Since the major gift giving time of the year is upon us, here are two ideas to help stem the tide of gift clutter. My first suggestion is simply to go gift-free. For those of you who aren’t ready to do that, my second suggestion is to both request and give clutter-free gifts.
As someone who helps people deal with too much “stuff” and not enough space for it all (FYI: it doesn’t matter how much space you have, you never have enough!), I can tell you that giving gifts that don’t clutter up the receiver’s space or life yet are creative, thoughtful and useful are the best kind you can give .
Here are some clutter-free suggestions for everyone on your holiday list. These will allow you to participate in and enjoy gift giving while at the same time relieving the burden on the recipient. Be sure not to give a well-intended gift that might be misunderstood and that ends up offending the recipient. For instance, if your sister doesn’t like or wear make-up, don’t give her a gift certificate for a make-up consultation. Ditto for other self-improvement services.
* botanical gardens
* historical societies
* theatre clubs
* state parks, county parks, etc.
* health clubs/gyms
* humane society
* nature conservancy
* AAA (Automobile Club of America)
* Zipcar (Cars parked around a city for members to drive by the hour instead of owning their own vehicles)
Gift Certificates for:
* their favorite hair salon
* health club
* exercise class
* local greenhouse, nursery or garden center
* bulb or seed catalog
* fun workshop or mini-course
* iTunes music download
* home improvement store to help with the cost of home maintenance
* computer software
* Blockbuster or Netflix
* car washes
* trip in a helicopter or hot air balloon
Gifts of Service – Create your own voucher good for:
* breakfast in bed
* house cleaning or yard work or snow plowing/shoveling provided by you or someone you hire
* automobile maintenance (oil change, etc.)
* dishwashing for a day, a week, etc.
* running errands for a day, a week, etc.
* helping them with their next spring cleaning
* painting or hiring someone to paint that room they’ve been meaning to get to
* getting something of theirs that is broken repaired
* helping them plant their garden next spring
* helping them organize their photos
* teaching them a skill you have
* theatre, ballet, concert or symphony tickets
* tickets to an art exhibition or sporting event
* home cooked frozen meals
* homemade cookies, brownies, etc.
* an invitation to their favorite restaurant where you also give them the gift of your love and attention
* their favorite chocolates, wines or cheeses, etc.
* a selection of their favorite, hard-to-find, childhood candies or cookies
* a fruit of the month basket
* a voucher good for homemade meals for a day, a week, etc.
* a selection of organic teas and fair trade coffees or dried fruits and nuts
* dinner cooked by a personal chef
* tickets to a wine tasting or vineyard tour
* their favorite flowers sent to them regularly
* movie passes
* prepaid phone cards
* postage stamps
* frequent flyer miles
* airline tickets to visit you
* a weekend getaway at a bed and breakfast
* a trip to someplace they have never been
* handmade soap
* already stamped and addressed cards for various occasions (birthday, anniversary, holiday) that can be sent out to friends and family by the elderly or disabled in your life who can’t get out to buy cards or whose handwriting might be too shaky to read
* a voucher good for a walk together, a picnic together, a back-rub/foot-rub, a day of skiing or anything else you know they would like
* a voucher good for some of the perennials in your garden that are getting crowded and need dividing
One nice thing about consumables is that, if you’ve done your homework properly, the recipients consume them – which means you get to buy the same gift next year or even year after year!
Financial, Charitable and Unusual Gifts:
* make a charitable donation in their name (Think about causes and organizations that would be meaningful to them — then you take the tax deduction!)
* donate a book(s) to a library in their name
* pay their phone or cable bill for a month (or more)
* give them a share(s) of stock
* stocks, bonds, CDs, or contributions to a child’s college education fund
* name a star in the cosmos after them
* have a tree planted in their name
Gifts of Classes in:
* foreign language
* continuing education
* jewelry making
* flower arranging
* stand-up comedy
* horseback riding