7 Intangible Gifts You Can Give This Year

Ever Present
photo: JD Hancock
w can we give to others without wrapping something in a box? Whether you are strapped for cash or simply want to give in a creative way, here are 7 intangible gifts you can give to others this holiday season.

1. Give a homecooked meal. When you cook a homecooked meal for a loved one, you are giving him or her the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed evening without having to worry about preparing, cooking, serving and cleaning up. Now that’s priceless.

2. Give your skill or expertise. Maybe you are a certified yoga instructor and you can give your friends a free yoga instruction for a day. Or you are good at oil painting and you can give a family member a free painting lesson for two hours. Or you know how to cut hair and you can save some friends an expensive trip to the salon.

3. Give cleaning services. Offer to clean out the closet, de-clutter every room, wash the windows, vacuum the carpet and do other organizing so the recipient can start off the new year with a really clean house. Doesn’t that sound so much cooler than a cheesy Santa Clause mug?

4. Give your valuable company at a cool event or trip. I know one couple who gave each other the gift of enjoying a weekend getaway before Christmas in lieu of an actual wrapped present. Maybe you can agree with a loved one or a circle of friends to pool gift money for a fun trip out of town or a concert all of you will enjoy.

5. Give your precious time at a volunteering event. Many non-profit organizations and charity event organizers are in need of people who are willing to give their time for a good cause. Scout out for volunteer activities that are going on in your area this holiday season.

6. Give much-needed publicity to a good cause. Not everyone can be a rich philanthropist, but everyone can help spread the word to more people. Share great organization websites on your Facebook or blog. Ask your loved ones via e-mail to consider making a donation or a micro-loan to a good cause. Tweet out charity links in less than 140 characters if you have Twitter.

7. Give positive energy to extremely overworked store clerks, public service workers and strangers. Rather than getting all in a huff about the extremely long lines or slower-than-usual service, spread genuine holiday cheer by actually smiling and wishing people happy holidays.

Do you have other ideas for giving intangible gifts this holiday season? Share them in the comments below!

Originally published in 2009


  1. The other day I gave the gift of time and empathy. I got a voicemail on my cell phone from an unknown person who had dialed the wrong number. He was inviting someone to a Christmas party and his voice sounded a little nervous or unsure. I was busy rushing through my day and briefly had the thought, "well it's not my problem that he dialed the wrong number." But then I stopped and realized I had been drawn in to this scenario for some reason. What if he was calling the woman of his dreams and because of me not doing anything they never got together? Or maybe it was no big deal and just loose acquaintances, but I couldn't live with the knowledge that I had blocked something for someone else because I was too busy. So I called him back and let him know that he had called the wrong number because I didn't want him to think that the person just blew him off… he thanked me warmly and wished me a Merry Christmas. And you know what I realized? The whole thing was a gift back to me because I felt great all day!

  2. Hi Yumi and Mallika,

    Merry Xmas … Thank you ladies and the Intent.com community for being there for all the people who care to share and make a difference in the world.

    We are humbled and honored to have this endearing connection.

    Our Love,,


    Ed & Deb

  3. Thank you for sharing this story, Lisa. How wonderful that a simple wrong number brought simple holiday cheer to you and the caller. Merry Christmas!

  4. Merry Christmas to you too Ed and Deb! We are extremely grateful for the energy and compassion you bring to our community.

  5. Great article, Yumi! I liked #7 a lot. A smile and a happy greeting is a wonderful gift to give to practically anyone anytime. You never have to worry about whether it's the right size or color. Plus, I find that people give me lots of smiles back, so I never run out and always have more to give!