2009 Gift Giving Guide: Gifts that reflect what matters most to you

In our second installment of Unclutterer’s 2009 Holiday Gift Giving Guide we’re discussing gifts that reflect your personal priorities and desires. Initially, this may appear to be a little self-serving (and, well, it is a little bit), but keep reading before you dismiss the idea entirely.

This year, we’re getting my brother a Netbook for Christmas. We found a Compaq Netbook with Windows XP for $179.00 through BestBuy’s Black Friday Deals, and decided it was the right gift for the right price.

How does a gift like this reflect what matters most to me? My family is my largest priority and being in solid communication with them comes ahead of most everything in my life. Part of this includes my son growing up talking at least once a week with his uncle, and this Netbook will make that possible across the miles (my brother lives more than 1,000 miles away). The Netbook has a webcam built into the monitor and works wonderfully with Skype, and also accesses the internet so that he can see family pictures and videos we upload to Flickr. My brother doesn’t currently have a home computer or a webcam, and so this little Netbook will make it possible for my son and brother to develop a more meaningful relationship.

(As a quick note, we considered getting him a Skype Video Phone, but the price was so similar to the Netbook that we decided to go with the device that has multiple functions. For someone like my 100-year-old grandmother, though, a single-use device may have made more sense.)

If spending time with your family is also a priority, gifts like airline tickets are nice so that the recipient can come to visit you. Create a “redeemable for one free trip to see me” coupon and then buy the ticket in the person’s name when you and the recipient figure out the best travel date. If the family member lives within driving distance, give a gasoline gift card in an amount to cover the expense of fuel for the trip. The recipient gets a vacation and you both get to spend time with someone you love.

What is on your list of what matters most? Can you find gifts for other people this season that reflect these priorities? The reasons that you use for living a clutter-free life can also help you find inspired, caring, uncluttered gifts for the people you love. Here are a couple more ideas that may work for you:

  • Monthly reservations. Do you have a friend you would like to see more often? Choose 12 restaurants you’ve been wanting to try and make reservations for once-a-month dining in advance. Give your friend a calendar with the plans already marked on the dates. Offer to pay for one or more of the dinners (Your birthday month is on me!). You can always reschedule the reservations if something pops up or you decide you want to try a different place, but if there isn’t a conflict you’re set for the entire year.
  • New adventures. For my sister-in-law’s birthday last year, we bought her a robot kit and a bottle of wine. We also bought two robot kits for ourselves. We then set a date for when we could all get together and spend the afternoon building our little creatures. A few weeks later we pretended to be engineers (sober engineers, I might add — we discovered wine did not go well with hundreds of itty bitty pieces in our kits). She had never built a robot and loved the idea of building one, and we hadn’t ever built them and loved the idea, too. Plus, we laughed our way through the entire adventure. We got to spend the day with someone we love doing something we’ve always wanted to try, and the same was true for my sister-in-law. Are there new adventures you could share with someone you love?

As we continue to post more ideas for the Guide, check out the Unclutterer’s 2009 Holiday Gift Giving Guide Index Page for a listing of all the posts.

12 Comments for “2009 Gift Giving Guide: Gifts that reflect what matters most to you”

  1. posted by Plain Good Sense on

    LOVE the idea of monthly reservations….it would be a great gift for a friend or a spouse! Or a mother/father/sibling whom you don’t see as often as you should!

  2. posted by JC on

    We are trying to be more aware of our impact on the earth. We are starting with little steps. I am making personalized embroidered grocery tote bags for all my relatives. There will be bears on my Aunt’s, flowers on my MIL’s, art deco designs for my sister, etc… This will make “being green” a lot more fun than the boring bags they already have that are not very high quality.

  3. posted by Heather on

    Last year I gave a friend (who lives across the country from me) a Netflix subscription and suggested a “movie club”. Everymonth we’ve agreed on a DVD to watch and then make sure to call one another to discuss it. It’s a great way for us to keep in touch!

  4. posted by Erin on

    One of the hardest things about the holidays is trying to communicate to my family members what to get my kids (they always ask!). Luckily, my DH wrote a cool app for Facebook called the Magic Wishlist. You can create wish lists for yourself and your children and share them on Facebook or even with people who aren’t on Facebook. If you want to get exactly what you want (and keep your house uncluttered!), check it out.

  5. posted by Erin on

    Oops! I forgot to put a link to the Magic Wishlist: http:\\magicwish.liquididea.com.

  6. posted by Bellen on

    Finding it extremely difficult to pick a present for relatives that lived 1500 miles away we would give gifts of magazine subscriptions, memberships to museums or zoos, and even a year’s support of a Florida Manatee (one of niece’s passions). In return they would send photos or a postcard from place visited, a note about a favorite story or even a recipe from the magazine. It was a great way for us to keep in touch and informed about people we love but don’t see in person but once every 2 years or so.

  7. posted by Liz on

    For people who have it all, I like to give a gift of charity in their name, to something they care about. One example is [ https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/c-7-gift-catalog.aspx ]. If they are into education, I can give a gift to help a child learn to read and write. If they love babies, I give a gift to feed a baby for a week. It has brought tears to many eyes when the gifts are opened, and they’re totally clutter-free!

  8. posted by LauraRN on

    I have 2 children and 24 nieces and nephews. Every year each gets 1 gift from all the aunts and uncles (I have 4 brothers and 4 sisters.) We make sure we know what they want– mostly ends up being gift cards to bookstores, Target or BestBuy. We average the costs among all of us. I, too, love the idea of the calendar with reservations. I might do that for my husband!

  9. posted by Valerie on

    That looks like a great app Erin! Thanks! I love the add to amazon wishlist to put things into the wishlist from other websites, but like that it’s easier for people to find on facebook than on amazon.

  10. posted by Elizabeth on

    Maybe I missed something, but doesn’t giving the gift of a netbook to someone who “doesn’t have a home computer” then require him to pay monthly for internet access that he probably also doesn’t currently have, in order to use it? Or did you have in mind that he would hunt down some free wifi when he wanted to use it?

  11. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Elizabeth — He can afford internet, get access when he’s at my parents’, or access from a WiFi hot spot. His phone might also have tethering in the near future. His last laptop just had an unfortunate accident and he was going to replace it eventually, but I decided to help him out.

  12. posted by Fiona on

    Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org) is another great charity to give to in someone’s name. We “bought” flocks of ducks and chicks as gifts for a whole bunch of people a few years ago, and they got a real kick out of it!

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