Introducing the 2015 Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Starting today and going through Dec. 7, we will be running posts for our annual Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide. What I’m finding a little difficult to believe this year is that it’s our NINTH Guide and the ninth one I’ve organized as the site’s editor-in-chief. Putting together the 2007 guide was my first big project after taking over the chief position in November of that year. How has time passed so quickly?

As in years past, you can expect there to be guides this year about experience gifts (fun and clutter free), highly utilitarian gifts (gifts that in the right hands will never be clutter), and organizing gifts (oh how I love gifts that help people to be more organized). There also will be suggestions for giving gifts to kids and our ultimate gift of the year. This year’s guide is fun and useful and I really think you’ll find it inspiring.

Speaking of inspiration, if you need a little right now, let me direct you to our past Guides: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Personally, I’m not yet thinking about getting gifts for loved ones as I’m rushing around to get our house ready for out-of-town Thanksgiving guests. If you’re in a similar situation, the following are some ideas for staying organized during the next week:

  1. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry first. Free-up space for leftovers and food you’ll prepare ahead of the meal by getting rid of anything that has expired and/or gone bad.
  2. Poll your guests now to see if anyone has food allergies, intolerances, or special dietary needs. Also ask if anyone needs transportation, so you can coordinate travel requirements ahead of time. No need for last-minute surprises that can easily be avoided.
  3. Meal plan for the entire week, not just the Thanksgiving meal. Figure out today what you’ll be eating all next week so you aren’t stressed about meals next week.
  4. Grocery shop early Saturday or Sunday morning. You don’t want to have to fight the crowds of last-minute grocery shoppers, so get this chore out of the way early.
  5. Make a detailed schedule at the same time you make your to-do list. Include things like cleaning your home and automobile (I like to do that Monday night) and looking over your Thanksgiving meal plans to determine what can be made ahead on Tuesday or Wednesday (desserts, like pies, are great to make ahead of time). A detailed schedule is important for keeping your to-do list from being overwhelming.
  6. Delegate! If you have children, put them to work taking care of some of the to-do items. Everyone who lives in your home should be involved and know their responsibilities ahead of time.
  7. Breathe. Remember that Thanksgiving is about coming together with people you love to be thankful for the good things that happened this year. Take time to enjoy being with your people. And if your people are making you feel like you can’t breathe, take yourself outside on a walk.

And, as a last bit of news, our offices will be closed next Thursday and Friday so everyone can enjoy the holiday.

Unitasker Wednesday: Scallion cutter

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If you are reading this post, my assumption is you own a kitchen knife. And if you own a decent kitchen knife (decent=not falling apart, sharp), you don’t have a need for this doozie of a unitasker. The scallion cutter:

In case it isn’t obvious, the purpose of the scallion cutter is to cut up scallions to use in food or as garnishes for food. Scallions, and only scallions.

Ooooof. Instead of lamenting yet another knife replacement, please enjoy this educational YouTube video containing instructions for how to use a knife to cut scallions six different ways:

Unitasker Wednesday: Clip-on man bun

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

My friend David has long-ish hair. It brushes the top of his shoulders and he usually wears it down. When he wears it up, though, he wears it in a man bun (like in the popular style a million famous male actors, models, and professional sports players seem to be donning lately).

Recently, David was considering cutting off his hair, but hasn’t yet gone through with it because he’s not ready to part with his man bun styling option. And then yesterday, I came across the perfect solution for his “problem.” It appears his love affair with his man bun doesn’t have to end if he cuts off his hair! All he needs is a $10 clip-on man bun:

I’m just looking out for my friend David and all the rest of you man-bun wanters.


Unitasker Wednesday: Pros/Cons notepad

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I love cutie stationery and have more notebooks, note cards, and sticky notes than the average bear. However, when Jeri emailed me a link to this notepad I had to laugh. If ever there was a reason not to have a specialty pad of paper, this obvious unitasker is certainly it. The Pros/Cons Notepad:

I guess this highly specialized notepad is for all those times you forget how to draw a straight line down the middle of a sheet of paper? Which, if you can write, I’m assuming is never.

