2012 Clutter-free Gift Guide

Back by popular demand, we present the best gifts that don’t need to be put away, stepped over, or shoved in a closet when company comes over.

We have 25 clutter-free ideas for every member of your family: babies, kids, other mamas, the men in your life, and grandparents!

Babies and toddlers

  1. A series of classes. Find one you can take together such as Mommy and Me yoga, music, or swimming. More details about finding a a fun class with your baby.
  2. The box your other toys came in. We’re serious. I will let Sawyer enjoy boxes of different sizes for a couple of days and then when it’s time to clean up, into the recycling they go. Big ones are vehicles; small ones are hats. Then he can focus on other new toys. [Related: toddler fun sitting in boxes]
  3. Love. It doesn’t take up any space and it lasts forever.  But seriously, if you want something to show them in the heat of present unwrapping, make a video of yourself to keep on your phone playing peek-a-boo or singing a song with hand motions. Your toddler will love to watch it. And lick it.
  4. A savings account. Put your kid’s name on some money. You don’t need to have a whole plan in place, but whatever you put away now will only start growing sooner.

Preschoolers and older kids

  1. A major outing. Are you ready for Disneyland, Six Flags, or some other big adventure? Make a big deal out of putting it on the calendar.
  2. Theater tickets: Seeing a play or a concert on a stage is so much fun. Consider a children’s theater group in your town or splurge on one of the branded live shows that tour all the big cities such as Sesame Street Live, Disney on Ice, or Yo Gabba Gabba Live. We just learned that Phineas and Ferb will be a live show in 2013.
  3. Membership: Pick up an annual pass to a kid-friendly museum, indoor playspace, or the Zoo. Pro tip: Split it with a girlfriend.
  4. Ride tickets for local destination. The carousel at the zoo, or train tickets. Put the purchased tickets (or fake homemade ones) together with a picture of the ride.

Your lady friends and sisters

  1. Spa credit: A pedicure, massage, or scrub either booked or merely suggested with a nice printed paper tied in a bow.
  2. Entertainment: Take her to a concert, a play, or just a movie. Tickets in an envelope are so exciting.
  3. Workshop or class: Would she love to learn a new type of dance, wine-tasting, love-bombing, or cake-decorating skills? Heather would like a class from HackerMoms or Stitch Sewing Lab.
  4. Chocolate: It’s not clutter if you eat it and throw away the wrapper.
  5. Experience: Create personal and customized goals for a new year of stuff you want to do together (perfect for list-makers like us). Sporty girls can sign up for a winter run together.

If she’s also a mama

  1. Babysitting swap or you host a playdate that she can leave, but you have to really do it so put it on the calendar on the spot.
  2. Real food: Who wouldn’t be thrilled to receive a batch of soup, lasagna, or pumpkin bread? Package in a disposable container and the whole thing will soon disappear.
  3. iTunes credit, you bring the dessert for Girls Night In to watch Downton Abbey.

Dads and men friends

  1. A challenge. Whitney booked her husband for four personal training sessions for his birthday. Disclaimer: He had been talking about changing up his exercise habits. For the men in your life, look for a martial arts class, a rock climbing gym, or other physical activity he doesn’t normally do.
  2. An escape. Lift tickets, a day-long mountain biking tour, or greens fees along with your blessing to enjoy the day. With or without you. (REI is a good place to look for extreme excursions.)
  3. A Task Rabbit. Is there something around the house he’s wished would be magically changed? Can you outsource it? Whitney needed her kids’ bunk bed to be disassembled and removed from the house to make room for new beds. She knew her husband was dreading spending his day off on the chore, so she hired a Task Rabbit to take care of it. Their website has lists of tasks to inspire you.
  4. Tickets for a sporting event. Hockey, basketball, local college soccer games, whatever makes him happy.

The grandparents

  1. Walking tour: Whitney and her husband sent two sets of grandparents on an ethnic food tour of L.A. where they live. They loved it. Google “walking tour” and the city they live nearest. For Heather’s folks, wintery weather means this is a better birthday gift. No good snowy walking tours where they live? Read on.
  2. Charitable donation in their name: If they have everything they need, pick a cause close to their hearts. We’ve donated to a Jazz Society for a Jazz-loving grandfather, and made Kiva loans on behalf of those who love to learn about cultures around the globe.
  3. A class: For those with a lot of time on their hands, learning something new is a great source of entertainment. Think cooking, computer skills, yoga, or swing dancing.
  4. A delicious meal: Pick the place they’ve always wanted to try but have been too practical to go on their own. Alternatively, restaurant.com offers discounts to many places and gift certificates (with a few funny exceptions and exclusions).
  5. Tech support. Help Granny and Papa set their configurations for Skype or iChat; install their new Wii; or put books on their Kindle.

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

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