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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Gift Ideas That Aren't Just More Stuff

With the holidays just around the corner, ‘tis the season for holiday shopping, list making and gift giving. In 2014, the average person celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and/or Kwanzaa spent more than $750 on gifts and holiday decor. Many people feel stressed out as they try to come up with the perfect gifts to purchase for their family and friends. Ironically, a recent CBS News poll found that one out of three of Americans think they have too much stuff.

Professional organizers and small space strategists work with clients that struggle with cluttered homes and feel overwhelmed by too much stuff. During organizing sessions, people usually come across an article of clothing or a decorative item that they doesn't particularly like, but feel obligated to keep because it was a gift from a friend or “my great-aunt Dorothy gave it to me.” There may even be home decor items still in their boxes, retained only because they had been received as gifts.

They were still grateful for these presents from the past, but they were taking up valuable storage space. Sometimes it is guilt that inspires such behavior and they just need to hear that it's okay to let go of stuff. It is quite all right to still love and appreciate our friends, even if we don't happen to like a gift they gave us.

To ensure a happy gift recipient, consider giving the gift of experience, such as tickets to a movie or a theatrical production. Or try creating a gift certificate they can redeem for a homemade meal, or a coupon to babysit their children once a month for the upcoming year. None of these gift ideas add to a person's clutter, nor will they end up in a shelf in the back of the closet, and all would likely be greatly appreciated by the recipient. After all, as the saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.”

Shannon Loe is a professional organizer and small space strategist at Live With Less, LLC in Atlanta. For appointments, call 404-808-4086, email [email protected] or visit

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