Skip to main content

,Are your gifts a blessing? We like to think that our gifts are a blessing and not clutter. We picture smiling faces as the recipient opens our package. But what if that person does not need or want the item? What if the gift becomes just more clutter in their home? Then the gift becomes a burden.

I recently worked with a mother who was decluttering her daughter’s bedroom. As we dug through the clutter, we came across multiple packages of bath bombs including one that was a red nose on a Rudolph card. There was also a plethora of special soaps. Many of the soaps had holiday designs in them. Some had holiday scents. One box had soap in the shape of chicken bones. This ten-year-old girl now prefers showers over baths and prefers body wash over soap. But these were gifts from friends or grandparents, so she had kept them. Now they were clutter in her room.

We also came across multiple goodie bags from birthday parties she had attended. Now, she was faced with the burden of making decisions on how many of these to donate without feeling bad that she was rejecting the gift.

I know that we all have received gifts from friends and family that we wish had not crossed our doorstep. We have the burden of deciding if we need to keep the gifts and for how long. Then we need to decide where to store the gifts. The gifts have become a burden.

What can we do to make certain that our gifts are a blessing that is well received?

Here are 7 ways to give gifts that are a blessing

1. Know the person’s likes and dislikes.

Grandma should know that her granddaughter prefers to shower and use body wash.

If you are giving food, find out what the person enjoys and what they cannot tolerate.

2. Avoid obligatory gifts.

When did it become a thing that all children attending birthday parties go home with a goodie bag? Let’s stop this trend.

Don’t feel obligated to bring back a gift for friends or family when you go on a trip. Your holiday was not their holiday and unless it’s something consumable that you know they will love, don’t do it.

3. Ask the recipient what they would like.

I know that we like to surprise a person but sometimes that surprise is not  welcome. Sometimes when the person makes a couple of requests, you might be able to upgrade one of the requests or find a companion item to complete the gift if you want a bit of surprise.

When I am shopping for my grandchildren, I listen to what my son and daughter-in-law suggest. They know my grandchildren’s interests and what they already have.

4. Observe and listen to your friends and family.

They may often drop hints about what they would like. “You know, I have always liked your holiday placemats. I wish I had something like that.” “I love those drip candles and have been looking for them, but can’t find them anywhere.”

Or you know they love rhubarb and come across a jar of rhubarb jam. Perfect!

5. Find out if the recipient would rather have an experience than a thing.

My family knows me well. The gifts I love most are gift cards to my favorite restaurant or a membership to the botanical gardens or museum of art. If I already have purchased a membership myself, the gift goes on to next year’s renewal.

6. If appropriate, give a gift that can be shared.

I love it when someone gives me a nice meal out and goes with me. This means I am also getting the gift of the presenter’s time. A trip to the spa together is another lovely gift or an outing to a play or concert.

7. Wrap the gift and put a thoughtful message inside.

When my sister gave me the gift card to my favorite restaurant, it was wrapped in a beautiful small box with a lovely note. This made it all the more precious.

In Conclusion

As you plan your gifts to family and friends, take yourself out of the equation. You want them to feel like the gift is a blessing. Picture how they will use the gift and where they will store it. As you hear hints or see things that give you gift ideas make a note of them in your journal. I have running lists for friends and family members in My List Simplified journal.

Communicate with people that you exchange gifts with. Let them know what you enjoy and what you don’t want. I tell my friends and family not to give me anything that I have to display or hang on my walls.

And when you receive those gifts that are just becoming clutter in your home, remember that the gifts are now yours to keep or dispose of.

If you are struggling with getting rid of clutter or just want some help or accountability in following through with a plan, join Diane Quintana and me in our Clear Space for You virtual support group.


Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, author of four books as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients.



  • Seana Turner says:

    One of the benefits of spending time with my family is that I get good gift ideas! It’s funny that we do talk about things we’d like to have or do, but can rarely recall them when someone asks for a gift idea. I’ve started keeping notes on my phone for this very purpose. It feels so good to give a gift that shows I know the person. 🙂

  • Gift-giving and receiving can be stressful. However, with your excellent strategies and suggestions, you made that easier. I enjoy giving (and wrapping) gifts. I also love selecting something I think the recipient will enjoy.

    As a gift receiver, I’ve learned how to be grateful for the intent and gift but not feel obligated to keep it if it’s not something I will use. Like you, I appreciate most the gifts around experiences. And if those include time with the gift-giver, even better.

  • I dread giving someone something they don’t want, so really appreciate these tips. Yet I still feel guilty about getting rid of gifts I’ve received, even if I’ve used them for a while.

  • Julie+Bestry says:

    This is great advice. I keep thinking of how many times I’ve decluttered an excess of unwanted picture frames and candles from clients’ homes. Some people are better than others at gift-giving, and some people are easier to buy for than others, but there’s no reason not to observe and ask what someone would like. It’s as if some people think that part of the gift is jumping through hoops to find the secret. (It’s like people who say, “If you don’t know why I’m mad then I’m not going to tell you!” Seriously, ask people what they want! Buy things from their wish lists! Pay attention to what they say they enjoy!

    Excellent post!

  • These are great tips. I know people shy away from asking outright what people want and if they’d prefer an experience over items but these alone are easy ways to make your gift meaningful and to avoid clutter build up.

Skip to content