Clutter Free Gift Ideas for Those Other Special People in Your Life
“I am a teacher, and I can tell you that teachers do not need any more ornaments, mugs, candles, soaps, chocolate, magnets, and picture frames at Christmastime! We love our pupils and know that this stuff costs money, so are very hesitant to throw out or give away anything that comes from our wonderful children and parents…so the clutter continues to GROW. The absolute BEST gift you can give a teacher is absolutely free! If there is a teacher who you feel has made a difference in a child’s life, sit down and write a letter. Talk about all the wonderful things that teacher has done, and how they have made learning fun and rewarding for the child. Talk about how that teacher has truly made that school a better place. Then send it to the teacher, and send additional copies to the principal and superintendent! In this time of budget cuts and stress in the schools, a little note like this will go a long way to helping that teacher feel good about what she/he has chosen for a career. The principal and superintendent will know that there is a parent out there who values that teacher, too! I keep a folder in my desk called POSITIVES that contains all the good notes I have gotten from parents, students, and administrators – and whenever I am feeling blue or have had a hard day at work, I pull that folder out and it revives my spirits…and leaves me refreshed and determined to spend another great day with our children! What a wonderful gift to give at the holidays – this is one piece of paper that will NEVER be considered clutter!”
Note from FlyCrew: Thank-you to everyone who sent in their clutter-free gift ideas. And a BIG thank-you to all the teachers, pasters, ministers, child caregivers who also sent in suggestions. Happy Clutter-Free CHAOS-Free Holidays!
- Hi all! Last December we replaced school teacher gifts (three kids times a teacher and an aide, plus the music teacher, the art teacher, the enrichment teacher …) with a single check to the school’s library fund. We sent thank you notes to the teachers telling them about the gift in their honor — and the principal asked the kids to help suggest some purchases for the library. This went over so well that we did the same thing at the end of the school year. Thanks for all you do! – in Virginia.
- Rather than a Christmas / Winter Holiday gift I often give a Thanksgiving present to my daughters teachers. We have a really nice bread store that makes very gourmet breads. I’ve given a nicely wrapped loaf of bread the day before Thanksgiving with a small note such as: “We are very thankful for the gift of wonderful teachers” Sincerely, _______Everyone can use extra bread if they are having Thanksgiving, they can bring the bread if they are going someplace and since it’s food, definitely not clutter (except maybe on my hips…but that’s a different issue!)
- As a former child care provider, some of the best gifts I got from the families I cared for were actually not gifts for me…….they were gifts for my inhome child care. Some families would bring me large lots of construction paper, paints, playdough, crayons, pencils, gallon jugs of apple juice, Costco size boxes of crackers, cheerios, juice boxes, large chunks of cheese, bags of apples and grapes, and sometimes would even ask(and then purchase) what toy I’ve been really wanting for the day care. Of course, all of this is nonclutter because we used it all!!!
- I do a lot of baking at Christmas and every year we give our neighbors a plate with assorted goodies. One older couple really looks forward to and appreciates them because she isn’t able to bake like she used to. They have said that the traditional holiday goodies really make it feel more festive for them.
- When I was in middle school, our neighbor hood pulled together and painted an elderly neighbor’s house. She was sooo happy! That was 16 years ago and I still remember how good it felt to see her so happy about it! It does’t have to be painting a house…mowing, raking leaves, clearing snow from sidewalks etc. are wonderful gifts.
- Hi, Each year we give our son’s teachers gift certificates to a nearby coffee shop. – Flybaby in Holland Landing
- Teachers LOVE a note from a parent that for once isn’t complaining about something. Take a few minutues and “thank” the people who work so hard to give your children the best education possible! – Frankfort, Kentucky
- Take the time to write your clergyperson a note saying how much his or her ministry means to you. As a pastor’s wife I can tell you that this means more to us than anything you could buy. We have saved all the thoughtful letters and cards we have received over the years and reread them often, especially when we need a “lift”. From Maine
- I’ve been flying since valentine’s day, 2003. Thank you for all your support. I love flylady and tell lots of people about how much you’ve helped me.For over 20 year My DH has been giving “Cashew halves” in 9 oz. tins. When we were married (13 years, thank you very much) I joined him in delivering. Now that we have kids the delivery of the nuts has become a family tradition on Christmas Eve.
