Gift giving — when done with thoughtfulness and intention — is an art form. To take time out of your busy schedule to put thought into what the recipient might like, what they could potentially need in a particular season of life, is a way to show someone we love and care for them. But oftentimes, we find ourselves looking for a gift for someone who might “have everything,” or we might feel stumped when it comes to material items. More often than not, the best gifts come in the form of non-material items — gifts of time, or of service.
We’re asked quite a bit about great gifts that aren’t a “thing,” so today we wanted to share some ideas for the best non-material gifts you can give someone! From friends to new parents, neighbors, the elderly, loved ones who are sick, grandchildren, and more, these are a few non-material gifts we came up with to keep in your back pocket for when you want to show someone you love them and are there for them. Because it’s a gift to be helpful, and a gift to do things for others that they might not be able (or want) to do!
20 NON-MATERIAL GIFT IDEAS
FOR FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS
1. Pick flowers from your yard and take them to a neighbor.
2. Take a busy friend’s dogs on a walk or to the dog park.
3. Bring food or coffee to the caretakers of a friend (or family member).
4. Offer to take a friend’s children to school and/or extracurricular activities for the semester.
5. Plan a parents’ night out from start to finish — book the babysitter, then pick up the tab for the meal at the end of the night.
6. Mow your elderly neighbor’s yard (or even better: if you have a teenager, let them do it!), or help a widow with Christmas decorations.
7. Let friends stay at your lake house or vacation home for their next getaway.
8. For a friend with a newborn or who is undergoing treatment, offer to take care of children’s laundry — pick it up from their front porch, then deliver it folded.
9. If you have a specific gift, use it — whether that’s giving haircuts to a friend’s children, or baking a batch of cookies for neighbors.
10. Deliver a bottle of wine to young parents with an offer to babysit for their next date night.
FOR FAMILY MEMBERS
11. Give the gift of time and schedule a once-a-month outing with a great grandparent. Lunch, coffee, or simply a visit at their house is perfect!
12. Watch grandchildren for the evening so their parents can have a (well-deserved) date night out. Or watch young children so the mom can nap!
13. Take a child — grandchild, niece, or nephew — shopping for back-to-school needs. Make it a tradition they look forward to every year!
14. Organize family photos for older parents. Purchase new albums and sort by date, or take them somewhere to be digitally transferred.
15. Watch a baby or toddler one morning a week so mom can have time to herself.
16. Teach a grandchild how to knit or crochet — and make something together they’ll cherish always.
17. Take young children to museums (many have free admission), the symphony, or to the theatre.
18. Offer to cook a homemade meal for your grown children and bring it to them on the weekend.
19. Gather family recipes and make them into an heirloom cookbook that family members can pass down.
20. Help young families around the house when you’re there — change sheets, run a load of laundry, clean the kitchen, or water plants!
We’d love to know what else you’d add to this list, so please leave your ideas in the comments below! And remember that these are all starting points — the best gifts we can give are the ones that come from our hearts and make others feel known.