Thursday, December 8, 2011

De-Clutter Your Gift-Giving

We’re all thinking about the perfect gift for that sweet family member.  Or the office gift exchange.   Perhaps you have a grandparent who “has everything” and you’re scrounging around “trying to figure out” what to give him or her.    Maybe you just want to give a gift that doesn’t add to the clutter of the recipient’s home.   Whatever.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled from several other lists I’ve gathered over the years.   Gifts that don’t clutter up the home and that don’t bust the budget (unless you like going overboard).   Gifts that you’ll be proud to give and they’ll be happy to receive.

Let’s Get Started

Start with a basket from the dollar store or second-hand store.   If you’re giving gift certificates, look for a smaller basket.  Not so much space to fill and doesn’t look half-empty!

When buying a second-hand basket make sure it is absolutely spotless.  Wicker and other “natural” materials can easily be washed in the laundry sink with a stiff brush—let dry in room temp.   Jazz it up with ribbon or spray paint it with some glitzy gold or shimmering silver.  

Crumple some wrapping or tissue paper to put in the bottom.  OR shredded paper (Use OLD wrapping paper & run it through your own shredder!!!  Save paper from this year and bag it up for next year.)  

Then put some stuff in it.  (see the list below)   Wrap every item separately OR put the basket in a large gift bag with lots of tissue paper and streamers!   

Clutter-Free Gift Ideas
  1. Gift cards or coupons or vouchers to the local . . .
    1. grocery store
    2. drugstore or pharmacy
    3. hair salon for a perm or haircut
    4. spa, tanning or nail salon, pedicure, manicure, wax-job
    5. massage for foot, neck or back rub
    6. veterinarian
    7. car wash
    8. gas station for fuel or oil changes or lube jobs
    9. nice restaurant 
    10. fast-food restaurant
    11. coffee shop
    12. breakfast at a local café
    13. museum, zoo, aquarium, planetarium---one-year membership
    14. golf course for a round or a bucket of balls on the driving range
    15. movie theater
    16. theater, concert or sporting event for season’s passes or one-time special event
    17. building supply or home improvement store
    18. computer classes
    19. swimming pool passes or classes
    20. lawn care
    21. book store
  2. Postage stamps, postcards, note cards, envelopes, stationery, address book/list of family, pretty notepads or shopping list pads
  3. Gift certificate to help with home chores:   window washing, vacuuming, raking leaves, shoveling snow, babysitting, cutting the lawn, walking the pets, cleaning fireplace, scrubbing a deck
  4. Pre-paid
    1. phone cards
    2. Netflix
  5. Rolls or folded wrapping paper or bulk boxes of greeting cards
  6. Bird-feeding supplies (feeder, seed, hangars, binoculars, bird field guide)
Food items to shop for or make from scratch and add to a pretty basket:
  1. Small baggies filled with a handful of Christmas cookies from your own baking day.  Put in a zippered bag.  Add the recipes in the basket.
  2. Consumable kitchen supplies:   tea, coffee, coffee filters, drink mixes, flavored creamers; snacks & treats, cereal, baking supplies
  3. Themed-dinner:   spaghetti (Parmesan cheese), soup (croutons), lasagna….provide all the non-perishables and a recipe
  4. Bottle of wine, a loaf of French bread, a pot of garlic butter to spread, and a hunk of cheese
  5. Staples & necessities like flour, sugar, cake mixes, Jell-O, pasta, tuna, toilet paper, popcorn
  6. Non-perishable “fancy” or ethnic foods (smoked oysters, kippers, olives, coffee, tea, cocoa, home-made preserves, jam, condiments, sauces, fancy fruit, maple syrup, wild rice, cheese, sausage, smoked fish)
  7. Single-serving cans of soup, dinner casseroles
  8. Bags of individually wrapped candy or candy bars
  9. An assortment of nuts (pistachios, macadamias, pecans)
  10. Toiletries:   shampoo, hair spray, lotion, soap, nail polish, perfume, aftershave, bath soaps
  11. Cleaning products:  dish soap, laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, magic erasers
  12. Craft supplies (glue sticks, photo corners, fusible bond)
  13. Paper for the home-printer
Gifts that you can order & personalize on-line and have delivered to your recipient:  Do them once or every three months or monthly . . . fit to your budget!
  1. Potted plants
  2. Bouquets of seasonal flowers for the table or desk
  3. Bags of spring or fall bulbs ready to plant in the yard (make sure recipient appreciates this)
  4. Gift certificate to apply toward a monthly bill:   electric, water, gas, trash, sewer, cable/dish TV
  5. Pre-paid “life-long learning” class at a community college
  6. Flowers or fruit or candy or dessert-of-the-month club gift-certificates
  7. Subscription to local newspaper
  8. Subscription to favorite magazine
  9. Books on tape (for the hard-of-hearing or travelers)
Gifts that you can make or personalize:
  1. A personalized calendar (family picts) and birthdays & anniversaries written in
  2. Photo album or scrapbook with “Family Tree” information and all old photos labeled neatly
  3. A craft kit relevant to the recipient's hobbies:  yarn, scrapbooking supplies, sketch books, paints
  4. A kitchen kit for a new-cook:  whisk, wooden spoons, measuring cup or spoons, recipe cards
Pool your resources with your siblings or other family members:
  1. buy a large item that needs replacement: water softener, microwave, bread machine, coffee maker, toaster oven
  2. major chores:   landscaping, painting the house, re-roofing, adding a deck
  3. household chores:   indexing the library, painting a room, helping put items up for auction on eBay

As you've probably noticed, you now have a TON of ideas and have already thought of a few more of your own specific to the people on your Gift List.    Please share a comment here, so others can hitch-hike on your ideas!

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