Friends Don’t Give Friends Clutter For Christmas


Liz Jenkins


An off the cuff tweet has morphed into a full blown post about clutter and the holidays!  In fact, my tweet “Friends don’t give friends clutter for Christmas” was Rubbermaid’s “Tweet of the Week“!

I was at TJ Maxx today looking for some tights to go with a dress for an upcoming holiday party and was watching people rush around clutching ceramic Santas, festive candles, holiday Barbies and other gift-like items.  And I have to wonder – where does it all go?   And is the recipient really, well, thrilled?

How many presents have you received that you just wondered what on earth you were going to do with it?  Or wracked your brain trying to find that perfect gift and ending up with a tie and sweater or a weird tchotchke (that’s any small knickknack that some people really think are cute and most people think are hideous and annoying)?   And how much stuff does your kid get that ends up broken and discarded within a week?

This is a hard subject because I don’t want to come off sounding sanctimonious or “holier than thou”.  While I’d prefer to reduce or eliminate the incessant trading of stuff at every drop of a hat, this isn’t likely to happen nor should it always be so.  Sometimes, a gift is just the right thing in a situation.  But just think, for a moment, what kind of gift would truly be appreciated.

One that doesn’t have to be cleaned or maintained.

One that doesn’t take up space.

One that will not end up in a landfill, thrift shop or only brought out when you visit.

One that really shows the giver that some thought was put into the choice of gift.

In that vein, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • consumables like wine, or locally produced foods such as chocolates, honey or fruit
  • tickets to a movie, concert or theatre production
  • dining gift certificate to a favorite restaurant (preferably a locally owned one)
  • gift certificate for a massage or some other sort of pampering
  • gift certificate for a task that the recipient keeps putting off or isn’t able to do themselves: a handyman service to fix the gutters, a car detailer that comes to the house, a house cleaner to scrub from top to bottom
  • gift certificate for time – with a Professional Organizer, a fitness coach, a wardrobe consultant, an appraiser, whomever might be someone whose service could be really used and appreciated
  • family pass to a zoo, science center, children’s museum, art museum, etc.
  • for parents – a free night (or more!) of babysitting so they can go on a real date

For myself, I am gifting my husband two hours with a master gardener for Christmas this year – he loves to root plants and salvage half dead ones.  The man has an amazing green thumb yet doesn’t know half of what he’s got.  So this time will be wonderfully spent where he loves to be with someone who knows his stuff.  And I badgered my husband hinted nicely for a spa package that includes a massage, facial and pedicure.  Not that I’m being particular or anything.  Just, you know, precise.  But it’s something that a. I wouldn’t likely do for myself, and b. would actually get used, and c. doesn’t need dusting.

And on that vein, when did all this gifting (especially for kids) get so out of hand?  Think twice before purchasing stuff, and really give thought to whom should really be on the receiving end.  And be mindful about what you are gifting – is it useful and welcome – or just another dust catcher?

Personally, I don’t want or need any more crap stuff in my house – I like it the way it is – and if I really love something or need it desperately, chances are, I’ll get it myself when I need it.  So do yourself a favor and don’t do so much shopping for stuff – but do some thinking about the spirit of the season.  End of rant.