Clutter-free Gift Guide

The countdown is on...Holiday season is coming! And with that, gift-giving season, or should I say waste season. Sounds a bit Grinchy of me, but the statistics don't lie:

A survey conducted in 2018 showed that a whopping 61% of American adults received gifts they didn't want during the holiday season. In monetary terms this equates to about 15.2 billion dollars. Read that again: $15.2 BILLION! When asked what they did with the unwanted gifts, the answers given looked like this:

Keep them


Give them to someone else


Exchange them


Sell them


Give them back


Throw them away




I'm not sure about you, but I don't want the recipient of my gifts having to do any of those things; having to return them or sell them or pass them on and we know from experience that keeping unwanted gifts because of feelings of guilt is a huge cause of clutter for most people. So how do you prevent giving gifts that will end up as clutter?

You can always ask someone what they need (HINT: use the word need- not want- when you ask them). If the recipient needs something then you can assume it won’t be clutter. If you’d rather surprise them, or they tell you they don’t need anything then opt for an experience gift, gift card/ voucher or something consumable. Check out the list of clutter-free gift ideas below:

Consumables make great clutter-free gifts.


Pampering- Massage, manicure, pedicure, facial, spa day

Event Tickets- Gallery opening, sporting, cinema, theatre, river/ ocean cruise, ghost tour

Annual passes- Zoo, museum, aquatic centres, national parks

Subscriptions or Memberships- TV or streaming services (Netflix/ Foxtel), audio books, online magazines or papers, wine clubs, food boxes, golf, gym

Classes or Lessons- Cooking, art, craft, dancing, surfing, horse riding, spirit making

Vouchers- High tea, ten-pin bowling, mini-golf, car detailing, house cleaning, gardening service, babysitting, photography, stylist

Gift Cards-

Restaurants or cafes

Coffee beans/pods





Grocery store

Specialised delicatessen

Day spa

Garden centre

Hardware shop

Pet supplies


Body products


Specialty coffee or exotic tea


Cupcakes or brownies

Craft beer

Sauces, infused oils, vinegars or salad dressings

Fruit and veg boxes

Chocolates or fudge

Vegetable or herb plants and seeds

Fresh flowers

Spice blends or curry pastes

Cake or biscuit mixes


Nut and snack mixes

Homemade items like cookies


Your loved ones would probably treasure a chance to spend some quality time with you! How about:

A home cooked meal with you

Playing a board game together

Camping trip

A day at the beach

Watching a sunset together

A movie marathon

Charitable donations-

Choose a charity close to the persons heart and experiences or offer to donate to a charity of their choosing. I like to gift KIVA cards, where they can go online and choose via gender, industry or location who to loan the money to. When the money is repaid to their KIVA account they can choose to withdraw it or make another loan to someone else in need.

On a budget?

Consider making your own coupon book. Include vouchers to:

Wash their car

Walk their dog

Babysit their kids

Make them a meal

Mow their lawn

Prune their roses

Wash their windows

Be their taxi service for their next night out


We all know that kids are expensive. While no child wants to unwrap a new school uniform on their birthday, maybe you could consider giving them some clothes in the next size up (check what they need) like:



Dance costumes

Sports wear/ uniform





Or pay for their sporting/ dance fees or swimming lessons for a term.

You could give them a gift of an experience as mentioned above or one of the following:

Farm visit

Fruit picking

Movie and popcorn/ ice cream

Indoor play centres

Trampolining centres

Indoor rock climbing

Water park

Theme park

Just imagine a scenario where everyone you loved got gifts they actually wanted, used and enjoyed (and how much waste could be prevented!). I hope this has given you a jump-start on ideas for gift-giving this holiday season. Happy gifting.

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