As the holidays approach, shopping for gifts becomes a high priority and a difficult challenge. Budgets are tight, and that limits your choices. But what can you buy that's both inexpensive and unique? The gift of various personal services is an approach to gift giving that's gaining in popularity because of its low cost and unusual nature.
Because personal services are not presented in gift-wrapped boxes, the giver of a personal service may want to create a gift certificate on a computer. The recipient should be designated, the services described and the certificate decorated with an ornate border, dated and signed. Enclosed in a holiday greeting card, the gift certificate takes on a festive, ceremonial aspect. (For more ideas on gifts, read 8 Gifts For Financial Geeks.)

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

Services may include anything from babysitting to walking the family dog or giving both the baby and the dog a bath. The only limitations are the limits of your imagination. Below, we list seven unique personal services.

A Complete House Cleaning
Working people will appreciate this service immensely. The service could include vacuuming the carpets, dusting the furniture, washing the day's dishes, washing the windows or taking out the garbage. The procedure may take more than one day, so the gift-giver may want to recruit a helper. This would be an excellent gift for siblings to give to their working parents, or a husband to a wife.

Grocery Shopping
Shopping for groceries can take a precious hour or more from your day. A gift of grocery shopping for a month - say four separate trips, or one every week - will be more than welcomed by the person who gets this service. Ask the recipient to draft a shopping list, provide the cash and leave the rest up to the giver. If the giver of this service can afford it, perhaps he or she can pay for one of those shopping trips. (To help you while grocery shopping, check out A Map To Grocery Store Savings.)

Doggy Care
Dogs can be high maintenance pets and their masters spend a lot of time tending to their needs. So, a gift of doggy services, which could include walking, bathing, feeding, a trip to the vet, etc., would be greatly appreciated. If the giver is not available for dog services during the week, the gift can be restricted to weekends only.

Chauffeur Services
This gift is particularly appropriate for seniors who can no longer drive, but it's also a service that others who do lots of driving and searching for a place to park will appreciate. The driving should include door-to-door pick up and delivery. The chauffeur does the parking, letting the passenger disembark at the door of his or her destination. The chauffeur service can be valid for an entire day, or an entire weekend.

Errand Service
People are overwhelmed by all the things they have to do: go to the bank to make a deposit, pick up the dry cleaning, return the library books or pick up the pizza. An errand service eliminates all this time-consuming hassle for the recipient.

Complete Laundry Service
Washing, drying and ironing someone's laundry will put you in solid with the recipient of this gift.

Wash It All
There are plenty of objects around the house that could use a good washing, kids and pets not included. Among the likely targets of soap and water are the floors, windows and cars. By washing any or all of these as a gift, an abundance of gratitude will follow.

The Bottom Line
You can baby sit, mow the lawn or shovel the snow. You can also cook, paint the walls or repair whatever is broken. These are inexpensive services you can provide yourself, but they also provide a personal aspect to the gift that will be long remembered by the grateful recipients. (If you decide to gives gifts, see 8 Tips To Help You Control Holiday Spending.)

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    6 Cost-Effective Tips for Raising Your First Child

    The excitement of welcoming your first child to your family shouldn't prevent you from making good cost-effective decisions.
  2. Budgeting

    5 Ways to Date on a Budget

    Dating on a budget doesn't have to be boring. Try these 5 tips to find the best dates on a budget.
  3. Budgeting

    7 Kids Items You Should Never Buy Used

    Buying secondhand items is a great way to save money, but these seven kids items should not be bought used.
  4. Investing

    10 New Apps That Help Budget For Expensive Cities

    From platforms for saving money to those that account for side jobs, mobile apps are changing spending habits and income generation in urban areas.
  5. Budgeting

    How Cooking At Home Can Save You Real Dough

    Cooking at home saves time and money but most importantly, it could even help lower future health costs.
  6. Personal Finance

    Money Matters on Campus: Attitudes & Aptitudes

    Financial trends among college students are a cause for concern, prompting a renewed emphasis on financial instruction.
  7. Home & Auto

    Why Housing Costs Shouldn't Exceed 30% of Your Budget

    Financial experts will argue that there’s no problem with allocating 50% of your net income to housing, but that barely leaves enough money for living comfortably. Reducing housing expenses to ...
  8. Investing Basics

    Tiny House Movement: Making Market Opportunities

    The tiny house movement throws all assumptions about household budgeting and mortgage management out the window, and creates new market segments too.
  9. Budgeting

    Top 7 Money Saving Tips for Eating Out

    Discover seven money-saving options available to consumers who are looking to partake in the luxury of dining out while cutting down on cost.
  10. Retirement

    Don't Miss Out on a 401(k) Match

    If your employer matches your 401(k) contributions, fund your plan up to the maximum they'll match. Unless, of course, you don't like free money.
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!