Clutter-Free (or close) Gift Idea List

trekarenFebruary 28, 2006

I wanted to start a post we can all add ideas to for gifts for various occasions. That way when we need to give gifts we can come here to get good ideas!!!

teacat's post on the RSVP forum had a great gift idea (teacat hope you don't mind!)

So I bought two complete sets (with the largest shower towels, bath towels, face and even extra face cloths); folded these into a larger Rubbermaid laundry basket; PLUS a couple of matching bath mats; added a huge bottle of Tide along with a bunch of smaller useful kitchen gadgets ........... Well --- I even got a personal call from the bride and groom ----- even the GROOM was delighted with the gift! LOL!!!

My daughter turned eight this year so the steady stream of Barbie's is slowly dwindling :-). One of the best gifts she received this birthday:

A shower radio with the suction cups to hold it to the bathtub. I think it was her favorite birthday gift! She rocks in the shower now. It's tooo funny.

Any other good gifts you have given or received for anything from children's birthdays to weddings?

I think you guys probably have LOTS of great ideas for useful or consumable gifts!

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The most clutter-free gifts are the ones that come from your knowledge of the person's life.

My sis desperately needs a shower dispenser; my best friend could use a car detailing appointment.

Come to think of it, give them a *service*--an appointment w/ a car-detailing place, or a massage, or something.

(though I warn you, I can turn those into clutter, too; I have even managed, through neglect, to convert gift cards into wallet clutter!)

I also like the 'small but useful' gifts; the NeverMT kit that lets you hook your kitchen soap dispenser to a store-bought bottle instead of having to keep refilling it; the shower dispenser (which I am convinced, now, that everybody needs). (of course, they need a built-in soap dispenser; my sis doesn't, so rats, I couldn't get one of those)

Here is a link that might be useful: the NeverMT

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 11:04AM
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"The most clutter-free gifts are the ones that come from your knowledge of the person's life."

And, to go along with that thought...something to eat/drink/consume. This past Xmas I had a big hit giving my BIL a gift set of Omaha Steaks. They entertain frequently with outdoor patio parties and he is the grillmeister so the steaks were a little luxury he was delighted to get.

I've also done wine gifts to people who I know enjoy it. I once used (don't know if they are still in business) and ordered personalized-label wines for my dad and his wife, even got the wine from a place they had just visited and toured wineries!

I've given my MIL real maple syrup which she loved. I got my sister a Swiss Colony brownie gift package this holiday too, after she mentioned she had tried them once and really liked them. I give my SIL Godiva chocolates sometimes; I know she likes those. Gift packs of gourmet coffee are another choice, and they can be packaged with a personalized coffee mug for an extra useful touch.

So, those types of gifts-as long as you know your recipient-are not only clutter free but very much appreciated. Everyone enjoys a special treat and it's fun to get it as a gift to boot.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 12:33PM
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I agree on nonconsumable gifts being great. How about certificates for car washes/detailing? Busy/lazy people always appreciate those. Kids love coupons for their favorite fastfood places or for movie rentals. How about getting kids their own library card, if they don't already have one? What better way to keep clutter at bay than reading books and then returning them to somebody else to deal with!? LOL

Adults love restaurant gift certificates. I had a couple of friends that gave us some when my dad passed away. It was nice for my DH and me to get away from all of it for a little while.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 2:05PM
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(I don't think you can get someone else a library card--though you can take them to sign the paperwork, etc., to get it)

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 2:33PM
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Made-up coupons for services you provide the recipient -- like "Good for one free trip to the Mall" or "Good for cleaning out your gutters" or "Good for one home-cooked meal". You can tailor these to the recipient. You know what you've signed up for and they don't feel badly about asking you to do whatever-it-is.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 3:08PM
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Any kid of driving age is a perfect candidate for a AAA membership. I renew my son's every year for his birthday (only adds $23 to the family plan but he doesn't know that.) He's used it sooooo many times since he drives old clunkers, locks himself out. Paid for itself every year.

Of course, this is also a good one to check into for parents, etc. Single friends.

With the price of gas, gas cards are getting popular as well as phone cards. We get the ones where they are slightly less than 3 cents a min. Too many numbers for my 88 year old mother to punch in, though.

My DD loves going to the beauty parlor. So for some, it might be a monthly occurance. At our house it's a special gift to get to go and not have mom trim the bangs.

