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The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide #christmas

It’s baa-aack…

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide is here for another year. And while I can hardly believe it’s that time already, it’s undeniable that the holiday season is nearly upon us.

This is the third time I’ve created the Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide, and the reason for doing so is simply to give you options.  A gift doesn’t need to be a physical thing, and it certainly doesn’t need to be a novelty talking fish. Hopefully the ideas below will inspire you to give gifts that are both clutter-free and meaningful (without breaking the budget!)

A Note on Gifts for Young Kids

Most of the following gift suggestions are made with older kids, teenagers and adults in mind.

Gift-buying for younger kids is more problematic, I won’t lie. While we can help our kids to manage their expectations, it is still so joyful to see them tearing wrapping from a present, squealing with joy as they spy that much-wanted gift.

That’s why my husband and I will always buy Christmas presents for our kids. We don’t go overboard and we do try to stick to the idea of:

Something they want,
Something they need,
Something to wear,
Something to read. 

Some Tips Before Writing Your Shopping List

1. Home-made gifts

Giving gifts you have made yourself is lovely – it’s affordable, sustainable and from the heart. But considering aesthetic tastes vary so widely, even within families, it is best to make your gifts of the consumable variety, rather than the “I macramed this toilet seat cover for you and it took hours, I hope you keep it forever,” variety.

2. Think beyond things

Make your Christmas shopping mantra: “Experiences over things.” Experiences over things. Experiences over things. Repeat it. Write it on your shopping list. Adopt it whole-heartedly. Experiences over things.

3. Ask

If you want to buy a physical gift for someone, make sure you get it right by asking them. Granted, it isn’t always appropriate to ask the recipient, but try to ascertain specifically what it is they need or want, so they are not gifted with something they don’t want or won’t use.

4. No novelties, please

Steer clear of novelty gifts at all costs! Not only are these a waste of money (almost all of them will be thrown away or given to the charity shop come January) but also a waste of resources. When you find yourself thinking about a novelty gift, shift your ideas to consumables or experiences instead. And whatever you do, don’t buy anything that talks, dances, farts or mimics.

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

Giving a clutter-free gift to a loved one means:

  • you don’t add to the clutter in their home
  • you can broaden their minds as well as their horizons
  • you can help less fortunate people
  • you can encourage a healthier lifestyle

So peruse the options below and feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. I’m always excited to see how others make a simple Christmas work for them.

Charitable Giving

Charity Gift Cards

Starting at $5, you can give the gift of a better life to children and families in developing countries. School pencils, immunisation, fast-growing seed packs, a goat, chickens, ducks or a sewing machine. Each of these gifts brings so much to the recipient and their community, and when given to someone you love for Christmas, you’re spreading the joy far and wide.

World Vision Gift Cards: https://gifts.worldvision.com.au/#!/home
Save the Children: http://gift.savethechildren.org
Plan International: http://plan-international.org/what-you-can-do/plan-shops
Kiva Micro Loan Gift Cards: http://www.kiva.org/gifts/kiva-cards

Sponsorship or Donation in the Recipient’s Name

UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International and World Vision are all reputable international aid providers that allow you to sponsor a child or donate to a specific cause. You can make a one-off donation in your loved one’s name or you can pay an annual amount for full sponsorship. While there is no physical gift to give your loved one, you are giving them the opportunity to improve a life – and that is invaluable.

UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/
Save the Children: http://www.savethechildren.org
Charity Water: https://donate.charitywater.org/donate
Medecins Sans Frontieres: http://www.msf.org/
World Vision International Site: http://www.wvi.org/

Experience Gifts

Restaurant Voucher

This is one of my favourite clutter-free gift options – buy someone a voucher for a special-occasion restaurant and give the gift of a delicious meal. Each year my parents give Sparky and I a voucher to our favourite local restaurant. Baby-sitting services are an added bonus so we go for our wedding anniversary. It is such a thoughtful gift, completely clutter-free and a real luxury.

Weekend Away

This is a perfect gift for parents or grandparents. You can give them the gift of relaxation, away from the pressures and responsibilities of home. You may want to include your baby-sitting services for added joy!

Movie Vouchers

Who doesn’t love going to the movies? It’s becoming an increasingly expensive outing, so vouchers to the cinema are a perfect gift to give. Great for teenagers, teachers and work colleagues.

Travel Vouchers

One of the greatest gifts in life is to broaden someone’s horizons and help them explore the world. Give this gift to someone you love by buying vouchers from a travel agent or online booking agency. Combine your gift amount with others to give a more significant gift.

