2007 Gift Guide: Consumable giving

If you love to wrap gifts and watch people unwrap them, then gifts that can be consumed might be your preference. Giving others gifts that can be used up and are necessary are ways to fill the need of giving something tangible during the holidays.

Here are some ideas to get you headed in the right direction:

Kitchen idea #1: Ziplock bags, aluminum foil, parchment paper, wax paper, paper towels, sponges, and a silicon oven mitt.

Kitchen idea #2: A collection of quality, fresh spices from a local merchant or a reputable online vendor (like Penzeys).

Garden idea: Bulbs and seeds for flowers or a garden.

Shower idea: The recipient’s favorite shampoo, bath bombs (like the ones at Lush), luffa, scented shower gel, and exfoliating scrub.

Garage idea: Motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, large garbage bags, leather palmed work gloves, and a gift certificate to the local bicycle shop covering the cost of a spring maintenance.

Gifts that can and will be eventually used are terrific ideas for people who enjoy giving gifts that can be touched and opened. Feel welcome to add to this list with your own ideas in the comments section!

26 Comments for “2007 Gift Guide: Consumable giving”

  1. posted by Alex Liu on

    Thanks for the idea. Very useful!

    Alex Liu

  2. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    We gave a wedding gift once that was made up of:
    one recipe for spaghetti sauce
    all the ingredients to make the spaghetti sauce (and the spaghetti)
    a gift card for a large supermarket chain
    one big sauce pot in which all the items were “wrapped”

  3. posted by Lola on

    I like all of these except the trash bags. Yes, I know they’re useful, but anything involving trash bags seems like more of a chore than a fun hobby.

  4. posted by Kathryn on

    I appreciate the fact that you’re trying to think outside the box here, but I’m afraid that motor oil ranks somewhere not far below “my old man got me a carton of cigarettes” from the Breakfast Club (I am surely dating myself with that reference!) Nevermind the fact that motor oil is not one-size-fits-all. Perhaps my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that we’ve got a rather large storage area in our garage devoted to automobile-related consumables like wiper fluid, motor oil, filters, lubes, brake fluid–you name it.

  5. posted by Jen on

    Along these lines, why not give some truly disposable home cleaning products? Vendors like Seventh Generation and (my personal favorite) Method sell completely biodegradable home cleaning solutions (dish soap, floor cleaner, etc.) that don’t put toxic chemicals into runoff water. People often refrain from buying these products for themselves because of their higher prices, so why not indulge them? Green is the new black, baby!

  6. posted by Nancy on

    I am a total Lushie, but as much as I love Lush, their bath bombs have no moisturizing properties. I much prefer those from Me! Bath which are rich in butters & oils. I also like the Abaca Spa gift box at Mighty Leaf teas which has 2 bath tea pouches & 8 drinking teas.

    If you are looking for a great body scrub, my favorites are: Isle of Eden & Pacific Scents (both available online only).

    If you’d like to give a gift while preventing the Earth from clutter, check out GG2G, http://www.gg2g.com, where they make goods from recycled billboard materials.

    If you need a special gift for a romantic couple, or if you are part of a romanic couple yourself (or are part of a couple that wants to regain their romantic connection), I love to give the travel set from http://www.CMCouples.com.

    I like gifts that multi-task, which is why I love Veris Candles…not only are they great candles, but all of their containers are re-usable…not to mention they make beautiful gifts!

    I also like to make chocolate items for my friends for Christmas…they always get eaten 100%. Last year I did chocolate dipped spoons and also made ‘candy’ by stuffing a dried apricot with a roasted almond (unsalted) and pouring melted Ghiradelli chocolate over it…delicious.

    I personally have asked for Trader Joe’s gift cards for Christmas as I know they will be 100% used and will not clutter my home. I’d also be happy to receive a basket of coffee & tea…someone in your life might also.

    I made my mother a gingerbread house over Thanksgiving…and I know it will be eaten 100%.

  7. posted by Katie on

    Oh, horrors! Be careful with lotion gifts, and try to verify that the receiver doesn’t have a whole cabinetful in the bathroom already.

    Although better that than motor oil. 😉

  8. posted by swingcat on

    A few years ago my brother in law gave us a bunch of car wash stuff. I think he kinda waited until the last minute to do his shopping. I thought it was a bit odd at the time. But over time, I came to realize what a great gift it was. I mean- who wants to spend money on stuff like car wash or rainx???? It was nice to have the stuff there when I needed it and then I could spend my money on much more fun stuff!

