Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts {Day 6} = Acts of Service

posted by Andrea | 12/1/2012

Today is the last day in my week-long Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts series… and it’s my favorite clutter-free gift of all {acts of service}. All week long I’ve been sharing lots and lots of creative ways to give practical and clutter-free holiday gifts that should please everyone on your Christmas list — click on the links below to read the previous posts in this series.

Monday = Food
Tuesday = Gift Cards
Wednesday = Experiences
Thursdays = Cash
Friday = Charitable Donations
Saturday = Acts of Service

Oh, and I’d love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Day 6: Acts of Service

This is my favorite clutter-free gift — which is why I saved it for last.

If you’ve ever read the book “The Five Love Languages“, then you probably know what YOUR top love language is… mine is acts of service.

I think this probably has something to do with my practical, clutter-free nature (I would rather have an act of service than a gift any day), and thankfully for me, Dave is MUCH better at giving acts of service than he is at giving tangible gifts 🙂

If you have people on your Christmas list who might enjoy an act of service instead of a physical gift, here are a few ideas you might try.

1. Household Chores:

This is probably the most common “Acts of Service” gift Dave gives me — and he “gifts” me several times each day. He washes the dishes almost every night, he helps to fold the laundry, vacuum, clean up the kitchen, get ready for dinner, etc. etc.  He also takes care of much of the yard maintenance as well — which I really appreciate.

If you have someone on your Christmas list who doesn’t necessarily love doing house work (or is just too busy in this season of their life), I’m fairly confident they won’t be disappointed if you offer to come clean their house for an afternoon.

I often give this gift to new moms (instead of bringing more clothes, food, or toys); however, I always give them the option to say no. I usually send them an email asking if they would like me to come and clean or if they’d rather just have a meal. And after a brief hesitation, 9 times out of 10, they take me up on the cleaning!

Also, I know a family with several kids and one of the gifts each child receives is an offer for the parents to do the chore they like the LEAST for one week. As you can imagine, the kids love this gift and the parents can save a little money and clutter around their house!

2. Child Care:

This is another HUGE acts of service gift that Dave and I both really appreciate. Not only are we SO lucky to have loads of helpful family members who live close by, we were also blessed that my two sisters were willing to spend the night a couple times when we first brought Nora home from the hospital.

Free childcare from a trusted family member is one of the best acts of service gifts I could ask for at this point in my life.

So, if you have any young families or young moms on your Christmas list, I’m guessing they wouldn’t turn down your offer for free babysitting — and if you give them their gift a little early, they could use their free time to go out and finish THEIR holiday shopping!

3. Car Wash & Detail:

I love a nice clean car, but I have other more important things that need my attention first, so if often gets put off and put off until it’s so dirty that I just buzz through a local car wash.

I would love to have my car cleaned, waxed, and detailed (and maybe even filled up with gas!) instead of a gift that will sit unused for the next year.

4. Sleeping In Voucher:

I’ll be honest, the main reason I added this to my list is so Dave knows what to get me for Christmas this year 🙂

In all seriousness though, a sleeping in voucher is a fabulous acts of service gift for a tired spouse or friend, and it really wouldn’t require much extra work on your part (especially if you are naturally a morning person).

You could even offer to make a big breakfast for the family too!

5. Run Errands:

If you know of someone who hates running errands (or maybe can’t run errands due to a disability or illness), offer your concierge services for a day — or even one day a month for an entire year!

I actually love running errands — but only if I can do it alone. So another option might be to offer childcare (see #2 above) so they can run errands in peace and quiet. (thanks to one of my sisters, I was able to do this last week — I got groceries, gas, and stopped by 3 different stores in ONE HOUR!)

6. Monthly Menu Plan:

I mentioned this idea on Monday when I talked about food gifts — but it could also work for the acts of service gifts. I know so many people who hate the task of planning their weekly and monthly meals.

If this is something you enjoy — or just something you’re good at — consider giving it as a holiday gift. You could either offer to do the meal planning for the recipient  or go a step further and actually make a full week or month’s worth of meals!

7. Create a Photo Book or Other Craft Project:

I know lots of women who are super crafty — and lots of women who are not 🙂 I also know that many of the women who are not crafty would LOVE to have someone help them with small craft projects, photo books, etc.

I’m not even that crafty, and I’ve already helped several people put together digital photo albums or create fun collages out of their kid’s artwork.

Not only would this be a thoughtful acts of service gift, it’s also a fun experience gift, AND it will most likely help them eliminate some of the clutter from their home. Win-Win-Win!

These are just a few of my favorite acts of service gifts… there are hundreds more. As you can see, there are also plenty of ways you can customize each of my ideas above to fit almost anyone on your Christmas list this year.

What are your favorite Acts of Service gifts?

I hope you enjoy this week-long series on Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts — and that you were inspired to try some of these ideas for individuals on your Christmas list this year! If you missed any of the posts, you can read them all by clicking on the links below!

Monday = Food
Tuesday = Gift Cards
Wednesday = Experiences
Thursdays = Cash
Friday = Charitable Donations
Saturday = Acts of Service

Merry Christmas! 


Filed under: FamilyHolidaysFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Shelly


    I just read this series since I’m new to your blog. Love it! Your idea about making collages out of kids’ artwork sounds great. Could you elaborate further on that? That is an area of clutter for me now that two of my three kids are in school.


  2. Cathyhaden


    For the adults in my life I always do a mix of treats, a small baggy of sweets or coffee or different types of cookies and a donation in their name to a charity that I know they support.
    For the children, I use the something to read, something to wear, something they want and something they need and have added on a something to do (i.e. experience gift) and a something to give (a donation in their name). Teaching kids about sharing and generosity can never begin too early.
    This year, our something to give is going to a local rabbit rescue organization. Last year we donated to an animal shelter and the year before we donated to help buy mosquito nets for children in malarial countries.
    Thanks for sharing such quality article 🙂


  3. Ann


    Thoughts on the photo book idea: I often get deals emailed to me from photo places such as shutterfly offering a free book or a substantially reduced price on a book. Usually the offer is only good for a day or 2 and the thought of making a book in that time usually overwhelms me. Someone gave me the idea of making books ahead of time, when you can make the time (with a friend?) and just letting them sit in the account. Then when a great offer comes, all you have to do is print the book at that time. The work is already done!

    Also, one can slowly make books. Some people make a page a month and print the book at the end of the year. Several people make a book throughout a high school year and print it in the summer. Then they have 1 photo book for each year of high school (or college). Knowing you can work on it little by little or let is sit until a deal comes is great motivation to work on it when you have an extra 15 minutes or so!