I am one of those people that believes that once our basic needs are met (food and shelter), happiness is derived more naturally from things that don’t necessarily have a large price tag attached.  This message was hammered home for me and my daughter this weekend when we attended Soulpepper Theatre’s wonderful staging of Spoon River Anthology.  You can certainly Google for the reviews, but suffice to say the characters are all long deceased citizens of a small town.  They describe their lives and deaths through the poetry of Edgar Lee Masters.

One of the final lines delivered the most powerful message of all.  A young women, clearly having passed before her time says, “Oh life, oh life, oh beauty, oh life.  To leave you knowing that you were never loved enough…”  Nowhere in her lament is there regret for not having had the fanciest designer clothes, flashiest car, or not having travelled the world.

So before you spend the big bucks on the typical gifts, consider spending less money on each gift, and more time on making it something truly meaningful.

The gift of time

  • If you like children – Offer to babysit the children of a close friend or family member while they enjoy a night or afternoon out. 
  • If you are tech savvy – Set up or improve someone’s Linked In profile, or help them organize their online files and/or photographs. 
  • If you live close by – Offer to water their plants, walk their dog or feed their cats next time they are travelling.

The gift of your talent

  • Love to party? Offer to help bartend, cater or decorate a party that someone on your list is planning.
  • Love to cook/bake? Homemade goodies from your kitchen (include the recipe!) is thoughtful and who doesn’t love food? If you want to add a little to the cost of the gift, include a utensil like a mixing spoon or teacloth. 
  • Handy? You know which friend or family member is stressed at the thought of hanging pictures, changing lightbulbs and organizing closets/storage facilities. Give them a DIY day. Make sure they help you so that next time they have the skills when they need them! 
  • Great with makeup? Give a friend a makeover and recommendations for inexpensive products that would work well for them. 
  • Have a green thumb? Provide a list of perennial plans that would thrive in their garden and include a small gift certificate for a local garden centre, or perhaps a gardening book.

The gift of giving

  • Tell someone that you love them. Better yet, get some nice paper and write a letter to them. Tell them what they mean to you and why you are glad they are in your life. Guaranteed, this gift will never be forgotten. 
  • Make a donation in lieu of a gift. Give them some information on the cause that you are supporting with them in mind, along with an example of the difference the giving makes.

Perhaps you can re-visit your annual gift budget with these ideas in mind.  You will be spending less, but giving more.

This information is of a general nature and should not be considered professional advice. Its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed and Queensbury Strategies Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability.