An Alternative Kind of Gift Guide

It isn't always easy to come up with the perfect gift for everyone on your list, and just buying some random thing that you think they might like doesn't always sit well or feel very personal. If you find yourself in this predicament, we have a few alternative suggestions that just might turn your gift giving around this year.

This gift guide strays from the traditional store-bought gifts and is based on experiences, thoughtful actions, and time as gifts. First off, you have to jot down some notes and ideas about the person you are gifting. What do they love to do? What kind of things could they use help with? How could you make their life easier? What would be a memory you could make that they wouldn't forget?

Next, start pairing those answers with some creative ideas that you could provide as a gift. Get a cute card and write down your gift, or make a coupon book.

Here are some examples:

A Night Out: Do they love to go to plays or operas or comedy shows or dance programs but never give themselves any time to do so? Set up an evening for them where you take them to the desired event. Even go so far as to set up the babysitting if need be.

Speaking of Babysitting: Can you give them five to ten free babysitting evenings for the year? Or maybe three hours a day for a week. That could be gold for a busy parent.

Your Time: This can be one of the most valuable gifts you can give. Would the person just love to have more time with you? Pre-set up little dates with them as your gift. A night out for dinner. Going to the movies. A Happy Hour afternoon. I know a lot of parents that would treasure something like this.

A Thoughtful Chore: Is there something that you know your person needs to get done that they just can't seem to get around to, but is always weighing them down? Gift them the help to finally tackle it, or make it a surprise and just do it for them. One year my husband and I took all of my mother-in-law's old photographs that were stuffed in garbage bags and organized them into individual albums.

Pamper Them: What kind of things do they love the most? What do they do to get their minds off everything and just relax? Is it going to the spa? Or a sports game? Do they like to be by themselves or with company? Find out and set it up for them.

Use Your Skills: Can you use your skills to help them out? Can you take their family photo? Can you help re-decorate a room? Can you help re-organize a closet?

Now, put down the gift cards, get thinking and start creating memorable experiences for the people in your life.

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