Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Wrap up

Today marks the end of Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide and we thought a final list of all our posts might be a helpful way to end the series:

In the comments to this post, feel welcome to share your favorite uncluttered gifts that you’ve received or given over the years — or even something you’re planning to give this year. We are always on the lookout for ideas of what to give that won’t clutter up a recipient’s home.

Finally, feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Technology gifts

It used to be that I’d ask if you have a techie on your holiday shopping list before beginning a gift-giving post like this, but the truth is, almost everyone is a techie these days with devices, gadgets, and gizmos as part of our everyday lives. Now, you can buy an uncluttered tech gift for nearly everyone.

Earlier this year, I reviewed the the ScanSnap iX100 and it did the impossible: it made me fall in love with a scanner, of all things. This small, portable, fast, and wireless scanner fits on my desk or in a bag. In my continued and extensive testing I have found that its battery holds a charge for a long time and it lets you export your scanned image to a huge array of sources, from your desktop to a shared folder to Evernote and so much more. Gone are the days of cranky flatbed scanners the size of a 1970 Ford Galaxy 500.

The Magnetic Organization System or “MOS,” is one of those why-didn’t-they-think-of-that products. If you’re like me, you’re constantly looking for effective ways to combat cable clutter. Sure, you can take the DIY route, but I encourage you to consider the MOS. The attractive, metallic pad sits on your desk and holds unused cables in place with magnets. It comes in black, silver, and white, so you can find one to accommodate your other hardware. My favorite part: if you have cables that won’t be held in place by a magnet, just use one of the included, magnetic cable ties and you’re all set.

Finally, if you want to use it to store something other than computer cables, have at it (see the image above right).

The Kanex GoBuddy+ is unobtrusive and a brilliant multi-tasking cable organizer that I love. First it has two cables attached — either a USB and a Lightning cable, or a USB and a micro USB. Both tuck out of the way when not and use, and unfold to connect your smartphone or tablet to a computer or USB-based AC adapter for charging. Best of all, it’s got a built-in bottle opener. Yes, please! It comes in black or white.

Here’s one that’s for you and/or the kids. The dreamGEAR Nintendo Wii Induction Power Base Quad adds a rechargeable battery to the Nintendo’s Wiimotes. When the gaming ends, simply plop the controller back into the base and it begins charging. You can either plug it into a wall or make use of that mystery USB port on the back of your TV (what is that for, anyway?) to save a slot on the wall socket. I have one of these at home and love it. The kids never ask for batteries for the Wiimotes anymore.

Last year I recommended the BookBook Travel Journal, and thought I would never fine something I like just as much. Well, I have. The Better Together Note Pouch is a zippered carrier that can accommodate a tablet or a laptop plus a myriad of pens, notebooks, labels, and a host of other things. It comes in several colors.

The Anker® 40W 5-Port High Speed Desktop USB Charger doesn’t have the sexiest name in the world, but it’s great for multi-device families. Once connected to a wall socket, this puppy can charge up to three USB-based devices. Not only that, it eliminates the clutter of “Where’s my cable?” and “Where’s my charger?” I recommend paring it with these great cable labels so everyone knows exactly whose is whose.

Last but not least, a handy little stocking stuffer for the techie on your gift list. The DCI 4-Port USB Power Strip fits into a bag (it measures just 1.1 by 4.4 by 0.75-inches), accepts up to four USB devices, and even has colored covers for each port so you needn’t worry about debris getting inside them when not in use. I’d give this to the tech-friendly traveler, as a full-sized charging station is too unwieldy to pack easily.

Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Productivity gifts

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give someone an extra hour in the day to get things done? Unfortunately, it is not possible to do precisely that, but the following list contains gift ideas that can help people manage their time better and be a little bit more productive.

A good night’s sleep allows for a more productive day. For those who live in noisy environments, Alpine SleepSoft Earplugs can block out noise and allow deep restful sleep. For shift workers or those who sleep late, blackout curtains can make all the difference in the world. Installing them in children’s bedrooms may encourage them to sleep later, too, giving parents an extra hour in the morning or evening to get some work done.

