Your Time - The Often Overlooked Christmas Gift of Time

When the yuletide season comes around, people browse the malls and department stores, pore through catalogs, and often spend hours searching online for just the right Christmas gift idea. Everyone tries to work within a budget while still striving to give the people they love gifts that show they care about them. Often it takes thinking outside of the box, though, to see that the right Christmas gift for someone may not be something you can wrap in pretty paper.

Think of a time when someone has done something for you when you didn't have the time, or watched your children for free so you could have a much-needed night out. Maybe someone helped you plan a party when work and family responsibilities gave you little time to do so; or a friend cooked some dinners and froze them for you when you were recovering from an injury or illness. Do the same for these people, but tailored to their needs.

Babysitting, making casseroles and freezing them for someone, offering your expertise as a gardener to help landscape a friend's yard; these are all gifts that cost little if no money at all, but can mean the world to another person. When you set aside time in your life dedicated to helping someone else, you are in fact telling this person that their happiness is important to you. This is often the best Christmas gift idea for someone who could truly use the help.

Instead of simply telling the person what you intend to do for him or her, you could present a homemade coupon book with coupons redeemable for such things as one free dinner or one free night of babysitting. Design the coupons on your computer and print them on fancy paper. Then make two hole punches on one end and thread decorative ribbon through the holes to hold them together, creating a book-like effect. Or you can mail each one separately in a note card. Use your imagination and make this gift something that you will both remember for years to come.

The best Christmas gift ideas include a personal touch, and what's more personal than you?