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.


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.


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.


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.


32 Responses to The Ultimate Clutter-Free Gift Guide

  1. This year we are facing an extremely tight budget so most of these are out. Second thing my husband side of the family snide at homemade things let alone donations to charity. I just want to give them giant empty jars labeled nothing since that´s what they say they want even thought they are lying.

  2. Definitely yes on the gift cards. I have sone things (all upgrades or replacements of things that are dead, dying, or woefully outdated) on Amazon I want,they’re things but things I need rather than clutter, and even if I get every last one of them there will always be Kindle books left to spend any extea on. Google Play for my music, and the dozen or so apps I haven’t budgeted in yet. Music, language, and dance lessons would be nice too, but nobody I know could afford to give those. Amazon and Google can be $5 to incomprehensible amounts, they scale a lot better than the skill builders that may be too costly to give. Practical is good too, somebody gives me some good wool socks and I’m happy, a nice pair runs $20-30 and they aren’t something you run across at the thrift store.

  3. I love this! This year my family (Mum, Dad, brother, sister-in-law and my hubby) are deciding we don’t want anything but time with one another so we are all putting our money in to book a weekend away together. We will buy a little pressie for my niece however as it is a bit fun to buy for the kids. Saves a whole heap of ‘I hope they’ll like it/use its’.

    My husband and I decided we aren’t going to do material pressies for one another, rather out our money towards a road trip.

    I feel very excited about the time ill save wandering through shops and googling! :)

  4. Last Christmas we went with Riot points (game points) and a green shopping bag of his favourite foods for my 14 year old. Fancy chocolate, basic chocolate biscuits, the junk cereal we won’t usually get, snickers. Stuff that he likes that isn’t part of the everyday shopping. He’s already asked for the same again this year. Not cheap, particularly the points, although I picked most of the food up on sale over a few weeks beforehand, but very much clutter free.
    We also laid out a blanket under the tree and spread the (old) board games and a few books out underneath it and spent some time over Christmas just hanging out playing. Very low key, doing it again this year.

  5. Wonderful suggestions! I personally like giving and receiving edible gifts & gift certificates. Massage & spa vouchers are also awesome gifts :)

  6. I like Kiva Gift Cards – they have the added bonus of the recipient choosing who to donate to and then being able to reloan the money multiple times over :)

  7. Great list! Gave me some new ideas! One of the gifts we’re giving our 19yo is horseback riding. She hasn’t done it since she was young, but loves and misses it this expensive activity. I also love to give things related to the person’s hobby — wet suit for my husband who does triathlons (one early in the season), paint brushes for my father, and a bowling ball for my other daughter.

  8. Great ideas! I found a gift for my brother (at Xmas) and nephew (on his birthday) which are clutter free, not too expensive (as we split it between my sister and I :D, and the best thing: They love it!. They are great fans of the Real Madrid football team, so we get them the Madridista card ;). They get discounts in the R.M. shop, they can get tickets before they’re on sale, etc,etc. It’s also great because every year we just renew it so that takes something of our minds too!. This year I’ve been looking at other cards, like different museum cards – I like the name of the card Amigo del museo….. Friend of the …museum (you can get them for the Prado, Reina Sofía, Thyssen etc) which allows the person you get it for to visit the museum for free for the whole year round, getting also discounts and being able to visit other museums with discounts or for free. My daughter is a vegan and supports a few ONG (can that be NGO in english?? ) so we got her a t-shirt for one, and the money will go towards the care of three ill animals. Hope she likes it!. Happy Xmas from Madrid (Spain)!!!

  9. I live as sustainable & simple a life as possible. My birthday is tomorrow & I’ve asked my two grown children to give me labour for my birthday & christmas. My floors need sanding badly – hope they can do it!

    I also make natural, vegan products: hand-made soap & skin cream are two things that my customers love to give. They’re natural, most people use them, and they’re consumable – no added clutter!

  10. Great ideas!

    Just let you know there are companies offering experiences to kids too. They get the voucher in a cute lunch box, together with a bracelet. You have a wide range of prices as well as options (theatre, cooking lessons, a day at the zoo, etc) I’ll get one for the children in the family, for sure. No need for a whole bunch of toys they will hardly pay attention to.

  11. Wow this is so comprehensive, there are ideas for everyone here! I love the idea of giving your time and your skills. These are just as valuable (if not more so) as any material object, and often so much more appreciated and useful. This year I am planning on giving my father a dinner out & a jazz concert that I can enjoy with him, and my mother a voucher for cleaning her closet and creating a simple collection of clothes that works for her. Christmas is really about spending time together and experiences really allow you to do that. Thanks for sharing!

