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If you’ve been decluttering your home…
…focusing on the less tangible, enjoying the peace and simplicity of a home without excess, and reveling in your newfound freedom from STUFF, chances are you’re hoping to keep things this way.
That means you would prefer to receive clutter-free gifts, and since you recognize the benefits of being clutter-free, you’d also like to GIVE clutter-free gifts to the people you love.
And even though gift cards are great, they’re not always the most fun to give or unwrap.
If your gift recipient is passionate about a certain issue, a donation in their name could be the perfect clutter-free gift for them.
- Sponsor a child (the same age as them) at Children International or Save the Children
- Adopt an endangered animal
Be sure the charity you choose to support in their name is in line with their values. Often, a “cause” can have many different charities, some of which may be preferred over others to your gift recipient for various reasons.
- Heifer International – gift animals, stoves, or irrigation pumps to a community in a developing nation, send a child to school, or help women start sustainable businesses.
When you give ingredients for a project, experience, or recipe that won’t clutter the recipient’s house, you’re giving an experience that’s enjoyable and memorable.
- Craft materials for a specific project that will be used and enjoyed, not one that will clutter up the house. Like a moccasin kit, a birdhouse kit, and so on.
- Beeswax candle kit – then actually USE the candles once they’re made.
- Kit for making bubble gum, root beer, or bath/body products like lip balm.
- Ingredients for a special baking project to do together
- Ingredients and a recipe for homemade play-doh, slime, bubble soap, sidewalk chalk, or other fun things that get “used up.”
- Ingredients for a gourmet dinner (fancy pasta, really nice olive oil, tapenade, etc.)
- Homemade herbs/spice/seasoning mixes with instructions for how to use them, or recipe ideas.
- “Movie night in a box” with a DVD or iTunes gift card, or a gift certificate to Netflix or another service, popping corn, popcorn toppings, favorite candies, etc.
Subscriptions can be really fun clutter-free gifts, because they “keep giving” over several months, or even the whole year.
- Kiwi Crate – a subscription service that provides kids with “ingredients” each month for specific craft projects. Extra materials can be added for each additional sibling, so no one is left out.
- Magazines – like National Geographic Kids or Little Kids, Highlights, Muse (a science magazine for big kids), Zoobooks, Ranger Rick, Dig into History, Sports Illustrated for Kids, or tons of others.
- SparkleStories – audio story subscription for kids (by age group)
- Agnitus iPad app subscription
- ___ of the month club (chocolate, fruit, beer, cheese, wine, bacon)
- Audible book credits
- Kindle Unlimited subscription
- Netflix subscription
- Internet services – flickr pro account, crashplan backup service, whatever else
Memberships or Experiences
Memberships to favorite local attractions are awesome clutter-free gifts that “keep giving” all year, but even if you can’t or don’t want to gift an entire year’s membership, you could give the experience of a one-time visit. Send tickets or money for a day’s admission, along with a note, if you’re far away. Or, if you’re local to the recipients, you could invite them for a trip and all go together.
- Zoo membership, or a trip to the zoo
- Skating Rink membership, or a visit to go ice skating
- Children’s Museum Membership, or a day at the museum
- (Same for aquariums, gardens, science senters, theme parks, rock climbing, swimming, and so on.)
- A manicure, pedicure, or other spa treatment either with a parent or a best friend.
- Tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event (to a single event or the whole season)
- Gym membership, or a session with a personal trainer.
- Yoga Studio Membership, or a lesson or class
- A manicure, pedicure, massage, hair cut, or other spa treatment.
- Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership
- A fishing license (and a gift certificate to a bait shop) or hunting license (with ammunition)
Plants and animals are definitely NOT clutter! Just make sure you NEVER give someone a pet unless you’re 100% sure they’re prepared for and committed to the responsibility (and expense, including preventative and emergency veterinary costs) of owning that pet for its lifetime.
- Green Toys indoor gardening kit
- A pet you’re all committed to having for its lifetime and prepaerd to care for
- Non-poisonous house plants
Lessons or tuition money toward more education in a subject the gift recipient is interested in is a clutter-free gift that will be with them forever. “Stuff” comes and goes, but knowledge and experiences are forever.
- Extracurricular classes – a sport, instrument instruction, dance class, swimming lessons, etc.
- EngagewiththePage.com subscription – Each kit includes a book, along with 3-5 hours worth of step-by-step related activities to do with your child.
- Membership to an online course, community, or program they’re interested in.
- The Define School for photography – I took an online class here (no longer available) a couple of years ago, and it totally changed the way I used my camera and how I “see” pictures.
Do I even have to explain this one? All year, my daughter has been telling me how she’s so excited about Christmas, because she might get a chocolate chip Larabar in her stocking again. I can’t make this stuff up. Food might just be the ultimate clutter-free gifts. Just be aware of dietary restrictions and allergies.
For Kids (or Anyone)
- Larabars – my kids love the chocolate chip flavors as a very special treat
- Extra-big/juicy raisins – I found jars of these at TJMaxx last year, and the kids went CRAZY for them.
- “Buddy Fruits Bites” 100% fruit/juice snacks
- Harry & David pears, fruits
- A favorite nut butter – Justin’s chocolate hazelnut spread is a favorite of mine, and my husband loves any crunchy peanut butter (I got him a case of this kind for his birthday and he LOVED it)
- Gourmet popcorn
- Fair-Trade chocolates
- Something homemade – cookies, peppermint bark, peanut brittle, pralines, etc.
- Hot cocoa mixes
- Mixed nuts or trail mix
- Wine from a favorite vineyard, or craft beer
- Gourmet coffee
- Homemade jam, canned tomatoes, or other preserved goods.
These are fun things to unwrap, but they will be used, and used UP, so they won’t be forever-clutter.
- Coloring books
- Crayons, paints, tape, glue, craft supplies
- Bubble soap
- Sidewalk chalk – this is our favorite kind. SO bright.
- Bath crayons, bath color tabs, bath bombs, bubble bath
- Construction paper
- Essential oils
- Bath salts
- Bubble bath
- Nice lotion or moisturizer
- Hand soap in a favorite scent
- Clay or cucumber face masks
- A favorite makeup or nail polish
Your Skills and Time
These are great clutter-free gifts for people you’d love to spend more time with, especially if you have a skill you can share with them or teach them.
Teach a friend or family member:
- How to knit, crochet, embroider, or sew
- How to bake your “signature” treat, or cook a favorite meal
- How to play an instrument
- How to do pottery
- Be a running buddy or coach, personal trainer, or yoga partner
- Practice using a second language in conversation, if you’re fluent in a language they’re learning
- If you’re a photographer, give the gift of a photo session.
There you go! Clutter-Free Gifts!
Now you’ve got a whole ton of ideas for what to put on YOUR wish list, if you’re trying to stay clutter-free, and what to give to friends and family members without adding to the clutter of their homes!
Here’s the thing though.
Sometimes people DO want “stuff.” So if you like to give “stuff” and the person wants “stuff,” go for it!
I have a wish list that’s not non-stuff, personally. A lot of camera/video related things, a pair of shoes I really want, a few kitchen things, some of my favorite treats, a specific picnic blanket to replace the one we wore out, things like that. If you’re not sure if your recipient has a wish list, ask!
And sometimes I like to give “stuff” too… I just always try to give thing I know the person actually wants (like from a wish list), or that I’m almost positive they’ll use and enjoy (i.e., it won’t be clutter).
But if there’s any doubt in my mind about whether what I’m thinking of giving will be clutter or not, I try to aim for a clutter-free gift instead.
I’m sure I missed some!
What are your favorite clutter-free gifts to give? To receive?