2018 Gift Giving Guide: Consumable gifts

Consumable gifts when done correctly, can be some of the most appreciated presents we receive. When poorly executed, it can actually lead to more clutter. Here are some tips to choosing the best consumable gifts for the people on your list.

Food is first on the list when people think of consumables. After all, everyone eats — we just don’t all eat the same things. Consider the following:

  • Some food allergies are severe. Your intended recipient may not be allergic but if any of their family members have allergies, the item may never be consumed.
  • Dietary Restrictions. Low salt, low sugar, low fat, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan… Some are medical restrictions, some are faith-based restrictions, others are by choice. Whatever the reason, respect the limitations in your gift-giving.

Always read the label and the list of ingredients before purchasing and when in doubt, ask!

You might want to opt for specialty foods that your recipients would not normally purchase themselves. I always get my husband imported lemon curd for the holidays. It is something his British granny used to make every year and try as I might, I have never mastered the recipe.

Students starting out on their own may appreciate a spice starter kit with free refills for five years. For the coffee lover, perhaps a three month coffee sampler subscription would be appreciated. The gourmet chef on your list might enjoy pure Spanish saffron. There are many gourmet international food options to choose from.

Although not nearly so glamourous as international gourmet food, other consumables that might be well received include:

Take the time to get to know your recipient’s preferences and use your imagination to create the perfect consumable (and clutter free) gift.

Feel welcome to explore our previous Gift Giving Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

2018 Gift Giving Guide: Charitable gifts

Today begins our annual Holiday Gift Giving Guide. Over the next few days, we will share numerous articles on uncluttered giving that can be used this season. Most of these ideas also will apply to gift giving throughout the year, irrespective of the occasion.

In an article in the New York Times, Peter Post, great-grandson of etiquette expert Emily Post, states that donating to a charity in lieu of a tangible gift can be very meaningful — if it is done the right way. It is important to always think of the recipient instead of yourself when making the donation to a charity. What one person may consider a worthy cause might not resonate with someone else. A charitable donation gift should not be a way for the giver to advocate their ideals.

Two great websites that can help you choose a charity that will resonate with the recipient are Charity Watch and Charity Navigator. They both list organizations that funnel the majority of their donations into programs instead of administration.

Other local charities include:

  • Food banks
  • Hospital foundations
  • Library foundations
  • Homeless shelters
  • Art centres
  • Theatre groups
  • Historical society archives
  • Multi-cultural groups

Donations to charities as gifts may not suit family festivities, but your business could donate to a charity instead of sending clients the usual box of chocolates. Workplaces could skip the “Secret Santa” gift exchange and ask everyone to donate a bag of groceries to the local food bank instead.

If you do choose to donate to a charity, take the time to send or give the recipient a card. I like these blank greeting cards where I add my own holiday design and the logo of the charity as well as write a personalized note inside the card.

Have you donated to a charity in someone’s name? Would you do it again? Have the gifts been well received? Share your experiences in the comments.

Feel welcome to explore our previous Gift Giving Guides for even more ideas: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

What to do with pajamas during the day?

I have never known what to do with my pajamas in the morning. They usually end up being folded and set on top of my dresser. The dresser location is functional, but it’s cluttered. Years of living with clothes strewn on my dresser left me wishing I had a place where my pajamas could live that wasn’t on top of a flat surface.

After a recent trip to the hardware store, I came home armed with a “S” hook to solve my problem. The hook fits over my closet’s clothing rod and provides an instant place for my pajamas during the day. I also have enough space in my closet that my pajamas don’t touch any of my clean clothes. My pajamas are out of sight, off a flat surface, and behind the closed door of my closet.

If I had children, I think that I would install more permanent hooks that screwed into the closet wall at a height convenient for them. This way, they would be able to hang up their own pajamas even if they couldn’t reach their clothing rod in their closet.

I know that some people will likely comment that pajamas should be stored either under your pillow or in your pillow case. I just can’t do this. I think about how I sweat on my pajamas during the night and am not comfortable with then storing them next to where I put my face when I sleep. The reality may be that it is more hygienic than I am imagining, but I can’t do it. It gives me the willies. For me, the “S” hook works perfectly.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

Interesting way to hide powercords

Power cords are a necessary evil that ruin the aesthetic of almost any room in your home. Finding ways to hide them and get them into a manageable arrangement is always a struggle. One option is to use the “J” shaped cable organizer but they are only available in white or black which doesn’t always go with the décor. Nail-in cable clips are easy to install and can neatly hold cables against the wall but again, who wants to see that bright orange extension cord?

