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  • Lori Hager

Presents: Blessing or Burden?



Brown paper package tied up with ribbon

In the midst of holiday gift giving, I can’t help but think about the fact that often these well-intentioned gifts eventually lead to more stress for the giver and the receiver. Most gifts are given out love, but others for necessity, “fairness”, or tradition that can leave the sentiment lacking.


Don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts! However as an organizer constantly decluttering clients homes I see them in a totally different light now. I’ve had to dive deep to try and figure out what to give friends and family that is needed, wanted, and/or experiential.

As everyone has inevitably experienced at some point the joy of material gifts fade over time. Especially for kids! Even the most anticipated Christmas toys can become nothing more than a chore to clean up.


**Did you know the average child in the developed world owns over 200 toys but only plays with 12 of them on average per day! Even crazier? Only 3% of the world’s children live in the US, but they own 40+% of the world’s toys!**


Wowza!


Many studies have shown that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. You don’t have to find a place to store experiences except in your heart, memory, and maybe in a photo book! Win Win!


Do you know how often I’ve heard this from a client, “Oh that was a present from _____, I can’t get rid of it!”, or “I won’t ever use that, it was a gift.” We become bound to these gifts even if the giver has passed away, sometimes that can make the urge to keep even stronger.


People tend to get less happy with material purchases over time, and more happy with experiences. This may be because we adapt to physical things, so even the nicest car or newest phone becomes ordinary with enough time, while memories tend to get fonder with age.


We can remember negative experiences fondly as a funny story or bonding experience with others (commiserating can be hilarious sometimes). Experiences are also a uniting factor. You are more likely to bond with someone who enjoys the same hobby, activity, or travels as you than with someone who has similar possessions.


Here are some examples of experiential gifts:

A sports outing isn't complete without cotton candy!

Plan a garden by giving plant seeds

Sports season pass or game tickets

Indoor rock climbing membership

Volunteer for charity

Class to learn a new skill

Museum memberships

Science center memberships

Escape rooms

Community theater tickets

Orchestra season tickets

Nature center trips

Bowling or Skate outing

Zoo membership

Camping trip

Adventure sports: mountain biking, skydiving, scuba etc.

Local attraction passes: i.e. museum or historic tour

Fun family outing

Art classes

Home made treats: cookies, candy, bread, etc.

Bounce park pass/trip

Babysitting (so new parents can have a evening out)

Favorite drink of choice

Hiking in a new park

Treasure hunt

Geo caching

Fire wood for fireplace or outdoor pit

Movie tickets

Brunch, lunch, or dinner dates

Game nights

Landscaping services, lawn care

Home brewing kit

Massage gift card

Salon gift card

Organizing services *wink *wink


It is important to note that some thought and dates should come attached to these gifts. For gift cards to things like massage therapists and salons do some research into who the recipient normally goes to. If you need to ask, but want to keep it a surprise, ask them for a “referral” to who they see.


Unless the date is already set (like a seasonal membership or class), you should at the very least tentatively set them. Buy tickets for a specific game, give the recipient a couple dates to work with for dinner, plan that camping trip. You want to show that you are serious and will not be forgetting about your plans together once the holiday season is over. Also gift cards are notorious for being forgotten and unused. I find them almost every time I declutter someones offices. For one client I found almost a $1,000 in gift cards she had completely forgotten about!


So my conclusion, GIVE EXPERIENCES and make plans to actually do them!

Go forth and gift from the heart, but leave all that baggage behind!


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Give the gift of organization this year!

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