Stop Buying Clutter Gifts!

If you celebrate the holidays, I'm hoping that I'm not too late. I'm hoping that you've been procrastinating (I know, blasphemy coming from a professional organizer!) and haven't gotten too far into your holiday shopping.

I say this because I want you to try something a little different before buying what may very well be future clutter for your friends and family members.

1. This year, try asking your friends and relatives if there is anything special that they would like for the holidays. Then give them what they ask for.

2. If they say that they don't have anything in mind, try buying gift certificates or consumable items as gifts.

Here are a few clutter-free gift ideas from professional organizer, Jeri Dansky. And Georgia organizing expert, Monica Ricci, has a great clutter-free list in her article in the November-December issue of the new Organize magazine.

I make this zany request because almost all of my organizing clients have held up what I call "clutter gifts" and grumbled, "This was a gift from (insert friend/relative's name here). It's not my taste, but I feel guilty when I think about getting rid of it." And so the gift sits in its box in the back of a closet, cabinet, or drawer. I'm talking about expensive stuff from Williams-Sonoma, Lenox and Tiffany & Co., people!

Please don't give a gift just for the sake of giving a gift. Make sure the gift is something that the recipient wants and will use. Otherwise, you may just be giving them clutter that they then have to store or dispose of through donation, consignment or re-gifting.

In my husband's family, they used to have a tradition of passing around catalog pages as their Christmas wish lists. At first, I found this ritual a bit forced until I realized that every year I got exactly what I wanted. As we all got older and our houses got more full, we decided that there were just too many gifts to buy and receive each year so we drew names for awhile. Now, we all just exchange gifts with the matriarch (who will probably never give up the gift exchange ritual) and the grandkids.

What holiday gift traditions does your family practice? Do you have any cool ideas about clutter-free gifts that you'd like to share?


Monica Ricci said...

Suellen, thanks for the mention! I have been passionate about decluttering holiday giving since way before I was even an organizer. It just makes sense and now I have a forum to express it! :)