We pile all 4 kids (now ages 11, 9, 7 and 6) into the van. Then we wrap them (the cashew tins- lol) in shiny silver mylar liquor bags found in liquor stores around the holidays. Next, we make a hole-punch into our family photo and tie it with a pretty ribbon around the opening of the silver bag. This becomes our christmas gift to many, many friends, neighbors, teachers, service workers (mail carrier, garbage, etc.). It’s quite inexpensive (approx. $2.50) because we buy the 60 to 70 cans when they’re on sale in October. And we save postage because we don’t have to mail as many christmas photo cards. We have worked out a route and we sing Christmas songs as we drive. The kids love taking turns running up to the door and ringing the bell. We wave and shout, “Merry Christmas”, wait for the kid to get back into the van (lol), then drive off. If they’re not home we leave the nuts on the door step. People know we’re nuts, and I like the idea it’s not clutter for them. – Flying Mary Poppins in St. Paul
- When my boys were toddlers, several of our friends had toddlers the same age. We had a Christmas party as a gift to our FRIENDS. They got 2 hours of free time to wrap gifts, go shopping, reconnect with each other, or whatever, while we entertained the children. We had very simple games (pin the nose on Rudolph), reindeer games (running and leaping), and a little craft project. Afterward we invited the parents over for chili and enjoyed their company. This was a favorite tradition when our children were younger. – Flybaby in GA
- As a teacher I can tell you, we would love classroom supplies! Either ask what we are running low on or buy a little goodie bag of the basics. Tissues, pencils, paper, glue, scissors, erasers, tape, notecards, etc. We will love you for it. Flying in VA
- A collection of beautiful stickers, if they use them to motivate the children. That way they don’t have to spend a dime on such an item, and it spares them a trip to the store.
- For my childrens’ teachers, at the end of the school year I give them a card telling them that I have made a donation to the school library for the purchase of more books and have each child write them a letter saying how this teacher has helped them learn and grow. When my children were younger they felt these were not “real gifts” as they were not tangible, so I then would inclulde something that could be used up like a candle or bouquet. My father taught post-secondary and received many, many bottles of wine over the years and as a non-drinker he was able to bless others he knew would be more appreciative.
- Being a primary school teacher, I have received a lot of mugs, beauty products, photo frames, chocolates…the list could go on. A lot of these are recycled as presents to others. The best gift I ever received as a teacher was a voucher. My voucher was for a book store as I love books. However a department store voucher would also be a great idea. This way the teacher can purchase something they like and need. Rather than adding another mug to their already cluttered cupboards. – Australian Flybaby
- For my two tenant farmers who are brothers, one item I am going to give to each of them is a container of disposable tar and bug wipes. They can use the wipes on the farm equipment or the pickups. There is no need to give them anything to collect dust in their homes. – Hoosier Farm Flybaby(in Indiana)
- For teachers: a movie coupon (or for the real special one: the booklet which has two tickets for free admission and a bucket of popcorn.) So very often, the teacher has been working at a hectic pace since the beginning of school year to the holidays. This is a little bit of luxury for them which doesn’t clutter their classroom or home. Instead, they have a few hours of fun during a busy time.
- And this year I know we are making a donation to the local Habitat for Humanity office for our relatives but you could specialize your donation in many ways. Just get creative: for somebody you know with cancer it could be to the American Cancer Society, or if they have diabetes it could be to the American Diabetes Association. And local food banks would always appreciate donations and since everybody eats it’s the perfect clutter free gift for anyone!