Theatre Tickets

Another luxury many of us would love, but rarely buy for ourselves. Tickets to a show at the local theatre company, or a production at one of the major theatres will be gratefully accepted. If they’re not so into theatre, you could buy ballet, circus or opera tickets instead.

Sporting Tickets

What do you buy the sports lover? Perhaps a season pass to their favourite sporting team’s home ground or tickets to a big match later in the year. If the tickets aren’t on sale yet, make a voucher yourself and buy them when they do go on sale.

Concert Tickets

These are another gift many of us won’t buy for ourselves. If you hear of a favourite band or comedian coming to town, grab two tickets and surprise your loved one. Similarly, if the tickets aren’t yet available, make up a voucher and be sure to snap them up as soon as they go on sale.

Tickets to a Local Attraction

A family ticket to the zoo, aquarium or water park is perfect for the people who don’t need or want stuff. It’s often an outing that gets put off due to cost or the time it takes to organise it, so buying a family pass creates a reason to go.

Massage – The Gift of Relaxation

The gift of relaxation is never going to be misplaced. A voucher for the local beautician or day spa is something women (and lots of men) will always be excited about.

Facials or Other Pampering

Similarly, a voucher for a facial or other pampering is always appreciated. Rarely do we feel that we can spend the money on pampering ourselves, but receiving it as a gift is the perfect solution. Clutter-free and guilt-free pleasure!

Cooking Lessons

Check online for local cooking schools offering one-off or short-term classes. You can give a voucher and let your loved one decide, or you can book them in for a specific course.  From beginners to keen amateur chefs, there will be something for everyone.

Music Lessons

A term of guitar lessons or singing lessons is a thoughtful gift for the music lover or the teenager looking for a new hobby. Local music schools would offer vouchers, or you could pay for private tuition with a music student. It’s such a great way to encourage a new skill and get creative.

Learn a New Language

Enrol your loved one in a short course to learn a new language. This is something grandparents may be interested in, as well as those who plan on travelling in the near future. Check online or look up your local community college for course details.

Dance Classes

Has your nephew always wanted to learn hip-hop? Your sister interested in ballet? Sign them up for a beginner’s dance class. Often that encouragement is all someone will need to dive head first into a new passion. And if they’re a little hesitant – why not go along with them? You may just love it.

Yoga Classes

Everyone needs a little Zen in their lives. Perhaps you could buy a pass to an introductory yoga program for your loved one? It’s going to be beneficial for their health and well-being and it’s a clutter-free gift.

Consumable Gifts

Wine, Beer or Spirits

The ultimate consumable gift. Take the time to find out what varieties your loved ones prefer and gift them with a delicious and consumable gift. (We usually get half a dozen bottles for Christmas which are, ahem, rapidly appreciated.)

Homemade Edibles

Shortbread, biscuits, jams, chutneys, sauces, pickles, olives and infused oils. You can make all of these yourself with a little time and effort. Providing the foods are something the recipient actually eats, then they are the ultimate clutter-free gift. To up your green points, use recycled glass jars with sweet handmade labels. Ideal for teachers, great-grandparents and work colleagues.

Gift Cards

Etsy Gift Card

Ideal for the handmade-lover in your life. Instead of taking a guess on which handmade items they really want, you can now buy gift cards for the world’s largest handmade retailer – Etsy. And while it is not strictly clutter-free, given they will buy something with the gift card, it is likely to be a gift the recipient will love because they can choose for themselves. Particularly great for teenage girls!

iTunes Voucher

While not very original, an iTunes voucher is a winner for good reason. Via the iTunes store, the recipient can buy apps, games, movies, music or TV shows – and it’s clutter-free. Teenage boys will love it!

Google Play Voucher

Similarly, for those who aren’t on the Apple train, a Google Play voucher offers the opportunity to spend money on music, games, TV and movies, all of the gift recipient’s choosing.

A Discount Pass to Local Attraction

Many local attractions (think ski hills, indoor skate park, museums) have discount passes available to purchase. These passes may give one or two days free entry, as well as significant discounts on entry fees, food, beverages or merchandise. Look into the local attractions in your loved one’s area and see what they offer.

Give Yourself

Homemade Vouchers for your Time

Your time is valuable so why not package it up for your loved one? Consider giving a homemade voucher for your services. Perhaps 6 sessions of baby-sitting, or 3 weekends of gardening help. Time is something so many of us are permanently short of – why not give the gift of extra hours?

The Gift of Your Skills

What skills do you possess that the receiver may need? Are you a hairdresser? Dog groomer? Painter? Crafter? Gardener? Sewing expert? Cooking whiz? Why not make up a voucher for your skills? You can give a free haircut, or help bake a birthday cake. Think about the person you are gifting your skills to – what would they need help with and how can you make things easier for them? Remember – a gift doesn’t have to cost much to be incredibly valuable.