For those who have trouble getting started in the morning, the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock (pictured below) gradually increases the light level so you wake up naturally and feel energized and productive throughout the day.

There are three great books that I recommend to boost organization and productivity.

  • Erin Doland’s book Unclutter your life in one week is a straightforward place to start to get your home in order. An orderly home reduces stress and less stress helps you focus on those things that really matter.
  • 57 Secrets for Organizing Your Small Business by Julie Bestry is a great book, not only for small business owners but also for anyone who wants to improve their level of organizing and productivity at work or in the home office. It is full of tips and tricks that will save time and money.
  • Effectively managing many tasks with different priorities and deadlines is essential, so I recommend the book On Top of Everything by Laurence Seton. The book describes an easy way to learn a task management system called “Projecteze®.” I mentioned this book last year and I’m happy to recommend it again because the system is just so simple to use.

Highly productive people usually carry a notebook. Notebooks allow them to keep their lists and all of their brilliant ideas in one place. And, with the hectic pace of life, notebooks are often more reliable than one’s memory. Fellow Unclutterer Dave says one of his favourite notebooks is the Hobonichi Techno. I quite like the Staples™ ARC customizable notebook system because of the ability to add different types of pages (calendar, contacts, etc.) according to your requirements. The Michael Roger “Decomposition” Book is a great basic notebook made from 100 per cent post consumer waste.

For the person who seems to have everything except enough time to work on his or her projects, perhaps the best gift would be to offer an uninterrupted block of time. Offer to assist homeowners in completing an outstanding DIY project or mind young children for a few hours while parents complete a project.

Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: The ultimate uncluttered gift

Each year in our Gift Giving Guide, we choose one gift that we find to be on the extravagant side and present it as our ultimate gift. We’ve featured things like scanners and hiring a professional organizer and my book and even a closet organizing system.

This year, we are returning to a gift we featured in 2008. However, since that time, it has been so greatly transformed that we feel compelled to return to it in its newest iteration. Introducing the 2014 ultimate gift selection, the Kindle.

I’m partial to the Kindle Paperwhite because I’m a voracious reader and the eink of the Paperwhite display is fantastic on my eyes. If you are younger and/or have perfect vision, the Kindle Fire might be more your speed with the LCD HD screen. (We have both the Paperwhite and the Fire, and our son uses the Fire to access educational materials through FreeTime. FreeTime is a convenient service for developing readers who go through books faster than you can drive to the library.)

The Kindle Voyage has recently hit the market, but unless button controls are extremely important to you, I’m not sure there is much benefit over the Paperwhite to justify the additional expense. (It’s $100 more.)

At this point, eReaders are such popular devices that you likely don’t need me to wax poetic about their benefits. However, since this is an uncluttering and organizing site, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention at least a few benefits of the device. Such as how easy it is to search and retrieve information from digital books (including comments you make to the text), especially in comparison to their physical counterparts. Additionally, how digital books require virtually no physical space to be stored in your home. Also, the efficiency with which you can acquire texts and the (usually) lower price of digital books. Over the longterm, a Kindle can save you time, energy, money, frustration, and space in your home. I’m also quite fond of traveling with it since it takes up so little space in my luggage.

If you’re looking to give or request an extremely organized and uncluttered gift this holiday season, the Amazon Kindle might be the perfect present.

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Oh, before I forget! If you love reading about simple living and habits that encourage a life free of entanglements, let me recommend to you the latest book project from Leo Babauta — Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change. Funding his book is another great gift idea this holiday season.

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Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Experience Gifts

Experience gifts, when well-chosen, can provide a lot of delight with zero clutter. But because some people like to provide a tangible item to their gift recipients, I’m going to suggest some books you could pair with these experience gifts, too.

The specific experience gifts that follow are all located in selected cities in the U.S., but you may well find similar offerings wherever you live. Some of these ideas are on the expensive side, and best suited if a group of people can go together to purchase the gift.

