2011 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Organizing products

Giving organizing products as gifts can be tricky. If not done in a polite manner, you can end up hurting someone’s feelings. However, if a person on your list has expressed interest in receiving a gift with an organizing theme, it can be a welcomed present.

Even if no one on your list has expressed an interest in receiving an organizing product for a gift this year, you might find something to add to your wish list.

  1. The Getting Things Done Workflow Map Set with a coaching DVD by David Allen ($50). These posters are a great way to keep organized with work.
  2. Decorative file folders that entice their owner to use them. Numerous styles to choose from (prices vary), and great for visual processors who can associate what a file looks like with its contents.
  3. Shoe storage boxes that stack and allow the user to easily see what is inside.
  4. Dymo Label Maker for the person who prefers to label file tabs for easy reading and anything else that needs to be labeled.
  5. My book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, or another one out there that you believe would speak to your gift recipient.
  6. A key holder so house keys always have a place to live. No more hunting for keys!
  7. A year’s subscription to BackBlaze or another similar online computer backup service. If someone in your life isn’t backing up his or her computer regularly, a subscription to a service like this can give peace of mind.
  8. The Arc customizable notebook from Staples. I have one that is 6.75″ x 8.75″ and carry it with me everywhere. It’s my most reliable friend. I use it for notes, my daily calendar, receipt organizer, pen holder, and general information collector.

Any suggestions for other highly useful organizing products to be given as gifts or added to your wish list? Share your suggestions in the comments.

View the complete 2011 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

25 Comments for “2011 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Organizing products”

  1. posted by Bailey on

    Arc looks wonderful! Alas, it does not seem to be available to us in Canada.

  2. posted by annie on

    I LOVE the Arc notebooks. A fancier version is sold by Levenger under the brand name Circa. It’s more expensive but Levenger does ship to Canada.

    I have a Circa the same size as your Arc and bring it with me everywhere. I work from home some days so I keep all my work stuff in the notebook and have everything with me whether at the office or at home.

  3. posted by Loretta on

    The Arc looks lovely, but how is it different from a looseleaf organizer?

    I gave up my looseleaf organizer last year because I was tired of the weight in my purse. (It was the 6×8 size and had enough interior pockets to double as a giant billfold.) But now I struggle to manage the various odd papers that I get throughout the day–and I’d like to have one calendar for work and home. So I’m considering going back to an organizer.

  4. posted by annie on

    Arc is lighter and more compact than a looseleaf binder, and you can fold the cover back. It’s more like a side-bound notebook, but with a binding that lets you rearrange pages.

  5. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Bailey — There is a Staples presence in Canada: https://ssl.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/stap_home.asp So if they don’t currently carry these notebooks, they may eventually.

  6. posted by Katha on

    Unfortunately, Staples Germany does not carry Arc either. Pity.

  7. posted by Naomi on

    Key holders are a great way to use wall space. My current apartment is 400 square feet, and mine helps me keep track of my mail and keys while maximizing vertical space.

    Happy holidays, Erin!

  8. posted by Becky on

    I have tried to get into the habit of gifting kids toys not in a paper gift bag, but in a canvas bin or plastic shoe box to keep the toy (and others) organized for both child and parent!

  9. Avatar of

    posted by chacha1 on

    Thanks for the recommendation on BackBlaze. I have been low-grade-stressing for months over our backup situation, which is, shall we say, not optimal. methinks I will be signing up for the service tonight … having just achieved critical mass on the music and photo libraries. $95 for two years is a small price to pay for not having to save/backup manually all the time.

  10. posted by Marie on

    I really like the FlyLady calendar as a family gift. Lots of space to write everything you need to remember, and stickers to help keep track of appointments, birthdays, etc.

  11. posted by Jen on

    That’s really funny, I was just thinking about getting my husband a subscription to Carbonite or something like it – I hadn’t yet gotten around to fully researching the various options, so I will add Backblaze to the mix for sure. In my case, since we share finances, it’s more the act of doing something for him that he’s been wanting to do for a while but hasn’t gotten around to. Sort of like giving him the gift of free time, or the ability to cross something off his list. Peace of mind really. At this point it’s hard to buy each other physical gifts, so stuff like this is preferable. (I’m partial to a spa gift certificate or concert tickets…also an afternoon off!)

