Each January there's an outbreak that reaches almost epidemic proportions. Professionals like me are inundated with requests for house calls to try to eradicate it from homes like yours...I call it 'Gift Guilt", and it can be debilitating, especially for the organizationally-challenged.
When it comes to purging unwanted "stuff" during the organization process, gifts rank high on the hard-to-part-with list. Whether we realize it or not, there's a sense of obligation hidden inside every gift box...the obligation to like the gift and appreciate it and keep it FOREVER. What many people have difficulty understanding is that the thing we are obliged to like, appreciate and keep is the sentiment, not necessarily the object representing it. This is a hard concept to embrace, and since not everyone is able to innoculate themselves from gift guilt, there are precautions gift-givers can take to help defend recipients from this malady.
Chances are that when you give a gift, you focus primarily on whether or not the recipient will like it. That's great, but not enough. Just because they like it doesn't necessarily mean they have room for it, or wish to go to the effort to dust/clean/iron it, or know where to store it or how to use it. Each of these issues can harbor the gift guilt bug inside. Consider instead a consumable gift that will only need to be stored temporarily until used up.
Here are a few suggestions:
Services - Give a gift certificate or make a coupon that offersyour help with one of these:
Food/Beverages - Bake a batch of cookies, package up a mix (with instructions for finishing it), buy a bottle of their favorite tipple. Just be cautious about food allergies.
Charitable Donations - Make a donation in their name to a worthy cause that touches their heart. Guides like the United Way's Guide to Charitable Giving can help you select an organization that will make the most of your giving dollars.
An extra added bonus is that most of these are easier to wrap and require less paper than most traditional gifts.
No one ever intends to give a burden as a gift, but sadly, a gift can become just that if the recipient can't use it or doesn't have room for it. With a little imagination and the right attitude, gift-giving and receiving can be easy peasy.
Valerie Sheridan is a professional organizer, wife, mother of two, and Founder/Owner of EasyPeasy Living.