Hobby Gifts

These technically are still things, but when the receiver is a keen artist, snowboarder or yoga enthusiast, a gift of needed supplies or equipment could be a good option. Just ensure you know exactly what they need before buying.

Some ideas:

  • Hard to find or vintage fabric for the keen quilter
  • A new set of brushes or paint for the artist
  • New gloves for the skier or snowboarder
  • Good quality garden tools for the enthusiastic gardener

The Gift of Green

While not strictly clutter-free, plants are a beautiful and practical gift. They clean the air inside the home and bring life and vibrancy to the outside. When deciding what to buy, make sure they are hardy or suitable to the climate of your loved one. Dwarf citrus trees and olive trees can be grown in pots, and a long, low planter box can be planted with herbs for an instant kitchen garden.

Other Types of Clutter-Free Gifts

A Kindle/Nook/Digital Reader

Not strictly a clutter-free gift, but for the avid reader it will save a lot of space on books. Particularly if combined with a voucher for Amazon/Google/iBookstore/Barnes & Noble.

Ebooks or Vouchers

The ultimate clutter-free gift. A gift card from Amazon or similar will give your most avid reader many hours of pleasure.

Digital Magazine Subscriptions

Rather than a traditionally printed magazine subscription, why not buy a digital subscription instead? They are often less expensive than print magazines and, providing the recipient has a tablet or an iPad, they come without any additional clutter.

Spotify Subscription

A monthly or annual subscription to streaming music service, Spotify, is ideal for the music lover.

Photobook Voucher

Services like Blurb or Shutterfly allow you to create beautiful photobooks using online tools, then have the book printed, bound and shipped to your home address. Why not buy your loved one a voucher for one of these services and allow them to create their own photobook? While not strictly clutter-free, I love the idea of giving this to someone who has had a new baby or taken a great holiday over the past 12 months. It allows them to create a beautiful way of remembering.

Recipe Book from Family and Friends

This is an affordable and thoughful gift: take the best recipes from your collection and collect similar favourites from your family or friends. Collate them and have them printed into a lovely book. Everyone has one never-fail recipe so ask them to share it and pass them on to a new generation. Perfect for newlyweds or young adults who are leaving home.

Practical Gifts

People roll their eyes at the idea of giving practical gifts, as if they are less worthy or interesting. But the reality is, sometimes all we need is something practical. And the money you would spend on an impractical gift – while appreciated – will be spent again when you have to buy the item you needed in the first place. Sure, it’s not that exciting to buy a new home phone, a cordless drill or a worm farm, but when it’s something wanted or needed you should remember who the gift is actually for. So ask around and see if there’s anything your loved one needs, or, if appropriate, why not ask them?

Are you planning or hoping for a clutter-free Christmas this year? 

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

Yes, I am going there. Already.

It’s actually just over one month until Christmas and what I’d really like you to be able to do this year is enjoy the lead-up to the festive season, rather than frantically searching for gift ideas in the days before Christmas. So I’m here to give you the ultimate list of clutter-free gifts for your friends and family.

While the focus of the festive season certainly isn’t (or shouldn’t) be on gift-giving, for many of us, it is a big part of our celebrations.

An Australian Christmas is a wonderful thing – it’s hot, we eat loads of seafood (prawns, oysters, smoked salmon) and drink a little too much sparkling burgundy. We share a meal with loved ones, enjoying good food, good company, good wine and awesome laughs.

We receive so much from simply sharing the table, that gifts feel unnecessary. And in one way, I’d love for gift-giving to stop being part of Christmas altogether. It drives so much over-spending and provides so much fodder for decluttering in the months following – the idea can be depressing.

That being said, I love the giving element. Receiving gifts I could take or leave – I don’t need anything – but giving really floats my boat. Particularly when you get it right and the receiver is both grateful and excited.

So with that in mind, I’ve put together a list of clutter-free gifts for you to give this year. Giving a clutter-free gift to a loved one means:

  • you don’t add to the clutter in their home
  • you can broaden their minds as well as their horizons
  • you can help less fortunate people
  • you can encourage a healthier lifestyle

A Note on Gifts for Young Kids

Most of these gift suggestions are made with teenagers and adults in mind.

Gift-buying for younger kids is more problematic. While we can help our kids to manage their expectations, it is still so joyful to see them tearing paper from a present, squealing with joy as they spy that much-wanted gift.

