My mom is a quilter, and made all my halloween costumes in my childhood. She's very good at what she does, but I unfortunately did not have the patience for quilting/sewing as a kid. Her favorite story is how I got frustrated at age 7 and declared I didn't have to learn how to quilt, because when she passed away, all the quilts would be mine! (for reference in some of these stories, I have two older half siblings from my dad's first marriage- I am my mother's only child).
I have since made up for that 7 yr old comment by helping pin quilts for basting (easier for the kid to get up on the table), and I have a talent and eye for finding good coordinating fabrics- she used to drag me to quilt stores with her for the sole purpose of assisting her friends...they'd have a swatch they wanted to find a compliment for, I'd take a look and come back with 5 bolts of very nice coordinating fabrics.
My mother makes "How Many Days Till Christmas?" wall hangings. They are essentially quilted advent calendars with a tree design in the middle and pockets all around to hold 25 miniature ornaments. Starting December 1st, the child hangs an ornament per day..you get the idea for the count down. When we first moved to the area I grew up in, my mom was offered $15 to make one...said person was very miffed to learn it'd be at least $50 between the materials and my mom's time.
Two years later, Mom's making a bunch of the wallhangings for the children of some family friends. She's working on one while waiting in the dentists office one day, when out comes the dentist, spies what she's doing, compliments her, and says he'd pay her to make 3....she snarked that it would be $75 bucks a piece, and gosh darn if the dentist didn't whip out his checkbook and write her a check on the spot....she made them, but grumbled that she should have negotiated for some free routine care for me, or a root canal or 3 for her and Dad.....
She's made multiple quilts for both of my Dad's granddaughters (my sister's girls). Never a thank you note from the parents, but she does get photos of the girls wrapped up in their quilts and grinning. She also made halloween costumes for them until recently- she's very tired of their parents' poor treatment of her (sis seems to think being nice to my mom would be a betrayal of her mom). She had stopped volunteering two years ago to make costumes, and Sis was frantic to figure something out for the younger girl 2 weeks before Halloween. The following year, younger girl comes up to my mom and pleads, "Grandma, will you please make my costume this year? Mommy doesn't do it well at all." We havent heard anything this year, so I guess the girls are stuck with store bought.
Good stories are here too though!
A year after DH and I had started dating, mom learned how much he liked my flannel rag quilt to curl under watching football(to the point I routinely had to find another quilt). She and I conspired to make him his own quilt, in manly colors, and measured it perfectly to cover him from neck to the tips of his toes. She loved to hear about the huge grin he had when he got it for his September birthday, and how he kept saying "my quilt. mine. chipmunky, this one is mine. you can't have it. I love it. my quilt." She's since made him two wall hangings and a huge flannel bed quilt that he's thrilled with (last year's Christmas gift).
The closest thing to an exchange of services they have (aside from love and affection)- DH is a techie, and my Dad routinely breaks his computer by opening spam messages containing viruses. DH regularly updates and cleans the computer, and helps with tv/netflix issues. Prevents a lot of headaches for mom.