One thing about the food gifts. Make sure people really do like wine, etc. I couldn't figure out why so many people brought wine and booze for a gift for my husband's birthday one year. We rarely ever drink. I think everyone just kind of thought that's what you buy someone when you don't know what to get. After a few years it all went down the drain.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 4:57PM
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When I read this the first thing that came to mind was those jars for cookie mixes you put together, or brownies, etc. I LOVE homemade gifts and really LOVE fresh baked goodies. There are recipes everywhere on the web for jar recipes.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 6:49PM
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Whenever my daughter has a birthday party, she wants to invite all of her friends, which is fantastic (her last party was with her 26 closest friends in our home - all the other parents thought we were crazy, but we had a great time). She also realizes that she is blessed and has many things, so instead of gifts her friends donate to our children's hospital. It's a great thing, my daughter and her friends get to be together, the hospital receives on average $550 per year, and the parents get a tax receipt (plus they don't shop for a gift either).

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:25PM
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I was thinking of those, artmom. My SIL was big on making them for gifts for a few years. Guess who was NOT pleased to receive them as gifts? I don't like to bake. Now, if she had given me a couple of dozen cookies all ready to scarf down, then I would have loved that gift.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 9:36PM
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Talley Sue, was thinking about getting library cards for kids (your own, your grandkids, etc.) They just need a guardian/somebody to be responsible for books, etc.

Kelly, I like that idea. Some of the kids around here have started having birthday parties and the local Humane Society benefits from the "gifts".

    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 11:56PM
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Our library suggests that children NOT have their own cards. Because of privacy laws, the library is not allowed to tell parents the name of the book the kids can't find.

Gloria brings up a good point. I would send a jar of cookie mix straight to the garbage. I would consider a car wash certificate as welcome as laundry detergent -- something I "need" but don't necessarily want as a birthday gift "for me". I don't enjoy baking, I don't enjoy going to the car wash, and I don't enjoy doing laundry.

It's more important to think about what the gift receipient would truly appreciate instead of what is clutter-free or not. Hint: My birthday is in July and I would LOVE a new piece of garden statuary. My mom sent me money for my birthday one year so I could choose something I wanted, and she had a fit when I bought LOTS of composted manure. BUT IT WAS WHAT I WANTED! LOL

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 5:38AM
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With the price of gas, gas cards are getting popular as well as phone cards. We get the ones where they are slightly less than 3 cents a min. Too many numbers for my 88 year old mother to punch in, though.

Kinda off-topic, but many phones let you store a string of numbers into a memory location, so Mom could pick up the phone, dial the number, press *3 (or something) and then a few more digits for the card, and she's off and talking.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 8:50AM
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Julie, the problem with wanting one thing is if word gets out, you could end up with 10 statuaries! LOL

I like the jars - they are a fun activity for my daughter and I to do.

Kelly,I think your daughter is something special! While my DD realizes that she is overly blessed (spoiled) she hasn't gotten to the point of being willing to forego all her presents from birthdays. Now as much as she loves animals, she might be game to get gifts for our cat shelter - they put out monthly lists of items they need. I could probably convince her to use her birthday as a reason to help out cats in need :-)

I Love all these ideas! Personally my birthday is coming up soon and my van is FILTHY!!!!!! (hint hint)

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 9:00AM
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My SIL is single, working, doesn't drive. She has every piece of clothes and jewelry you could imagine. Then she told us she wanted "experience" gifts. Tickets to shows, offers to drive her places on weekends (shopping,movies,etc. Works for me . . .

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 9:20AM
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I'm going to be in Reno over Mother's Day and my birthday (the big 5-0 too!). We have a very wooded lot and I've asked my DH to rent a chipper and get the last two years worth of fallen limbs chipped up so I can put them on my path through the woods. He hates these "request" gifts. He'd much rather buy me jewelry or something, but that's not what I want. So we'll see if they manage to get it done.

Karen, I've asked for my van to be detailed several times for gifts. Two years ago, I asked for the DH to arrange and deal with having all of the windows professionally cleaned for my birthday. Miniblinds professionally cleaned were part of the deal too. It was great because I just don't see me climbing on ladders to clean the outsides of windows anytime soon.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 2:06PM
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Hi - Librarian speaking here! Any minor MUST have a parent or guardian signature on their library card application. Most libraries will allow a child to have a card when he/she is able to sign their own name. Some will give them to anyone - it helps their statistics. A good idea might be to make a book bag and include a library card application with library brochure, maybe include some pencils, bookmarks, and a small notebook. A list of favorite books might be appreciated if you know the recipient's taste.