That’s why Ben and I will always buy Christmas presents for our kids. We don’t go overboard and we do try to stick to the idea of:

“Something they want,

Something they need,

Something to wear,

And something to read.”

But in general we look to give our loved ones experiences rather than things.

So while most of these gifts below are suggested with adults and teenagers in mind, many of them would make great gifts for an entire family too. Better yet, prices fit into any budget, with costs ranging from $5 to $1000+.

Some Tips Before You Write Your Shopping List…

Giving gifts you have made yourself is lovely – it’s affordable, sustainable and from the heart. But considering aesthetic tastes vary so widely, even within families, it is best to make your gifts of the consumable variety, rather than the “I macramed this toilet-seat cover for you and it took hours, I hope you keep it forever” variety.

Make your Christmas shopping mantra: “Experiences over things.” Experiences over things. Experiences over things. Repeat it. Write it on your shopping list. Adopt it whole-heartedly. Experiences over things.

If you want to buy a physical gift for someone, make sure you get it right by asking them. Granted, it isn’t always appropriate to ask the recipient, but try to ascertain specifically what it is they need or want, so they are not gifted with something they don’t want or won’t use.

 

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

World Vision Gift Cards

Starting at $5, you can give the gift of a better life to children and families in developing countries. School pencils, immunisation, fast-growing seed packs, a goat, chickens, ducks or a sewing machine. Each of these gifts brings so much to the recipient and their community, and when given to someone you love for Christmas, you’re spreading the joy far and wide. Gift cards available here.  World Vision International site here.

Sponsor a Child

UNICEFSave the Children and World Vision are all reputable international aid providers that allow you to sponsor a child. You can make a one-off donation in your loved one’s name or you can pay an annual amount for full sponsorship. While there is no gift to give your loved one, you are giving them the opportunity to improve a life – that is invaluable.

Restaurant Voucher

This is one of my favourite clutter-free gift options. Buy a voucher for a special-occasion restaurant and give the gift of a delicious meal. Each year my parents give Sparky and I a voucher to our favourite local restaurant. Baby-sitting services are an added bonus so we go for our wedding anniversary. It is such a thoughtful gift, completely clutter-free and a real luxury.

Wine

The ultimate consumable gift. Take the time to find out what varieties your loved ones prefer and gift them with a delicious and consumable gift. (We usually get half a dozen bottles for Christmas which are, ahem, rapidly appreciated.)

Etsy Gift Card

For the handmade lover in your life. Instead of taking a guess on which handmade items they would love, you can now buy gift cards for the world’s largest handmade retailer – Etsy. And while it is not strictly clutter-free, given they will buy something with the gift card, it is likely to be a gift the recipient will love because they can choose for themselves. Particularly great for teenage girls!

iTunes Voucher

While not very original, an iTunes voucher is a winner for good reason. Via the iTunes store, the recipient can buy apps, games, movies, music or TV shows – and it’s clutter-free. Teenage boys will love it!

Google Play Voucher

Similarly, for those who aren’t on the Apple train, a Google Play voucher offers the opportunity to spend money on music, games, TV and movies, all of the gift recipient’s choosing.

Weekend Away

This is a perfect gift for parents or grandparents. You can give them the gift of relaxation, away from the pressures and responsibilities of home. You may want to include your baby-sitting services for added joy!

Homemade Vouchers for your Time

Your time is valuable so why not package it up for your loved one? Consider giving a homemade voucher for your services. Perhaps 6 sessions of baby-sitting, or 3 weekends of gardening help. Time is something so many of us are permanently short of – why not give the gift of extra hours?

The Gift of Your Skills

What skills do you possess that the receiver may need? Are you a hairdresser? Dog groomer? Painter? Crafter? Gardener? Sewing expert? Cooking whiz? Why not make up a voucher for your skills? You can give a free haircut, or help bake a birthday cake. Think about the person you are gifting your skills to – what would they need help with and how can you make things easier for them? Remember – a gift doesn’t have to cost much to be incredibly valuable.

Homemade Edibles

Shortbread, biscuits, jams, chutneys, sauces, pickles, olives and infused oils. You can make all of these yourself with a little time and effort. Providing the foods are something the recipient actually eats, then they are the ultimate clutter-free gift. To up your green points, use recycled glass jars with sweet handmade labels. Ideal for teachers, great-grandparents and work colleagues.

Plants – The Gift of Green

While not strictly clutter-free, plants are a beautiful and practical gift. They clean the air inside the home and bring life and vibrancy to the outside. When deciding what to buy, make sure they are hardy or suitable to the climate of your loved one. Dwarf citrus trees and olive trees can be grown in pots, and a long, low planter box can be planted with herbs for an instant kitchen garden.

