Unclutterer’s 2015 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: The ultimate uncluttered gift

Never Too Busy to Cure ClutterThis year’s Ultimate Gift is obvious for anyone who follows Unclutterer on Twitter or readers who have been with us since roughly this time last year, but it might take the rest of you by surprise. This year’s selection is Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter the next organizing, cleaning, and uncluttering book by me, Unclutterer’s Editor-in-Chief Erin Rooney Doland.


Before I say anything more, I want to start by thanking all of our awesome Unclutterer readers because without you this project wouldn’t exist. After years of reading your emails and comments, I noticed that being busy is a huge obstacle to becoming more organized and dealing with clutter for so many people (myself included). I wrote Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter in such a way that if you only have 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, or (if you’re lucky) 15 minutes, you can find a task that works with the time you have available.

To thank Unclutterer readers for inspiring the topic of this book, I want to offer you all something in return. I wish that I could give you a discount on the book, but the publishers and retailers have a tight lock on that part of the process. So, here is a special bonus that I can give without ruffling any feathers:

If you order Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter online before it is available in stores January 26, I will e-mail you a bonus chapter for free, as a special bonus. The chapter is about resolution and goal setting and provides concrete strategies for helping to achieve your goals. All you need to do is simply fill out the form to redeem your bonus chapter. For those of you who have already ordered the book, feel welcome to fill out the form to get your bonus chapter.

All chapters will be e-mailed starting on Monday, November 30.

I have decided to do this promotion on the honor system. I am trusting you and taking your word for it that you ordered the book. And, along those same lines of the honor system, I’m also requesting that no one posts this chapter online after you receive it. I want to offer something special just for Unclutterer readers, so I hope that you respect my requests.

This is a limited offer and it will disappear the night of December 16 from the website.

Between now and January 26, I’ll be sharing some of the book’s content on the site and answering your questions about the book (for example: yes, there is a digital version of the book if you want to read it on your Kindle or other e-reader and the book is being published by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins, so you will be able to find it through most major retailers in the US, Canada, and the UK).

For obvious reasons, I think this book will make a terrific gift for you and everyone in your life because I know you’re all busy. And, it will be delivered at a time when the madness of the holidays is over and people can actually open it up and find something to do right now. You can learn even more about the content of Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter on the page I’ve created for it on the site. Also, the book is gorgeous — the designers at William Morrow are geniuses.

Thank you, again, for being such wonderful readers and making all of this possible and I hope you all enjoy and benefit from the content of the text.

You can pre-order your copy today through these major retailers:

Unclutterer’s 2015 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Organizing Gifts

Organizing products are like any other gift item — one person’s treasure is another person’s clutter. But assuming you know your gift recipients well, the following are some items they might appreciate.

None of these gifts imply the recipient is disorganized, which could be awkward. Rather, these are things that might help your gift recipients get a bit more organized by upgrading the tools they currently use or introducing them to some they may not know about.

Password management tools

Not every gift has to be something tangible. You could give someone the gift of a password management app such as 1Password, which is the one I use. If you buy the Windows or Mac app on the vendor’s site, it will ask you if it’s a gift when you go to check out.

Cable organizers

Desktop cable organizers are great for anyone who has a problem with cables slipping to the floor when they are not in use.

The MOS magnetic cable organizer (available in black, white, or aluminum) has a lot of fans. Other options are two products from Bluelounge: Cable Drops (also available in multiple colors) and the Sumo cable management system.

The GRID-It organizers from Cocoon are a nice choice for those who need to carry cables and such around with them. They hold cords, chargers, and much more.


A good stapler that doesn’t jam can be a valuable organizing tool. The Swingline 747 has a great reputation, and you can get it in red for a festive touch. Including some of Swingline’s premium staples will help ensure it can handle 20 sheets of 20-pound paper.

Other recipients might prefer a PaperPro stapler with its one-finger stapling or a Harinacs stapleless stapler.


Although many people have timers on their smartphones, sometimes a physical timer is nice, too. I love the Datexx timers because they are so simple; you just turn the cube so the time setting you want is on the top, and flip the switch. The timer comes in different colors, each of which has different time choices.

And many people like the Time Timer for the way it shows the passage of time.

File totes

A Jamie Raquel file tote could be a welcome gift for those who need to carry a number of files around with them. The totes come in eight different colors.


