Many folks yearn for more time with
family and friends. A gift of your time
may be the most welcome gift you can give!
Focus groups reveal that what many people want most these days is more time... especially with family and friends. Time is what life is made of, and a gift of your time and company
can be invaluable to recipients of all ages.
You probably have favorite activities that you enjoy doing with friends your own age, but how about other age groups?
(skip to ideas for older people)
Spending Time with Young People
Time spent with young people gives of yourself in a special, important way: it silently affirms that they are worth your time and attention. There are lots of entertaining and satisfying ways to share a gift of your time with young people in all age ranges. And most are very affordable gift ideas!
A field trip will be enjoyed by both young kids and teenagers, if you plan it carefully. Choose an activity that will give you a chance to interact with each other rather than, say, taking in a movie.
- Museums are great places to spend a gift of your time, and admission fees are usually reasonable. Science and natural history museums have something of interest for almost all ages. For younger kids, we recommend children's museums with hands-on activities.
A Google search on "museums by location" will show what’s available in your area. Check the schedule for special exhibits or demonstrations.
- Many small, more focused museums shouldn’t be missed. For example, Higgins Armory in Worcester, Massachusetts (soon moving to Worcester Art Museum) exhibits suits of armor from many periods and countries, including one for the dog! To find a museum near you that's related to your recipient’s interests, try this Museum Directory or do a Google search on "museums by type", adding your country's name to the search if outside the U.S.
- A zoo or aquarium is enjoyed by most kids of all ages, and good ones can be found within reasonable distance of most major cities. A whale watch is awesome, too (often there's a minimum age rule).
- Teenagers might enjoy spending their gift of your time at a sports event, hall of fame, hobby or fan convention, or an auto, bike or boat show.
- Other activities, like fishing, skating, camping/hiking, skiing, bowling, or horseback riding, will depend on your resources and the age and interests of your young recipient. Many kids enjoy walking a beach and collecting shells or sea glass; you might rent a metal detector and see what you can turn up!
Remember too, as you plan a gift of your time with younger kids, to prepare ideas to burn off some of that energy! Then you can stop for some ice cream (and catch your breath!).
There are tons of things to do at home with young people, too! Depending on your recipient's age and interests, here are some ideas:
- Cook together - make a favorite dish or snack or meal.
- Teach your recipient a skill or craft; do a project together.
- Introduce a hobby or collection to work on together.
- Play together in the yard, or go for a walk.
- Write a short story together, print and bind it into a book. Or write and/or stage a play.
- Play a board or card game. Set several dates to make it a tournament.
- Encourage your young recipient to get involved
in a youth organization, if s/he does not already belong to one, and you two can spend time together in that setting.
These groups always need leaders, chaperones, coaches, drivers, event and fundraising chairmen and helpers, and adults with skills to share.
Check out Scouts, sports teams, Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H Clubs, religious youth groups, YM/YWCA, Junior Achievement... the list goes on. Whether it's on a one-time, occasional, or ongoing basis, a gift of your time in this setting will be quality time for both of you!
Spending Time with Your Elders
Older folks are often eager for company, and the activities you suggest will depend on your recipient's interests and stamina, of course.
A great gift of your time is to find a project you can work on together, perhaps in short visits over the course of several weeks. The more regular you can make your visits, the better. Here are a couple of projects that will interest a friend or family member of an older generation:
- Have your elders teach you the skills or crafts they know – caning chairs or working leather or quilting or making the world’s best pickles. They will be pleased to repay the gift of your time by sharing their knowledge, and proud that someone they care about is carrying on the tradition.
- Make a family history – get older folks to tell you about their parents, grandparents and old family traditions. Encourage them to recall life during the Depression or the War, or emigrating from the old country. You'll be glad if you record their memories electronically, or take notes by hand.
Later, you can assemble the stories into an album, perhaps illustrated with a family tree or portraits of the ancestors, and you will have a thoughtful gift idea for their next celebration, too!
Older folks enjoy field trips too, and getting out of the house for awhile does them a world of good, even if it takes a bit of coaxing. Try one of these ideas:
- take a drive to their old hometown
- stroll through a museum or gallery
- go for a picnic - drive the scenic route
- visit with an old friend they haven’t seen for ages.
- take in a concert in the park
- visit a point of interest they "never got around to" seeing
- take a ferry ride; stop for tea or ice cream before returning.
Take a camera, and give your recipient some photos to commemorate the event.
Establish a regular play date and join your recipient for a favorite board game, card game, or jigsaw puzzle. Or, play outdoors - horse shoes, bocce, croquet, or even gardening needn't require exceptional stamina. Bring some refreshments and the latest gossip, and the time will fly by for both of you.
Older folks who live alone especially look forward to a regular diversion. A gift of your time in regular visits of an hour or so - say every second Tuesday - may be more beneficial to your recipient (and more easily arranged by you) than a single major event.
A gift of your time and company
is a wonderful, affordable gift idea
that young recipients will totally enjoy
and older folks will treasure.
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Photo credits: logo - Jane M. Sawyer; riverside bench - "digiology"; ferry ride - Mary Pen;
two women - Kenn Kiser, all courtesy of morguefile.com; all others courtesy Microsoft.