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Have you ever gotten a printable coupon for a free night of babysitting from your neighbors, but you can see that they live really busy lives so surely you shouldn’t bother them by asking to cash it in next week. Or perhaps your spouse gave you a pack of coupons for back rubs, but the mood never seems right to cash it in–I mean seriously, if my husband is not in the mood to give a back rub I don’t want him anywhere near my back.
Don’t get me wrong–I love the whole idea of printable act of service coupons, so much so that I even have a Pinterest board devoted to them. However, when it comes to actually giving or receiving them it seems either like I am too thrifty if I am the giver or that I am being demanding if I am cashing them in.
Luckily there is a much better way to give the gift of service as a Christmas gift.
How To Give Acts Of Service Gifts People Will Really Use
Make it a surprise
Instead of giving coupons people need to cash in, which can be awkward, surprise them with the gift.
Sometimes this might require getting a few people in on the gift idea. Perhaps you want to give your brother and his wife a night off from the kids. Make it a surprise gift for his wife, but get your brother to help you plan it. Twist his arm to make it a gift from the both of you, you do the babysitting and he plans and pays for the date.
Make sure it is a service the recipient wants done
I would love it if someone would come over an scrub my bathrooms and floors as a Christmas gift, but do my Christmas baking for me and I just might cry. I look forward to baking gingerbread men and sugar cookies.
You have to think like the person receiving the gift and not yourself. What chores do they complain about doing? What do they seem to not be able to do well that you can?
Do the job well
This should go without saying, but make sure that you put your all into the act of service. Don’t decide to do something you’re not naturally gifted at, otherwise there is a chance that the gift won’t be as great as you would like it to be.
If you must give a coupon, have all the details already taken care of
If you really do want to put a coupon under the Christmas tree then make sure that you already have all the details taken care of. If the coupon is a free meal each month, have a tentative date set, say the third Thursday of every month, the choices of meals written on the card, and the time you will drop it off. Sure the details can change, but at least the gift coupon seems like it is already in motion and therefore doesn’t really have to be “cashed in” by the recipient.
My Favorite Act Of Service Christmas Gift Story
In case you are thinking that an act of service gift doesn’t mean as much as a physical one, I thought I would share one that I received that touched me in so many ways.
December 1st is always a hard day for me. You see, December 1st many years ago I came home from Christmas shopping with a friend to a freshly cleaned, child-free home and a husband who was obviously struggling with his emotions.
I asked him what was wrong and all he could choke out was “call your mother” and so I did.
That December 1st those many years ago my mother told me her cancer was back for a third time. This time it was in her liver and the doctors were not recommending further treatment. She had been given 6 months at best (which God took and stretched into several years).
The news took the holiday joy right out of me. I had yet to decorate my home and my neighbor noticed this. Several days after I received the news she came over and asked me where my decorations were. She then proceeded to spend the entire afternoon making my home look festive.
When she was done I kept looking around in awe. Surely these were not the same decorations I put out every year. My neighbor at the time was an amazingly talented decorator.
Emotionally it was a hard Christmas for me, but whenever I got down I looked around my home at the beautiful decorations and remembered that Jesus came to earth as a baby in a manger to offer an amazing gift to us all- and because my mom and I had accepted His gift all was not lost. Yes, I would say goodbye to my mom here on earth and my heart would ache for her, but one day I would see her again in Heaven.
That gift of being surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations all season long is the only one I remember from that Christmas and yet it was the only one that didn’t cost a dime.
Acts of service gifts can be treasured, but they must be done right. Take time to plan yours out and you can give the gift of a Christmas to remember to the ones you love despite not having a much money to spend on their gifts.
This post is part of the How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget Series.
How To Plan A Christmas To Remember On A Super Tight Budget: The Series
Week Thirteen: How To Give Acts Of Service Gifts People Will Really Use: No More Coupons (you are here)