Lots of people could make good use of a cool toolbox. One of many choices is the Trusco toolbox. The Klein leather tool bags aren’t cheap, but could be a lovely gift for the right person.

Sticky notes

The Post-it Super Sticky Full Adhesive Notes have a lot of fans, including me. (I’ve even seen them on someone’s wish list.) For those who like something whimsical, consider the Moomin sticky notes.

The Morris Memo Holder provides a fun way to store the sticky notes on a desktop, so they don’t get buried. Morris’s mouth can hold a pen or pencil, or a note that you want to keep in front of you.


There are lots of functional bookends available. But for something out of the ordinary, take a look at the animal bookends from Zuny.

Storage for children’s items

The bins and boxes from 3 Sprouts have always caught my eye. While they are obviously designed for children, some adults might like them, too.

Two other products work with specific kinds of toys. The Boon Animal Bag is a clever way to store stuffed animals. And SWOOP is a play mat and storage bag, helping to corral Lego and other toys with many small pieces. These are gifts that both kids and their parents might like.

For additional inspiration, feel welcome to check out our past Guides: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Unclutterer’s 2015 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Kids Gifts

It’s time to go shopping for the holidays and if you have kids on your list, you have a lot of fun and useful and organized options available. The following are recommendations that you’ll hopefully find inspiring.

Younger Kids

Play-Doh Clay Center and Storage Case. Ah, Play-Doh. It’s such a nostalgic toy. Even the smell takes me back (and there’s a gift for that, too). This kit gives kids everything they need to get started with this classic toy: four tubs of Play-Doh, stampers, rollers, cookie cutters, figures and so much more. Best of all, it comes with a 13″ L. x 9″ W. x 6 1/2″ H case with a handled lid that tucks it all away.

The Perplexus toys are a whole lot of fun that put a new spin on the classic maze. The maze itself is inside a plastic sphere and your job is to twist and turn it in your hands while guiding a tiny ball from start to finish. No small balls to lose! There are several models of increasing difficulty available, and each one comes with a handy stand for storing/displaying the Perplexus when it’s not in use.

If your child has a Disney Infinity game with characters, a travel bag that will allow kids to bring their figures to playdates with friends is extremely helpful. The Disney Infinity 2.0 Armor Bag by PDP is my choice. It stores up to 16 figures and their accompanying “power discs.” It’s got a big, grippy handle that small hands can get a hold of and best of all, an inner plastic sheet prevents everything from falling out when the zipper is undone.

If you’re in a Skylanders household, the BD&A Skylanders Classic Tackle Box is a fine choice for keeping pieces organized.

Older kids/teens

I’ve been a voracious reader since I purchased Stephen King’s Thinner in 1984 with my paper route money. While my nightstand still has a tendency to attract piles of books, it happens less frequently since I got my Kindle Paperwhite. I love books and the Kindle offers a great reading experience. It’s thin, very light, has a battery that just lasts and lasts and can store hundreds of books. With features like highlighting, notes, bookmarks and more, the experience is rather like reading a paper book.

Next, trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Yugioh and so on continue to be popular. Players often end up with huge collection of cards and carrying them around requires the right equipment. I recommend the Monster Binder 9 Pocket Trading Card Album. These are made of high-quality material and the interior pockets load cards from the side, not the top, which prevents them from accidentally sliding out. Pockets are generous enough to hold cards that are in protective sleeves as well. Finally, the front and back covers are padded. I keep my own cards in one of these and feel completely confident in doing so.

The guitarist or bass player on your list will love the Pick Punch. This awesome little gadget lets you punch guitar picks out of sheets of plastic. That’s cool, be we love it because it lets your reuse items you’d otherwise throw away. Expired credit cards? Guitar pick. Those holiday gift cards you get, use and toss? Guitar picks. It’s a lot of fun, allows for customization, and recycling. We love it.

Finally, I’m going to recommend something utilitarian in the Wallet Ninja 18 in 1 Multi-purpose Credit Card Size Pocket Tool. I carry one myself and it has proven its usefulness time and time again. With features like a ruler, nail-puller, letter opener, cell phone stand, screw driver, can opener, box cutter, and more, this thing is a life-saver. Got an outdoors-y kid on your list or one who loves tools? This will be a hit.

For additional inspiration, feel welcome to check out our past Guides: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

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.

