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.)

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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.)

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