Movie Vouchers

Who doesn’t love going to the movies? It’s becoming an increasingly expensive outing, so vouchers to the cinema are a perfect gift to give. Great for teenagers, teachers and work colleagues.

Travel Vouchers

One of the greatest gifts in life is to broaden someone’s horizons and help them explore the world. Give this gift to someone you love by buying vouchers from a travel agent or online booking agency. Combine your gift amount with others to give a more significant gift.

Theatre Tickets

Another luxury many of us would love, but rarely buy for ourselves. Tickets to a show at the local theatre company, or a big show at one of the major theatres will be gratefully accepted. If they’re not so into theatre, you could buy ballet, circus or opera tickets instead.

Sporting Tickets

What do you buy the sporting lover? Perhaps a season pass to their favourite sporting team’s home ground or tickets to a big match later in the year. If the tickets aren’t on sale yet, make a voucher yourself and buy them when they do go on sale.

Concert Tickets

These are another gift that we often won’t buy for ourselves. It’s such an ideal gift when you don’t need anything. Again – experience over stuff.

Tickets to a Local Attraction

A family ticket to the zoo, aquarium or water park is perfect for the people who don’t need/want stuff. It’s often an outing that gets put off due to cost or the time it takes to organise it, so buying a family pass creates a reason to go. Experience over stuff.

Massage – The Gift of Relaxation

The gift of relaxation is never going to be misplaced. A voucher for the local beautician or day spa is something women (and lots of men) will always be excited about.

Facial/Pampering

Similarly, a voucher for a facial or other pampering is always appreciated. Rarely do we feel that we can spend the money on pampering ourselves, but receiving it as a gift is the perfect solution. Clutter-free and guilt-free pleasure!

A Kindle/Nook/Digital Reader

Not strictly speaking a clutter-free gift, but for the avid reader it will save a lot of space on books. Particularly if combined with a voucher for Amazon/Google/iBookstore/Barnes & Noble.

Ebooks

The ultimate clutter-free gift. A gift card from Amazon et al will give your most avid reader many hours of pleasure.

Cooking Lessons

Check online for local cooking schools offering one-off or short-term classes. You can give a voucher and let your loved one decide, or you can book them in for a specific course.  From beginners to keen amateur chefs, there will be something for everyone.

Music Lessons

A term of guitar lessons or singing lessons is a thoughtful gift for the music lover or the teenager looking for a new hobby. Local music schools would offer vouchers, or you could pay for private tuition with a music student. It’s such a great way to encourage a new skill and get creative.

Learn a New Language

Enrol your loved one in a short course to learn a new language. This is something grandparents may be interested in, as well as those who plan on travelling in the near future. Check online or look up your local community college for course details.

Dance Classes

Has your nephew always wanted to learn hip-hop? Your sister interested in ballet? Sign them up for a beginner’s dance class. Often that encouragement is all someone will need to dive head first into a new passion. And if they’re a little hesitant – why not go along with them? You may just love it.

Photobook Voucher

Services like Blurb or Shutterfly allow you to create beautiful photobooks using online tools, then have the book printed, bound and shipped to your home address. Why not buy your loved one a voucher for one of these services and allow them to create their own photobook? While not strictly clutter-free, this idea was suggested to me last year, and I loved the idea of giving this to someone who has had a new baby or taken a great holiday over the past 12 months. It allows them to create a beautiful way of remembering.

Yoga Classes

Everyone needs a little Zen in their lives. Why not buy a pass to an introductory yoga program for your loved one? It’s going to be beneficial for their health and well-being and it’s a clutter-free gift. Win-win!

Recipe Book from Family and Friends

This is an affordable and thoughful gift – take the best recipes from your collection and from your family or friends. Collate them and have them printed into a lovely book. Everyone has one never-fail recipe so  ask them to share it and pass them on to a new generation. Perfect for newlyweds or young adults who are leaving home.

Practical Gifts

People roll their eyes at the idea of giving practical gifts, as if they are less worthy or interesting. But the reality is, sometimes all we need is something practical. And the money you would spend on an impractical gift – while appreciated – will be spent again when you have to buy the item you needed in the first place. Sure, it’s not that exciting to buy a new home phone, a cordless drill or a worm farm, but when it’s something wanted or needed you should remember who the gift is actually for.

 

This year, give the gift of experience, not clutter. Your family and friends will thank you for it. Honestly.

What clutter-free gifts have I missed? Let me know in the comments below.

 

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

Yes, I am going there. Already.

It’s actually less than 2 months until Christmas and I’d like you to enjoy the lead-up to the festive season this year, rather than frantically thinking of gift ideas in the week leading up to Christmas.

