Think Outside the Box for Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, although thanks to advertising and retail stores, you’d think it’s been here for months.  I saw my first Christmas decorations in our local Walgreen’s store the week before Halloween.  It really did bother me a bit, rushing the season like that, but when we got hit with a freak snowstorm on October 29 I simply threw my hands up in surrender.

So, here it is two weeks before Christmas, and I am woefully unprepared as usual.  It was so much easier to prepare for the traditional festivities when my children were younger, mostly because their enthusiasm was infectious and they wanted to help with everything.  Now that they are grown, I find that I procrastinate my preparations almost to the point of not being ready at all.

wrapped-gift-150x150[1]When it comes to gift-giving, most of my list consists of people who are blissfully easy to please.  Their presents are usually bought and wrapped early in December.  There are the few recipients whose gifts require a bit more thought, and then there is the one that is downright impossible to shop for.  I know that cash is always appreciated by everyone, especially in the state of our current economy, but I make things harder for myself by wanting everyone to have some kind of wrapped gift to open.

If you celebrate Christmas, I would venture to guess that you have an impossible person on your list, one who politely says ‘thank you’ when the gift is given but deep down can’t understand the use for whatever it is you gave them.  This person probably also gives you back the box so you can use it again.  I also bet that this person wouldn’t spend the money to hire someone to do something that he (or she) could do himself.  Which brings me to the point of this blog (a point which I know you have already figured out, because my readers are so darn savvy…) – how about a gift of service?

Most people don’t think of services when gift buying; they tend to focus on tangible retail goods.  But services of any kind make a great gift.  Horizon Landscape Company offers so many different services in a variety of price ranges.  How about a month of grass cutting? A spring clean up?  A spring irrigation start-up service or a winterizing?  Gutter cleaning?  The list is as long as Santa’s.  And the great thing about buying a service now to be used next year is that, if you are able to pre-pay it, you avoid any price increases that may occur before the service is performed.  And your gift won’t be tucked away in a closet, re-gifted to someone else, or lost like gift cards sometimes are.

Anything your difficult person does for him/herself that requires labor is an idea for a gift, not just at Christmas time, but any time of the year.  (Difficult people have birthdays, too.)  You can give someone the gift of maid service for a month, or grocery shopping, or dog walking.  Oil changes and car washes are always appreciated, too.  Tune in to what chores your favorite stick-in-the-mud spends the most time on, and you surely will have hit on a winner gift.  Some service companies advertise that gift certificates are available; some probably haven’t thought about it, but would be willing to work with you if you ask.  Horizon has done both over the years, working with our clients to come up with the perfect gift.  Most companies are happy to make the sale – I don’t think you can do any harm by asking.

The majority of service businesses are local – they are your neighbors, and they’re trying to stay afloat in tough economic times.  American Express Company just recently announced that Small Business Saturday was a huge success for local retail businesses.  What better way to keep the momentum going than to do some of your Christmas shopping with your local service businesses.  They will thank you, your tough-as nails gift recipient will thank you, and you won’t even need a box.  Unless, of course, you want to.