Coupon Giving

Do you sometimes feel obligated to take a gift to everyone you know at Christmas time? Not only family and friends, but your neighbors, the kids’ coaches, teachers, music teachers, you name it?

I’ll admit that there have been times where I’ve felt obligated to give, but really, we should never feel pressured to give.

I love the idea of giving a gift (a coupon) of offering something that can be giving later on in the year. You can come up with some creative ways to give.

Kid’s perspective
Think of the perspective of your child giving the gift. What would be something fun and easy that they could create? Or that the whole family could be a part of?

Adult’s perspective
Last year our retired friends gave us the gift of being our “sous chef” at a dinner party of our choice. I like to think of that kind of gift as the “gift of time.” It’s a gift with no monetary value, but they offered their services to our family in the way of “serving” at a dinner party. They came to be our sous chefs, help prepare, serve, and … clean up! They did a fantastic job.

Create a coupon
If you’re wanting to step outside the traditional gifts, or maybe you are low on ideas and cash, an idea of creating a coupon is simple and easy.

– Supplies: One good idea, paper, an envelope (and stickers or pens to decorate the envelope).
– Five minutes of your time to brainstorm, to put your idea down on paper creating a coupon.
– Have your child do the work–to make it her own–if it’s their gift to give.
– Wrap it up and give it away!

Coupon ideas
– Dinner after the first of the year (your child helps in the kitchen, and helps deliver)
– Mow a lawn (or yard work)
– Car washes
– Free babysitting
– Pick up mail and water during vacation time
– 5 home baked desserts – TBA on arrival
– Dessert of the month (x 12 months)
– Invitation to a dinner in your home
– Offer to serve at a dinner party, or do all of the clean up

Coupon for technology
If you have teens, one gift idea that would be appreciated by older folks (grandparents?) is to give a ONE-HOUR COUPON for iPhone, iPad, or computer time. It’s amazing how talented and quick our kids are with technology, and what good teachers they are!

Follow through
The beauty of coupons is that they are so easy to think up, and to create! The downside is, you have to make sure and follow through with what you are giving. So don’t forget to mark it on your calendar, or if you have kids, help your child learn the importance of following through.

Taking the stress off of “today” might even give the recipient something to look forward to after the rush of the holidays.

Lastly, I found an excerpt from an old post I wrote back in 2008. It made me sentimental today, since my 2 older boys are in college now. I’m glad I taught my kids about serving …

From 2008: I think it is so important to teach our kids that not only monetary gifts are valuable, but that the gift of time can also be more precious than a present. Last Sunday my boys went and helped a couple with yard work for a couple of hours (the gentleman recovering from surgery), while Abby helped in the kitchen baking pies. What warms my heart is that they wanted to do this.

What do you think about coupon-giving, to keep the holidays simple when you’re thinking of those “special” gifts, or teaching your kids about the “gift of time?”

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