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5 Alternatives to Material Gifts

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for December, 2004

The year has flown by and here it is, already December. But--oddly enough--I hear more and more people talking about how they have *enough stuff* and they don't want any more sweaters or golf clubs or electronic gizmos or cookware. Plus, let's face it, the stores, with their crowds and their tinny, distorted Christmas carols, aren't always the most pleasant places right now.

So...what can you give instead of material objects? A few ideas, among many:

* The gift of time! Coupons good for childcare, chores, a one-hour massage, two chapters of read-aloud before bedtime, and so forth.

* The gift of food! As the protagonist in "Like Water for Chocolate" says whenever she's asked why her food is so wonderful--she makes it "con mucho amor," with a lot of love. A home-cooked meal once a month for a year will be remembered for a long time.

* The gift of company! Spend time with relatives and friends who don't get out much anymore. For a shut-in or elder, this is far more precious than another thing that has to be stored and cleaned. You may find that this gift gives to you as much as to the recipient, because you get to hear the old family stores, and to deepen your friendship.

* The gift of memories! Photo albums, scrapbooks, taped or written collections of reminiscences by your recipient's loved ones (especially those too far away to visit)...something that can be revisited again and again, and give much pleasure each time.

* The gift of art! Original music, painting, drawing, and crafts contain a piece of your soul and will be treasured forever.

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