Clutter-Free Presents

Posted By on November 19, 2010

The holidays are bearing down on us fast and furious. As usual, Christmas decorations were up in stores before Halloween. It’s less than 40 days to Christmas and even less to Hanukah. So where is your gift list? What’s your gift budget?

Every year when my family asks me what I want for Christmas, it’s hard for me to come up with ideas. Last year after buying a house, my sister kept pestering me for a gift list, and I told her that I needed a boyfriend with handyman skills.

She just sighed since I obviously was not helping. What I needed was a new kitchen, some sheetrock, new appliances, a new master bath.…well, you get the idea. It’s easy to buy presents for the children in your life. They usually have a list of the latest and greatest toys (mostly inspired by movies), princess gear, and video games. Ply teen-agers with gift cards, technology, video games, clothes, and old-fashioned money.

For adults, things get a little harder. Most of the time, we buy ourselves what we need and want. I encourage people to get together for lunch, dinner, potluck suppers, or movie and game nights rather than exchange presents.

Focus on what’s really important – spending time together and friendship. But if gifts are required, you have options for “clutter-free” presents.

Food and Drink: Make it something that they have to eat or drink. Create a gift basket for a meal. For example, gather up ingredients for a favorite dish. Include a recipe if needed.  Or choose a gift card from their favorite restaurant. Wine drinkers always appreciate a unique bottle of wine to sample.

Events: Get cultural or sporty! If you know someone likes sports, museums, the zoo, the ballet, or opera, buy a pair of tickets to a particular event or performance or a membership they can enjoy year round.

Time: Have a hobby, talent or interest you can give to a friend or family member? For parents, offer to babysit on their date night. Do you have a green thumb and know how your garden grows and your friends do not? Gardening help!  One year I gave my brother a few hours of carpenter assistance to help him with his house. Be creative!

Handmade items: You can make a gift. Time to get out the Popsicle sticks and glitter! Okay, not really. I know people who make jewelry, love knitting, quilting or sewing, or cooking. These gifts take more time and may not necessarily fall under the “clutter-free” definition, but they do have more meaning.

I recently spoke at a church group, and for their church social, they have “handmade” gifts. No one can buy anything, and gifts can include something people made, something they “upcycled,” or something they received as a gift but never used (also called regifting).

With a little imagination, you can give gifts that don’t become a burden to others.



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