This rather unique and interesting way to hide your wire clutter I found over at the Boiler design site:

The Picket Fence adapts to older homes and cleanly manages the electrical necessities of the occupants. The baseboards have a certain thickness to them, typically much thicker than an electrical cord. By sticking these pickets onto the baseboard, a space is created between the wall and the picket points. This space serves as a track for routing all of the wires cleanly around the room. They can go wherever they like and double back as much as they need to, all concealed behind a picket fence. Because of the gaps between the individual pickets, a plug can jump out wherever it is needed.

Obviously this design isn’t for everyone, but I think it is creative and lends itself to different interpretations.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2007.

It came from your clutter: homemade bagpipes

In this edition of “It came from your clutter,” something that came from my family’s clutter — a sheep stomach and tubes of wood fashioned into bagpipes.

Back in the early 1990s, my husband was deployed to the former Yugoslavia as a UN Peacekeeper. Because he learned to play the bagpipes in military college, he took his set of pipes with him on the deployment. Music has a way of bringing people together and being so loud, the Great Highland bagpipes can be heard by people far and wide. My husband explained the history of bagpipes and how they used to be made with animal skins (modern bagpipes are made with synthetic materials) and the chanter and drones were made with wood.

My husband must have made a positive impression on the local community because at the end of his six-month tour of duty, the people gifted him a set of bagpipes they had made themselves. This “decorative” set of pipes moved with us from duty station to duty station for over fifteen years.

One summer, we started noticing a strange smell coming from the corner of the living room near the shelving unit. I thought perhaps it was a dead mouse because it had that sort of stink. It was the bagpipes. The sheep stomach had started to decay and rot.

We took one last photo of these handmade bagpipes from war-torn former Yugoslavia, said good-bye, and tossed them in the trash. My husband will always have the fondest memories of the people he met there — and of course this photo.

Do you have something unique or bizarre you have found in your clutter that you would like to share with our readers? Please send them to us through our Contact page, we would love to see your discovered oddities!

Perfect time to organize your garage

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The temperature is just right for me, the leaves are beautiful, and Halloween and Thanksgiving are always fun. Fall also reminds me of the time of year when my mother would predictably ask her three sons to clean the garage. Cleaning out the garage consisted of moving everything in the garage into the driveway and then sweeping and hosing off the garage floor. After we let the floor dry we moved everything back into the garage. It was always a dreaded task that wasted perfect backyard football weather.

The silly thing about the chore was that we hardly ever threw anything away or donated stuff to charity. I can still remember wheeling the wagon filled with old baseball equipment out to the yard and then right back into the garage again. Figuring out what needs to be trashed or donated is the first step to organizing your garage. With the car taking up so much real estate, you need to be organized with the space you do have at your disposal.

Using the walls for storage is key. You could easily go for the quick and cheap project with some strategically placed heavy duty hooks or you could go the storage system route. It probably depends on how much stuff you have or how much you actually use your garage.

A guest post by Lauren Halagarda has some excellent tips that should help you out immensely. The garage is one of the most common areas for clutter to accumulate and it needs to be kept under control before the car no longer fits into its spot.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

Learn to safely wrap cords, cables, and hoses

The magazine Fine Homebuilding has an informative and season-appropriate tutorial on its website “Wrapping cords and hoses: Learn how to avoid twists and kinks that can cause damage.”

This advice is perfect for garden and air hoses and extension cords that are ready to be stored for the cold months. There are three methods described in the article: a looped bundle, a loose chain, and a reverse coil.

If the pictures in the article don’t provide you with enough information, check out the instructional video that accompanies the article.

 

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

 

The Puj Tub

I was a bit weary of giving my daughter her bath when she was just a little one, but I eventually got used to bath time. We had your run-of-the-mill plastic baby bathtub at the time, and we also had a dedicated bathroom for giving our daughter her baths. We lived in a larger house then, and the baby bathtub wasn’t much of a nuisance since she had a dedicated bathroom.

Since we no longer need the baby tub, we don’t have a storage issue now that we are in a smaller home. However, I am intrigued by the Puj Tub as a solution to small-space baby bathing. It fits any standard sink, and lays or hangs flat for easy storage when not in use. There is no need to worry about where to store the large unforgiving plastic baby tub with the Puj Tub. The sink is a perfect place to bathe an infant, especially for a new mom who may have difficulty leaning over a large bathtub or lifting a plastic baby bathtub that is full of water.

We would love to hear from readers who have tried the Puj Tub. Leave us a comment and share your experiences.

 

This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.