  4. Paige says:

    I wish we could get our family on board with giving less. My inlaws think that more is better and buy a bunch of useless cheap crap to make it seem like there is a lot. We just don’t know how to tell them it isn’t necessary w/o hurting their feelings. We are going to start something new with our daughter next year (we already bought for this year otherwise we would start now) and it is to buy her 4 gifts- something she wants, something she needs, something to wear and something to read. I read about that on a blog and really thought that was a great idea.

    • CK says:

      this is a great idea. I’m suggesting this for next year as well.

    • Elena says:

      Paige, It is difficult to get family to transition…you can only suggest and they can choose to follow your lead. We have donated LOTS of unnecessary gifts over the years. At least we can feel like they were not completely wasted.

      Also, I LOVE the idea of creating a tradition of giving. The four gifts are a simple way to truly think about what your getting and not get carried away.

      I think I will try that one as well 😉


  5. Shirley says:

    My siblings and I (along with their children and grandchildren) have a family pot-luck on a Sunday in December before Christmas. The dish brought is your gift to everyone. We have a wonderful time with lots of visiting, story-telling and laughter. It’s our Family Chistmas and then each sibling spends the 25th as they choose.

    We put $25-$50 (depending on our means at the time) in each of our grandchildren’s saving account for birthdays and Christmas. Under 18 also gets a small (very inexpensive) toy to play with at the Family Christmas. All seem very happy with this situation!

    • Elena says:


      Such a great idea to add to grandchildren’s accounts. What a wonderful gift that will add to their lives in a meaningful way.

      Great idea!


  6. Chris says:

    We started making certificates good for a night of free baby sitting or a double date on the house.

  7. Shannon says:

    I think taking care of self is one of the most important and selfless things to do. I recommend putting that first on the list! It’s through good self care that we can take care of others.

    Happy Holidays to you!

  8. Izalot says:

    Oooh….Oooh I got one: Start a blog about saving money!

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