So I’m here to give you the ultimate list of awesome clutter-free gifts that will impress your family and friends.

While the focus of the festive season certainly isn’t (or shouldn’t) be completely on gift-giving, for many of us, it is a big part of our celebrations.

An Australian Christmas is a wonderful thing – it’s hot, we eat loads of seafood (prawns, oysters, smoked salmon) and drink too much sparkling burgundy. We share a meal with loved ones, enjoying good food, good company, good wine and awesome laughs.

We receive so much from simply sharing the table with our loved ones, that gifts feel unnecessary. And, in one way, I’d love for gift-giving to stop being part of Christmas altogether. It drives so much over-spending and provides so much fodder for decluttering in the months following – the idea can be depressing.

That being said, I love the giving element. Receiving gifts I could take or leave – I don’t need anything – but giving really floats my boat. Particularly when you get it right and the receiver is both grateful and excited.

I’ve put together a list of clutter-free gifts for you to give this year. Giving a clutter-free gift to a loved one means:

  • you don’t add to the clutter in their home
  • they are (almost) guaranteed to love their gift
  • you can broaden their minds as well as their horizons
  • you can help less fortunate people
  • you can encourage a healthier lifestyle

Most of these gift suggestions are made with teenagers and adults in mind.

Gift-buying for younger kids is more problematic. While we can help them to manage their expectations, it is still so joyful to see a young child tearing the paper from a present, squealing with joy as they spy that much-wanted gift from Santa.

That’s why Sparky and I will always buy our kids’ Christmas presents. We don’t go overboard and we buy quality things they will use. This year, though, for the other kids we buy for, we are trying to buy experiences over things.

So while most of these gifts below are suggested with adults and teenagers in mind, many of them would make great gifts for an entire family too.

Better yet, prices range from $5 to $1000+.

Before You Write Out Your Shopping List, Keep In Mind…

Giving gifts you have made yourself is lovely – it’s affordable, sustainable and from the heart. But considering aesthetic tastes vary so widely, even within families, it is best to make your gifts of the consumable variety, rather than the “I macramed this toilet-seat cover for you and it took hours, I hope you keep it forever” variety.

Make your Christmas shopping mantra: “Experiences over things.” Experiences over things. Experiences over things. Repeat it. Write it on your shopping list. Adopt it whole-heartedly. Experiences over things.

If you want to buy a physical gift for someone, make sure you get it right by asking them. Granted, it isn’t always appropriate to ask the recipient, but try to ascertain specifically what it is they need or want, so they are not gifted with something they don’t want or won’t use.

 

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

World Vision Gift Cards

Starting at $5, you can give the gift of a better life to children and families in developing countries. School pencils, immunisation, fast-growing seed packs, a goat, chickens, ducks or a sewing machine. Each of these gifts brings so much to the recipient and their community, and when given to someone you love for Christmas, you’re spreading the joy far and wide. Gift cards available here.

Sponsor a Child

UNICEF, Save the Children and World Vision are all reputable international aid providers that allow you to sponsor a child. You can make a one-off donation in your loved one’s name or you can pay an annual amount for full sponsorship. While there is no gift to give your loved one, you are giving them the opportunity to improve a life – that is invaluable.

Restaurant Voucher

One of my favourite clutter-free gift options. Buy a voucher for a special-occasion restaurant and give the gift of a delicious meal. Each year my parents give Sparky and I a voucher to our favourite local restaurant. Baby-sitting services are an added bonus so we go for our wedding anniversary. It is such a thoughtful gift, completely clutter-free and a real luxury.

Wine

The ultimate consumable gift. Take the time to find out what varieties your loved ones prefer and gift them with a delicious and consumable gift. (We usually get half a dozen bottles for Christmas which are, ahem, rapidly appreciated.)

Etsy Gift Card

For the handmade lover in your life. Instead of taking a guess on which handmade items they would love, you can now buy gift cards for the world’s largest handmade retailer – Etsy. And while it is not strictly clutter-free, given they will buy something with the gift card, it is likely to be a gift the recipient will love because they can choose for themselves. Particularly great for teenage girls!

iTunes Voucher

While not very original, an iTunes voucher is a winner for good reason. Via the iTunes store, the recipient can buy apps, games, movies, music or TV shows – and it’s clutter-free. Teenage boys will love it!

Weekend Away

This is a perfect gift for parents or grandparents. You can give them the gift of relaxation, away from the pressures and responsibilities of home. You may want to include your baby-sitting services for added joy!

