Broke for the Holidays? Try "I Promise To..." Coupons!
Instead of buying items, I'm giving a set of six personalized "I Promise To..." coupons each to my parents, husband and good friends. My mom will get the "....make a 60-minute call this weekend at your convenience" package. My husband will get an assortment pack with promises like "....attend a social event of your choice," "....do a chore that you usually do," and "....give a 30-minute back rub after a hard day at work." Friends will get coupons for a round of drinks at the bar, and promises to be a companion to that art event or concert no on else wants to go. And yes, Grandpa can cash in his coupon for online banking services and any other tech support he needs.
I designed simple coupons on Microsoft Word, but placed them in shiny envelopes, the only cash I'll spend on the gifts, for a glitzy touch. You can print out already-formatted coupons -- and get some more "I Promise To..." ideas -- on the web, like at GiveCoupons.com. I decided not to put an expiration date on mine, although I hope my recipients decide not to cash them in all at once. Still, I'm thinking these types of coupons are more meaningful and valuable than a gift card to Borders or BestBuy. And it's a great way to ease both my guilt and the hit on my credit card over the holidays.