  12. Avatar of

    posted by mili on

    I love the backup – excellent gift for anyone who has a computer. The arc, the files, and the key holder are pretty neat too – useful even if you’re already organized, as they might make staying that way easier, more intuitive, or heck, just more fun :-) The shoe boxes don’t suck, although they’re a bit too specific for such a short gift guide. But the rest? I’m not really feeling it.

    Books on organizing can seem thoughtful at first sight, but unless the recipient has clearly expressed the desire to get more organized and/or get rid of clutter, they can be quite a presumption – it can easily just end up looking like a plausibly deniable suggestion that the person is messy to the point of having a problem! Not ideal when it comes to loved ones really :-)

    The label maker is just baffling. I mean, aside from the fact that the one you linked to sounds buggier than the average swamp, the entire product category seems like a fine example of insidious clutter: it LOOKS like a must-have, but is in fact cluttery enough to merit a great big stamp saying, ‘danger! expensive doorstop’. Anything it does can be done just as easily and often better with things that either already exist in many homes or are easy and cheap to obtain. Simple adhesive labels (like the standard ones for textbooks or more evolved ones, like super-sticky post-its or waterproof labels) will see you through for most situations of labeling smaller groups of items, like files in a file cabinet or bins of supplies. Larger collections, such as libraries of several hundred volumes or more, are better served with a computer and attached printer to churn out labels. Then there are specialized uses that most label makers don’t cover anyway, like clothing labels.

    All of these except the computer applications have NO learning curve, cost a fraction to acquire and operate compared to the average half-way functional label maker, and are far easier to store, too. With the computer, storage and expense are not much of an issue because it’s the definitional antithesis of a unitasker, and if you’re using it for larger groupings of items, whatever learning curve there is will be worth it. So why waste money and storage space on a label maker?

    As for the GTD…this post is too long already, so suffice it to say that I think the productivity industry is of dubious usefulness from an uncluttering POV – it mostly seems to encourage people to make a lot of decisions that are against their best interests instead of thinking critically about the use of their time, and generally to put the focus on quantity over quality and good judgment. Mostly, my view of GTD (and other such systems, like tomato-shaped timers or whatever else) is in line with this guy’s: http://tiny.cc/428rp I don’t agree with every last statement, but I think he’s got the right idea :-) As such, I see GTD etc as the very worst kind of insidious clutter – MENTAL clutter. Good gift alright – for someone I don’t like very much :P

  13. Avatar of

    posted by Ella on

    I think everyone should own a shredder. Even people who already have a big shredder might like a handy little desktop model. Place your other gifts inside the shredder’s bin and tie a big ribbon and bow around the whole thing.

  14. Avatar of

    posted by suzjazz on

    The Arc notebook from Staples Rocks! I use it for my Weight Watchers tracker/weight loss journal. The insertable plastic pockets hold my card, weight record, recipes, etc. The small size fits into my purse.

  15. posted by Jodi on

    I would have LOVED if someone gave me a label maker as a gift! I keep mine on my desktop with my stapler and tape dispenser, and it gets more use than the tape!

    I also would have loved GTD! I have taken his ideas and FINALLY developed a good plan for my crazy hectic life of endless paperwork. I haven’t ever had a system this good! GTD not only freed up the mental clutter in my brain, it gave me the gift of being able to “cross things off my to do list” (loved that!) as well as helped me assign priority to the things that needed done in my life. I would have ADORED a person who bought me that book. Thank God for Libraries!

  16. posted by Amanda on

    I’d love to get the clear shoe storage boxes. I keep my nice shoes in their boxes on the shelf in my closet, but they are out of sight, out of mind.

  17. posted by Lee on

    My label maker is a different brand, but we love it. I’ve considered giving it as a gift, also. I think neatly done labels vs hand done labels give you the same feeling of organization that a neat space vs a messy space gives you.

    I second the Flylady calendar. We skipped it one year, then went back to it. My husband just asked if I’d ordered OURS for next year. We call it “the family calendar”.

