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 dog-sitting.
For an aging relative who struggles with household or outdoor tasks, or for homeowners with busy schedules, consider hiring a cleaning, yard work, gardening, or landscaping service. Your relative will 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, like a season or a year.
Likewise, you might know 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 web hosting 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 almost anyone.
Grooming services are also a treat 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? Hire someone through a service like Taskrabbit to do household chores or errand running for the recipient; this 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 could hire a professional organizer to help start (or finish) the process.
For more thoughtful presents that don’t add to life’s clutter, see “Minimalist Gift Ideas” from which this article was excerpted.