Also, how often do people actually make handwritten Pros/Cons lists? Besides seniors in high school trying to determine what to do with their lives after graduation or as plot devices in novels, are Pros/Cons lists really something people make? And, with such frequency as to need a designated pad of paper to do so?

Oooooh! I know! Let’s make a Pros/Cons list about buying this pad of paper!

Pros: It’s mildly entertaining for about four seconds.
Cons: Its purpose can be recreated without it, it’s rarely needed, and it costs $8 that could be spent on things more useful and/or more entertaining.

Hey, look at that, I made a Pros/Cons list without the specialty paper and my problem was solved!

Unitasker Wednesday: Spiders in your toilet vinyl decal

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Like millions of people, I am an arachnophobe. I’ve had bad experiences with spiders, such as one crawling on my face while I was driving, so I feel that my fears are somewhat justified (albeit irrational seeing as a spider has never actually harmed me in any way). And I know we don’t usually mention decorations as unitaskers because they’re folly and no one thinks otherwise. HOWEVER, this week’s selection qualifies as the world’s worst unitasker because it’s a decoration that is straight up mean. Cruel. The most horrible thing ever.

Introducing the spiders in your toilet vinyl decal for your toilet seat lid:

Just in time for Halloween, you can give all your house guests with arachnophobia severe panic attacks. And, if you live in a mansion, you can buy a package of 12 decals for just $34 and spider-up all your toilets! No toilet will be safe! Panic attacks for everyone!

Seriously, if I went to a party and this decal were on a toilet, I would leave the party. Even if I didn’t need to use the restroom, I would leave upon learning about the decals. So, I guess the moral of this story is if you don’t want me to come to your party, buy and use these unitaskers on your toilet seat lids.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Stay safe and make good choices on Saturday.

Finishing tasks: The key to less mess in your home

In a rare moment of solitude a few weeks ago, I found myself stomping through my house being extremely frustrated. Wood puzzle pieces were strewn across the living room floor where my two-year-old daughter had been playing earlier. Dirty clothes and a wet towel were next to the hamper in my six-year-old son’s bathroom. A lone plate sat on the table in the kitchen from a snack my husband had eaten earlier. And MY makeup was left out on the bathroom counter from that morning. I was annoyed with the mess, and I was as much responsible for it as everyone else in my house.

After I calmed my inner-Hulk down to a constructive level, I immediately identified the problem. No one in the house was properly finishing anything they were doing:

  • Taking a shower isn’t finished until the towel is on the towel bar, the wash cloth is wrung out and hanging on its clip to dry, dirty clothes are in the hamper, the bathroom lights are turned off, in addition to all the other obvious post-shower activities like getting dressed and brushing teeth. For a shower to be finished, everything has to be reset and ready to go for the next time someone comes in to use the bathroom.
  • A snack or dinner isn’t over until all the dirty dishes are loaded into the dishwasher or washed and put away, cupboards are closed and ingredients properly stored, the table and counters have been wiped down, the floor has been swept, all leftovers have been put into the refrigerator, and there are no signs that anyone had eaten a meal there except for maybe a lingering smell. Dinner isn’t over when you stop eating.
  • Playtime isn’t over until all toys are put away in their proper storage areas. This one is tricky because it requires continuous planning — time has to be set aside for picking up before going to the next activity. Until a child’s age is in double digits (and maybe even after that), it may require an adult to give a five-minute warning to allow time for toys to be put away. Or, in the case of small children like in our family, adults may need to participate in the five-minute pick up process.
  • And, obviously, I’m not finished getting ready in the morning until my makeup is back into its storage container and my hair dryer is stored beneath the sink.
  • It seems so obvious, but making sure tasks are finished greatly reduces messes in your home. It’s not rocket science, but the simple shift in perspective results in much less stress and a less messy home.

