Unclutterer’s 2015 Holiday Gift Giving Guide: Wrap up

I’m still surprised this was our ninth Gift Guide here on Unclutterer. Regardless, I hope this series of posts inspired you to give uncluttered, organized, and/or useful gifts this year. To recap:

I also meant to include, but somehow it slipped my mind, a useful organizing product that could really help you or someone on your list this year. They’re fireproof storage bags — similar to a safe, but flexible and for items you treasure that don’t need to be locked away. The brand name is ZquaredAway and the bags come in a nice variety of sizes. The company sent me a couple to review (a small one for thumb drives and a much larger one that fits photo albums) and they’re incredible (and they didn’t pay me to say that, they really are great).

I actually threw one on my grill a few weeks ago and everything inside was safe afterward. I’ll be honest, throwing a bag on my grill was a lot of fun and made me briefly wish I’d have pursued a career as a product tester for UL or Consumer Reports.

Anyway, I hope you all have a stress-free holiday season and found some inspiration in this year’s Guide. If you’re looking 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: Experience Gifts

People I know who have received experience gifts — a museum membership, a helicopter ride — say they were some of their favorite gifts ever. The following are a few ideas for such gifts, along with related books for those who like to provide something tangible, too. I’ve provided links to some specific examples, but if any of these catch your eye you can look for similar options in other places.

If you plan to give an experience gift and there will be substantial additional costs involved (for tips or parking, for example), consider including some cash to cover those expenses or arranging a way to prepay them on behalf of your gift recipient.

Food and beverage tours

I’ve mentioned chocolate tours before, but you can find tours that focus on many different consumables. For example, you could give the gift of a pizza tour or a beer tour. To go along with those tours, you could get books such as Pizza: A Global History or The Comic Book Story of Beer.

Surfing, kayaking, and more

For the person on your list who would like to try something new, a gift certificate for kayaking, canoeing or surfing lessons might be perfect. There are private lessons and group lessons, and older children can take classes, too. For others, a gift card for equipment rentals might be welcome.

Possible books to go along with such a gift include One Inch Above the Water and Chasing Waves: A Surfer’s Tale of Obsessive Wandering.

Music and comedy

Lessons that teach someone to play an instrument can be great, but you can also consider a gift certificate for voice or DJ lessons. Comedy classes focused on improv and more could also be a fun gift for the right person. For someone who doesn’t want voice lessons but just wants to sing some karaoke, you might get a gift card for the use of a karaoke room.

Books that might be appreciated along with such gift certificates include The Art of Singing and Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration. I was also intrigued by Turn Around Bright Eyes: A Karaoke Journey of Starting Over, Falling in Love, and Finding Your Voice.

Beyond the (basic) massage

A gift certificate for a massage is often a welcome gift, but you can also consider alternatives like the use of a hot tub or a Japanese soaking tub. Another option could be a gift certificate for a specialized massage: a scalp massage, a foot massage (for those without ticklish feet), a pregnancy (or pre-natal) massage, etc.

Body Work: What Kind of Massage to Get And How to Make the Most of It might be a good companion book.

Sponsor an animal — and go visit it

A number of nonprofit organizations allow you to sponsor or “adopt” an animal. And in some cases, one of the benefits is getting to visit the animal you sponsored. For example, you can do a gift adoption at Farm Sanctuary, which entitles the sponsor to a tour to meet the adopted animal.

Many zoos also have adopt-an-animal programs that include a free admission as one of the benefits. You could always do a zoo outing without an adoption, but knowing there’s an animal you’re sponsoring might make the visit extra special.

Books about animals abound, so finding one to go along with the gift should be easy. If you adopted a chicken from Farm Sanctuary — that’s the least expensive option — you might consider getting The Magnificent Chicken: Portraits of the Fairest Fowl.

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: Stocking Stuffers

Giving and receiving big gifts can certainly be fun, but for me filling a stocking with unexpected, useful, and downright awesome gifts is a very good time. If you’re like me, check out the following suggestions and inspirational ideas for stocking stuffers.

Four ounce Mason jars. Yes, I recommend putting tiny Mason jars in your loved one’s stockings. They’re immensely useful and can store anything from nuts and bolts to just the right amount of salad dressing for lunch. The lids are replaceable and cheap, they stack nicely in a cabinet and are recyclable. You can’t go wrong.

Sugru. I reviewed Sugru last year and I’ve since ordered and used even more. This self-sealing rubber lets you fix, modify, improve and extend the usefulness of a myriad of items. Plus, it’s just fun to use.

The Matador Pocket Blanket. This is another handy gift with many uses. The 63″ X 44″ blanket folds up into a tidy pouch that will fit into your bag or purse. They’re both water- and puncture-resistent. Often items like this are hard to get back into their packages. The Matador Pocket Blanket lets you use the stitching to line it up perfectly, so it’s not an issue.

The KeySmart Key Holder. Imagine all of your keys on a compact, durable holder that fits neatly in a pocket. It’s flat and tidy and prevents you from looking like a jailer with a huge ring of noisy, jangly keys.

The Cord Taco. I keep one of these on my desk and I love it. Neatly wrap up earbuds and look great doing it.

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: Utilitarian Gifts

Do you like to get people gifts at the holidays that they can and will actually use? Don’t worry, we got you covered if this describes you. The following are utilitarian gift ideas that will satisfy even the most sensible gift giver.

Mophine Powerstation Reserve Micro. What could be better than the gift of more power for your portable device? Not much, especially when the source of that power fits on a keychain. This little guy has a hide-away USB cable that’s compatible with many devices and a LED indicator to let you know how much life it’s got left. Plus, as I said, it’s tiny enough to hang with your keys.

The Moleskine 2016 Planner. This notebook is the very picture of practicality. I’ve used one for years. Durable, sharp-looking and ready to take on the busiest schedule.

The Generic Mini Portable Bottle Cap Air Humidifier. Years ago I worked in an office with several computers running 24 hours a day. All the heat they put out resulted in very dry air and I’d often leave work with a sore throat. This little device would have worked wonders. For those times when you need a little water in the air but can’t set up a full-on humidifier, this portable bottle cap model is perfect. Simply put it on top of a bottle of water, flip the switch and breathe in that hydrating mist.

The Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod. This is a fantastic, solid, reliable and inexpensive tripod that fits in a bag or even a pocket. It’ll hold your thin, light smartphone (consider a GLIF for using your phone with a tripod) as easily as a heavy DSLR with a lens. The rotating head allows for precise positioning with the push of a button. If someone in your life likes to take photos, this could be perfect and useful for him or her.

Hausbell CREE 7W Mini LED Flashlight. A portable flashlight is extremely handy, and the Hausbell CREE is the best I’ve found. Water resistant, lightweight, durable and amazingly bright for something that runs off of a single battery, it’s at home on a night stand, in the car’s glove box, a purse, or a pocket. It even ships with a rechargeable AA Li-ion battery plus a battery charger. I’ve tried may portable flashlights and this is by far my favorite.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife. I’ve said this before and it’s true: it’s so very nice to have one of these on your keychain (as long as you’re not flying somewhere). From opening packages to being the person who has a pair of scissors when no one else does to removing tics to tightening a screw, a pocketknife is a fantastic companion. We here at Unclutterer like a tool that can do many things, and the classic Swiss Army knife more than fits that bill.

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: 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.