Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to Give a Service Gift

Service gifts are gifts of your time and energy.

They often cost little to nothing, and there is no shopping required. There is, however, a time investment required. So the trick with service gifts is to make sure that the service you're offering is something you won't mind spending some time doing; volunteering to do something you hate makes for a resentful gift, and the recipient won't thank you for making them feel guilty.

Service gifts are great choices for housewarming in particular. You can volunteer to help with home improvement projects. For other occasions, offer your time for landscaping, financial advice, tax help, car maintenance, babysitting, guitar lessons or any other skill you are willing to offer.

Write up a gift certificate and include it with a card if you'd like to give your recipient something to unwrap.
In fact, definitely give a card or something concrete to indicate that this is a deliberate gift. You do want them to know that your time is an intentional gift and not just a buddy helping out.

One potential drawback to service gifts is that you could wind up getting sucked into more than you bargained for. On home improvement projects, for instance, volunteer an afternoon or some other specific amount of time. Make your offer clear up front, and don't offer a service gift to someone who has a reputation for taking advantage of friends.

Let us know about your experience with service gifts, giving or receiving.

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