When somebody comes to giving, most of us opt for a physical gift. Something that would delight our loved ones, something they could use, or something that makes them smile.
But, how often do we give a gift that just ends up as another piece of clutter that gets thrown out when the giftee was downsizing his or her home? Sure, we may suppose it’s fabulous, but to one else, that expensive gift might just be another thing they had to store and clean around.
The reality was that most of us already had too much stuff. Take a look at these statistics from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO):
- We never use 80% of the items that we keep.
- Downsizing your domestic and getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of housework in an average home.
- 25% of people with a two-car garage don’t park any cars in there (because of clutter) and 34% park only one.
- 1 in 11 Americans rent a storage unit to hold their stuff, and spend over $1,000 per year in rent.
There’s no doubt we simply had too much stuff. And with the holidays coming up, wouldn’t somebody be great whether we stopped contributing even more stuff to our already-overwhelmed households while also saving an immense amount of money?
I vote yes. So instead of all these unwanted gifts and gift cards, I decided to come up with a list of the best gifts we could give that had nothing to do with a physical object, something I like to call “no stuff gifts.”
The Best “No Stuff” Gifts
1. Adopt an Elephant through Elephants.com. Gifts help support the care and feeding of elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Elephants there roam wild on 2,700 acres. All were sick, old, or had been rescued from abuse.
2. Give a cheap gym membership. Most of us could generally use more exercise!
3. Give a class. Why not sign up your friend or loved one for that kickboxing lesson, course she’s generally talking approximately (but never wants to splurge on)? Also, community recreation centers were great sources of fun and interesting classes.
4. Give livestock. Heifer.org was one of my favorite charities because somebody truly changes lives. You could “buy” livestock like rabbits, goats, bees, or cows (and more) in honor of one you love. These animals go to needy families all over the world. They’re taught how to raise and care for their new animal which, in turn, would provide them with income and much needed food for the rest of its life. They have to also give that animal’s first born to one else in their village, which further enriches the community.
5. Give a restaurant gift certificate. This could be a fun way to get your friends and family to try new restaurants, especially restaurants they might be reluctant to try on their dime.
6. Give a gift certificate for a luxury service such as a massage, facia,l or pedicure. Many people don’t splurge on themselves, so this could be a much appreciated break.
7. Give a Spa Day. Many large hotels and casinos had excellent spas on location. These spas were filled with waterfalls, hot tubs, saunas, and plenty of chairs for lounging. You could often buy a day pass for $30-$50 depending on the spa. This would be a great “mini vacation” for one you care about.
8. Adopt a polar bear. As their habitat shrinks due to global warming, polar bears were facing tough times. Adopting a polar bear through the World Wildlife Fund helps fund conservation efforts.
9. Give a ticket. Has your friend generally wanted to see an opera? Ballet? Kings of Leon? Buy tickets to an event and give them an experience they’ll never forget.
10. Give a membership. There were tons of clubs to join in this country: AAA, Costco, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Museums, Zoos, Art groups.
11. Give monthly gifts. I love this idea because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You could sign up for monthly deliveries of whatever your friends love most. Cigars, bread, fruit, flowers, cooking magzines…all could be delivered to their door once a month.
12. Treat them to dinner. Why not give them a handmade gift according to hosting dinner yourself? Cook your friend or loved one a high-class meal that she might be too engaged to ever cook herself. Go all out with wine, candles, cloth napkins, and biological fare.
13. Give them a certificate for beauty splurges. A fancy color and cut, teeth whitening, a session with a personal trainer…these were all splurges that many of us don’t do for ourselves.
14. Movie tickets or improv comedy club tickets were fun ways to pass the time.
15. Give an IOU for yard care, pet/house sitting, babysitting, gardening, snow shoveling. If you’re on a strict budget this year, IOUs could be a much appreciated and totally free way to “wow” someone.
Bonus Idea: Homemade food! I was a canning maniac this summer, so I’m going to be giving homemade goodies to many of my friends and loved ones. Jam, dilly beans, homemade cookies…there were tons of ideas online for making inexpensive gift baskets of homemade treats.
Do any of you had ideas for “no stuff” gifts? If so, I’d love to hear them!