- Hey there. I have decluttered myself and made holiday presents all based on one plant. This plant (called a prayer plant) throws off babies, which I had never clipped. Having these babies hanging off the plant is actually unhealthy for the plant. So I clipped the babies as part of superfling boogie week (there were 27, amazingly enough…). I got the potting soil from an old bag in the garage, plus a pile from the yard. I used flower pots from old, dead plants that I had been saving for no reason. I have the newly potted ones all assembled on an old washing machine tray (the under-machine thingie) on the deck. Now I have a ton of clutter recycled into very nice little presents! Fluttering in NC
- I make Pampering Packs. In a cellophane bag I put a tealight, a bath bead or bath bomb, a pack of matches, and a few individually wrapped chocolates. Attached with ribbons are the directions: Light the candle; lock the door. Drop bath bead into warm bath. Get into bath, eat chocolates. Result: complete relaxation. Serves one. They’re very inexpensive to make, and they get used up in one night, guilt free. Canadian FlyBaby in Montreal, Quebec
- For teachers: a gift certificate to a teaching supply store. Or supplies for the classroom. To get specific ideas for what’s needed, simply volunteer in the classroom (to see what’s there) and talk to the teacher(s) (to find out what’s needed/desired).Another idea for teachers: a gift certificate to a spa/salon so they can have a pampering session. Teachers don’t make a lot of money, so they usually can’t afford to go & get a massage or to go & get their nails done. Gift certificates to these kind of places are HIGHLY appreciated. If these types of gifts are out of your price range, speak to the class mother. She’ll probably be able to get a small group of parents to all chip in for the gift, therefore reducing the cost for everyone.
- This year I will be giving several people “cookies in a jar”, where you put all the dry ingredients for a recipe in a jar, put a decoratative top on it, and include the recipe for the rest of the ingredients and baking instructions. Right now I’m trying out different recipes, which my family is certainly enjoying! Flybaby in SD
- Being the wife of a Pastor, a great clutter free gift for them or any other parents you know is a free night of babysitting so the parents can have a date night. We really appreciate it when we get the chance.
- My daughter’s dance director is my salvation. She has welcomed her with open arms and capitalized on what she COULD do instead of their shortcomings. We have become good friends. Twice I year I take her out for breakfast as she is free during the morning hours. I take all the arrangements on as far as driving, paying and where to go, and I give her my time and attention as well. It has been one of the best decisions I ever made and truly is a blessing where I get as much as I receive.
- Last year for Christmas, I gave my sons’ teachers the gift of TIME! I cleared it with the principal first, then offered to watch each of their classes for 30 minutes in the morning once a week for 4 weeks during “morning” time (the time between when the children were allowed in the classroom and when school started). The teacher was free to go to the library, plan lessons, or whatever she needed to do while I tended the classroom. This year I will do this in December when things get so crazy since I know the principal is okay with it. Flybaby in GA
- My DH is a pastor and we LOVE getting gift certificates to restaurants and movie theatres…things we often cannot afford to buy for ourselves, but love to do! So.Cal. Flybaby
- Hi, I used to find out what teachers liked and get them a little knick-knack with that theme (frogs, flags, etc.). But since I’ve become a FlyBaby, I don’t want to stick anyone else with clutter. Especially when teachers too often spend their hard-earned money on daily needs for the classroom, or don’t get to do that special project because it wasn’t in the budget and they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. (We are an area that varies in financial status and some families can barely afford clothes to send the kids to school, much less the extras.)So, I’ve come up with a better idea this year. I’m going to make a plastic shoebox “basket” (especially since they will use the boxes in the classroom and I don’t need them anymore!!) of odds and ends for the class, a special lotion or candle just for teacher, and a gift certificate to the local teacher supply store.