Now that is giving me an idea for a fundraiser for our local Friends of the Library group! That would also be a nice "Welcome" gift to a new neighbor.

As to giving food as gifts - this past Xmas we were overwhelmed with fancy English muffins - got them from 3 different people - and no one in our family likes them. So true that knowledge of the person is essential to giving them a good gift!

For kid's gifts, I always ask the parent if there is anything in particular they would like, and get a lot of good feedback. My dd will be turning 7 this year and is (I think) moving past the stage where endless plastic crap is the most exciting thing in the world to her. (The only thing she wants is a pet snake. eek.) I have been giving mostly art supplies - gel pens, markers, clipboards (6 & 7 year olds are crazy for drawing.)

What I like to get are flowers. Not exactly original, but nothing makes me happier! I always bring flowers to parties, for thank you's, etc. and people always seem suprised and delighted. Sometimes from my own garden (I have about 1000 daffodils up right now, and plenty of roses coming) sometimes store bought. No such thing as too many flowers!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 5:15PM
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Trekaren, don't tease me with 10 statuaries, that would be GREAT! I'm still using Talley Sue's old pie plate as a decoration (though it's safely stored for winter).

Postum, if your local schools don't do this, here's a fundraiser idea. The PTA at my son's middle school offered "study boxes" one year. They were packed with pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, paper, folders, a ruler, etc. The idea was to save parents the trouble of having to go out and shop for basic supplies. The PTA bought all the school supplies on sale before school started, then sold them in a rubbermaid-type sweater-sized box for $25. The idea was that kids could come home and have all their homework supplies in one place, too.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 6:41PM
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Postum- I had to check to see where you live after you mentioned daffodils and roses. It sounds like heaven to me right now! Here in NH it's cold, cold, cold with a thin layer of light snow on the ground. Hasn't been a good winter for my perrenials - not even deep snow cover.

Also, have to say, the cookie mix jars are cute but as a teacher I have received some and thrown them out too. Not to sound squeamish but I don't know what kind of kitchens they came from...I mean, I can't eat off my own kitchen floor but I was uncomfortable cooking cookies from a mystery source. (As a gift from a close friend, that would be different). And, every year, I get at least two or three Christmas coffee mugs from students. Those I don't need! (Not that I'm not grateful for the gesture and thank the children warmly). I really don't need to be thanked with a gift.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2006 at 8:42PM
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We've had the same winter weather (not enough snow cover for insulation from the cold) and I have the same worries about my perennials.

If it makes you feel better, our ground is frozen solid. I have a new compost bin and I need to rake the ground level before I place it in it's permanent spot.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2006 at 5:23AM
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Is it completely rude to send invitations to a birthday party for a child with a tateful note requesting no gifts?

My kids get so many toys that a lot of them do not get played with or at times even opened. It is a real shame that people spent their hard earned dollars on things that my kids do not appreciate. BTW we do give them away to those in need.

Any suggestions ?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 8:22AM
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"Is it completely rude to send invitations to a birthday party for a child with a tateful note requesting no gifts? "

In an etiquette sense, yes it is. Technically speaking a guest is NEVER expected to bring a gift, the invitation is extended strictly for the pleasure of the company. So asking for 'no gifts' presupposes you expect to get them, which you shouldn't be doing in the first place.

So that's the etiquette answer. And then there is the anti clutter answer which is as you say, it is such a shame for people to spend money they don't need to spend on items kids don't need and which will be tossed aside so quickly.

Something else to consider is how do the guest(s) of honor feel? Even if mom feels the kids have too many toys I've rarely met a kid who agrees :).

This is a tough one but on the whole, I'd say not to include such a note. One last wrinkle: if you do, some people will respect your wishes, some won't and both groups will feel uncomfortable at some point.

The ones who don't bring a gift will have pangs because they usually do so it seems somehow ungracious, but if you say no they will go along. Not to mention they will end up at the party watching others hand over gifts and feeling uncomfortable all over again. The ones who do bring a gift will be uncomfortable because they too will have a mental wrestling match before deciding that darn it, little Joey or Amanda just has to have a gift and besides, they know others will be bringing's a no win situation and again it puts the hostess in a position of doing something to make guests feel uncomfortable which is always bad etiquette.

My .03 cents (much too long an answer :) and one more thought: just wait till the teenage years when the clutter factor and the cost become inversely proportional! It still gives me a pang to see underneath the Xmas tree a couple of tiny items that cost me 10X what I ever spent on those mondo or multi-part toys back in the day...

