13Searching for gift ideas that thoughtful but clutter-free is one of my biggest challenges each holiday season. I have a big family and love giving gifts, but I also want to make sure that I’m not giving gifts that will sit around collecting dust or create clutter for their recipients. I’ve found the best way to do this is to focus on giving people experiences and when that’s not possible, I try to give practical gifts that also show the person I care. Needless to say, I need to start my planning early!

Ideas for Clutter-Free Experiences

Groupon and similar sites are a holiday staple for me. They not only allow me to give my friends and family fun activities, but there is a big variety of activites to browse which helps me work though any gift-idea writers block. If you find yourself procrastinating on gift-giving, these sites can be life savers because they are available immediately after purchased and can be emailed to loved ones anywhere in the world. No need to allow time for shipping!

Give the gift of a helping hand. If you work in the DC metro area like me, you understand the importance of proper car maintenance. You likely also understand how impossibly frustrating it can be to coordinate getting routine car work done. One of the best gifts I ever received was a new set of tires and a car detail. It may not sound particularly romantic, but since my car doubles as my office, it was incredibly thoughtful and perfect for me. Try to think of something you can do for your loved one that will make a big impact on their day whether it’s a surprise maid service to clean even the baseboards that no one wants to do, coordinating with other parents to arrange a day where your spouse has no carpool duties (can you imagine??), or having all those digital photos organized and labeled.

Give the gift of food. I say it a lot and I’ll say it again – if all else fails, give food. Plan a family dinner and have the whole family sit down to eat together and talk about life and reconnect. We live in a busy world and this time will be appreciated by the whole family. If you have kids, have them bake and decorate cookies to send to grandparents along with a special note.

Clutter “Lite” Gifts

Photo calendar – A fun and useful gift that will let the recipient enjoy personalized memories throughout the year and then dispose of it.

Gift cards – Some people think that gift cards aren’t personal enough, but if you get the right one they can be. Be thoughtful about which company you’re giving a gift card from. Gift cards are especially appreciated by younger members of your family that are starting to move out on their own and learning just how expensive independent life is.

Books – Books provide loved ones with hours of enjoyment and can be easily donated to a local library when finished to pass along the gift to others.

Happy Gift-Giving!

Stephanie