The gift of service is a terrific way to honor what people really need. Do you have friends who are busy parents? Offer to babysit so they can enjoy a night out without the kids. Likewise, busy dog parents might love a coupon book for a week’s worth of dog walks or dogsitting.
For an aging relative who struggles with outdoor tasks, or homeowners with busy schedules, consider hiring a yard work, gardening, or landscaping service. They’ll be relieved knowing someone else is going to plant the annuals this year, weed the garden, or shovel the walk. You might buy a gift certificate for specific tasks or hire someone for a set period of time, like a season or a year.
Likewise, you might have an entrepreneur in your life whose website needs updating; hiring someone to redesign it can be a great show of support. You could hire a photographer to take new headshots, or spring for webhosting by prepaying for a year.
Then there is the gift of luxury — services that people are often reluctant to buy for themselves. A gift certificate for a massage makes an excellent present for just about anyone.
Grooming services are also fun to give and receive. A gift card to someone’s favorite stylist or for a facial, a close shave, or a mani-pedi is guaranteed to be welcome. Offer to join the recipient and make it an outing.
And if you’re not especially handy but still love to lend a hand? Services like TaskRabbit offer gift certificates for household services and errand running that can help someone who’s settling into a new home (and needs to hang curtain rods or build shelves), or aging loved ones trying to keep up with home maintenance. If someone needs help decluttering, you can hire a professional organizer to help start (or finish) the process.
Finally, for your super-curious friends or family members: How about giving them a DNA kit? Or, if they’re obsessed with their mystery-breed shelter dog, a DNA kit for canines? (And with that, there’s no real risk of their learning anything they don’t want to know.)
This originally appeared as “The Gift of Giving” in the December 2019 print issue of Experience Life.