    • The gift of our time and skills is so often overlooked, but there is just so much we can give to those around us. I love your idea of helping your mum create a simpler wardrobe. That in itself will be a gift that keeps giving throughout the year. Beautiful!

  12. Gift cards for gardening supplies. We want to start a raised bed garden (our soil is mostly rocks), but the initial investment is steep. We’ll use and enjoy it for years to come while we nourish and exercise our bodies.

    • SUCH a great idea, Renee. And nice work on wanting to start the garden. It’s one of my favourite things to do – coaxing seeds to grow from the soil, watching them bear fruit and then eating the rewards. You’ll love it!

  13. These are all great suggestions. I love the idea of consumable gifts. Buying fabric for someone who loves to sew is a great idea also. Thanks for all of the great ideas.

  14. Great ideas. On my website I’ve got some lists of alternative presents ideas for different age groups, offering alternative ideas to just going out and buying something, anything. Just thought you might be interested. X

  15. I love to give handmade gifts but this year our group of friends are playibg the gift exchange game. I plan on making a voucher or two for customized pj pants and I was thinking about seed packets, we all love gardening. The plant gift idea I will use as well as the Google Play voucher…

    And one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever recieved was a large bottle of Paul Mitchell shampoo and conditioner…

  16. Thanks for this great post! I was so excited to see ‘recipe book’ on this list. I’ve just finished making this exact gift and your post gives me hope they’ll be well received :o)

    I asked each of my siblings, in-laws and the Grandparents for their favourite recipes and collated these, along with some extra recipes to bulk it out a bit, into a family recipe book. I made each of the recipes, with the help of my very enthusiastic two year old girl, and took photos of her helping stirring, tipping ingredients into the bowls etc for the main stages of each recipe.

    We had the books printed by a small local printer and we’ll give a recipe book to each of our siblings and their families and Grandparents with a batch of fudge or bikkies (still works out cheaper than buying individual gifts for our ever expanding family!).

    It’s taken a few months to make all the recipes so we could take the ‘action shots’, but that has been fantastic time spent with my little girl that I will always treasure. I was amazed at how much help a two year old could be in the kitchen too!

    We hope this’ll be a fun and practical gift that family members will use for many years, and hopefully they’ll get a kick out of seeing their name and photo in the recipe titles (eg ‘Nanny M’s Apple Crumble’, Uncle JJ’s Coconut Slice etc).

    Thanks again for your post :o)

  17. I’m so glad someone thinks like I do. I could go without the receiving of gifts. But a word of warning. One year I tried to do secret santa & told by some inlaws that it would ruin Christmas. So I emailed the family & said I will be giving charitable gifts & request the same, if anything in return. I was laughed at for buying gifts which didn’t benefit the recipient. I did it anyway. Now I just buy everyone a Christmas decoration every year. Saves the arguments.

  18. Knowing I have an oil core electric skillet, I sat and thought how I could make individual servings of meatloaf using the skillet and not heat the house up during cooking.
    One of the most commonly used tools for preparing English muffins are the metal rings.
    Go for Microwave ovens instead of the conventional gas stoves as
    the former consumes only 50% energy than the latter.

  19. You’ve got some really fantastic gift ideas! I was looking for gift ideas for my daughter’s debut party (18th birthday)when I came across this list.

    Instead of splurging on material gifts, we’re thinking of sending her abroad to explore an Asian destination of her choice since we live in the Philippines anyway.

  20. I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a lot of
    time writing, i know how to save you a lot of time, there is an online tool that creates readable, SEO friendly posts in seconds,
    just search in google – laranitas free content source

  21. What i do not understood is in reality how you’re not really a
    lot more smartly-liked than you might be now. You are very intelligent.
    You recognize thus considerably on the subject of this topic, produced me in my opinion believe it from a lot of various angles.
    Its like men and women are not interested until it’s something to accomplish
    with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs nice. At all times maintain it up!

  22. I don’t know if you still look at comments from this old post, just wanted to say thank you for this great list!! We have a few like-minded family members who are very much into clutter-free gifting, but a few that are like, “ooh, but it just isn’t the same without a bow and wrapping paper!” So I like that you included things that can be physically handed over too, like vouchers. :) Also, I just have to say, I know it’s spam or click-bait or whatever, but the comment before mine absolutely made me lose it with wild laughter. I love how they threw Lady Gaga in… what the heck?

    • Thanks Danielle! It’s sometimes a little difficult to strike a balance with the giving of tangible stuff isn’t it? I know a lot of people still like the process of wrapping and exchanging gifts, so definitely tried to cover all bases. Also, some of the comments I get here are gold. :)