Homemade Vouchers for your Time

Your time is valuable so why not package it up for your loved one. Consider giving a homemade voucher for your services. Perhaps 6 sessions of baby-sitting, or 3 weekends of gardening help. Time is something so many of us are permanently short of – why not give the gift of extra hours?

The Gift of Your Skills

What skills do you possess that the receiver may need? Are you a hairdresser? Dog groomer? Painter? Crafter? Gardener? Sewing expert? Cooking whiz? Why not make up a voucher for your skills? You can give a free haircut, or help bake a birthday cake. Think about the person you are gifting your skills to – what would they need help with and how can you make things easier for them? Remember – a gift doesn’t have to cost much to be incredibly valuable.

Homemade Edibles

Shortbread, biscuits, jams, chutneys, sauces. Pickles, olives and infused oils. You can make all of these yourself with a little time and effort. Providing the foods are something the recipient actually eats, then they are the ultimate clutter-free gift. To up your green points, use recycled glass jars with sweet handmade labels. Ideal for teachers, great-grandparents and work colleagues.

Plants – The Gift of Green

While not strictly clutter-free, plants are a beautiful and practical gift. They clean the air inside the home and bring life and vibrancy to the outside. When deciding what to buy, make sure they are hardy or suitable to the climate of your loved one. Dwarf citrus trees and olive trees can be grown in pots, and a long, low planter box can be planted with herbs for an instant kitchen garden.

Movie Vouchers

Who doesn’t love going to the movies? It’s becoming an increasingly expensive outing, so some vouchers are a perfect gift to give. Great for teenagers, teachers and work colleagues.

Travel Vouchers

One of the greatest gifts in life is to broaden someone’s horizons and help them explore the world. Give this gift to someone you love by giving vouchers to a travel agent or online booking agency. Combine your gift spending with others to give a more significant amount.

Theatre Tickets

Another luxury many of us would love, but rarely buy for ourselves. Tickets to a show at the local theatre company, or a big show at one of the major theatres will be gratefully accepted. If they’re not so into theatre, you could buy ballet, circus or opera tickets instead.

Sporting Tickets

What do you buy the sporting lover? Perhaps a season pass to their favourite sporting team’s home ground or tickets to a big match later in the year. If the tickets aren’t on sale yet, make a voucher yourself and buy them when they do go on sale.

Concert Tickets

These are another gift that we often won’t buy for ourselves. This year, Sparky and I have bought each other tickets to two concerts – Weezer and Band of Horses. It’s such an ideal gift when you don’t need anything. Again – experience over stuff.

Tickets to a Local Attraction

A family ticket to the zoo, aquarium or water park is ideal for the people who have everything. It’s often an outing that gets put off due to cost or the time it takes to organise it, so buying a family pass creates a reason to go. This year, Sparky and I are going to a wildlife park with his brother’s family instead of buying gifts for the kids. Experience over stuff.

Massage – The Gift of Relaxation

The gift of relaxation is never going to be misplaced. A voucher for the local beautician or day spa is something women will always be excited about.

Facial/Pampering

Similarly, a voucher for a facial or other pampering is always appreciated. Rarely do we feel that we can spend the money on pampering ourselves, but receiving it as a gift is the perfect solution. Clutter-free and guilt-free pleasure!

A Kindle

Not strictly speaking a clutter-free gift, but for the avid reader it will save a lot of space on books. Particularly if combined with a voucher for Amazon.

Ebooks

The ultimate clutter-free gift. A gift card from Amazon will give your most avid reader many hours of pleasure.

Cooking Lessons

Check online for local cooking schools offering one-off or short-term classes. You can give a voucher and let your loved one decide, or you can book them in for a specific course.  From beginners to keen amateur chefs, there will be something for everyone.

Music Lessons

A term of guitar lessons or singing lessons is a thoughtful gift for the music lover or the teenager looking for a new hobby. Local music schools would offer vouchers, or you could pay for private tuition with a music student. It’s such a great way to encourage a new skill and get creative.

Learn a New Language

Enrol your loved one in a short course to learn a new language. This is something grandparents may be interested in, as well as those who plan on travelling in the near future. Check online or look up your local community college for course details.

Dance Classes

Has your nephew always wanted to learn hip-hop? Your sister interested in ballet? Sign them up for a beginner’s dance class. Often that encouragement is all someone will need to dive head first into a new passion. And if they’re a little hesitant – why not go along with them. You may just love it.

Yoga Classes

Everyone needs a little Zen in their lives. Why not buy a pass to an introductory yoga program for your loved one? It’s going to be beneficial for their health and well-being and it’s a clutter-free gift. Win-win!

