Do you sometimes feel obligated to take a gift to everyone you know at Christmas time? Not only family and friends, but your neighbors, the kids' coaches, teachers, music teachers … you name it?

I'll admit that there have been times where I've felt obligated to give. After all, isn't this the season for giving?

Give Year Round

We should never feel pressured, so why not take the stress away by offering something that can be actually given later on in the year?

Kid's Perspective

Think of the perspective of your child giving the gift. What would be something fun and easy that they could create? Or that the whole family could be a part of?

Create a Coupon

Are you already feeling rushed this season and out of ideas and money? Creating coupons is simple and easy.

• Supplies: One good idea, paper, an envelope (and stickers or pens to decorate the envelope).
• Five minutes of your time to brainstorm, to put your idea down on paper creating a coupon.
• Have your child do the work - to make it her own. Then wrap it up, and give it away!

Coupon Ideas

• One dinner after the first of the year (your child helps in the kitchen, and helps deliver)
• Stay after school and help the teacher - coupon for 5 times?
• 20 minutes of their time - for miscellaneous jobs or chores
• Mow a lawn
• 3 car washes
• Rake leaves
• One night free babysitting
• Pick up mail and water during vacation time
• 5 home baked desserts - TBA on arrival
• Dessert of the month!
• Invitation to a dinner in your home  

One of my good friends told me she wants a one-hour coupon from me to give her tips on using her MacBook. Funny, because I'm the last person to give a computer lesson! But Santa just may bring this to her …

Follow Through

The beauty of coupons is that they are so easy to think up and to create! The downside: you have to make sure and follow through with what you are giving. So don't forget to mark it on your calendar and help your child learn the importance of following through. They can also be used for any occasion!

Taking the stress off "today" might even give the recipient something to look forward to after the rush of the holidays.

Lastly, I think it is so important to teach our kids that not only monetary gifts are valuable, but that the gift of time can also be more precious than a present. Last Sunday my boys went and helped a couple with yard work for a couple of hours (the gentleman recovering from surgery) while Abby helped in the kitchen baking pies. What warms my heart is that they wanted to do this.

What do you think about coupon-giving to keep the holidays simple?

December 3, 2009


Sandy Coughlin is a mom to 3 teens, wife to one awesome man, and author of the popular Reluctant Entertainer blog. She loves to cook and entertain in her home, and look for creative ways to give to those around her. Her book, The Reluctant Entertainer, will be released summer 2010.