Holiday Giving When There's Nothing Left to Give

Are you suffering from "Frugal Fatigue?" Feeling exhausted from watching every penny like a hawk? Taking a Staycation instead of a Vacation to cut costs this holiday? If you're like me, you're probably ready for 2009 to be over and optimistically hoping 2010 will be a better year for all. You may also be wondering how to get through this holiday season without appearing like Scrooge. I have a solution! Here are my (almost) cost-free holiday gift ideas for those who feel they have nothing left to give:

The Gift of Listening Listen. I mean really listen. How often do you spend time with people you care about crafting your own response? The gift of listening means putting aside your agendas, judgements, solutions and being 100% there for the other person. Try it on someone you love, you'll be amazed at the results!

The Gift of Presence Be present. Similar to #1, but the advanced version. Are you entirely focused on the person you're with? or is your brain buzzing with all your to-do's like mine often is? My version of spending time with people sometimes looks like me cooking, cleaning, chatting on Facebook, and mumbling mmm hmmm, while they talk to me. Try sitting with the other person; look at them, be with them. See if you notice a difference in the quality of your connection.

The Gift of Creativity Make something home-made. On Halloween I asked my 7 year-old niece if her mom had made her costume. "Huh?" she replied. "Is it store-bought?" I asked. She still looked at me confused. "Did you buy it at the store?" I persisted. "Well of course!" she said, "What other kind is there?"

I told her how my mother, her grandmother, made all of our Halloween costumes. She also made our clothes and all our food, not to mention yards of curtains and crocheted blankets. My dad made furniture and a fooseball table, built a kayak and a sailboat and planted a vegetable garden in our back yard. As I recited this to her, I couldn't remember the last time I'd made a home made meal, let alone canned a peach or baked a Christmas cookie. Get inspired this season and give something of your own creation.

The Gift of Gratitude Be grateful for what you have. When we're caught up in our own suffering we often neglect the needs of others. I recently watched the film Cinderella Man, in which Russell Crowe plays a fighter who ends up losing everything on Wall Street during the Great Depression. Watching him and his wife, played by Renee Zellweger, trying to scrape by to put food in the mouths of their children, I realized how much I have to be grateful for. Times are tough, but they're not as tough as they could be. And there are always those who are faring much worse in life than we are who need a helping hand. Even the smallest demonstration of gratitude goes a long way.

Wishing you all a joyful Holiday Season!