Recipe Book from Family and Friends

This is an affordable and thoughful gift – take the best recipes from your collection and from your family or friends. Collate them and have them printed into a lovely book. Everyone has one never-fail recipe – share the love and pass them on. Perfect for newlyweds or young adults who are leaving home.

Practical Gifts

People roll their eyes at the idea of giving practical gifts, as if they are less worthy or interesting. But the reality is, sometimes all we need is something practical. And the money you would spend on an impractical gift – while appreciated – will be spent again when you have to buy the item you needed in the first place. Sure, it’s not that exciting to buy a new home phone, a cordless drill or a fire pit, but when it’s something wanted or needed you need to remember who the gift is for.

 

This year, give the gift of experience, not clutter. Your family and friends will thank you for it. Honestly.

What clutter-free gifts have I missed? Let me know in the comments below and I will add it to the list.

{header image via amazedtostumble on Flickr}

Slow Your Home Gift Guides Are Here!

{via Laurie | Liquid Paper on flickr}

Three months and five days til Christmas. Crazy, I know!

Last year I was due to give birth to Toby early-mid December so forced myself to be Christmas-ready by December 1. I had everything bought and wrapped, and damn if it didn’t feel good. This year there’s no baby due (phew!) but it’s still going to be my aim to have all our gifts bought and wrapped by December 1. That way I can spend December drinking cocktails and doing endless Christmas crafts with the kidlets. (At least one of those things may actually happen.)

On top of that, I still aim to stick with my gift-giving challenge of presents that are either handmade, homemade, vintage or recycled/repurposed, with the added category of experience gifts. (They leave a memory but no lingering “stuff”. Perfect!)

So I’m making a list of gift ideas for all the important people in your life for not only Christmas 2011 but birthdays, christenings, weddings and housewarmings. Some are handmade (by others), some homemade (by you), some are DIY repurposing projects and others are vintage. Rather than a “you should buy this exact thing for this exact person” kind of guide, think of it as inspiration for you to go out and buy/find/create thoughtful, meaningful, slow-home-worthy gifts for those you love. And those whose parties you have to attend regardless.

I’ll add a new gift guide most days, and have already put up Gift Ideas for Dads and Gift Ideas for Mum. Let me know if you have any suggestions and I’ll add them too.

Off to start making my list (and check it twice!)

Slow Holidays: Clutter-Free Gifts

Tim Mossholder
It’s the most wonderful (exhausting?) time of the year… and it’s almost upon us. Considering we’re now well in to November, Ben and I wanted to spend the next few weeks talking about how we may be able to reduce the stress, overwhelm, expense, clutter and expectations we all feel when the silly season arrives, and today we begin by going to the heart of the matter – gifts.

It kind of bugs me that this is the first question that comes to mind, because as far as I’m concerned, the holidays should be about spending time with people we love and having enough time to actually sit and enjoy their company. It shouldn’t be about stuff at all, and yet, that’s the overarching theme of the Christmas and holiday season.

So instead of just ranting about it, in today’s episode we offer you a few ways of changing your mindset regarding gifts and showing love, but also share a whole heap of (hopefully) practical and interesting gifts that won’t add to the endless clutter that comes with the seemingly endless gift giving.

Plus, we also talk about the benefit of experiences over things, homemade and consumable gifts and one of my favourites – giving the gift of our time and skills.

We also talk about the fact that, yes, Ben and I do give Christmas gifts to our kids, and that rather than get lost in the Toy of the Year craziness, buying whatever plastic piece of junk is on the Must Have List for all girls and boys, we stick to these guidelines. They usually serve us pretty well:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

We then also list some of my favourite clutter-free gift ideas for a variety of ages, including:

  • Young kids: movie, theatre, concert tickets, sporting event passes, annual pass to a local attraction
  • Older kids: movie or event tickets, art, music, dance or cooking classes,
  • Teenagers: classes or lessons, concert tickets, vouchers to Etsy, iTunes, Google Play etc
  • Adults: consumables, cooking lessons, online courses, charitable gifts, vouchers for babysitting, gardening, time spent together

You can also read my comprehensive Clutter-Free Gift Guide from a few years ago here.

The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide #christmas

Sometimes it takes a little creativity or a little deeper questioning on what the person would like, but these thoughtful gifts are so wonderful and you know they get to spend time doing something they enjoy as opposed to simply being given something they may or may not even need, use or want.

Undoubtedly, it’s a tricky time to make sweeping changes to the way you and your family do gifts, but even by introducing some of these ideas this year you can pave the way for simpler, slower, less cluttered Christmases in the years ahead.

Do you have a favourite clutter-free gift? What’s been the best you’ve ever received?

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