decluttering, downsizing, rightsizing, stuffocation
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The Declutterers Xmas Gift Guide

For the last month I’ve been focused on decluttering, working on the theory that I don’t need a bigger house if I can create more space in the house I already have.

I had hoped to be finished by now, but I’ve learned that decluttering isn’t easy. I’ve found getting rid of stuff much harder than my usual practice of putting what I don’t need under the house – and the emotional side of this process really took me by surprise.

Now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, not to mention the back of some of my cupboards, the last thing I need is to collect more clutter in the way of Christmas presents. Thankfully my family has always been very practical in this respect so we always give and receive things we know are needed or wanted.

So here are my seven gift ideas for the person who doesn’t want everything.

  1. Vouchers: hands down the most appreciated – and easiest – gift you can give. Sometimes a voucher seems a little impersonal, but if you find out what the person might do with it, then you can create a personalised envelope as a wrapping. And you don’t have to be too specific with vouchers – after all, half the fun is in the choosing!
  2. Consumables: anything you can eat, drink or use (like beauty products) is always a winner for obvious reasons – you get to enjoy the gift but don’t have to find somewhere to store or display it.

    Collect moments, not things.

    Or maybe “Give moments, not things?”

  3. Experiences: give the gift of fun! It could be an adventure experience from Red Balloon or the gift of Me Time from Flossie – so long as it’s something you know they’ll enjoy and probably wouldn’t buy often (or ever) for themselves. Again, getting creative on the way you ‘wrap’ and give it will make it feel fun on the day.
  4. Yourself: in this busy world, nothing is more valuable than time. Giving friends with kids babysitting credits, or offering a couple of hours of your time to get something done for an elderly friend is the ultimate demonstration of love and friendship.
  5. Wall art: only go down this road if you know someone pretty well, but something that hangs on the wall is one way of giving a personalised gift that doesn’t add too much clutter. These ideas from Bob Steiner Ceramics show how you can make simple ceramic pieces into an amazing piece of art. Or you could just buy a nice photo frame.
  6. Charity gifts: again, a bit risky but perfect for the right person. Lots of international agencies, like World Vision offer gifting but there is also a local option with KidsCan – so you can give the gift of helping a NZ child living in poverty.
  7. Cash: while it always seems a bit crass, this does work particularly well for kids. There is always something big they want, like a trampoline, a bike or a massive lego set. Encouraging friends and family to contribute to a big ticket item like this is not only useful, it means their rooms won’t end up cluttered with lots of unwanted, unnecessary toys.

I have to confess I usually go a bit over the top at Christmas. Ok, a lot over the top. So this year staying within my decluttering rules will be hard for me. So I’ve paraphrased a well-known quote from Samuel Johnson to keep in my wallet:

“Gifts, like friends, should be few and well chosen.”


  1. I love giving experience gifts and I love to receive them too. Birthdays and Christmas are mostly food related, food festival related gifts. I can’t count the number of times I’ve bought fancy cheese for a cheese loving friend.

    This year I’ve also decided to buy trees. My sister and her boyfriend just moved out of home (for the second time) so I’m getting them some fruit trees to start their new life together.

    I’ve never bought from Red Balloon days, but I have used it to come up with gift ideas.

    It can be really hard to declutter, but the way I see it, If I make a purchase, something has to go. I got rid of a huge bag of old drawings and paintings from my university days. I hadn’t looked at them in 10 years. They went into the recycle bin. It felt great.


    • I like the idea of something in, something out. I definitely do this with the kids – just before their birthdays we do a big clear out and take unwanted toys down to the charity shop to make way for the new toys they want for their birthdays. Never thought of applying the same rule to myself though!


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