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Gift-giving can cause unnecessary stress – for both the giver and the give-ee! Today, many people are stepping away from accumulating “stuff” and are looking for non-material gifts that will be appreciated by the recipient.

If you’re not sure what you can give that doesn’t involve a box and ribbon, here are some ideas for unique and thoughtful gifts that will be appreciated.

1. Memberships
One of the keys to giving thoughtful, non-material gifts is to give someone something they are not likely to buy for themselves. Memberships to gyms, museums, clubs, and other organizations can give someone the privilege of membership they’d not buy on their own.

2. Swaps
Okay, this does involve material things – but it’s not about accumulating more stuff. It’s about helping others and receiving something at the same time.

Getting a swap together requires time and space, and you need to know if there is interest. The swap can be for toys, household items, clothes, or whatever; just so you have something of a theme to tie it together. The idea is this: everyone brings items that are still in good condition but that they no longer need. Then everyone simply trades; no money is exchanged.

3. House Cleaning and Organisation
Who wouldn’t want a free house cleaning as a gift? or maybe just someone to spend a few hours organising your closet or pantry. Offer these services to friends and/or family (tactfully) and it will be appreciated.

4. Childcare
This is another gift of service that can be a big help in someone’s life. Of course, it depends on the family’s dynamic; but offer to do what you know falls within the comfort level of everyone involved. It might be that you come to the house and watch the kids while the mom gets something done (the “mother’s helper” role), or it may be watching the children of a single mom while she goes out to coffee with a friend.

5. Home Improvement Project
Do you know someone who really needs something done around the house but doesn’t have the time or money? Offer to do the project for them! Maybe it’s re-tiling the bathroom or fixing a leaky faucet, or maybe re-painting a room. Getting it done for them would be a welcome gift!

6. Take a Trip
For many, creating memories is better than piling up material items that get forgotten or broken. Doing the planning and paying are part of the gift, so the recipient just gets to relax and enjoy. It might just be a day trip and lunch, or a week-long vacation! Whatever time and budget allow will work.

There are lots of other ideas, too, from gift certificates to spa appointments. Let your imagination go and think outside the gift box.

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