    Unitasker Wednesday: Rotisserie

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    My fourteenth wedding anniversary is in a few weeks and my husband keeps asking me what I want. I know exactly what I want, but the problem is that it’s a total unitasker. I want a ridiculously large Rotisserie:

    Thanks to Michael Ruhlman’s fabulously educational cookbook Twenty, I know how to roast a beautiful chicken in my oven. It’s easy and there’s not much mess and the bird is delicious … BUT I STILL WANT THE ROTISSERIE!

    It’s not logical. The thing is enormous. (On the plus side, most of it is dishwasher safe.) I have no need for it, though. But I want it, want it, want it!


    The next time you’re contemplating buying a unitasker, just know you’re not alone. Even the Unclutterer longs to add unitaskers to her home.

    Unitasker Wednesday: Portable Pizza Pouch

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    Mmmmmm, pizza. It’s a sphere of joy containing vegetables, dairy, grains, and protein. And now, it’s an anytime-anywhere food, thanks to the Portable Pizza Pouch:

    Worn around your neck like a backstage pass to your favorite concert, the Portable Pizza Pouch allows you to take your favorite slice with you — To work! Around the house! Your grandson’s birth! Even your daughter’s doctoral hooding ceremony!

    Where can’t you wear a slice of pizza?

    Thanks to the dozens of people who shared this unitasker with us.

    Unitasker Wednesday: Steel Wine Bottle and Glass Holder

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    You know ALL those times you’re camping, when you’re drinking wine in super-breakable-and-hard-to-pack wine glasses, but you’re soooooooo drunk that holding a wine glass is just too much? Well, FINALLY, there is a solution for at least one of your problems — the Steel Wine Bottle and Glass Holder:

    Because if there is anything someone who is too drunk to hold a glass should have, it is access to five pointy steel rods, glass glasses, and wine that is sure to stain!

    Come on, drunk wine-drinking campers, have you never heard about insulated sippy cups? Now there is a safer solution to one of your problems.

    Unitasker Wednesday: Bathroom Guest Book

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    Have you ever sat down on a toilet and wondered “who has peed here before”? Well, wonder no longer with the Bathroom Guest Book:

    Yes, the Bathroom Guest Book takes the guess work out of wondering who has shared your commode. Who left the seat up? Let me check …

    But that’s not all! Why stop at the bathroom when you can have guest books for your couch! And even your bed! (Oh my, that can’t end well.)

    Unitasker Wednesday: OnPot Lid Rest

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    This is one of those unitaskers that makes me questions my intellect. I say this because I look at it and have no idea why resting a lid over the top of a pot is a better idea than resting a lid upside-down on the kitchen counter (or stove or island or table or any convenient work surface near a stove). How does the OnPot Lid Rest improve cooking?

    I’ll be honest, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t improve cooking. I think it simply adds another gadget to the cooking process. Another step to get it out of the cupboard. Another item to clean. Another thing to store. And another thing to forget you own when you go back to resting lids upside-down on the stove or counter because that is super easy. Heck, sometimes, you don’t even have to set a lid down, you can simply hold it in your non-dominant hand while you stir your food.

    And doesn’t it look like at any moment the pot could tip over?

    There are just so many gadgets and doodads out there to supposedly help people in the kitchen, yet they don’t seem to do that at all. Now, if you really want to learn how to be a decent home cook, I strongly recommend picking up my new favorite cookbook The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. The gadgets it recommends in the book actually improve your cooking, not clutter up your kitchen. (I should also mention Alton Brown’s cookbooks are great, too.)

    Unitasker Wednesday: Knock on Wood Block

    All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

    Things are getting out of hand, people! Three of you emailed to let me know that the Knock on Wood Stickers we featured two weeks ago were only the tip of the proverbial iceberg in the superstitious unitasker market. Apparently, the extremely superstitious have an even more pointless option to waste their money on that comes in the form of the Knock on Wood Block:

    Not only is it unitaskery, it’s also a BLOCK OF HARD WOOD. Why in the world would someone walk around with a Knock on Wood Block in their purse or backpack when they could carry a small (free!) stick instead? (Or, I don’t know, walk outside and hit a tree?)

    Seriously, things are out of hand.