By Rebecca Chandler
In the season of giving, it's easy to get caught up in the commercials, the sales, the toys, the gadgets and the presents under the tree. There is true joy in giving and seeing the recipient of your gift light up in delight when opening the package. But, there are some gifts that can't be wrapped, that don't belong under the tree, and that are just as joyful to give as to receive – whether you are giving to your family, your friends, your co-workers, or your clients.
- The Gift of Your UNPLUGGED Attention – – When someone asks you how you are, do you answer, "Busy?" How often do you say, "I'd love to chat, but I've got to hop on this call." Personally, more often than I should and I struggle to find balance between time spent on daily necessities and with those about whom I care. This holiday season, go to lunch with a colleague, bake cookies with the kids, go for a drive to look at the holiday lights with your significant other, or take someone to a holiday concert. Whatever you do, give them your undivided attention. No phone, no tablet, no laptop, no calls, no shop talk. Chances are, you'll get the gift of their unplugged attention as well.
- The Gift of Your Help – A few years ago, with a busy travel schedule, a full work week, and an active social life, I shared with my sister how I felt overwhelmed by some needed home improvement projects that I had planned. Instead of a gift, she offered to help me paint my living room. It was the best gift ever. Not only did we knock out the living room and the hall in half the time it would have taken me to do it alone, but we spent two days hanging out, talking, listening to music, and enjoying a cold beer at the end of the day and each other's company. My living room looked great and my sister and I got some girl-time in. I did the same for her birthday when I offered to spend the day in her yard getting her flower beds in order after she'd been busy working on her master's degree. Have you heard of someone who could use your help? An afternoon of babysitting for a busy mom? An extra hand for a guy hanging a ceiling fan or moving a couch? Know someone packing or moving? Your help could be the best gift ever.
- The Gift From Your Own Hands – Let me just say this - mmmmmmm. Cookies, candies, nut mixes, breads – always wonderful to receive. Taking over dinner to a busy family or someone who is sick is greatly appreciated. But, if cooking is not your thing, how about framing a great photo you took that they'd like? Sew? How about some easy placemats or a funky apron? Pinterest is full of fun and easy projects you could create – from the whimsical to the practical. Do it with a friend or your family and enjoy making as much as giving.
The Gift of Your Words – Telling someone sincerely how you feel is a great gift. Whether you do it in person, in a card, or on the phone, it's the honest sentiment that counts.
"Thank you for all you do. I appreciate you."
"I think you're the best."
"I truly enjoy working with you."
"I'm really glad we met. I treasure your friendship."
"Spending time with you is one of my favorite things to do."
"I love you."
- The Gift of Your Time – Donating money and gifts to worthy causes is always appreciated and valued. Volunteering your time and expertise to whatever organization needs you is also a great gift – whether that's coaching a kids' sports team, serving food at the USO or a shelter, making phone calls for a charity, or helping young business people get their start. Remembering others who need your time, your skills, and your expertise reminds us that this type of giving all year long – makes the world a better place for us all.
Give to Yourself – These 5 gifts are as much for us as for others. They give us perspective, purpose, and joy. I hope you have a joyful holiday season.