Collect Memories, Not Things.
The first time I saw that phrase on Pinterest I wanted to yell, “Yes!!! Exactly!” Although you all know I love my things as much as the next person, as someone who tries to stay organized in every area of my life I really hate clutter. Clutter robs everyone of peace, joy, time, and effort. It makes homes feel anything but homey.
The tricky part is that when it comes to presents, what is treasure to one person, is clutter to another. I hate it when I see or hear about people who are holding onto things they hate–all because they feel guilty to get rid of them because they were given them as a gift.
So over the years I’ve come more and more to both give and ask for gifts that are “zero clutter”. Another way to put this is “experience gifts”. Because while things like packages of food, candles, and bath and body products are consumable; you’d be amazed at how many brand new Bath and Body Works products I pick up for pennies at garage sales because–you got it–some people consider these things clutter!
So here are my no-fail, clutter free gifts to give (and ask for!)
5 Zero Clutter Gift Ideas
1. Yearly Passes to a Fun Local Place – last year for both of the kids birthday’s I asked everyone to pitch in just a few dollars so that we could purchase one, big gift for them. For Amber is was yearly family passes to Caldwell Zoo, for Tyler is was yearly family passes to the local children’s museum. I love this idea for birthdays because it is the one gift that truly does give all year long, and you are creating amazing memories every time you go there! For adults golf memberships, Rec Center Memberships (*if* you know they go often already), Amusement Park Season Passes, etc work great! Since these gifts will always have a hefty price tag I recommend pooling resources with others you know will be giving gifts–in my opinion one big present that they’ll really love is so much better than 10 presents they won’t even remember in a few months, and this way it can actually make this super affordable!
Like every gift, I would urge you to actually consider the recipient and whether or not they would love this. Make sure it’s not a pass to a place YOU just love-because they might not! Not sure? Asking if they’d ever been to the place is a great way to find out!
No zoos or children’s museums nearby? Consider making a day trip to one as the gift which would really fall under ….
2. One time special outing Day trips to a big city a few hours away make for amazing fun and memories that will last a lifetime. A trip to a one time special thing like LegoKids Fest, A special live show like How to Train Your Dragon, a Play, an Orchestra, or a concert all make amazing gifts! Like the first suggestion, pitch in with several people and work together to plan the perfect outing for the gift receiver!
3. Classes – I know our culture treats extra circular activities as a right rather than a privilege, but in my book they are expensive and (should be) lots of fun-so why not treat them like the gift they are? For children find out what activity they REALLY want to be in, and have everyone pitch in to buy them anything from one session to an entire season of it. It can be athletic but it doesn’t have to be–art, gardening, pottery, photography–use this to help anyone in your life, adult or child, to pursue a passion they’ve always wanted to learn or develop! Since we had the bulk of the family pitch in for the Zoo Membership for Amber (see #1) we had one set of grandparents help pay for her to take ballet for the first time. She absolutely loved it and is participating again this year.
4. Food–Together. Personally one of my very favorite “indulgences” is eating at a nice, fairly pricey, sit down restaurant. Again–I know much of America views this as maybe a weekly right, but since I nearly always cook dinner paying $25 for my plate of food alone (what can I say? I love my snow crab and steak!) makes my eyeballs pop out of my head a bit. When we get sent gift cards to our favorite restaurants, or better yet when someone we love takes us out to a meal together, we create amazing memories, get to eat amazing food, I feel pampered because it didn’t require any work on my part, and best yet there is no clutter involved!
Do you hate gift cards or does your recipient eat out regularly so it wouldn’t seem special? Try something like an eating tour–they’re available in most big cities and combine the fun and no clutter of this idea with adding in an extra flair of excitement and adventure!
5. Organization, Cleaning, or Talents Although this is definitely an “outside of the box” kind of gift idea it can work perfectly in certain situations. A few years ago as a gift I helped both of my Grandma’s sort through their boxes of photographs that were all hodge podge and then organized them. Most went into manila envelopes due to time and budget, but I did purchase a few photo albums and filled them up with pictures. This is a great way to combine a useful, nice gift (photo album) and make sure it doesn’t turn into clutter by taking the work upon yourself.
If you’re great at organizing and know that you have a busy relative who either lacks the time or ability and would love a hand this could be a great gift idea!
Or maybe you’re a whiz at cooking and a person on your list hates it. Give the gift of a “personal chef” and bring them dinner over every night for a week.
This idea is really only limited to your creativity and talents!
Since I love “experience gifts” so much it’s no surprise that when I found out about Xperience Days I thought it was a brilliant idea! All of their gifts fall into the categories listed above. They’re an amazing resource if you’re looking to find that perfect “zero clutter” gift but are having a hard time coming up with options, or maybe you don’t live in the same area as the recipient so you’re not sure what is available. The site allows you to search by Location, Price, or Activity–and they offer everything from a Nascar driving experience, to flight lessons, to food tours & painting lessons. If you can dream it up it’s probably there!