By Nancy Twigg
So you just barely survived Christmas and Valentine’s Day, and now Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner. Every time you turn around, it seems that another gift-giving occasion is looming on the horizon. Birthdays, weddings, baby showers, anniversaries, graduations—whew! Just thinking about it is enough to send you and your budget into a tailspin.
Is there any relief in sight? Is there a way to control the expense of gift giving without becoming a Scrooge? Can you actually give meaningful gifts without emptying your bank account? Rest assured that the answer to all these questions is "yes".
Gift giving does not have to be something to dread but rather an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity. Even those who must watch their spending carefully can give gifts that reflect the true spirit of giving. Let’s face it. Anyone can shell out a lot of money for a gift without putting much thought into it. How many people can give a thoughtful gift without shelling out much money?
Reflect for just a moment on all the gifts you have received in your lifetime. Which gifts stand out in your memory? Most likely the gifts you remember the most are not the ones that cost the most. Gifts like a handmade picture frame or a memory book created especially for you are not particularly costly but are indeed priceless. I call these kinds of gifts "million dollar gifts."
Million dollar gifts are gifts that make both the giver and the recipient feel like a million bucks. Instead of a big investment of money, they require the giver to invest of herself: her effort, her energy, and her creative talents. These gifts send a very clear message that the giver cares enough to give one of life's most precious commodities: her time.
Here are some examples of million dollar gifts. All of these require little or no money, only your time.
* Can you provide a special service? Give an IOU for a needed service. Babysitting, mending, ironing, weeding the flower beds, chauffeuring the kids for the afternoon—anything that would be appreciated by the recipient.
* Is there a special dish or dessert your loved one enjoys but doesn't get to eat very often? Give the gift of good taste that also tastes good. Food gifts make great non-cluttering gifts.
* Are you artistic? Write a poem, compose a song, or paint a picture. Give the special gift of your unique talent.
* Can you teach a skill or hobby? Offer to provide lessons to that person who has always admired something you do well.
* What about using your camera or camcorder to create a memorable gift? Pictures of the recipient's family members or pets are always special. In the same way, a keepsake video is something the recipient can watch and enjoy over and over again.
* Does everyone rave about your creative cooking? Make sure all those recipes aren't lost by compiling them all into a handmade cookbook. Giving this special collection to that family member or friend who enjoys trying new recipes.
This is only a short list but the possibilities are unlimited. Without damaging your budget, you can give meaningful gifts as unique as you are. When you put your mind to it, you will find that instead of dreading the next occasion for gift-giving, you will look forward to the opportunity give your own special million dollar gift.
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