Every winter we face the same seasonal dilemma – what do you get the person who has everything? All too often there’s nothing people actually need, and we end up buying them something just for the sake of it.
This year, to find more meaningful ways to give to friends and family, personal organiser Juliet Landau-Pope shares her tips for a clutter-free festive season.
Seasonal gifts that won’t clutter your home
Let’s face it – we all have too much stuff. We live in a consumer society where shopping has become a leisure activity, and as a result our homes are full of clothes, toys, books and gadgets that are, strictly speaking, surplus to requirements.
The impact of physical clutter can be overwhelming: it can drain energy, block creativity and fuel tensions between household members. As the Christmas shopping season shifts into gear, the pressure is on to find the perfect presents for family and friends.
As a personal organiser, I’m often asked for suggestions of gifts that don’t contribute to clutter in peoples’ homes. Here are a few of my gift suggestions – all under £50 and available online.
For movie buffs, the Odeon cinema chain offers personalised greeting cards that can be designed online to accompany gift vouchers. If you know someone who’s a fan of local independent cinemas, Everyman offer gift vouchers for tickets, membership or food and drink.
Another good option is Theatre Tokens, which can be used for tickets to plays, musicals and opera at 240 venues nationwide and have no expiry date.
Out and about
For stressed parents or professionals, what could be more welcoming than a pamper day at a spa or even an overnight stay at a spa resort? Champneys offers various gift packages, for example. Or you can check out seasonal offers and discounted deals at spas throughout the UK.
National Trust vouchers (paper or digital from £10) can pay for family days out to gardens, parks and historic houses all over the UK. More adventurous relatives or friends might enjoy an indoor skydiving adventure (£49) or a Segway rally for two (£43) or a helicopter flight (from £45). These, and many other days can be ordered at from Buy A Gift.
Give the gift of learning
Open University gift vouchers are valid for 3 years and can be used towards the cost of short courses, not just degree programmes. The Guardian offers vouchers starting from £25 for a wide range of masterclasses in writing, publishing, photography and marketing skills.
And the website Hot Courses lists hundreds of colleges, schools and tutors nationwide who offer printable gift vouchers for courses in every subject imaginable, from dressmaking and driving to pottery and pilates.
A helping hand
Many charities offer gift vouchers that enable you to sponsor particular activities that match your interests. For chocolate lovers, Oxfam offers a deal (£19) to buy seeds, training and support for a cocoa growers’ cooperative.
The alternative gift list at Great Ormond Street Hospital enables you to buy an hour of research (£30) to improve diagnosis and treatments for sick children. Or you can choose to support a member of the play team at the hospital (£16)
Join the club
For culture vultures, a gift membership to a local club or museum can offer various perks such as free or reduced-price entry and access to special events; it also has the advantage of lasting all year round. Check out the National Art Pass (from £42.75) which offers discounts to exhibitions and free entry to museums and galleries.
Membership of English Heritage (from £37) provides unlimited free admission to 400 historic sites – and up to 6 children under the age of 19 go free with every adult. For nature lovers, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds provides a gift pack and access to 100 nature reserves (£36).
As you can see there are lots of alternative gifts you can give your friends and family this year, to help enrich their lives – and not clutter their homes!
Juliet Landau-Pope declutters homes and runs clutter coaching groups and workshops to promote time management and organisational skills. She also offers gift vouchers for anyone who might benefit from life coaching by phone or skype. You can find out more on her website.