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You are here: Home > Organizing Advice > Holidays > Holiday Gift Ideas…. Or Don’ts
Holidays and gifts go together. For some people shopping is not only fun but it’s an addiction. For others it’s a painful experience that they would rather not participate in. I am not a shopper. I try to avoid the mall at all cost. In fact, I’ll just come out and say it “I hate shopping”.

If holidays are supposed to be about family and traditions why is there so much pressure to “find the perfect gift” or to “outdo last year’s gifts”?

In this economy money is tight everywhere. So maybe now is the time to sit back and re-evaluate our priorities.

I admitted that I hated shopping. But I love giving gifts. I spend a great deal of time and thought on every gift that I give. I only give gifts to people that I truly like or love. I don’t just randomly hand out gifts because it’s “expected”.

As an organizer I tell my clients to “de-clutter their home”. I tell them to “give away or donate things that you do not really love, like or use”. But there is the “guilt” of giving away something that a family member or friend gave you. Even though you really, really don’t like it. Or, to be blunt, is downright ugly! I go through this a lot with my clients. So for the holidays I offer some professional and personal advice.

Don’t give gifts that you like. Give a gift that the recipient will like. If you haven’t seen them wear that green sweater with the funky design or hang that art piece on their wall, it’s not a good gift idea.

Don’t give them some decoration for their home. People like to decorate their homes themselves. They don’t like being forced to put out a decorative item just because it was given to them by a relative.

Don’t give them a gift basket of something that they are allergic to or something that they can’t eat because they are on a special diet.

Don’t give the children of friends or relatives something that their parents disapprove of.  Everyone is entitled to raise their children with their own values, not yours.

Though I don’t particularly like giving gift certificates (because it’s so impersonal), there are times when it makes sense. Like when the recipient lives in another town or you don’t know their size or color preference.

Do consider giving the gift of yourself. Make time for a friend or family member and take them to an event (such as a play or movie) or a one-on-one dinner. With everyone so busy these days the gift of time means so more than a store bought gift.

Do something special for someone. Such as help them with a project that they really need help with and you have a talent for.

Do consider giving the gift of time to a friend or family member that can’t afford a babysitter and could really use some alone time with their spouse …or even by themselves.

Do consider the gift of food. Splurging on some really fun things like great cookies or beautiful pastries or appetizers that you would not buy on an ordinary day and would never consider buying for yourself. I buy my husband smoked Salmon and great crackers and individual bottles of micro brewed beer. He loves it and I get to help him enjoy it.

Do consider putting together a gift basket of basic food essentials for some friends that might be going through a rough time. In this economy that’s a lot of people and they would probably appreciate it even though you might not think it’s an especially original gift.

The holidays are about family and friends. Not outdoing each other with the best or most gifts.

Enjoy the holidays. Enjoy your family. And remember to give thanks for what you have.

Thanks to Organized A to Z Partner Karin E. Fried for contributing this article. Karen is a CPC and owner of Organizational Consulting Services. You can visit her Web site at