Christmas time is quickly approaching and you can already see lawn decorations lighting up. Many folks are kickstarting the holiday season early and who can blame them? I am all for early festivities after the year that we’ve had. Even Black Friday has started early, which is no surprise. Black Friday seems to start earlier and earlier each year. People are shopping online or masking up to go shopping at brick and mortar stores. No matter how you shop, consider giving these alternative gifts to someone this Christmas.
Give the gift of lightening the load
First, let us reflect on the insanity that is 2020. I don’t even have to put it into words. You hear “the year 2020” and your brain automatically starts sifting through everything we’ve experienced. There are many words to describe this year and stressful is definitely one of them! People are hurting. Maybe they lost a loved one and now they have to spend Christmas without them. Others are probably still looking for a new job or an extra job just to make ends meet. You might be one of the lucky ones who has a steady income and don’t break into a sweat at the register wondering if you’ll have to put something back. You may not even realize the people you’re close to are struggling. People are weighed down with the stress of stretching that paycheck for two weeks.
According to the American Psychological Association, money is the top cause of stress in the United States. So, consider foregoing the typical frivolous gifts this year. I know you might think buying someone an expensive gift like a game console or kitchen gadget is helping them out. I mean, they won’t have to spend the money on it themselves, right? But what might help your loved ones more is taking some of the stress off their shoulders.
Groceries make a great present
Now, I know what your thinking. You want to see their face light up as they unwrap the gift you bought. A gift card to the grocery store isn’t exactly thrilling to you, but it may mean the world to them. For those of you concerned about people purchasing non-essential grocery items like alcohol or cigarettes, I got you. Ask the employees at the customer service desk at your local grocery store about gift cards with restrictions. The grocery store I use to work at up north had a store gift card that restricted the purchase of alcohol, tobacco, and other gift cards. This ensures that whoever uses it can only purchase essential groceries.
If you’re not concerned about what they’d purchase, then buy them a regular gift card to the local grocery store. Or, if you want to be extra and see that “light up” smile, get them a gift card to a store they love but wouldn’t normally shop at because of the prices. You could also get them a nice gift basket from whichever store of your choosing and attach the card to the basket. This is another way to give a gift that keeps giving.
Gift them utilities
This gift isn’t as flashy, but it is sure to bring happiness. It is, however, a little tricky to give and there are several ways to go about gifting a paid utility bill. First of all, decide whether this gift is going to be a surprise or not. If the utility company requires you to have their account number, you may have to ask your loved ones for it. I’m sure if you had their name and address, the utility company would be happy to help you out. Just make sure you get the receipt. Another option would be to gift them a pre-paid Visa with a card that indicates which utility bill it’s for.
Now, obviously, utilities can be costly and can range from $30.00 to well over $1000.00. Most people spend roughly $10 to $50 on a single Christmas gift. You may decide to pay a small bill in full or give them funds towards one of their bigger bills. Another idea is to make it a group gift! Multiple people can pitch in to pay for someone’s mortgage, rent, or car payment.
Time is a gift, spend it wisely
There are multiple ways to give the gift of time. You could give your time by writing a letter or talking on the phone with someone at a nursing home. I worked at an assisted living for a hot minute and it was absolutely heartbreaking. Many residents didn’t get so much as a phone call from their family. Google “nursing home pen pals” and you’ll find so many options.
Another way to gift your time is offering to babysit. Many couples, especially with younger kids, don’t get a lot of alone time. They also don’t trust many people with their kids, so if you’re a close family member or friend, they may accept your offer. However, if they decline, don’t be offended. The thought still counts.
Lend them a helping hand
Almost everyone has at least one task that they dread getting started because it’s a lot of work. Maybe it’s cleaning out a garage or painting the house. Give the gift of a helping hand. Just remember to actually commit to it because some tasks are time-consuming. Know what you’re signing up for and stick to it.
What greater joy could you bring your loved ones this year than helping them carry the burden? It’s been a rough year for many. Fancy gadgets and toys may bring fun and excitement, but they don’t bring about that deep happiness that resonates with people. Give the gift of help this year. Whether it’s with finances, groceries, time, or just helping with tasks around the house, you can bring a deeper meaning to Christmas gifts this year.