A Lesson in Gift Giving: The Answer is Less

When you are tired, stressed, or overwhelmed, the answer is usually ... less.

We often find ourselves adding to our lives in order to fix a problem, but a simple solution might just be subtracting. When it comes to finding peace within your home, one of the first things I suggest to clients is considering what they can immediately subtract. If it doesn’t work for you or your family, let it go.

A common question I get from a client at our first home visit is:

What should I buy to start helping me get organized?

I never recommend purchasing items straight away -- you should focus on discarding first and then take a look at what you’re really working with before adding anything to the equation.

The idea of less translates to the practice of gift-giving as well.  A friend recently asked me for a host gift recommendation, and we got to talking about the tendency to buy something physical at the last minute because of requisite gift guilt, with little thought behind whether or not they need or will use it. Are the gifts you are giving a thoughtful symbol of your past or present relationship with that individual? If not, you are probably just buying something for the sake of buying something. And no one, especially a busy event host, needs more clutter!

Below is a short list of thoughtful gift ideas that will most likely not to be shoved into the back of a drawer or closet, and actually appreciated by the recipient:

An experience: Perhaps consider gifting something they do all the time (practical!) or something they wouldn’t usually buy for themselves. I’m a fan of just giving cash with a fun note about what you envision for them because there’s a ton of money sitting on unused gift cards ($41 billion!)

A consumable item: You can't go wrong with favorite foods, drink, or floral. Whether it’s a dozen artisan donuts, a bouquet of tulips, or a bottle of their favorite liquor, these are typically enjoyed without end waste. And they are always favored over the much-dreaded scented Yankee candle.

Time: time has become one of our most valuable assets; we’re always busy and wish there were more hours in the day, so consider gifting alternatives that help the recipient create more free time like a babysitter or a taskrabbit service credit for housework.