Ep. 85 – Gifts That Cost Nothing & Mean a Lot

In episode 83, I shared about the amazing grace of gratitude and the gift that words can be. And while those are very noble aspirations each, we are in our modern day inundated with the constant crush of consumerism – especially during the holiday season. And it seems like there is some type of holiday to celebrate every month, so we’re never really far away from it. 

So with that in mind, I’m using today’s episode to highlight ideas from Episode 36, which was on 10 Things That You Can Give That Cost Very Little & Mean a Lot.

The Bottom Line on Top of that episode (and now this one) is that there are ways to give more from your heart & your head versus from the wallet. 

For the full list of 10 ideas, listen to episode 36 (we have a link in the show notes). Otherwise, here are some highlights to consider as you go about your day:

Lately, my email and social scrolls have been bursting with offers on all the ways I can give, give, give. And I do love to give – just ask my Amazon account. I also recognize it’s often in direct conflict with my desire for minimalism from physical, financial, and psychological perspectives. Plus, I don’t really enjoy the act of researching, shopping, debating the choices, making returns, etc. And it’s often hard to know what will be valued by the receiver vs. the time, energy, and money invested in the act of giving.  

Sometimes new (or renewed) ideas are a gift in themselves, so here are ideas to kick-start your creativity:

The Gift of Time – For the purpose of this conversation, we will focus on how to give the gift of time to others. Whether that is time spent with others or time others bestow back to us, it’s a happy investment.

So how do you ‘gift’ time? The giving here is in removing an obstacle or providing an opportunity, not in a set amount of time. For example, I live near a return hub for Amazon. I already mentioned my abundant use of their site so having a return center two minutes from my house is very convenient. So I often offer to make returns for friends and loved ones. Due to the quick technology, it’s a quick five minute in-and-out trip for me and a big logistical help for other people. It gets something off their counter and puts money back in their bank account.

In this spirit, look for things you already do or have ready access to and ask where that might be helpful to others. It could be as simple as bringing up trash cans for your neighbors, offering to walk the dog, babysitting or carpooling, taking a vehicle in for service, gift wrapping presents, returning those same presents, dropping off dinner, doing the dishes after dinner, you get the idea. The intention here is not to expend significant amounts of your own time, but to consider where you might be able to amplify theirs.

The Gift of Borrowing Brain Power – In most of our days, there are the irritants or long-ways-around that seem to take a lot of brain power without inspiring action, or – in my case – often inspiring a lot of procrastination. There are many times where I want or need something, but I simply don’t know where to start. 
Often after a few rounds of failed starts, I remember to use the gift of someone else’s brain. I know some incredibly smart, savvy people, so when one of them tells me about a service or product they use, I put that in my mental skip-the-line list.

Different brains offer different gifts. I now happily browse the brains of others for business ideas, parenting tips, finances, travel, etc. Think about what is your mental superpower? What go-to products, services, solutions, and I-can’t-live-without-it do you have and enjoy that could benefit others? Sometimes an idea of where to start gives that beautiful gift of momentum. 

The Gift of Sponsorship – This one can take on many forms. In some cases, it’s about endorsing someone in a personal or professional capacity either directly for an opportunity or broadly like with a public review, a rating, or testimonial. I had a friend recently refer some business to me from his business, and that was one of the greatest compliments I can think of. 

It can also be sponsorship by reviewing someone’s resume or CV, helping them write a bio, looking at their social profile, tagging them in a post, or another form of visible support. 

It often feels awkward to ask for such things so your offer (and follow up) can mean as much as the act itself. Be prepared to offer more than once and help their light shine a little brighter.  

The Gift of Talent – We all have things that are just easy for us. So easy, in fact, that it takes a while to realize it’s a shortcut that others don’t always have. For me, it’s usually words. I can weave them together words fairly quickly. Over the years, I’ve found ways to do that in service of others, whether it’s helping them with sponsorship through a bio, branding, or business proposals. I even helped one guy write his dating profile while we were seated next to each other at a friend’s birthday dinner. Didn’t know him, but I’m hoping maybe there’s a wedding invitation in the future. 

Similar to the gift of brain power, this is about offering your natural abilities. What’s on your You Menu? Perhaps offer this as a give-to-get via barter where you can trade talents.

The Gift of Brain Snacks – I have an amazing friend who often sends me articles, YouTube links, tags me in posts, and even sends me books in the mail. She single handedly has stocked my intellectual library for years. I get exposed to things I would not have found on my own and it’s all with a take-it-or-leave-it offer. It’s a casual way to expand my mind. In turn, I’ve been inspired to share similarly with others. 
In our busy, digital days, it’s hard to find inspiration and to be inspired. Getting snack-size ideas from someone else is like visiting a brain buffet, you get to try a little and see what you like. 

The Gift of Gratuity – This final idea does involve some money but it’s more about the gift of acknowledgement. Recent inflation has caused a pinch for many people in many ways. As we are out and about in the world, sometimes the best thing we can offer each other is a chance to be seen and for the acknowledgement of what was provided. When you find yourself in a service situation, see where a little extra can be given directly. It doesn’t all have to come from money.
A friend of mine writes personal notes on the receipts with a specific compliment. Another friend keeps dog biscuits in her car to hand out when she’s on a walk. That’s contributions of smiles along the miles. Look for opportunities to make daily deposits into the bank of goodwill for people you know and people you don’t. You never know when small gestures may mean a lot. 

When I first became a mother, someone gave me a gift with this quote: To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. This still hangs in my home and it’s a regular reminder that who we are matters far more than what we give. 

As you consider ways to give the gift of you, be sure you take time to savor more of your own gifts as well.

Your brain is hungry. Give it some intellectual snacks in the
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I'm Kristin

I left my corporate work and dove further into how to navigate this noisy, digital, exhausted world. The result is a methodology centered on communications, productivity, and culture that blends theory with practice and helps people better enjoy the life they worked so hard to get.