When it comes to presents, give uncluttering gifts a try!

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 As the giving season approaches, it’s time to consider what we give to our family, friends, co-workers, and those individuals who perform services for us throughout the year – teachers, newspaper delivery, hair dresser, and others.

I recently wrote a column about how decluttering helps us have more energy, less stress, and therefore we tend to feel happier.  In the interest of not adding to the clutter, how about some ideas about giving uncluttering gifts?

Uncluttering gifts are gifts of experiences, consumable gifts, acts of service, or gifts of time.

Gifts of experiences include massage, manicure, pedicure, theatre tickets, movie money, bowling, whale watching, a visit or membership to an art gallery, a pass for a number of skiing events, helicopter or hot air balloon ride, a visit or membership to a botanic garden, a visit to a zoo, cooking or gardening classes, etc.  These gifts are particularly appreciated when your gift includes your participation.  If your gift may require a tip or travel, you may consider including a bit of cash or a gift card for gas.

Consumable gifts include gift cards that the person can use to purchase exactly what they want instead of receiving an item from you that the person then needs to exchange for exactly what they would prefer. 

Other consumables gifts include gathering all the ingredients for a soup, a batch of cookies, a loaf of bread, a cake, etc., placing them all in a jar or some other container with the cooking instructions attached.  For perishable items that the person will need such as milk for the bread, eggs for the cake, or meat for the soup, you could include a gift card for a grocery store for the extra items.  A recipe may require a bottle of beer, or some other non-perishable item, and you can include the item along with the ingredients and instructions.

Perishables such as fruit, meat, or veggies may not be appropriate if the person already has purchased all they need or does not like or cannot consume particular foods because of allergies.  Although nuts are not perishable, they may be an inappropriate gift unless you know the person has no nut allergies.

If your recipient is socially conscious or you are aware of a cause they are passionate about, a gift certificate indicating that you have made a donation to their charity of choice in their name would be very satisfying.  The donation can be in the form of money or in the form of time volunteered by you in the name of the person.  In Fredericton you have plenty from which to choose!

Acts of service include gifting a number of hours of your time to perform chores for your gift recipient such as laundry or shopping for an elderly or someone recovering from surgery or an injury; babysitting for a single parent so he or she can go out with friends or for a couple so they can have a date night; or maybe an offer of gardening, if that is one of your skills, for someone who is not able to do it.

Please remember that not everyone enjoys the holiday season.  They may have had less than ideal experiences as a child at this time of year, they may be struggling with depression, or they may have experienced a number of losses in the previous few years and are having a profound sense of loss.  Trying to cheer those individuals can be disrespectful.  Being with a sad person can be an opportunity to exercise your empathy and compassion.

Anne Marie Hartford is the executive director of Family Enrichment.  This article first appeared in the Daily Gleaner on December 8th 2015.

Please send your comments to info@familyenrichment.ca


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