Downsizing & Rightsizing Organizing & Decluttering Simple Home Living

The Gift of Intentional Giving

special gifts given with intention and no obligation

Tis’ the season of gift giving! The spirit of Christmas, the warm fuzzy feeling of a loved one opening the gift that you carefully selected just for them. It is a great feeling to spoil the ones you love! Most people truly have the best intentions when giving a gift but sometimes a gift can end up putting added stress on the recipient.

I don’t think anyone wants to give a gift that is not loved, not useful or adds stress and clutter to the gift receiver’s life, yet it happens frequently. As a professional organizer, one of the things my clients seem to struggle with most is getting rid of items that have been given to them as a gift. It is usually something that is not useful to them or just doesn’t suit their taste that has been sitting in the back of a dusty drawer for years, probably even moved from place to place with them. There is usually a lot of guilt associated with getting rid of these items, people understandably feel like it is an insult to the person that gave it to them if they purge it. Fear is another prevailing emotion when thinking about tossing these items, what if the giver finds out that you got rid of their gift? How will that make them feel? Will it cause a rift in the relationship with this person? I doubt that any gifter would ever wish this emotional turmoil and waste of time and energy upon their loved one having to carry this unwanted item through life, but it happens on the regular.

What if we gifted with the intention of not burdening our loved ones with more stuff? Here are some ideas for the intentional gift giver:

The Gift of Time – A planned day out, making a beautiful dinner at their place, scheduling a weekend to help them sort through the boxes they’ve been meaning to go through, planning a standing weekly or monthly visit with your elderly relative. All of these gifts would have much more meaning to many than any physical item would.

Gifting Experiences – Movie tickets, a science experiment kit for kids, tickets to a play, admission to a museum, booking a paint or craft night. The gift of a life experience is fun and enriching!

Gifting Memberships & Subscriptions – A Netflix subscription, a gym membership (only if you know they wouldn’t take insult of course), a membership to a local museum or science centre, a subscription to the jelly of the month club (haha, had to get a little nod to National Lampoons Christmas Vacation in there!). Memberships and subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving.

The Gift of Useful items – New riding boots for someone that does horse back riding, A good knife sharpener for the home chef, a specific sought after plant for the plant lover, a beautiful set of new spice jars for someone that just moved into their forever home. The key to these gifts is to be sure that the receiver is interested in these items and actually needs them. One way I like to keep track of these needed items is to listen for ideas from conversations with the individual throughout the year and note them down in the notes app on my phone for a list of ideas come Christmas time.

Gifting a Service – Booking a snow shovelling service, hiring a house cleaner, ordering a meal kit delivery service, hiring a professional organizer to make a frustrating area of their home more functional for them (How could I not plug my business here??). The gifting of a service is a lovely way to make someones life a bit easier and take take a couple of things off of their to-do list.

The Gift of knowledge – A Master class series, books on a topic you know they are wanting to learn more about, lessons for something they are interested in learning.

Gifting Money – Many people feel like the gift of cash is rather impersonal, but sometimes it can really be the thing that a person needs most in this current season of life. Many people are financially struggling right now, sometimes the biggest gift you can give is taking some financial stress off of them. Cash to put towards an outstanding bill, to help put groceries on the table or to register a child in an activity that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to happen can be invaluable.

Gifting Consumables – Wine for a connoisseur, homemade baking, gourmet foods, fancy candles or hand soap from a brand you know they love. Things that you know will be enjoyed over time then finished with, not laying around the house gathering dust.

Try to avoid gift cards and gift certificates when possible. Often they just end up as wallet clutter that people forget about, sometimes the business even closes before the card or certificate is used. Other times the receiver ends up spending more than the gift card is worth by needing to reach a certain order amount for free shipping, or wanting to use all of the gift cards value and as a result overspending on extra items. Many times the gift card given is for a store that the receiver is not interested in, so it either sits as unused wasted money or they now have the added task of trying to sell the card for a lesser value. Many people don’t realize that some gift cards like the Visa and Mastercard gift cards actually cost a monthly inactivity fee that is taken from the gift card total as they sit unused, potentially rendering them with a $0 balance if they sit long enough.

One last thought. When giving a gift, don’t give a gift that projects your own intention onto the receiver. For example, giving a gift of theatre tickets to someone that isn’t really crazy about the theatre because you think the receiver should really enjoy the theatre more. Or gifting a night out at a sit down restaurant to help them “get out of the house” more when you know the receiver is a homebody that has some anxieties about going out. I know this sounds crazy but I think people do this without even realizing they are doing it. When deciding on a spectacular gift for someone, ask yourself the question, Does this gift align with their lifestyle and what they truly would enjoy? The act of giving is a selfless act and should come from a place of genuine care for the other person.

Happy gift giving!


The Harmonious Home, Professional Organizer and Occupied Home Staging in St.Albert, AB, Canada