sweet gum ball

sweet gum ball

I hate our sweet gum tree. Actually, I don’t hate the tree itself which has beautiful red foliage in the fall, it’s those nasty, spiny, sweet gum balls that fall from the tree and clutter our yard all year round, that I hate. If I had known this before we planted the tree, I would have chosen another kind of tree. But, this is what we have and it provides nice shade so I’m not about to cut it down. Each year I spend way too much time bending over and picking up these prickly, golf ball sized annoyances. This past spring my back was also nagging me so it was an especially bothersome task.

Days 365+73 sweet gum bucketBut wait! I had a flash of genius. We have 4 and 9 year old neighbor children. Aha! I bet we could strike a win/win deal. I invited them to pick up my sweet gum balls and whenever they had a small bucket of them, they could pick a prize out of my “trinket basket.” This is a collection of odds and ends that I’ve collected for visiting kids as a little treat – things like tiny cars, finger puppets, bling jewelry, little dolls, etc. Instead of just throwing this stuff out, the kids are doing me a favor by reducing my over-stuffed basket.

Days 365+73 trinket baskets

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So, I get a lot of the sweet gum balls picked up, I get my trinket basket thinned, and they get a little treat. I wish all of my give-aways were this satisfying. Do you have any similar success stories?