Dear Kathi,

What type of gift would you recommend for my friends who have recently downsized and moved into a small condo. I would like to get them something really nice but don’t want to add to their already overcrowded space. Also, every year I am challenged to find gifts for the people on my list that seem to have everything. Do you have any advice for this weary shopper?

Melissa, Del Mar


It is really awesome that you are considering buying gifts that won’t contribute to your friend’s clutter. I think we have all experienced the challenge of trying to find a gift for our friends who seem to have everything.

The gift ideas below will save you time in the mall and work well for your friends that have everything or simply don’t have the room for any additional possessions.

Gift Certificates: for a special homemade meal, outing, or event. Make a creative, written invitation. Ideas include evenings out to include babysitting, or services at a day spa. To avoid appearing that this is a last-minute solution, show your sincerity by including plans for the event in your invitation, and suggest a tentative date for the activity.
Tickets: to the movies, a play, concert, or sports event.
Photographs: Look through this year’s photos to see if you have a nice shot of the recipient with his/her family or friends. Make an enlargement and present this in an original card or interesting frame.
Gift of the Month: to include wine, flowers, coffee, or other deliverable items. Instead of sending things now, send a gift card and arrange for delivery at a later time (or even at intervals throughout the year). Many florists and gourmet shops offer packages such as monthly delivery of seasonal arrangements or delivery of special treats at certain, prearranged times of the year. While this option isn’t for the budget-minded, it is a practical solution for that difficult-to-buy-for person.
Food: If you like to cook, you can make welcome and inventive gifts. Try something more original than the traditional holiday sweets and snacks. Think about items that can be used at a later time, such as homemade compotes or preserves, herb-flavored oils in attractive bottles, or even flavored liqueurs.

Another food idea is to present a prepackaged “dinner in a basket.” Make a pot of pasta sauce and freeze in individual containers. Add a package of dried pasta, some biscotti, and a bottle of wine. Attach a card, a bow, and you’ve got a gift that won’t become another unnecessary tchotchke and dust collector.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

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