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Gift Giving

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate abundance. So many lights! So many cookies! So many parties and friends! But the end of the year can also be a time to slow down and celebrate simplicity. A thoughtful gesture or a walk with a friend—some of the most meaningful gifts are often moments of quiet and calm.

Celebrate this holiday season with stress-free gift-giving. Get started with my sustainable tips and know that I’m always here to help!

Six Simple Steps for Taming Gift Giving Clutter:

1. Make a List

Make a list of the people you truly want to give gifts to. It’s not about who’s naughty or nice, reserve gifts for the people closest to you, to whom gifts are the most meaningful. Check your list twice, and then to stick to it.

2. Give the Gift of Experience

The experts have weighed in: Experiences actually make us happier than things. Experiences also take up less space in your house, and they don’t collect dust! So consider giving:

  • Tickets to an event, like a concert, a play, a movie, or a sports game—Warrior’s tickets anyone?

  • Gift certificates to your favorite local restaurant, bakery, cafe, caterer or meal service.

  • Pamper those you love with a gift certificate for a personal care experience, like a spa, massage, pedicure, personal training session or even a session with a home organizer!

  • Airline tickets, lodging reservations with an itinerary for a special vacation together.

3. Shop Local and Small

If you know someone who just adores unwrapping a gift, consider shopping from a small, local business to make your gift more sustainable, meaningful and unique. I love buying special handmade ceramic tableware created by my friend MaryMar at MMClay Ceramics in San Francisco. Try Crimson Horticulture Rarities in Oakland for unusual plants and floral arrangements. And for the book lover on your list, don’t miss Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley, or your local bookstore, to share a favorite book of your own. Support artists and artisans you love, or discover new unique finds on Etsy to avoid big online retailers.

4. Give Gifts that Disappear

Baked goods, a special meal, a bottle of wine or spices, artisan olive oil, deep dark chocolates, aromatic coffee and tea are all gifts that people enjoy and consume—without leaving a trace!

5. Honor Loved Ones with a Gift that Keeps Giving

There are so many people in need. We can warm their holidays and celebrate a special someone by making a donation in an honoree’s name. There’s no better gift for someone who has—or cares about—it all. A donation to the Alameda County Food Bank feeds our community at pennies on the dollar. Or consider a donation to Jewish Family and Children’s Services or the East Bay Agency for Children.

6. Use Sustainable Gift Wrap

Avoid glitter, foil and single-use ribbons and bows; they all end up in landfill. Opt for simple kraft paper, or even old grocery bags, with a reusable ribbon or twine. You can tie in a bit of evergreen or a pinecone to keep it classic and pretty, or pre-stamp your paper with holiday designs for a more artistic approach!

Finally, have you been the recipient of a holiday gift? Nothing shows appreciation like a handwritten thank you note for the gifts you receive.

It doesn’t take extra work to give simpler gifts—just a little thought about what really matters. And, by giving more sustainably and simply, you give the gift of clutter-free calm to yourself and to the one you love.



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