If you’ve been expending energy getting more organized lately, the approaching holiday may have you filled with mixed feelings. It’s likely you’re relationship with “stuff” isn’t what it’s always been. You may have a new found appreciation for clutter --- more specifically, avoiding it at all costs. This new relationship with stuff adds an interesting twist to the traditional holiday shopping extravaganza. Doesn’t it? How do you balance the spirit of gift giving with the desire to avoid clutter?
The first step is to decide what clutter is to you and those on your shopping list. Then, employ shopping strategies that avoid clutter for you and those you love. I think of clutter as anything that is taking up space, getting in the way, or not serving its intended purpose. It’s something that takes away energy, instead of creating it. You may have a slightly different definition of clutter, but the key to giving (or receiving) clutter-free gifts is purposeful gift giving. Giving something that will be used and enjoyed by the recipient.
Here are some tips and ideas for creating a clutter-free holiday in your gift giving and receiving.
1. Ask your gift recipients for some ideas. What’s on your gift recipient’s wish list this year? The best way to avoid your gift becoming clutter is to buy something they’ve pre-selected and really want. You know they’ll use it and you know they’ll love it. You can add a personal touch by adding something that goes well with the original gift. For example, if your friend wants a coffee press, include a bag of gourmet coffee and some after coffee mints. If your husband has a book on his wish list, add a book mark. If your daughter wants a journal, add a special writing pen.
2. Give consumable gifts to create less opportunity for clutter. Give an indulgence … something the gift recipient will use up and feel pampered and loved. Bath products are a perennial favorite. Other consumable gift ideas include cookies, cookie mixes, bread mixes, fancy jams and jellies. Keep in mind your recipient’s taste and dietary preferences.
3. Give gifts without strings attached. Sure, tie your brown packages (or red, green or blue for that matter) with strings ... just don’t give with strings attached. Often, when people receive a gift they feel like they need to keep it forever, simply because it was a gift. It doesn’t matter if they love it or use it; since it was a gift they feel obligated to keep it indefinitely. Put your gift recipient at ease by including a gift receipt. Take it a step further by including a note letting your friend know you want them to have something they’ll love and enjoy and if what you selected doesn’t fit the bill you’d love them to use the gift receipt and select something they’ll really love.
4. Give experience gifts. Gift certificates to the movies, dinner out at a favorite restaurant, the spa, or to sporting events create a gift that avoids clutter and doesn’t get forgotten the day after it’s given. Include young gift recipients in this strategy as well by creating coupons for trips to the park, the zoo or a water slide. This is a gift for your young gift recipient as well as their parents --- a two-for-one gift of sorts.
5. Give gift cards. Do you love to get a gift card? I know I do. Gift cards are a fantastic option for the person on your to-buy list that already has everything or has a wish list full of items that exceed your budget. Consider giving a gift card and having others that are buying for the same person give gift cards from the same store, too. If you select a store with a wide range of product options your gift recipient can pool the gift cards he receives and select something he’ll love.
6. Stuff stockings with something useful. The stocking can be a haven for clutter … little things, inexpensive things, breakable things, cluttery things. Avoid this potential clutter trap by going practical … sugar free chewing gum, toothpaste, new toothbrushes, socks, mittens, gloves, card games, or jewelry are all wonderful ways to stuff the stocking without creating clutter.
7. Avoid clutter for yourself by keeping handy ideas of things you’d love to receive. Often, when someone asks what you’d like, it’s hard to come up with an idea on the spot. So jot your ideas in a notebook or planner you carry with you. Then, if someone asks what you’d like this year … you’ll have ideas at the ready. Seem awkward? Just say “Thanks so much for asking … I do have some things on my wish list this year.”
8. Avoid picking up a second for you. I don’t spend a lot of time shopping … life is too full of other things for me. So the holidays offer a rare opportunity to get out and do some good, old fashioned shopping. The temptation to pick up just a few things for myself can be great. Does this ever happen to you? You find the perfect gift for someone on your list and pick up a second one for yourself. Yep, I’ve been guilty, too. This is a great time of year to avoid bringing anything you don’t absolutely need into your house. You’ll have plenty to do finding homes for all the new things people are out buying for you for your holiday gifts.
With a little foresight, avoiding clutter this holiday season is as sure as ice in St. Louis ;)
Aby Garvey is a professional organizer and the owner of simplify 101, inc. Her mission is to help you create time and space for what matters most in your home, business, and life. Aby is the author of the e-book "the happy scrapper - simple solutions to get organized and get scrapping!" She publishes a monthly organizing and time management email newsletter available by visiting her web site at http://www.simplify101.com.