Focus on the arts

For children or adults, give a class in one of many art forms. Depending on the person’s age and interests, this could involve glassblowing, stained glass, mosaics, cartooning, origami, etc. Some art museums offer fun-sounding classes, such as My Very First Art Class for preschoolers (and a whole lot more for older children) at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Alternatively, you could provide a gift certificate for drop-in studio time. Or get a membership in an art museum with hands-on programs, such as the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco.

In this category, it’s easy to find some wonderful books to pair with the classes or studio time, if you so desire. For children, I’m fond of the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series: Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, Da Vinci, Andy Warhol and more. But the options are endless. A couple books that caught my eye are One Watercolor A Day and The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas.

Focus on animals

For animal lovers of all sorts, experience gifts abound. You could get a gift certificate for a whale-watching trip, and pair it with anything from Moby-Dick to the children’s book If You Want to See a Whale.

Some zoos offer the chance to shadow a zookeeper or a veterinarian for a day. Books to go along with this could include Wild About Reading for young children and The Rhino with Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients for older gift recipients.

After-hours events such as an aquarium sleepover can be fun, too. This experience would pair nicely with the children’s book About Fish.

Focus on plants

A membership in a botanic garden or a Japanese garden could be a welcome gift. You might also consider various local tours with a plant or garden focus. Horticultural classes are another possibility. If you wanted to include a book, consider The Curious Garden (for children) and From the Ground Up: The Story of a First Garden (for adults).

Focus on the skies

Give a gift certificate for a helicopter ride, a hot air balloon ride, or a biplane ride. I’ve given a couple of these gifts myself, and they were huge hits. A book that appeals to me because of the wonderful illustrations is Hot Air Balloons: History, Evolution and Great Adventures.

Focus on chocolate

Rather than just giving some wonderful chocolates, you could give the chocolate-lover on your list a chocolate walking tour. Or you could give a chocolate class, which teaches you about chocolate or allows you to make your own small batch. If you want to include a book, options are plentiful — one choice could be The Great Book of Chocolate.

Considerations regarding experience gifts

Some experience gifts (from massages to tours) come with the expectation of a tip. And, in some places, parking might be limited and expensive. If you don’t want the gift recipient to have to pay to use your gift, consider pre-paying any of these added expenses (if possible) or including a bit of cash to cover the expense.

Also, as with any gift, consider the recipients. Do they have any food allergies? Any physical limitations? A fear of heights? If you’re considering a gift certificate that’s only good for a specific day, are you sure the recipient can attend the event? You can probably find a good experience gift for most people, as long as you choose wisely.

Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Gifts for kids

Each year Erin is kind enough to let me write the gift guide for kids. I have such a good time, and often have to whittle my ideas down to the best selections. That’s what I’ve done again this year. In the following post you’ll find great suggestions for little and big kids.

Younger tykes

The POWER A Skylanders SWAP Force Tackle Box. Skylanders is a game for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Wii, and Nintendo 3DS that encourages kids to buy a vast collection of figurines, which become playable characters. Even a small collection can be unwieldily, and if you think stepping on a LEGO brick is bad, try putting your bare foot down on Drobot. This storage box holds up to 20 figures, is stackable, has a lit that latches shut and is transparent. Plus, Jr. can use it to carry his minions to a friend’s house. (It also works with Disney Infinity characters, if your kid is into that one.)

The LEGO Swoop Bag. I mentioned this last year, and I’ve brought it back for 2014 because LEGOS just won’t go away. Between the LEGO Movie, Star Wars tie-ins that are bolstered by a new TV series, those ever-present bricks will be popular again this season. The Swoop Bag holds a huge collection of LEGOs and spreads out during play time, and easily scoops and stores the lot when play is finished. A few other fun ways to keep LEGOS organized:

  1. The LEGO Storage Head offers a fun way to keep LEGOS organized, and gifts should be fun, right? I’d recommend this for smaller collections.
  2. The LEGO ZipBin 1000 Brick Storage Box and Playmat. I love it because it stores 1,000 bricks, comes with a playmat, and features a brick remover! This all-important tool will keep you from using your teeth to separate stubborn bricks. That thing is like gold, so keep it safe.
  3. The Brick Rack Wall Display for LEGO minifigs. As kids get older, they may want to display their favorite LEGOS. This interesting system mounts to the wall and lets kids slide minifigs in and out. The best part is they aren’t in there permanently, so if they want to take a few down to play with them, they can.

