Clutter-Free Gift Ideas

by guest blogger Maya Rodale, writer of historical tales of true love and adventure.

When I was a kid, Santa would not come unless I cleaned out my room first. We hauled out bags of trash and donated toys to make room for new stuff. And then as I got older, I stopped wanting new stuff, but I still really wanted to clean out my apartment. I love the cleanliness and the lightness that comes from clearing away the clutter. But the holidays…they are an explosion of stuff and clutter.

Don’t throw a clutter bomb at someone! Here are some alternative gift ideas that are awesome but won’t get someone kicked out of the cult of less:


  • Monthly flower delivery. Fresh flowers in the house is one of my favorite indulgences. The air smells prettier (without toxic chemicals), and a good bouquet just lights up a room. Spare someone the agonies of trying to justify the cost or occasion and just send a fresh bouquet once a month. Check out Organic Style for options.
  • E-Z Pass. This is the very definition of the gift that keeps on giving. My dad got it for me one year, and I think happy thoughts of him every time I get to a tollbooth and zoom past all the suckers still paying in cash.
  • Car cleaning. This can be as simple as taking the car down to the local place and vacuuming it yourself (saving someone time and the discovery of gross stuff), or you can splurge on a professional cleaning. Either way, it’s like having a brand-new car for a fraction of the cost.
  • Gift cards and experiences. These get a bad rap for being unimaginative, but I heartily disagree. You’re not just giving cash, which would probably be spent toward paying bills (though that may be a great gift), but when you give people gift cards, you give them permission to treat themselves. Don’t want to encourage their acquiring more ‘stuff’? Give a restaurant gift card, a voucher for yoga classes, or movie/theater tickets.
  • Magazine subscriptions. Especially to titles like Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and the like…. Just kidding! Not really. But seriously, magazines are wonderful little distractions each week or month. It’s the gift of knowledge, daydreaming, or even just a half hour sitting quietly on the couch. Ahhh….


What are some of the best gifts you’ve ever gotten?

Maya Rodale is the author of numerous historical romance novels. She lives in New York City with a rogue of her own and their dog, Penelope. Find her on Facebook [], on Twitter [], or



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9 Responses to Clutter-Free Gift Ideas

  1. Helen Nelson December 9, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    I always love things I can consume, bottle of wine, nuts, cookies, restaurant gift cards, books,etc. I tell my kids if I can’t consume I don’t buy it I already have mre stuff than I will ever need.

  2. DJ in PA December 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    One of the best Christmas presents at our house was the year we didn’t do a tree or any of the trappings but took off for Paris on Christmas Day as a family gift from us to us. It was right after 9-11. Nobody was flying, prices were cheap, people were being extra civil and nice and it was just magical. Our son was about 14 then and apparently it made a huge impression as he later studied a semester in France while in university. Well-chosen experiential gifts never fade, crack, chip or go out of fashion.

  3. Jenny December 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I love how you look at gift cards!! I totally agree with you! I actually have a stock pile of gift cards at home that I am going to use to Treat Myself! Great suggestions!

  4. Dana B December 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

    I love your line “don’t throw a clutter bomb at someone”. This is probably the only reason why I’m thankful to live a plane ride away from home- no one gets me gifts that I can’t easily pack in my suitcase to take back with me. 🙂

  5. Maya December 13, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Chiming in late here…

    Helen, I love the idea of perishables! DJ, the trip is even better! I talked my husband into something similar this year.

    Happy Holidays everyone! 🙂

  6. Bonnie December 26, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    A neighbor has a 3 year old country store going really nicely with lots of good items. Hubby and I pretty much covered our gift list with gift cards to their store.

    Happy that we gave non-clutter gifts along with introducing more customers for our neighbor’s nice country fresh business.

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