The teacher saves her money for herself, and she will make sure your child gets what he/she needs. Not to mention, she won’t have to dust yet another brass apple paperweight! Several teacher friends have praised this idea and wished my kids were in their classrooms this year! – Learning to not pass the clutter in High Ridge, MO
- Last year I printed some of the clutter-free gift ideas. I gave several of my friends a gift from the list. I found a tray that came flat and you folded similar to a box or bankers box. I also bought plates, napkins and cups (all while the store was having a pre-season sale). I then made hot chocolate and Russian tea mix, chocolate party mix and other goodies. I presented the instant party trays at the beginning of December. Everyone loved them. This year I am going to do some “gifts in a jar”. The Oatmeal Cinnamon Pancake mix is great and can be teamed with syrup, hot chocolate or Russian tea mix, and vaccum packed bacon for Christmas breakfast. Cookie or brownie jars can become Family Fun gifts by adding a cookie sheet, mixing bowl or wooden spoon. To really avoid clutter add a drink, and movie rental coupon or pizza coupon. Thanks for all the great ideas!
- Last year for my neighbors who are in their 70′s and 80′s (and they could be my parents), I shampooed their carpets for them for Christmas. And, in return, they bought me lunch and baked me a pie. No knickknacks to dust! ‘Tis the season to be jolly!! – Flying In Indiana
- For teachers, books for the classroom are always a nice addition, then the kids get to enjoy them, too! Puzzles or educational games (Brainquest, Scrabble, etc) are good, too!
- Last year for teacher’s gifts from my sons I gave school lunches. We have a very good cafeteria at our school and I prepaid for some lunches for several teachers and then wrote a note to each teacher telling them how many lunches I had purchased. They have told me how much they enjoyed our gift. It would be a good idea to check first to see if the teachers eat at the cafeteria. – Flybaby from Kansas
- My daughter did have a young newly married teacher who was interested in our garden and our roses. We ended up giving her a rose bush to plant in her yard. She loved it.
- I’m a preschool teacher and the kids all get me gifts for the holidays. The best gift I ever got was a box that the parent/child had filled with 3 bags microwave popcorn, 2 boxes of movie size snacks and a gift card to the local movie rental place. She called it my “date night in” box. It was much better than the normal knickknacks, lotions, cookies, etc. I get and my DH and I got to spend several nights enjoying movies even when the cash flow was low, complete with refreshments. – PA
- Write a letter to the principal of your child’s school with a cc to your child’s teacher, telling how happy you are with the excellent education and attention your child is getting. Mention a few specifics, such as times the teacher went above and beyond the call of duty — calls home to check on your child afetr a rough day, meeting with you before or after working hours if that was the only time available to you, etc. So few parents ever contact the principal for positive reasons — believe me, this is a gift that is very much appreciated by us teachers!Another clutter free gift idea for teachers is a gift certificate to a local book store or teacher supply store. This is especially great for beginning teachers who still have a lot of things they need to make their classrooms run — they usually spend so much of their own money on books for a classroom library or pretty things for the bulletin boards. Flybaby from Washington DC
- For my third graders teacher last year we contacted all the parents and chipped in to buy a generous gift certificate to go out to eat at a nice place. We all would have spent more money on individual “Junk” gifts anyway and this way she got more and no clutter!!! At the end of the year we chipped in again and bought her whole family a summer pool pass for our towns aquatic center! Each time the kids made her a card to go with it so they were included in the giving! cher in Minnesota
- FOOD!! CHOCOLATE!! THE GOOD STUFF!! Gave my son’s preschool teacher some German truffles at year end (she’s German) and she raved about them and said she felt like she was back home…and did not share them with anyone (loving HERSELF…after spending the year loving our babies). I also usually bake some cookies (the easy kind that comes in a bucket and you just scoop ‘em out…they’re quite delicious) and take those in with a gallon of milk for all the other folks that help take care of the kids…they have nothing to take home and something yummy to nibble on…Some teachers, however, won’t eat home cooked stuff for fear of getting sick (either on purpose or by accident…some folks are not the most conscientious cleaners…unlike us flybabies) so think about the age of your child and who your giving the gift too! – Not sharing my clutter, Nashville
- Last year for my son’s preschool teacher, I noticed that she loved having pictures of her “kids” displayed in her room, but had nowhere but a shoe box to put them afterward (she rotated them every month or so). I asked for all her old pictures and put them in a beautiful scrapbook that she can have in her class for new parents and students to look through (and older siblings of new students love finding their picture). She was so tickled she cried and everyone had a wonderful time looking through it. Scrapping in Puget Sound, WA
- Hello: I am using my husband’s computer, so please ignore his signature at the bottom of this page. My mother is in a nursing home after a serious stroke, but can still write notes to her friends and family. Here are some suggestions for anyone in a nursing home situation: postage stamps, note cards and pens, small size personal products, contact the home and find out how to contact the hair dresser there and give a gift certificate for having their hair done, slippers with skid-resistant bottoms that can be washed and dried, and the one gift that I give my Mom every Christmas – a fast growing forced bulb that she can watch grow and feel festive. I’m flying in Kalamazoo!