Melissa and Doug Trunki Terrance Rolling Kids Luggage. This beautiful little suit case is perfect for the younger child who travels — or doesn’t! For travelers, it’s carry-on sized and features wheels plus handles and a shoulder strap. At home, it’s a cute and sturdy (holds up to 75 lbs) storage container that you won’t mind looking at. It’s available in several colors and patterns, so you can find one that works for you.

The Hot Wheels Basic Car 50-Pack. Perhaps it’s my nostalgia talking, but Hot Wheels are awesome. This set contains 50 vehicles, each individually wrapped, with no duplicates. Plus, it all ships in a cute cardboard storage box. It’s a great way to create an instant Hot Wheels collection or add on to an existing one AND keep them stored nicely when not in use.

Older kids/teens

Gear Pockets. These wall-hanging units feature mesh pockets and straps for storing all sorts of items: sports equipment, hunting supplies, helmets, boots and more. Put one in the garage or your teenager’s room and they’ll have at-a-glance access to their most important gear.

Multi-Device Charging Station. This great-looking bamboo charging station can accommodate three phones/music players of various makes, an iPad, and a laptop computer. There are hidden hook-ups for everything, keeping them charged in a tidy, nice-looking package.

Finally, this one’s a little abstract, but I’d recommend an Evernote Premium subscription for any college students on your list. I’ve sung Evernote’s praises several times on Unclutterer. It really is my external brain. College is a time to run around like a chicken minus its academic head, and Evernote will help students keep everything they need together and accessible.

If you’re like me, you find time spent shopping for kids almost as much fun as watching them open their gifts. I hope there were a few items here that are prefect for the young ones on your list. Have a great holiday season, everybody!

Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Unclutterer’s 2014 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Organizing gifts for the kitchen and bathroom

If someone on your gift list this year would appreciate a little organizing help, there are numerous ways to provide gifts to help in his or her pursuits. Seeing as organizing gifts are too many to count, we decided this year to narrow down suggestions to only the kitchen and bathroom. If these two rooms aren’t of concern to your recipient, they still may be able to provide inspiration for gifts applicable to other rooms.

The kitchen is probably the busiest room in the home. Some kitchens have limited counter space and some have limited cupboard space. The following are a few tools that may be of interest to chefs to help them keep the kitchen organized.

  • Free up kitchen counter space with a folding dish rack. The linked model allows dishes to dry quickly and funnels water directly to the sink. It comes apart for easy cleaning and it has a slim profile that makes it easy to store in a cupboard when not in use.
  • Kitchen scales are an essential tool for anyone who enjoys baking but most models take up lots of counter or cupboard space. The Joseph Joseph TriScale Compact Folding Digital Scale is an ideal space saver to that folds up and fits in a drawer. It has an easy to read display and measures in both Imperial and metric. I received one of these last year for Christmas and I love it!

  • I also love my Nest utensil set. It has the five tools that I use most often, all in a compact, self-supporting design. It takes up very little space on the small counter next to my stove and it adds a dash of colour to the kitchen.
  • Any chef with a small kitchen would enjoy receiving a colourful collapsible measuring cup and spoon set or a collapsible silicone colander that can also double as a food steamer. The 4-in-1 box grater by Joseph Joseph folds flat and fits easily in a drawer or cupboard. It comes with a protective cover for safety. It’s dishwasher safe, too.

The bathroom is a close second for the busiest-room-in-the-house designation. Many bathrooms have very little storage or counter space. The following are a few tools that can help keep the bathroom in order.

  • A stainless steel power lock suction basket is designed to keep your soap and shampoo organized in your shower, but it could also be used next to your kitchen sink to keep your dishwashing tools in order.
  • For bathrooms with very little drawer space, a rolling cart is useful for storing items. Plastic is recommended as it does not rust and it can be easily cleaned.
  • Keep cosmetics organized with an expandable organizer for the vanity. Alternatively, a drawer organizer could be used to corral cosmetics.
  • Keep hairstyling tools organized in this handy caddy. It can hang on a towel bar or on a cupboard door or it can be placed in a drawer. Styling tools can be stored on the counter with a hairstyle tool organizer. It also has a place to store hairspray, gel, and hair accessories.
  • For students who transport their toiletries from their dorm room to the bathroom, a new shower tote may be a useful gift.