Managing the holiday shopping list

It’s the time of year when many people’s thoughts turn to holiday gift-giving. There’s a real joy in finding just the right gift for a close friend or beloved relative — and starting tomorrow, we’ll help you find some of those gifts in our annual uncluttered and organized gift-giving guide.

But sometimes gift-giving gets overwhelming and isn’t fun any more. If you’ve got a huge list of gifts to purchase and dread what that means, perhaps you can get some agreement to scale things back a bit. For a family, that may mean giving gifts to the children but not the aunts and uncles. Or, within any group, there could be a “secret Santa” approach where each person winds up buying for just one other person, rather than for everyone.

Such approaches may have the benefit of reducing the clutter caused by well-intended gifts that were sadly off the mark. And you can always participate in some charitable gift-giving opportunities that definitely won’t cause clutter and can make the holiday season brighter for the gift recipients.

I always take part in my local Adopt a Family program, providing things like warm clothes and grocery store gift cards to those in need. Many churches and civic organizations run similar programs.

If you want to focus on children, you could buy a toy for Toys for Tots. And some locales have book drives at the holidays.

Of course, you could also just donate cash to any of your favorite charities. Food banks that try to ensure people have a nice holiday dinner (as well as food throughout the year) would certainly appreciate anything you could give.

Do you like the idea of helping someone in particular? Some organizations help individuals in need make it over a tough spot in their lives caused by medical problems and more. You could help a family pay their rent and keep their home (or meet other pressing needs) by donating to one of the drives at Small Can Be Big or any similar program.

Or you could select a gift from the catalog at Good Gifts and buy a pig for an African subsistence farmer, tools for a trainee carpenter, etc. As Lucy Siegle noted in The Guardian back in 2007, “Most charities that run goat-gifting schemes pool the money from your gift. You might pay for a goat, but the money may eventually be used for a water project.” If you’re fine with that, there are many places to donate. But if you want your donation to buy exactly what you selected, Good Gifts is at least one way to make that happen.

If your friends and family are into such things, you could combine gift giving with charity. If you know people’s favorite causes, you could make donations in their names. Or you could get gift cards from CharityChoice or JustGive, and let them choose where to send the donation.

Last minute stocking stuffer ideas

If you are someone who celebrates Christmas and are hunting for last-minute stocking stuffer ideas, we have a few ideas to help the people on your list to get organized:

Command poster strip value packs are great for kids and students who love to stick photos and posters to the walls. Command picture hanging strips are great for heavier pictures. The black ones are ideal for dark coloured picture frames.

Command decorative wall hooks can be used to hang coats or towels and the mini wire hooks can be used to hang keys or kitchen utensils.

Colourful Velcro cable ties are great for keeping cables behind computers or sound systems in order. They also can be used to keep the electrical cords of small appliances from getting tangled in the kitchen cupboards.

A lipstick sized portable battery can give your phone or camera an extra bit of charge while you’re out touring the town. This is a must for those who use their phone as a GPS or teens who text constantly.

GoToob travel bottles (pictured above) are approved for airplane carryon baggage. They have a wide opening so they can be filled easily and are made from silicone so you can squeeze them until you get every last drop out. Consider using them to unclutter your home shower and then store the mega-bottle of shampoo in the closet.

Rubbermaid’s mini food storage containers are ideal for storing spice mixes, sauces, and dips. They are also perfect for preparing portion-sized snacks in lunch boxes.

Handle holder hooks will keep brooms, mops, and garden tools organized and they will also work with ski poles, hockey sticks and other sports gear.

A 5-Pockets Coupon and Personal Check Size Expanding File can be used for organizing receipts and business cards from business trips, coupons, postage stamps, or collectors cards (e.g. Pokemon).

Labels of all sorts make great stocking stuffers. Check out our past post on an in-depth look at labels to find the perfect gift.

Last-minute uncluttered gift-giving inspiration

In the midst of Hanukkah and nudging ever closer to Christmas, I thought it might be helpful to repost our Unclutterer Holiday Gift Giving Guide for last-minute inspiration for those who celebrate during this season. Then, on Monday, Jacki will have a post about stocking stuffers to give you even more organized and uncluttered gift-giving ideas. I still have a few more people on my list to shop for, so I definitely need to scour through these posts to spur my creativity.

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

I wish everyone happiness, good health, and organized and uncluttered living the next couple weeks.

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.


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.


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.