- I give tickets as gifts. Tickets to concerts, plays, sporting events – whatever the recipient is interested in. I give them to my husband, to my children, teachers, grandparents – you get the idea. Instead of giving stuff, I’m giving an experience. Flybaby in CO
- Movie tickets! All of $10 or so per person and a nice gift for people you don’t see often or don’t know really well but want to get something for anyway. – Flying in Cambridge Ontario
- As a children’s minister there are two things I don’t need. One is a picture of Jesus. The other is another Ark. What I would really appreciate is coupons for a family outing (movie, dinner) or better yet an offer to help with the annual Christmas pageant. My favorite wrapped gifts are home canned food followed closely by fresh fruit. One church I really loved to serve gave me a gift certificate to a local department store. I bless them every time I use those lovely white handtowels my family really needed at that time.
- I just had to share my gift idea for someone (male or female) whom is important to you. A couple of years ago I made list of all the reasons why I am glad a very close friend is my friend. I then went through and chose the best ones (approx. 30-50) typed each one on my computer in a nice font under the phrase, “I’m glad your my friend because,”. I than printed each one on a separate page of nice paper put them in page protectors and inserted them in to a nice notebook. The reasons ranged from serious to the ridiculous, but what they all had in common was that they come from my heart and were obviously given a lot of thought which took a lot of time. My friend loved it, I loved making it, and it made both of us aware of exactly why I treasure him and our friendship. – Fluttering and Flapping in Washington
- My friend who is a teacher said that the best gift she has gotten for her classroom is Kleenex tissues. The kids go thru them like water and there is no budget to buy them so she usually buys them herself. – from RI
- Compact fluorescent lightbulbs. My mom and dad were really impressed DH and I had managed to cut our power bill in half — due in large part to our decision to replace all the incandescent bulbs in our house with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) — so I started getting them a few CFLs for gift-giving occasions. Now they get a present from me every time they open their power bill.
- Cold-weather care package. Right before Christmas a couple of years ago, my boss was bemoaning the fact that there had been an ice storm while we were working, and she didn’t have a scraper for her windshield. I got off earlier than she did, so I ran to Wal-Mart and bought her a bunch of stuff like windshield de-icer, lock de-icer, a snow brush with a scraper on the end, a stadium blanket to keep in the car in case she broke down somewhere in the cold, a thermal travel mug for her coffee, etc., etc., etc. I arranged it all in a big basket, brought it back to the office, and said, “Merry Christmas.” She was quite impressed … and no clutter, because all of it was stuff she needed to keep in the car.
- I have enjoyed the Clutter Free Gift Ideas for the last two years and this year am taking the initiative and applying the concept for the daycare teachers at my childrens “school”. I spoke to the director at the daycare and she approved (as well as loved) the idea. I typed up a letter to the other parents (the daycare has about 80 children – two through kindergarden age) and explained that I wanted to collect money for a holiday “kitty” which would then be divided among the thirteen different “teachers”. My concept is to provide Visa gift cards to each of them so that they can purchase something for themselves that they normally wouldn’t. Great way to show our appreciation for all they do with and for our children and they get to pick something they truely love and is not clutter. Thank you for all you do. Flying (up and down) in IL
- My mother always made a day of making cinnamon rolls. We’d ice them and then put gum drop “holly and leaves” on them for decoration. That evening after supper we would take the cinnamon rolls (each plate enough for a family) and we would sing carols at the door of each of our ministers. When they opened the door we’d serenade them a little longer and then give them the cinnamon rolls. After that we’d go to the next house until all of our cinnamon rolls were delivered. They always appreciated it and our family had a wonderful time together as well.