  9. posted by melissa on

    My husband and I are moving overseas in a few months- so the idea of consumable gifts is a fantastic one for us. My mother in law gave us our Christmas gifts this past weekend at Thanksgiving. I was so pleased by how considerate she was- She told me before giving me the gifts that she had gotten things that I would use up or that I wouldn’t mind giving away to others! That thought alone made the gifts so much more special!

  10. posted by DC on

    Other gifts that won’t clutter:
    – theater/concert tickets
    – arranging for catered meals to be delivered (once or more over the year)
    – a subscription to a DVD rental service
    – lesson(s) for something – dancing, rock climbing, snowboarding, …

  11. posted by Marie on

    As for the shower idea, my go-to gift for many people is a fuzzy bathrobe or slippers and nice bath products from Philosophy. This gift is practical, thoughtful, and means that the recipient has an excuse to take a little time for his or herself.

  12. posted by M.R. on

    My mom used to give a “Biscuit Kit” our neighbor-who-had-everything. She baked a bunch of biscuits and put them in ziplock bags. She then included some high-end jams, preserves, apple butter, etc. He LOVED that gift and looked forward to it every year! I never understood that as a child, but I do now 🙂

  13. posted by Colin on

    I also found the notion of “merry trashbags” to be a bit… um, odd. I know I’m middle aged because I get genuinely excited when I receive a tie for Christmas (I wear a suit 4 – 5 days a week), but I can’t foresee being thrilled about detergents.

    We do give a lot of consumables, but almost always food of a variety or quality that people can’t get locally.

  14. posted by Yolanda on

    I think the shower gift ideas are better for men than women, as women tend to receive these items for every occasion & buy them for themselves. Men do so less frequently, but enjoy them just as much.

    As for consumables, I think they make great gifts, but should be well thought out. In general, I try to buy things for people that they’d love (or would make their lives easier), but wouldn’t necessarily think to buy for themselves: parchment paper, whole nutmeg, vanilla beans, or saffron for the baker and cook; batteries in every size for the parents of young children; bottles of regional beverages or long lost ones from childhood.

  15. posted by Jen on

    Ooops. Should have been more Method-ical in my hyperlinking. My apologies to the self-proclaimed “People Against Dirty.”

  16. posted by Marsha on

    Other ideas for consumable gifts include annual passes to local attractions. My two-year-old daughter has plenty of toys or clothes, so when her grandparents asked us what she might like for Christmas, we suggested a season pass to our local zoo. It’s a gift that keeps on giving (every visit there is a reminder of the giver), it’s something she would love (she’s nuts for animals!), and it doesn’t contribute to our clutter!

  17. posted by vanka on

    A lot of these ideas would merit a big WTF from me if i received them. There are gifts that are usable without seeming like you just stopped off at the grocery store on the way over and picked up some random stuff.

  18. posted by Liz on

    How about some reusable items for the cook instead of all the kitchen disposables, which will go to the landfill? A better idea would be canvas reusable grocery totes and cheesecloth or burlap bags for produce.

  19. posted by twosandalz on

    A practical gift for someone who has a digital camera might be color ink cartridges, photo printer paper and batteries. Hmm… methinks I’ll put those on my own wish list. 😉

    I don’t think consumable ‘ordinary-item’ gifts are good for everyone, though. For someone who defines a gift as something special or something the receiver wouldn’t ordinarily buy themselves, ink and batteries would seem thoughtless, as if the giver was just performing an annoying social obligation and didn’t care.

  20. posted by Andamom on

    Personally, I think that donating is the true spirit of the season: http://andamom.com/?p=228

  21. posted by Rise v4 » links for 2007-11-28 on

    […] Unclutterer » Archive » 2007 Gift Guide: Consumable giving Excellent set of ideas for presents that are USEFUL. How many times must I say it?! (tags: christmas shopping) […]

  22. posted by Liz on

    With any gift, make sure you know the receiver’s taste before you buy. I’m referring specifically to bath products. I have sensitive skin and can’t use any bath product with a fragrance–which must be 99.9% of them. I am also not a “girly girl” and just do not find bath products very fun. When I get this gift, it gives me the depressing feeling that the giver doesn’t know me at all.

  23. posted by SLP on

    My personal favorite – edible bird feeders

  24. posted by Katie on

    How about hiring a maid for three months after someone has a baby??

    I also LOVE getting gift certificates for massages/facials/pedicures…things that I never do for myself.

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