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 1:15PM
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Ann, I have the same reaction--as relieved as I am that the "toys" are shrinking, I'm sort of sad.

I think b'day invites almost dictate a present, and I wouldn't be offended at all about a mention of them there. The wedding invite, etc., I might. feel mildly disgruntled.

Depending on your kid's age, you could conceivably get them all excited about gifts for a cause--bring pet gifts we'll give to the animal shelter, etc. But I think the "investment int he cause" should come from the birthday kid's side of the equation.

Plus, Ann's right, some folks will bring presents anyway, and it's awkward all around.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 5:33PM
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The original idea of child not accepting gifts was mine so here is my two cents was my daughter's suggestion that we do this, and every year when her b-day comes along she is asked what she would like to do. She always picks the donations, never feels 'ripped off', and the pride she feels when we bring in the donations is better than any gift. The staff at the children's hospital remember her every time we come and make a donation (we have done other fundraisers for them through garage sales, lemonade stands). For those who are worried about our manners her invitation usually states 'Sally looking forward to having you at her birthday party. In lieu of gifts, she is accepting donations on behalf of 123charity.' I don't know why this is rude, and if people bring a gift she is polite and warmly accepts the gift. For us, the rudeness of a birthday party is a child accepting 20+ gifts; no child 'needs' that many birthday gifts.
Don't even get me started on weddings and baby showers. If I get one more invitation for a bridal/baby shower with 200 of the bride/new mother's closest friends I am going to scream. If you want to get married/have a baby fantastic, can't you struggle on your own for a while? If I have to find one more bride-to-be with expensive tastes and a registry list costing well over $10 000 (no I will not buy you your $300 stainless steel microwave or matching Kitchen Aid), I am going to get divorced and remarry my husband for nice stuff too (instead of saving and paying for it ourselves, aren't we the dumb ones). Have I stirred the pot at all? !)

    Bookmark   March 3, 2006 at 9:00PM
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We only have immediate family birthday celebrations for our kids, which elimnates the problem completely! We usually go camping for the summer birthday, and stay at a hotel for the winter birthday. Surprisingly, the boys have never asked for a party with their friends.

Kelly, you make me laugh! I agree--showers for your 200 nearest and dearest friends do seem to be the norm now and it does get ridiculous. In general, I still like the "shower" concept. On the other hand, I totally object to wedding showers for people who live together before they're married. THAT should help stir the pot! LOL

    Bookmark   March 4, 2006 at 6:53AM
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I think, etiquette-wise, a birthday party always assumes gifts are expected, especially for kids.

A few years back, we wanted to simply celebrate DH's 40th, and we put "No Gifts Please" on the invite because we simply wanted to celebrate the big year.

I think a few folks brought a gag but not technically a "gift". We had a great time.

Would anyone here honestly go to a birthday party they were invited to, and not assume they were to bring a present?

"Another Pot Stirrer"

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 11:32AM
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Just popped into this thread -- and thanks for thinking that my idea for a "useful" gift was a good one! :)

Honestly -- my mum (and dad when he was alive) always gave "useful" gifts to a bride & groom -- and found out that their gift was used every day! They would give electric blankets, linens.

Other ideas :

Gift certificates from home centers. Then put it in a new bucket with paint brushes etc.

Gift certificates from garden centers too. Put in a flower pot with weed killer spray and grass fertilizer. One young couple we knew simply wanted "tools and a good lawn mower"!!! LOL!!

IF you know the person(s) very well -- a fun selection of old photo(s) taken with them -- even just one photo matted and framed (with day/date and fun comment on the back)

A basket full of "gadgets that really DO work" -- I give the ones from OXO Good Grips -- plus a fun "gift tag" to explain just HOW useful each one can be!!! A wine opener; bottle opener; cooking spoons and lifters etc. Maybe a good cookbook -- with yellow sticky notes to show the couple just where the "best" recipes can be found!

As for the "no gifts" ----- well ------ a tough question since some people will ALWAYS bring something. I do take along a "host/hostess" gift anyway (usually flowers or wine etc.)

If someone simply requests "no gifts" ---- sometimes a simple follow-up phone call or email can answer the question .....

    Bookmark   March 6, 2006 at 12:47PM
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Well... I wouldn't have assumed birthday gifts for an adult's birthday party. Maybe that's why we're not invited to many? LOL

I like Teacats idea of getting a gift certificate and a theme gift to go with it. Weddings are easy, since the bride and groom usually have a gift registry, but for other occasions the "gift card with gift" is an excellent idea.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 7:01PM
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i have done the "my favorite gadgets" gift--complete w/ explanations of why it's so great.