- For a minister or clergyman—I would suggest a gift certificate for gas or oil change—These individuals are constantly traveling to visit parishners. VA
- For the teachers gifts…..we give a care box for the class room. pack of pens, pack of pencils, 2 boxes of tissues, pack of filler paper, antibacterial wipes. A small gift bag of flavored teas, cocoa and coffee is also included for the teacher. When the kids were in preschool, the box had napkins, snacks, tissues and stickers….find out what the teacher needs at the beginning of the year, chances are come christmas they need re-stocked. ~OHIO MAMA~
- I NEVER give a teacher anything “permanent”, especially something that says “teacher” on it. For Christmas, I usually give a small plant (poinsettia, holly …) and a gift certificate – usually for the movie theater, sometimes to a bookstore, education store or mall (then at least they can choose their own permanent stuff.) Baked goods (or layered ingredient jars if the recipient likes to bake) are another idea. I give the bus drivers gift certificates to Dunkin Donuts. Happy clutter-free holidays to all!
- Dear FLY-crew I’m a minister, and while I appreciate the nice hand-crocheted thingies and home-dripped candles, the cute drawings and the nice religious knick-knacks, here is a suggestion on what supportive members of the congregation can do for their minister during holiday season. For most ministers, holidays are times of extreme stress. There are lots and lots of services, lots of extras and lots of demands on them from the entire community, and unless they are single, there are equal demands on them from their family !The very best gift my community could possibly give me for the holidays, is the gift of time.
Time to spend with my children, rather than only theirs.
Time to spend with the elderly of my family, rather than only theirs.
Time to re-load for the many services and extras that will be there (and should be there as well !).
So, ask the minister to come and tell stories at the home for the elderly … in May or January, just not in December. Ask the minister to tell stories at Sunday-school in November. Sign up any of the odd jobs that your church uses volunteers for, and do so in plenty of time before December … and follow through with your commitment. Don’t volunteer for lots and lots of stuff. Pick one day and do “your stint” there. Be a reliable volunteer. Because if you are not, there is – usually – only the minister to cover for you. So. The very best gift this minister can think of is : the gift of time to be with his (or her) family, during holiday season. – Flybaby in Europe, Denmark
- My standard gift for teachers is a 10.00 gift certificate to have ther car cleaned. This includes the inside vacumed and the outside towel dried.
- The best clutter free teacher gift that I’ve come up with is postage stamps. My mother taught me this one…she had a long list of priest friends that she liked to remember at Christmas time, so she would send them books of stamps. Our daughters each have a number of teachers (like a dozen!), and remembering all of them at holiday time can be quite expensive. The past couple of years, I’ve made a major trip to the post office, and bought each teacher a book of stamps. It’s such a tiny gift that I try to do something to make it look cute…last year, I found these great gift cards (meant to hold money) that looked like Santa was handing you the folded paper when you opened the card. The books of stamps fit right in! The cost is under $10 each, but I know that the teachers are getting something they can use! I can’t tell you how many delighted “thank you’s” we’ve received. I work as a teacher’s aide myself, and while it’s always nice to be remembered by a student, so many of the little “gifty” things just add to the clutter. I’ve even put some things right in the donate pile (or worse!) as soon as I’ve opened them. Talk about guilt!!!!
- My DS’s 1st grade teacher takes lots of pictures throughout the year at school, which I think is wonderful! (These may be the only pictures some of these children will have.) I decided this year I will give her several rolls of film and maybe a gift card for developing so she can continue to take as many pictures as she likes. This way our wonderful , veteran teacher won’t have another “apple or teacher treasure” to find a home for and have to dust later.