Feel welcome to explore our past Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Introducing the 2014 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Starting Monday and going through the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we will be running our annual Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide. Each post will focus on uncluttered, useful, and/or organized gifts that you might want to consider giving to others this season.

The holidays are a time when we can easily feel overwhelmed with responsibilities, as well as by stuff. With our Guide, we hope to inspire you to think outside the traditional gift-giving process or to be more aware of how you proceed within its regular bounds.

The next seven weeks, however, aren’t only about gifts. You’ll likely be invited to parties and have special work or school obligations. You may be the host of this year’s Thanksgiving gathering. And you may find yourself packing up a suitcase or two or three and heading across the country to see far-flung friends and family.

So, how do you keep yourself from going mad?

  • Make a plan now. Create a to-do-list of everything that needs to be accomplished. Then, set specific deadlines for shopping and preparations or whatever it is you have to do in the next seven weeks. Mark these on your calendar with blocks of time to work on meeting your deadlines. If playing host for a holiday meal, consult a guide that lists day-by-day and hour-by-hour suggestions for getting food on the table.
  • Take a break. You don’t have to constantly be on the go until the New Year. When scheduling all the things you need to do on your calendar, be sure to include time for reflection and rejuvenation. You’re likely to go bonkers, otherwise. Also try not to be afraid of saying “no” if you feel that your schedule is becoming too much to reasonably handle.
  • Keep it simple. Whether it’s with your decorations, your gift giving, or any other task that could complicate this time, try your best to keep things simple. You don’t have to put out every snow man you own. You don’t have to serve every dish your grandmother did at Thanksgiving. You don’t have to give New Year’s guests four choices of champagne. Have a signature cocktail and make a pitcher of it instead of standing behind a bar all night making custom orders. Santa Claus can bring the kids a single, larger gift instead of 40 little ones. Don’t be overly complicated about things unless you have to.

Stay focused on enjoying time with family and friends and you should be fine this holiday season.

If you’re eager to get started planning your gift giving this season, feel welcome to check out our past Guides for ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

A Black Friday wrap up of Unclutterer’s 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide

In case you missed any of our posts along the way, the following is a complete listing of the gift-giving ideas included in Unclutterer’s 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide:

If you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out our previous Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guides:

From those of us at Unclutterer, we wish you a calm and clutter-free holiday season!

2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Gift ideas from professional organizers

This year we thought we would ask a few professional organizers from around the world what their favourite gifts were to give and/or receive.

Erin Rooney Doland of Unclutterer.com in the Washington, DC-area, suggested the Cubitec Shelving System.

Erin said, “We have had this shelving unit for almost a decade and it hasn’t aged a day. The color is consistent, even though it has sat next to large sliding glass doors the entire time. Not a single shelf sags. Most importantly, it can be configured to fit your space and it’s fun. We use it in our living room, but we’re giving a unit to our son for toy storage in his room. I truly love furniture and organizing products that stand the test of time and also look amazing.”

Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing, LLC in Cary, NC, is a fan of supplemental battery power for her smartphone. She would love to receive an Everpurse this holiday season. The Everpurse is a purse that charges your smartphone. Leave your purse on its charging mat all night and it will keep your smartphone charged all day. Geralin loves also the Purse Perfector purse organizer she received as a gift and keeps it in the centre console of her car to keep everything in its place.

Julie Bestry of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, recommended Grid-it by Cocoon to organize and maintain cables, chargers, ear buds, pens, small tools, flash drives, and just about anything that would otherwise be lost in the bottom of backpacks and purses. Julie would love to receive the Cocoon Backpack with its ability to hold a 17” laptop and its multi-pocketed organized interior and ergonomically designed shoulder harness.

