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Frugal Gift Giving: Trading Your Skills, Talents, and Time

Shopping for holiday gifts for your family, friends, children’s teachers, service providers, and neighbors can leave you and your wallet exhausted. Do you really know everyone on your gift giving list well enough to buy them a thoughtful present? Most likely the answer is no, so you probably resort to giving cash. If you would like to keep your Benjamins in your wallet where they belong, there is another way you could approach gift giving this year.

Give Your Talents

Are you a talented artist? Why not give the gift of a drawing. I have a friend who draws portraits of other people’s animals (usually dogs). These make a precious keepsake, especially years later when the dog is no longer here. If you don’t want to make such a large time investment, you could do something simple like painting a scene on a rock to be placed outside the home as a decoration.

Give Your Skills

Do you have a neighbor with a fallen tree in her yard or a shed that is in need of repair? Rather than giving her money or another plate of cookies, why not help her with the tasks she needs done? If you have a chain saw and can dispose of the tree for her in a half day’s time, your gift will mean much more to her than any money or other gift. Best of all, she will likely remember the gift that you gave her, rather than forget it weeks after it is given as we are all inclined to do.

Reciprocal Gifts

Perhaps the best gift of all is when you and a neighbor can agree to each give one another a gift of your talents or skills. For instance, if you live in a snowy locale, maybe your neighbor, who has a snow plow attached to his truck, will agree to plow your driveway for free after it snows. This will only take him about 10 minutes or so. In return, if he doesn’t like to cook or is a bachelor, perhaps you could take him over a meal once a week. You don’t have to do much extra work; just double the recipe you are making and give him half.

Neighborhood Swaps

If you live in a sub-division or another area where you are familiar with the neighbors, perhaps you could have a little party and each share what your skills or talents are. Then, someone who is in need of your particular skill could choose your “gift” as their holiday present.

This also works great for families. Most young families welcome family babysitters, so that is certainly a skill you could “gift” to a relative. Maybe in return they will “gift” you something you need, such as handyman skills to fix your sink that won’t stop dripping.

We are conditioned to think that the holiday season means heading down to the local mall, spending money on an impersonal gift, and calling it good. Sure, this makes retailers happy, but have you made the gift giver happy? Turn the commercialism of Christmas upside down by instead giving a gift of your skills, talents, and time. Chances are, you and the gift receiver will enjoy your holiday gifts much more.

Have you ever done something like this for a gift exchange? Would you consider it?

(Photo: allerleirau [3])