- I help with our clergy appreciation event at my church each Oct., so here are some of the ideas we’ve come up with: wash cars or gift certificate for an oil change; pot of mums or basket of ornamental gourds; etc. for fall decorating; any food–a meal, bread, cake, gift certificate to a restaurant, or to Honey-Baked Ham (for the holidays); take them out for a meal; gift certificate for movie rental–put in large plastic bowl with pkg microwave popcorn, and soft drinks; gift cert. to a book store or “home” store (like Lowe’s) or any “favorite” store of theirs. Hope this helps, Southern Flybaby
- I make up chocolate dipped pretzels and pretzel sticks for neighbors and coworkers. Before the chocolate sets you can sprinkle the with holiday sprinkles and other tiny candies to make them more festive.I package them in a zip lock baggie with a little curled ribbon around it.
They are so easy to make, yet everyone fusses about how nice they look. They keep for several weeks, and survive the mail really well too.
- Give the gift of pet sitting to a neighbor or friend. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable going away for a few days not knowing what will happen to their pets during that time. I have a friend who likes to take an occasional trip, but is always concerned about who will care for her cats. She doesn’t live in a large place, so having more stuff would really not be a good thing to saddle her with. Fledging in Visalia
- I am known at work for my delicious cookies. So each Christmas, my coworkers each receive a dozen on a festive, disposable plate… the cookies usually don’t make it home from the office! – Air Force FlyBaby
- I have been a fly baby for a while and slowly getting things under control. I had to have surgery recently and since I had to sit and rest quite a bit, I went thru my sewing room and took all of my old yarn and cleaned out an entire plastic tote of yarn to make lap blankets for people who are in a nursing home and wheelchair bound. I took them up (and actually was able to find my Christmas wrapping paper that was left from last year) and marked which would be appropriate for a man and which for a woman. I took them 20 blankets and told them to give them to people who don’t have family or receive many presents. They were thrilled. I actually made a dent in my sewing room (which I have not even touched) but gave useful presents that people will need. Learning to fly in Midland, TX
- An Amaryllis (flower bulb) makes a perfect gift for shut-ins, or anybody, really–I’ve known them to dazzle young children as well. They grow so fast, forming a loopty-loop as they emerge that they are really entertaining–almost pet-like. Their HUGE blooms make a stunning centerpiece throughout the holidays and New Year. No one feels bad about discarding them after they bloom, but the frugal can easily save them (ignored in a basement or cellar for months on end) and they can be coaxed to bloom again year after year. Plus they’re cheap–$7 or less.
- Last Christmas I took a gift idea from the the Flylady site and it was a raving hit! I had teachers calling me and thanking me for the practical gift. I gave them holiday paper plates cups, napkins, and plastic silverware. (I watched for the Target sales and bought them out. I wrapped them in netting and ribbon to match. They were beautiful as well as practical! In the past, I have also given computer generated return address labels with the teachers home address, and stamps.
- A wonderful freshman college professor had his multimedia students do a family history CD-ROM. We still cherish the one my son made for us. It contains family tree, many, many old photos, clips of favorite music from each of these people, video of old school concerts, interviews of couples explaining how they met, links to family websites and picture galleries, and lots more. For the computer savvy, this is a wonderful if challenging project. And it was a wonderful exercise for college freshmen (just leaving home!) to work on figuring out where they came from and to learn more in depth about people who had shaped their lives.
- Everyone should have the joy of waking up after a snowstorm, dreading the chore they have ahead of them shoveling that driveway and walkway only to find that their kind neighbor has already taken care of it. The lonely person everyone knows that would love to be invited to your boisterous, loving Sunday dinner. My grandmother taught me that one. She made a point of inviting a senior from the senior’s home down the street for Sunday dinner to share with her family of 8 children. Teachers always appreciate volunteers or the gift of books. Times are tough everywhere and teachers, librarians and ministers love new books perhaps with a little note inside expressing why it was given and to whom. Everyone has it in them to offer of themselves and that is the greatest gift.
