Guide to clutter-free gift giving


Sparkleize encourages sensible, sustainable gift buying that won’t lead to bulging closets and clogged attics.

Some favorite clutter-free gift ideas:

  1. One-year gift membership to Consumer Reports or Angie’s List. Both are useful and promote responsible consumer choices – gifts which keep on giving!
  2. Donate to a charity in honor of someone. So many hard-working organizations need your money way more than your relatives and friends need more junk! You’ll feel good about it, and so will the recipient.
  3. Passes or a membership to a museum in the recipient’s home town. This is a great gift for children.
  4. Theater or concert tickets. Awesome!
  5. Shopping for a busy mom? Get her a spa or massage gift certificate.
  6. Lessons or classes. Give the gift of cooking or pottery classes, or salsa dance lessons! Even better: take the class with them!
  7. Photos. Most people, especially family members, love receiving current photos of you and your loved ones. Studios in shopping malls and department stores offer quick, inexpensive photo shoots with lots of photo ordering options. Pair it with a nice frame, and you’ve got a one-of-a-kind gift that is truly meaningful.

Clutter-free gift giving in a nutshell:

  • Steer clear of material gifts. Consider presents which are consumables, services, charitable contributions, memberships, or those which involve your time and friendship – rather than material stuff that folks don’t need.
  • Create memories, not junk! The greatest gift you can give someone is the time you spend with them. Generate lasting memories by doing things together. Making plans which include talking, eating and/or walking is always a good start.
  • Beware of gift cards. Giving a gift card to a chain retail store seems a bit better than a material gift; however, these are not the necessarily the best choice either. Think of it this way: often people feel obligated to pick something out at a store – not necessarily because they need it but because they have a gift card in their wallet which someone gave them. Unnecessary spending is a big factor in clutter! However, if you must give a gift card, choose one from a local, independent store so that the money stays in the community.
  • Buy local. If you must buy stuff, shop locally. (Here’s my Guide to Shopping Locally in Durham.) For example, one of the best place to find unique, handmade/homegrown gifts is your local farmer’s market!

Have additional thoughts or ideas to share? Leave a comment, or write to Crystal and let her know!