Last Minute Clutter-Free Gift Ideas

In the world of procrastination, "last minute" is a relative thing. For some of you out there, last minute Christmas shopping involves scurrying around Walmart or the mall on December 24th with a bunch of other panicky shoppers. Others may have had most of their shopping done weeks ago and think those of us who are still finishing up are slackers.

This list if for those of you who are still shopping less than 10 days before Christmas. It is my hope that, instead of snatching and grabbing a gift doomed to the re-gift pile, you'll consider giving some of these consumable, experiential, or clutter-free gifts. Here's a list to get you started:

  • Create homemade coupons for spring cleaning, baby-sitting, or lawn mowing services that you can personally offer the recipient. These service gifts are especially appreciated by the elderly and crazy-busy moms (is there any other kind?).
  • Make a video of you and your family or friends for loved ones out of town. If you really want to be clutter-free, post it on YouTube and simply send the recipient the link in an e-card.
  • Give gift certificates to nearby restaurants or coffee shops that you know the recipient frequents or is too cheap to splurge on.
  • Bake a bunch of holiday cookies, banana bread, or other tasty treats that won't take up room for long (except on the hips of the lucky recipients). If you want to go lighter and healthier you may consider a gift bag of tea or coffees or a batch of homemade soup.
  • In my neck of the woods, we have some really good bakeries for bread. A nice fresh loaf wrapped in a tea towel makes a wonderful gift for the hostess of your next holiday party.
  • My mother-in-law has amaryllis bulbs growing as gifts for her daughters-in-law right now. Once we get to her house, they should be in bloom or pretty darned close. After mine is done blooming, I can either pitch it or save the bulb for replanting next year.
  • Give to a charity in the recipient's name. I have friends who contribute to a charity that provides goats to impoverished people as a food source of milk and cheese. When I Googled "give a goat,"several different organizations came up including
  • Give a Cheese of the Month, Wine of the Month, or Chocolate of the Month annual membership. There is a *insert name here* of the Month club for just about anything that your friend or loved one is jonesing for.
  • Invite a friend without nearby family to join your family or friends for some holiday gatherings. Depression can hit hardest during the holidays, so be on the lookout for folks who may not have the same loving support network that you have.
  • Purchase movie tickets from your nearby theater. Yes, many of us tend to stay in and watch our Netflix, Tivo, or On Demand movies. But it's really fun to go out to see a flick on the big screen ever so often. And if you're feeling really adventurous or nostalgic, see if there is a drive-in theater near you and pick up some passes.
  • And my personal favorite: A gift certificate for a massage! I recently told my parents that they can give me a gift certificate to my favorite spa for every birthday and Christmas. It is such a guilty pleasure, especially since I'm always sore from my Crossfit workout.
Hopefully, this list gives you a little food for thought for those last-minute gifts you need to take care of. Some of them won't even require you to wrap them or leave your house to pick them up. And simple is always better this time of year!