Sometimes enough is enough, and many people, even in challenging economic times, still have their basic needs met, even they still have some wants. This year, consider simple, non-material, functional gifts that people may appreciate more than “the usual” because these gifts won’t add to their closet clutter! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Teachers/Sunday school teachers/school bus driversGet together with several people to get one large item rather than pummeling them with knick-knacks. Or, try bookstore, restaurant, or shopping gift certificates accompanied by a kind note expressing your appreciation.

FamiliesIf you have been buying for each person in a family, consider buying one gift for the entire family. Get a family game, DVD, or magazine subscription related to a hobby or activity you know they do as a family.

AdultsMake a donation in their name to charity, or try restaurant, theater, or shopping gift certificates, or lessons, or a magazine subscription for a hobby or interest that they have.

SeniorsTry donations, restaurant or grocery gift certificates, prepaid gas or phone cards if they go south in the winter, errand running, snow shoveling, the services of a handyman, audio books, or a large-type version of a newspaper.

Teenagers/college studentsFind a lesson or event pertaining to a hobby or interest they have, minutes for their cell phone, concert or sporting event tickets, or gift cards.

ChildrenConsider gift certificates so they get to choose, or give the gift of time doing something they enjoy with them, lessons (Parents appreciate help with things like lessons, sports equipment, or savings bonds for education.), or homemade craft/dress-up kits.

EveryonePurchase disposable gifts including restaurant, grocery, gas gift cards, perfume, lotion, candles, and food. These can be used up instead of adding to anyone’s clutter collection.


Barbara Tako is a clutter clearing motivational speaker and author of Clutter Clearing Choices: Clear Clutter, Organize Your Home, & Reclaim Your Life (O Books, 2010), a seasonally organized book of clutter clearing tips that readers can pick and choose from to fit their personal style and needs. Sign up for her free monthly clutter clearing tips newsletter at