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Alternative Gifts

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for December, 2006

If you're like me and a lot of my friends, you've reached the point in your life where you have enough "stuff"--but the holidays have rolled around again, and you don't want to ignore the gift-giving custom entirely.

Some thoughtful alternatives:

A Gift of Time: Type out a nice certificate offering to take the kids for one weekend so your sister can enjoy a romantic getaway. Carve out a regular two-hours shift you can spend every week as a companion to an elderly relative--from taking them shopping to playing cards together. Offer to do your spouse or partner's least favorite chore for a year.

Professional Services: For the person who can't conquer clutter, a few hours with a professional organizer. For the beauty queen, a session with a color and image specialist. For an entrepreneur, a chunk of time with a marketing consultant (yes I offer gift certificates). For the athlete or musician, a few hours with a pro coach.

Little Luxuries and Special Surprises: Gift certificates to the local hot tub palace...tickets to the theatre...home-cooked, home-delivered meals from you or from a pro...show up with a barbershop quartet to perform a serenade outside the window...dessert from the best restaurant in town...pampering items like fragrant soaps or bath oils.

Specialty Store Gift Certificates: It's too easy to guess wrong for the artist or musician or golfer in your life--but a gift certificate to their favorite store might be just the thing. You acknowledge their interest, but they pick out the perfect gift.

Please see the Tipsheet archives for December 1997 and December 1998 for more great gift ideas.

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