- I remembered this when it was time to organize a Christmas gift for my son’s preschool teacher. I asked all the parents in the class to contribute a food item that was traditional to their own culture at their own special holiday. The teacher was delighted to receive a multi-cultural gift basket containing samples of food that was special to her Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist students, as well as to her students whose backgrounds were French-Canadian, English-Canadian and First Nations. Those who didn’t celebrate Christmas were delighted to be able to contribute in a way that represented their own culture and traditions. The gift was not only clutter-free, it brought us all together in ways I didn’t expect, since a lot of discussion about traditions and a lot of recipe-sharing went on! – in Saskatoon, Canada
- I am in tenth grade and I love to write short fiction and so every year I send all my teachers a copy of my latest story. It’s small and clutter free, because they don’t even have to keep the manuscript if they don’t want to- just the memories. Besides that it’s a gift that really comes from the heart. – in UT
- As I was growing up I was blessed enough to have friend’s whose families have taken me in as one of their own. Instead of gifts for each member of my other family I would get the family as a whole a gift. I would get a large bowl, or gift bag to put everything in. Inside would be gift cards to the local pizza joint, gift cards to the movie rental place, and microwave popcorn. It was the easiest way for me to incorporate the entire family and encourage them to spend more time together.Coming from a large family, I am also a person that gives personalized coupons. Nothing fancy or that I couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain on. And even better if it had very little to do with money. I think that offering your time and attention to someone is much more valuable than your money. I’d offer to babysit for an evening. Spend an afternoon window shopping and talking. Cook a special or favorite meal. Several clever coupons can make a really nice gift. It’s all about the presentation. – Flying (or at least trying) in Lawrence, KS
- This is a gift idea for anyone, really. A couple of years ago my brother came to dinner at my home and fell in love with my home-made salad dressing. For Christmas last year I gave him a gift bag with all the ingredients – olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic paste, and a card explaining how to put it all together. He loved it, used it all up, complains to me that he’s run out, and reminds me that Christmas is coming up!It doesn’t have to be salad dressing – if a friend/relative/whoever oohed and ahhed over something you prepared, maybe you can give them something that will help them prepare it themselves! And food gets used up, so no clutter! – A Houston Flybaby
- I recently got into stamping, make a unique stationary set for the teachers, you can stamp different things for each teacher so it matches there personality or interests. They seem to always need to send a little note home for something. flybaby in Ohio
- A friend of mine did something so nice for her Pastor’s family for Christmas last year. Instead of purchasing them a gift, she wrote in her Christmas card that she would be bringing them over a meal once a month for the whole year. She and the Pastor’s wife decided on a designated date (like say the 1st of every month) and she cooks them a complete dinner, and delivers it to their door!This same dear friend also cooks up large batches of home made soups that freeze well, puts them in quart jars, and gives those as Christmas gifts. The lucky recipients can pull a nice dinner out of their freezer, reheat it, and enjoy a comforting bowl of soup on a cold winters night!
- I am a graphic designer and noticed that worksheets and handouts from school often look like photocopies of photocopies of photocopies. They get light and hard to read, and sometimes there are spelling or other errors. They don’t get fixed because they are filed as hard copies (clutter) and re-copied by the teachers each year.I offered to re-do old documents on the computer or create new ones to help the teachers with their changing curriculum. To limit my time, I offered to do 20 documents per teacher (3 teachers). Then I gave them one hard copy for each and a disk with the files on it. The teachers love it!
- For my co-workers I am giving out little bottles of maple syrup from a Vermont sugaring house I visited last year. Their catalog lists a 1.7 ounce mini maple bottle that can be used for wedding favors & other occasions. I plan to attach a recipe for my favorite pancake mix. I hope to find more gifts like this on my travels – having the maple syrup come from a place I’ve visited makes the gift more special.
- Good Pens! It seems like as soon as I find one I really like it walks off! I am not talking about fancy inscribed desk sets. Just a good ink pens (cost $2 – $4). I can never get too many of these!