Give the Gifts of Time and Talent

Retailers make it seem as though the holidays wouldn’t be anywhere near merry and bright if you don’t spend, spend, spend from now until Christmas.  But, the truth of the matter is that you don’t have to drain your wallet in order to show family and friends how much you love them.  Instead of presenting your clan with a bunch of overpriced items this year, consider gifting them with your time and talent.

If you have a special skill, share it with your loved ones to create a thoughtful present. For example, if you are a whiz in the kitchen, make casseroles, soup or other items that can be frozen and reheated as needed by friends and family.  Likewise, if you enjoy cleaning, offer your time and talent by doing basic household chores for an elderly neighbor or relative.  If auto mechanics is your thing, consider giving the gift of a coupon good for one free vehicle tune-up.  Avid photographers could give the gift of a free session to be redeemed throughout the year.  You might even consider giving this present in advance of the holidays, so the recipient can employ your talent to capture his or her family’s Christmas card photo.  In addition, those with musical talent could give the gift of free lessons or offer to play or sing at the gift recipient’s office party or other seasonal shindig.

When giving your special gifts from the heart, get creative with the presentation.  If you are a talented mixologist, consider gifting your friend with the fruits of your labor, plus a copy of the recipe.

For example, the following recipe for Apple Cranberry Cider could be printed on a pretty card and attached to a festive-looking container:


  • 12 cups apple juice
  • 8 cups cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 whole cloves
  • Fresh cranberries


Combine all of the ingredients together in a large container.  Right before serving, simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve warm in mugs with fresh cranberries as garnish.



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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.