The heading for the post is a little misleading because these ideas aren’t just for Christmas but can be used for any occasion or celebration.
Let me paint a picture for you. It’s December 21, a Monday and only a few days to organise your last minute shopping. You’ve seen the shopping centres, you can’t get a car park. The lines at the register are long. The kids are asking for ‘this & that’. You haven’t had lunch. Your arms are straining from all the bags. And that little voice in your head says ‘I was going to stick to a budget this year’.
Now try this picture. It’s December 21, and under the tree are some wrapped presents you’ve already bought/made/created. The rest are hidden away for Christmas morning. No last minute runs to the shops to get something for that long lost cousin whose now coming for lunch on the 25th. You have it all under control.
What’s more, these gifts have been well thought out for each person and you’ve even got a few spare gifts put away for those last minute emergencies.
Now we all know that Christmas isn’t about just gifts but there is an expectation that there will be some exchange of gifts. However, many people expect something on Christmas Day, especially kids who are often the most challenging as their expectations are different to adults.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Clutter-free gifts should:
- not add clutter to their home
- help people local or internationally who are less fortunate
- improve their skills or knowledge
- reuse, recycle or upcycle existing items
- support healthy living
- encourage living simply
- Create a budget and stick to it
- Do a little research on the recipient so you know they’ll enjoy your gift
- Consider the long term impact of what you buy/make/create
- Buy local rather than from large corporate chain stores
- Write a card that comes from the heart to match the gift.
You can visit one of my previous articles on Living Simply by clicking here
You can visit my Clutter-free gifts board on Pinterest by clicking here
So here we go with ideas:
World Vision or Oxfam Gift Cards
A generous organisation that improve the lives of children and families in developing countries. Gift cards start at $5 and you can be assured that each gift will benefit a whole community. Choose from mosquito nets, to seedlings, to a goat or teacher training Gift cards are available here for World Vision and here for Oxfam
Sponsor a Child
There are a number of organisations who work locally or internationally that will assist you to sponsor a child. You an choose between making a one-off donation or an ongoing regular sponsorship for a child. Although people don’t go home with something tangible, they will leave knowing that they’ve contributed to the improvement of another life. Check out Care Australia, World Vision, Save the Children, UNICEF and Oxfam or do your own research and find an organisation that sits with your vision and values of the world.
Always a hit with the kids as these days they often want money. This gift puts the enjoyment back into their hands. They can choose from games, apps, movies, tv shows and music. And it can be used immediately as long as they have a computer handy.
Etsy Gift Card
Etsy is the world’s largest online handmade store with an enormous range of goods made locally and across every continent. If you have a loved one who enjoys handmade gifts, then check it out. (technically this is a clutter-free gift from you, but they may buy something that clutters their home). But it is a site that promotes small businesses and hand made items and the recipient can choose that they like. Click here for more information on gift cards on Etsy
For this one – shop local and support small business. Try out that little Thai place or the new Sushi restaurant. Rather than put the voucher in an envelope, you could put it on a bottle of wine tied on with ribbon. You could even add in a baby sitter voucher if they have children.
Wine, Spirits, Beer
There is no better consumable gift. Do your research, find out what you should buy and don’t got for the soft option of choosing something expensive because ‘it’s gotta be good’. I always buy a few extra bottles ‘just in case’. This is what I made last year for my colleagues. I call them ‘Reinbeers’.
A break – from everyday life
Whether it’s a family or the grandparents, everyone needs a break. Perhaps you own a holiday house or a friend does. Book a weekend so everyone can escape the day-to-day life and experience the freedom of spending time in a new postcode for a few days. And it’s completely clutter-free.
Homemade Vouchers for your time
Homemade voucher – time is precious so make a voucher for someone special that would be meaningful for them. New parents – babysitting. Elderly – help in the garden. Busy family – cook one dinner a month for a year. What are your talents? Sewing, cleaning, washing the car, computer help, free haircut, perhaps walking their dog. A voucher of your time is valued by everyone.
Homemade Food Treats
Simple recipes for simple whole foods. It can be seasonal but jam, jelly or marmalade. Or maybe you’re a shortbread wiz (Dianne Trenfield of Warrandyte is a shortbread goddess) or maybe some of your favourite macaroons, biscuits, truffles. For the savoury taste buds, some curry paste, toasted nuts mix, chutneys and pickles.
Plants – The Gift of Green
Now plants may not be clutter free in some peoples world but think about it. Indoor plants clean the air and bring colour and life to a home. Outdoor plants can attract birds, wildlife, bring colour and even fruit. And don’t forget the vegetables in a pot either. What about succulents, cactus, native plants or maybe a trailer load of mulch. Think green.
Movie vouchers are great, they often have a period of 12 months in which they need to be used and in that time, everyone will find something they’d like to watch. I highly recommend Croydon Cinemas for those in Melbourne. At $8 a ticket for current blockbusters, it’s awesome. Plus you can purchase a wine and snacks to take into the cinema as well. Click here to see what they are currently showing.
Tickets to a Local Attraction
This one is great. Giving experiences rather than ‘stuff”. Zoo, aquarium, museum, water park, mini golf, maze – lots of fun and interesting places for people of all ages and families. You could give the tickets with something that matches the attraction – for example if it’s ticket to the Museum, give them with a packet of dinosaur shaped sweets or a water park you could wrap around a bottle of sunblock. Make it fun.
Massage / Day Spa
There is nothing like a relaxing massage and vouchers are readily available from professional masseurs. Find someone local and support your community. Day Spas have become very popular over the last ten years. A voucher for a few hours, half day or full day of personal indulgence would be appreciated by many people.
A Kindle or other Digital Reader
Okay, so this one isn’t necessarily clutter-free but great for people who love to read. It saves space on books and you can even buy them a voucher to load their new device with books from places like Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble and so on.
Cooking or Baking Lessons
Check your local community or neighbourhood houses, adult education centres and even some restaurants for a one day or classes for a term/semester. If you give a voucher, the recipient can choose which course they can do – Thai, Vegan, Baking and so on. It’s also a great gift for young people who aren’t skilled in cooking.
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!
Family and Friends Recipe Book
Canvas your friends and ask them for their favourite recipe, their signature dish. Put them together in a printed book and pass on to someone you love. Maybe even have everyone sign it as well. This is a great gift for young adults who are leaving home.
Here are some more ideas:
- Concert tickets
- Sporting event tickets
- Homemade play dough and cookie cutters
- Pet gifts (pet food, chewy toys, flea control.)
- Golf course passes
- Netflix gift subscription
- Subscriptions to magazines (technically not necessarily clutter-free but they can be passed on once read)
- Grocery store gift cards
- Car wash voucher
- Pizza delivery gift cards – would probably be most appreciated by teenagers
- Magazine subscriptions
- Lottery rickets
- Theatre tickets to a concert, play or performance
- Food gift baskets (chocolate, coffee, wine, Italian food, condiments, tea and so on)
- Voucher saying you will prepare one meal every month for your loved one.
- Music lessons
- Hobby classes (photography, cooking, etc.)
- Cleaning services gift card either by yourself or a professional
- Art class
- Audio books
- BIG experience – hot air balloon ride, sky diving and so on
- Bowling tickets
- Date night gift card for your beloved.
- Horse riding experience
- Haircut, colour, style and so on
Now it’s your turn. What clutter-free gifts have you given? How to you buy for family and friends? Only kids under 18? Is there a budget? What clutter-free gits have I forgotten? I look forward to reading your comments in the box below.