    I have 2 questions about the ARC system from Staples. How much do they (or at least one) weigh? How many pages will it hold? I live to have a planner in my handbag, and they can be extremely heavy to carry around. Can I get a whole year’s worth of the weekly calendar plus other pages in it?

  18. posted by WilliamB on

    I’m a big fan of clear boxes for storage. I couldn’t count how many I use, in the closet, garage, laundry, kitchen, man cave. Mine are mostly from The Container Store; search “clear box” and you’ll see how many there are to chose from.

    @mili – I agree about the labelmaker but if having a spiffy labelmaker is what someone needs to organize, then I say go for it.

  19. posted by Sarah grace on

    I live my label maker so I have to disagree that it will become a doorstop. I think it looks so much better than handwritten and so much easier than printing out labels on the computer. On the go you can use it in every room. That is a great gift idea
    I do agree that even though I love your book erin it may not be the best gift unless someone says I need an organizing book! Or maybe give it with a “gift certificate” of your time to Leo the cluttered person. Otherwise (and I know this from experience) books become clutter fast

  20. Avatar of

    posted by mili on

    William B, yeah, sure, no arguments there :-) But at the same time, how big a section of the population are we talking about here, where a label maker will inspire them to get organized but other, more versatile products, won’t? don’t reckon that’s a big crowd :P

    Lee, I think your comparison of handwritten labels to a messy space is not really valid – in fact, it’s just this kind of attitude that gives the practice of decluttering the (undeserved) reputation it has, of being only suitable for obsessive-compulsive neat-freaks with money to burn. Which is too bad, ’cause if it didn’t have this rep, more people would think to have a go and would reap the benefits in their daily lives :-)

    I just don’t know where you got the notion, either. Just because it’s handwritten doesn’t mean you’re gonna scrawl in an illegible cursive all over it, messily cross things out and squeeze in more in the margins when the contents change, or just yank the old label off without caring if there’s glue etc left behind. But any non-dyslexic middle school grad is capable of creating a simple, neat sign in clear block letters using a thin marker to say ‘buttons’ or ‘power bills’ without turning the label into a total mess – even if it takes a couple tries (big deal – not like labels cost much).

    It’s so odd that this blog, which makes a fuss about unitaskers every. darn. week. will blithely suggest such a unitasker as a *label maker*! I don’t usually comment on unitasker posts because they are mostly kitchen stuff and what I know about kitchen stuff could fit on a postcard with room for stamps, but I DO know my office/stationery supplies and gadgets. And if a label maker doesn’t qualify as a unitasker when used in the context of most households, then I honestly don’t know what does :-/

  21. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @mili — I love my label maker, especially in the office. My handwriting is crap, and I like for anyone who needs to get into my files to be able to find the file and do so without bothering me. It also looks so much more professional in the office environment when I’m printing names for clients and sticking them on folders that the client will see. If someone saw my handwriting, he would think he hired a toddler to work with him. I also use mine to label storage items that I would ruin if I wrote on them directly.

  22. posted by Lee on

    Please forgive me, Erin and Readers, for sharing my misguided enjoyment of my favorite Unitasker, the Label maker. Perhaps I should trash it, along with my husband’s Unitasker guitars, which only make musical sounds, and my Unitasker winter coat, which only keeps me warm.

  23. posted by Sarah B R on

    I love my label maker. I’ve had it for many years and used it 10x today!
    GTD is the BEST time management/ organizing system I’ve come across

  24. posted by alex on

    The labelmaker has really helped me get organized. Maybe if you are organized to begin with you can neatly hand write labels on your neat items. But as a person who has struggled greatly with organization, having a labelmaker has helped.me create a professional looking work area and kept me motivated to keep organized. It also reminds me to put everything back in its neatly labeled place.

  25. posted by Sandra on

    A lot of these gifts could end up as just more clutter. They could all be useful tools to one who chooses them, but as an unexpected gift, they can become clutter. For example, my grandma (♥ her) wanted to give me a wall calendar a few days ago. I declined because I have one and I’m not even sure I need that one, given that I put most appointments in digital calendars as well.

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