It’s true, clutter is in the eye of the beholder. So I asked my friends to weigh in. The gang was pretty much unanimous that you can’t go wrong with glittery insurables or cashmere, but if those aren’t in your budget, see if you can find something for everyone from this list of gifts that aren’t clutter, along with some cute packaging ideas. I’ve even made it easy for you to click and buy from this post or from the updated gift guides including:
Photo Gifts are Never Clutter.
Photo books are the new, but so much easier, scrapbook, and they are custom made for gift giving. There are tons of great ones out there, like Shutterfly and Chatbooks. There are always good deals floating around, so get a jump start on your holiday gifts with a heaping side of frugal.
Photo calendars are another custom and useful gift. Barbara Bradley Hoyer says, “I’ve been making a photo calendar every year for the past few years and giving it to the grandparents, my sister, and husband. It’s useful, full of memories, and no one feels bad throwing it away at the end of the year.”
A family photography session is another great photo gift. Sure, you can book an appointment at Target or Walmart photo studios, but for not much more you can get a great natural-light, outdoor session with a talented photographer. In my area, you can look up Kara Raudenbush Photography or Dottie Folie Photography.
Converting old slides, VCR tapes, and 8MM film into digital copies is like breathing new life into family history. How fun would it be to watch films from 30, 40, or even 50 years ago? A New Jersey-based company will transfer your memories effortlessly, for a flat rate, and all their work is done here in the US. Contact Fotobridge to get your stuff digitized before Christmas. Then you can watch your movies instead of It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Day.
Framed photo gifts are a favorite for Grandmas. Or grandpet parents. We can turn any photo into a stunning watercolor for you.
If these all sound like a good idea, but who has the time, then a simple but high-quality photo storage box that stores up to 2,400 photos pairs nicely with a gift certificate for an APPO organizer (Association of Professional Photo Organizers). HeartWork Organizing is a photo organizer, a necessity in this age of endless digital and cheap paper photos.
Tech Gifts That Aren’t Clutter
A Kindle was the killer present last year for my mom. I wasn’t sure that she’d actually use it, but she apparently can’t be separated from it. They start at just $69, and there is plenty of free content you can use with them. With the cost on these little tablets coming down, it might be the year to add one to a stocking in your house.
It’s not Clutter if you Can Eat It
We love our “S’mores” Maker. This cute little kit can be used on the dining room table. We use ours for every birthday. Chocolate came up high on the list of gifts from everyone. A bag of Lindt chocolate truffles is a great gift for sitters, teachers, and others you’d like to make smile. Sara Carroll specifically mentions Eclat Chocolate ginger caramels. I’ve had their chocolates, and they are really something special. Sarah Swartout mentions Philadelphia-made John & Kira’s at the top of her list. My own secret weapon is the holiday chocolate section at Aldi. Yes, Aldi, that funky little store that saves my family thousands on groceries, where I found these cute peppermint bark tins for under $5 each.Cherchies soups and spreads are perfect for gift giving. Their soups are great for slow cookers, and we all know how slow cooker soups are great time savers for winter days.
Wine is always a great hostess gift. I’m not much of a wine drinker myself, but I recently found this sweet wine in the PA state stores by Carl Reh. For under $10, this is a nice wine. If you prefer whites, I love a happy Riesling.
Julie Brinkman likes going out to eat. Who doesn’t? You get to spend time with each other and create memories without adding objects to your life. There are lots of restaurants giving extra gift cards along with the one you purchase. Outback is one that we especially like, giving you a $20 bonus card for every $100 of gift cards you buy. They get bonus points for being kid-friendly.
Other Consumables that aren’t clutter
Nancy Ross Vecchione loves Yves Delorme soap or powder. She says if you aren’t using the soaps right away they are a nice way to scent a linen closet. I’ve never used them, but aren’t they so pretty?Socks. Yes, socks. My favorite are SmartWool, especially thick and great padding in today’s boot fashions. Warm toes are happy toes. You can shop local by buying these great socks in many boutiques, including OutThere Outfitters in Wayne. Satin Hands is a spa treatment for hands from Mary Kay cosmetics. I’ve used this for about, oh, twenty years. It is great! Get it from Grace Butler with no shipping charge or from your favorite Mary Kay rep.
Candles are also a consumable. Life is too short not to burn your candles. Get some great ones, like this great outdoor lantern, from Lynn Bardowski through PartyLite.
Everyone Needs Help With Something
Storm Preparation Items are Hot this Year, and the Guys Love Them
Rechargeable Flashlight that plugs in so you don’t have to run for D-batteries before the next hurricane.
My personal meteorologist, (shouldn’t everyone have one?) Stephanie Chesebro and I have something in common. We don’t love umbrellas. A few years back I asked my husband for the one umbrella in the world that is worth having, and he came through with this Brookstone umbrella in yer basic black. It’s still my fave.
Keep ’em Busy
Heather McCurdy and I think alike, with family memberships to the zoo. It’s a great gift for grandparents to give, but I know they hate to do it because it doesn’t feel like there’s anything to open. Easily solved by buying a plush of your favorite zoo animal and wrapping it up for your child. We love Elmwood Park Zoo.
Kitchen Stuff You Won’t Get In Trouble for Giving
Stephanie G. works hard to match the gift to the person, really making it personal. “For example, I bought nice cookie sheets for my sister because she mentioned that she loved mine and that hers were old and warped.”
The Gift of Reading Is Definitely Not Clutter
Gift Cards that help you forget your clutter
Home Decor (Special non-clutter mention):
Home decor is usually not the best if you are looking for clutter-free, with one exception. A few years ago I received a two-pack of Footed Hurricane candle holders similar to this one, and I have to say that they are completely versatile in every room in my home, and in many styles of decor.
Gifts that Fight Clutter
A Brother PC Connectable Labeling System like this one similar to my professional version is a great tool for helping you get organized.
A shredder is a great gift, and we’ve even received one in the past. This particular SWINGLINE Stack-and-Shred 60X Hands Free Shredder, 60 Sheet Capacity, Black (1757572) is great because you don’t have to stand and feed it. It will do 60 sheets at a time without you having to babysit it. Brilliant.
If you are looking to organize your bag, consider a compartmentalized purse insert like this. An gadget like this turns out turns out to be a favorite of many, many professional organizers.
The Paper Clinch Stapleless Stapler is a fun alternative to staples. Did you know that lack of staples in an otherwise perfectly good stapler is something that many people struggle with when they are trying to get organized?
And if you just need a place to put it all, check out these adorable and totally functional personalized buckets from a Horsham, PA company, BabyBeHip. They will even fill the bucket with monogrammed gifts for you, creating a total package and shipping it for your convenience.
Need more? Here are my go-to sources for made in the USA goods. Made in USA Challenge and USA LoveList
One last word of advice: it’s probably not clutter if they ask for it. There have been years that I could really, really use something that I ask for, like high quality socks, and my relatives didn’t want to play along. My friend Pam Margolis, always the voice of reason, reminds us that she’s always happy to receive “stuff I ask for.”