Rethink Gift Giving for a Clutter-free Holiday: 7 Great Ideas to get you started!

As the holiday season approaches, consider that the best gift you might give those on your list is less clutter to deal with. Let’s face it, we all have those well-intentioned friends and family who have given us things that just aren’t right for us, and we’re left holding on to something out of guilt or fear of hurting the gift-giver’s feelings.

Instead of scrambling around for another scarf, bag, pair of gloves or vase, consider gifting something that takes up no physical space at all.

Here’s 7 Great Ideas to Get you Thinking Gifts Outside the Box…

1.) Consumables – Gifts of food, wine/beverages, and other personal care items (e.g. fragrances, bath products) that are consumable can be a great choice. Score extra gift-giving points by going with something homemade or with a personal touch. Be careful to know your recipients’ tastes and preferences so that they don’t end up with yet another bottle of lotion in that not-quite-right scent on the shelf!

2.) Museum memberships – A fun choice for kids and adults alike. Memberships to local museums, art galleries, and other cultural venues will have them thinking of you all year long.  In fact, if you can arrange to join your “giftee” for a visit, all the better. Nothing is more valuable than time spent together and sharing the joys of experience. Locally in New England, there are countless options beyond the obvious, including The Discovery Museum in Acton and The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

3.) Classes – Consider cooking classes (great for both adults and kids), fitness classes, dance lessons, art/paint night, swimming lessons, writing workshops, retreats…the possibilities are endless.  What a great way to expand and add a life-long skill to someone’s world. I believe that we should strive to learn something new every day.

4.) Photo gifts – Help get treasured photos out of your camera and smart phone and into a format that can be enjoyed by everyone. Places like Snapfish and Shutterfly can make easy-to-produce photo gifts.  For a higher end finish, try Mpix.comCreating a photo book is a low cost but high impact gift that is very thoughtful and personal. 

5.) Tickets – Sporting events, concerts, movies, theater, ballet – you get the idea.  Another great way to spend time together.

6.) Subscription Boxes – Growing in popularity, these services send a monthly “kit” full of educational activities, games and crafts to the recipient. Great for Grandparents who don’t always get to see their grandchildren as often as they’d like. For the reduce clutter aspect of this gift, teach children that each time a new box arrives it’s time to weed out our outdated items to donate, pass-on or disgard. Now that’s a gift that keep’s on giving while it teaches organizational skills! Check out Koala Crate, Kiwi Crate, Tinker Crate or Little Passports just to name a few. There’s even a version for pets at Not looking for a years worth, most have the option to get 1-3 months instead.

7.) Charitable Donations & Volunteering – If you’re really looking to do something special, why not make a donation to a favorite charity in your loved one’s name? Or consider adopting a family for the holidays and filling a wish list for those who wouldn’t otherwise have anything?  Or volunteer together for a day. Cradles to Crayons and Community Servings are examples of local charities who welcome volunteer support throughout the year.

I hope these ideas get you thinking about different ways to give and add meaning to the gifts you give this holiday season. Have any suggestions or things you do as an alternative to buying more gifts? Please share in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!








Image: © David Bares

About Wendy Buglio

Wendy is the CEO & Owner of Living Peace, a Certified Professional Organizer who has earned both Level II CD (Chronic Disorganization) and ADD Specialist designations from the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She is dedicated to discovering what’s most important and then developing strategies to get everything else out of the way. With her non-judgmental approach and calming energy (combined with a healthy dose of reality and a sense of humor), she works with clients to make decisions and take action to create desired change. She applies this approach to physical objects in residential and office environments, but also to intangible “clutter” – such as tasks, obligations and goals – helping to maximize her clients’ productivity and organization. Some of her favorite clients have ADD – something that Wendy sees as an asset to creative thinkers and entrepreneurs! Wendy lives in Arlington, MA with her husband Mike (bookstore owner), their 7-year-old son Tony, and rescue dog Rosie. In her free time, she loves to entertain and plan events, visit Downeast Maine, and is a competitive fantasy football player. She is a repeat 39-mile walker for the Avon 39, The Walk to End Breast Cancer.

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