For those who want to have their files accessible from anywhere, but don’t feel comfortable hosting them in the cloud. Brooks Duncan of DocumentSnap in Vancouver, Canada, recommended the Transporter Sync. It lets you turn your external hard drive into a secure, connected, cloud device that is in your control.

Some people have small homes and it can be hard to accommodate Christmas trees in the living room during the festive season and in storage spaces the rest of the year. If this is the case with your friends or family, Soraiya Kara of POSabilities Personal Organizing in Vancouver, Canada, suggested giving ornament display stands. These stands come in a variety of styles and a range of prices and allow people to display their beautiful, sentimental ornaments.

Nanette Duffy of Organized Instincts in Atlanta, GA, wants Cyber Clean as a gift! Nanette said, “The product is practical and effective, but the bright neon green slime feels like a toy! A slick consistency makes cleaning your tech gadgets just plain old fun. I have been told that recipients seek out dirty and gross gadgets like remotes, computer mice and tech devices just to keep playing with the neon green slime. Cyber Clean is not gender specific and can be used at home or work, so it’s a great office gift exchange gift idea. The small packet or bottle makes it an easy, low cost gift to ship. When you have used up Cyber Clean’s cleaning powers, the colour changes letting you how it’s time to toss it out. This mean no “gift clutter” to accumulate.”

Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant in Hamilton, Canada, suggested the book Time Management for Unmanageable People: The Guilt-Free Way to Organize, Energize, and Maximize Your Life by Anne McGee-Cooper as a gift for those creative types for whom time management may be a challenge. As a right-brained individual who has overcome traits of dyslexia, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorder to become a successful author, lecturer, business consultant, creativity expert, and business owner, McGee-Cooper knows her subject matter well, and presents her information clearly and with a sense of humour.

Patience Oaktree organizing novels and books of short stories are fictional stories about the adventures of a professional organizer. Valentina Sgro of SGRO Consulting in Cleveland, OH, suggested these books as a gift because they don’t run the risk of implying, “Happy Holidays! You’re a mess!” And, organizing aside, they make entertaining reading for most anyone.

Want more gift-giving ideas? Explore Unclutterer’s full 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Consumables

Consumables can make fine clutter-avoiding gifts for almost any budget. As with any gift, you’ll need to consider your recipient — not everyone drinks alcohol, some people have food allergies, etc. But match the right consumable to the right person, and you’ve got a winner.

Food and beverage

When it comes to wine, I have a fondness for fine champagne, which always seems so festive — and tastes so good. Chocolates also can be lovely; Tcho makes a Tcho-a-day package of dark chocolates, with a 30-day and a 90-day option. (You could even split these packages up into a bunch of stocking stuffers for numerous people.)

For non-alcoholic beverages, there’s always a good coffee or a special tea. A cook might appreciate a nice olive oil; David Lebovitz recommends Arbequina. But really, the possibilities are endless: fancy salts, a special peanut butter from the Netherlands, heirloom beans, and so much more.

Seeds

Know people who like growing their own food? Consider a seed bomb, or some specialty seeds.

Soaps, cosmetics and such

For people who like bar soap — and appreciate magnificent packaging — you might get the soaps from Leap Organics: eucalyptus, mint, and anise is one of their three options. Another interesting choice would be the soaps from Badger, sold by Soap Hope, which say: When you purchase any item from Soap Hope, we invest ALL profits — every single dollar — into programs that empower women to lift themselves from poverty.

All sorts of seemingly mundane products can be more fun than you might expect as a gift. Items like bacon bandages, Abraham Lincoln bandages, or Jane Austen bandages are fun for restocking a first-aid kit. You can get organic toothpaste from Denmark in a number of flavors, or cinnamon mint toothpaste from Italy. And you can even get interesting dental floss.

There are plenty of interesting lip balms, such as the Coast of Eden assortment: chai spice, lavender mint, blood orange, and peppermint. Or you could get a do-it-yourself lip balm kit.

Alisa Bonsignore just tweeted that she is “much too old to be this entertained by my color-changing ‘mood’ nail polish” — which I’d never heard of, until she mentioned it. Maybe you know someone who’d be entertained by color-changing nail polish, too. Or, you might prefer some more traditional nail polishes, such as those from Butter London, with their “complete lack of the chemical nasties.”

