When money is tight, especially when you’re trying to pay down debt or you’re staying home with kids it can be really challenging to be unable to give someone a gift. When that happens I like to gift time instead of money to friends and family.
Ways to gift time instead of money
This is especially true around the holidays when you really want to give something to the special people in your life. Your time has value though and these gifts won’t cost any money but they will take some of that precious time which can be a lot more valuable than stuff to the recipient.
One of the best gifts you can ever give someone with kids. This makes for a great baby shower gift, anniversary present, or any holiday really. You can do it in the form of multiple coupons “good for one hour free babysitting” or as a planned night “I’m babysitting on this day (plan with the parents) while you go out.”
Depending on the situation of your gift recipient you can pamper them one of two ways (or both!). If you’re a great cook, offer to cook a few meals to take the load off. Bonus points for weeknight or special occasion meals. You can ask them to provide the ingredients and you’ll cook it. If you’re giving to a busy family or someone with illness meal planning and prep is also a great gift. Go over and chop everything, portion it, and get it ready for quick easy meals they can make. People pay good money for this service!
Even if their house isn’t messy most people would love to have someone come in and do some cleaning. You can offer to come weekly for a set amount of time just like a housekeeper or help them out with a big deep clean to get things back on track.
Are you good at DIYs? Or maybe you need to give a gift to someone who has a lot of projects that they just need help with? Have them buy the supplies then come over and take care of that project for them, or at least help them out.
Offer your skills
If you have a skill you can offer it can make for a great, no cost gift. I like to gift websites sometimes. If you’re crafty you can offer to teach it to a relative as your gift. If you can sew offer to make something they’ve been wanting. You get the idea.
Offer to cut the grass a couple of times over the summer or help them tackle larger projects around the yard. If you have tools they don’t bring those over to help out.
If you haven’t gone on a date with your SO for awhile this is the perfect excuse. Don’t just give a date night, though, plan something really special. Look for free events in your area and make all the arrangements for it to truly be a gift.
Volunteer with or on behalf of them
If you can’t donate to their favourite charity financially give to it in another way – but helping out. Either join them next time they volunteer or let them know you’re putting in their hours in honour of them. For someone who’s involved with these sort of things or has been touched by a specific cause this can mean a lot more than any gift you can give.
Throw the party
Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary, baby shower, or even Christmas gift you’re looking for instead of a gift you can choose to host a celebration for them instead. Party planning can be done for next to nothing by making it a potluck but you can still gift your time to set and clean up as well as the space to have it in.
Can’t decide? Just make a coupon book good for blocks of your time and let them pick what they’d like you to help with.
Try these no cost gift ideas and you might just find your friends and family value your time a lot more than you realize.