Clutter-free gift giving

Like it or not, the season of gift giving is just around the corner. This year, try to “think outside the gift box.” Now is the time to start thinking about clutter-free gifts.

While getting your own clutter under wraps, try not to add to the clutter of others. Think like a minimalist, and do your best to figure out what to give without adding more stuff to someone else’s closet.

Gift cards are a nice option, but if the person buys something with the card that becomes clutter, that is not good. Try gift cards for things like Kindle, iTunes or other digital products. A digital subscription to a magazine or newspaper can save space and spread joy. Offer a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription for the movie lover in your life. Yes, these things might clutter up your cell phone memory or your computer, but there will be no mess around the house.

Starbucks or other food-related gift cards are consumed so they do not add clutter. And who wouldn’t appreciate a gas card?

Tickets to an event, like a ballgame, are always winners. Between the Orioles, Ravens, Blast or college sports, there is a sporting event in just about any price range. The Ravens and Orioles have tours through the stadium that would make a nice gift for a sports fan, too. Admission to an ice rink, batting cage or membership to a gym are similar gift ideas for people who would rather be athletic than watch games.

The Maryland Zoo and National Aquarium both have memberships to help support local non-profits. There are other organizations, museums and galleries that have memberships as well.

Parents may give the family a weekend trip or vacation as a gift. Any child’s face would light up at the thought of a trip to Disney or other kid-friendly amusement park. Maybe you have a condo somewhere and can offer it to a friend for a few days. Add watching their pets while they are away, as a bonus.

A young family may treasure your services as a babysitter. Does your niece or granddaughter appreciate a craft or other ability you have? Offer your services as a teacher and pass down your talents to another generation. Cooking lessons will come in handy to your friend or family member who consistently burns dinner. Or create a PDF booklet of old family recipes and digitally send it to everyone in the family.

Of course, you can go the philanthropic way and make a donation to a worthy cause in someone’s name. Kids rarely value this gesture, but adults might. There are worthwhile organizations in the areas of education (any school), eliminating poverty worldwide (Heifer International), sports (Torrey Smith Foundation), religious charities, pet rescues (SPCA), research for diseases (Susan G. Komens) or any number of other causes. Do a little research before donating to make sure you pick a deserving non-profit. Try to pick an organization that has meaning to the recipient and not just a charity you love.

Remember that giving does not have to mean giving “stuff,” adding to the clutter in someone’s life. It is the thought that counts, so think about ways you can give clutter-free gifts that will be even better than the gifts people are used to getting.

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