Art supplies for children

I’m always amazed at the wonderful products available in this category; just make sure whatever you purchase is safe for the child’s age. Consider edible veggie sidewalk chalk, made with organic ingredients. Or, consider Snazaroo face paint, the Faber-Castell Young Artist Finger Painting Gift Set, and Glob natural botanical paints. And, there’s a fun-looking set of eco-crayons and an eco-art pad.

Office supplies

For something different in sticky notes, take a look at Leaf-it. For example, you can purchase their maple leaf sticky notes. And how about some colorful staples: pink, blue, purple, or teal?

Want more gift-giving ideas? Explore Unclutterer’s full 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.

2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Gifts for helping kids be organized

Maybe it’s me, but I get as much enjoyment from buying and imagining my kids’ reactions to opening gifts as I get from witnessing the unwrapping itself. As a result, Erin assigned me the task for putting together the shopping guide for kids for this year. I’ve collected a number of gift ideas for kids of various ages and interest, from toddlers to teens. And, each of these gifts has a special organizing slant, of course.

  1. Foldie T-shirts. I am flat-out in love with these. The Foldie “educational” tee is very cute. The shirts feature adorable graphics and they have a secret. Specifically, they teach kids how to fold shirts in a very clever way. Flip it over and bring the sleeves together, and the image on the back becomes a whole new picture. Fold it again, bringing the bottom to the top, and a third image is created. It’s utterly delightful. I tried one out with my own kids and, not only did they love it, the lesson generalized to non-Foldie shirts. Perfect.
  2. The Swoop Bag. The fantastic swoop bag serves three purposes. First, it’s a play surface. When fully opened, this sturdy bag makes a great area for playing with LEGO bricks, wooden blocks, and so on. Second, it’s fantastic for storage. When playtime’s over, just zip! It’s closed. Use the built-in straps to close or hang it up. Finally, it’s super for transportation. My son has a mind-bending number of Skylanders figures which he brings to his buddy’s house. The Swoop Bag is a great way to transport them.
  3. Rainbow Loom. It’s a clever little device that lets kids make all sorts of bracelets with elastics. My kids sure love it, and that means I find tiny rubber bands all over the place. Keep them tidy with a multi-compartment container. It also helps kids more easily transport their “loom gear” to their friends’ houses.
  4. A can of chalkboard paint. Stay with me here. Last Christmas, we gave a pint of chalkboard paint to the kids, whose initial reaction was hesitant. A year later, they absolutely love it. My son is always changing the “art” on his wall, while my daughter has taken to using her wall as a calendar. She’ll note down what’s happening on a given day, like “ballet” or “play practice.” She draws goofy faces, too, but that’s the fun. Slap some on the wall, hand them a box of fresh, colorful chalk, and let them go wild without any paper mess cluttering up their spaces.
  5. Activity bags are great for older kids. Val Jacobs makes super dance bags, from multi-pocketed duffels to hanging solutions that can accommodate costumes, makeup, and more. CCM makes a very nice hockey bag that’s suitable for other sports, too. (While we’re on the subject, here’s how to keep odor out of sports equipment bags.)
  6. The chalkboard laptop. Seriously, how adorable is this? This handmade, wooden “laptop” features a chalkboard screen and keyboard, plus a slot for chalk where the trackpad is on mom and dad’s laptop. The whole thing folds up for easily for travel and storage, just like its computer counterpart.
  7. The crayon bandolier is adorable and handy. First of all, it’s super cute. And, secondly, it keeps crayons ready to go and not all over the table or floor.
  8. The Doodle Tablecloth. Since you’ve got the crayons out, break out the Doodle Tablecloth to complete the set. This lined tablecloth is machine washable and ships with a pack of eight washable markers. If you’re not willing to subject your entire tablecloth to Jr.’s artistic endeavors, consider the Doodle placemat set.

Want more gift-giving ideas? Explore Unclutterer’s full 2013 Holiday Gift Giving Guide.