Last time I did that, my friend seemed to like it--and then told me several months later that those gadgets really DID work, and boy were they useful!

I used to always give baking pans for bridal-shower presents, complete w/ a recipe for each pan, or sometimes a coupon for or box of whatever store-bought thing you'd use it with (muffin mix, crescent rolls in a tube, etc)--to prove that you don't need to think of yourself as a baker to need a cookie sheet!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2006 at 7:16PM
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Talley Sue,

I love the baking ban/box mix idea, too!

A LONG time ago I went to a "pantry" shower, where you brought the bride things to fill her pantry. The bride and groom were both moving from their parents house to an apartment of their own, so this gave them a head start on grocery shopping. Couples seem to be marrying later now, though, and either the bride or the groom has typically had their own apartment by the time they're married.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 6:19AM
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hint hint my van STILL needs washing


    Bookmark   March 8, 2006 at 10:17AM
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When I had a Christening party for my two daughters (babies 14 months apart) I personally wrote "No gifts,please"o n every invitation. All but one guest brought gifts.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2006 at 3:23PM
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I've never sent or received an invitation that said "no gifts". I probably would have brought one, too.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2006 at 7:05AM
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Tally, I just ordered the NeverMT kit that lets you hook your kitchen soap dispenser to a store-bought bottle instead of having to keep refilling it.

I am sooooo tired of having soap run out over my funnel because I tried to put too much soap into my dispenser or because the soap ran so slowly into the dispenser that it overflowed. Either way, it was a mess to clean up.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 10:03AM
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yay for the NeverMT (do you know, it took me about 2 years to figure out it stood for "never empty"?)

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 11:33AM
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That neverMT is COOL!!! But alas it means I have to do a little decluttering UNDER my sink LOL

I have to GET one of those!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 2:03PM
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Bringing this back so Tally Sue can see this.

Thank you.

I love LOVE LOVE the NeverMT soap dispenser.

I have had it for months now. I bought a humungous bottle of dish soap from Sam's Club and by looking under the sink, I can see how little soap I've used. No more spills, no more messes. This simple thing has made my life in the kitchen so much easier....Now if only someone would invent something like this for the laundry....ahhhh nevermind. that's a whole 'nother story :))

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 9:46AM
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I like to give a "gift of time" or something token that is "maaningful/sentimental"


My mom and stepdad met at a St Patrick's day party, and he is Irish. So, for years I gave them Girl Scout "Thin Mints" (the green box and green minty taste) in March as an "anniversary" gift. The cookies are a favorite of his. (They are dieting, so I can't do this anymore as they have requested to not be tempted.)

My brother in law loves Girl Scout cookies and cocount cookies. (They make a coconut one, so this works...) AND his birthday is nowhere near the time the girls sell them. So, every year I buy him 2-5 boxes of coconut girl scout cookies and freeze them. At birthday time, he gets a gift bag of cookies and perhaps something else added if I come up with something for someone who has everything and needs nothing. At this point it is tradition and he looks forward to getting them. Sees it as a special treat. In a way, this is a "gift of time" because I need to plan ahead.

Some gifts of time: I gave a friend's daughter cookie mix in a jar so she and her grandma could have some baking time, and the family could have the snack. Another year gave grandma a muffin mix so she and grandaughter could have the gift of time together making muffins. My friend says this is great because it puts her mom and daughter together and the gift is not cluttery since they eat it. And, it gives her mom and daughter something to do together.

This summer, I gave a teacher, who gave lots of her time to one of my kids a "gift of time" -- her daughter is getting married this summer, so I bought her a gift certificate for two to a local restaurant. On the card I explained it was a gift of time in appreciation for her gift of time bla bla bla. She loved it.

Another fun idea for birthday for young girls -- I send flowers every year to one of my friend's daughter. She feels so special to have flowers delivered. Yes, they have the container, but that is easy to recycle. Her daughter loves feeling special and grown up. AND, I don't add to the clutter of toys and junk.

At the local school my kids attend, I randomly take in vases of roses from my rose garden. On the bottom of the vase is a note requesting the vases to be returned to the office. Then the office calls me to come get the vases. I get most of the vases back and the teachers have something to brighten their classroom or home. I even give to teachers my kids have not had. And, librarian, and office staff. Last trip over I took 5 vases. (I live in a warm climate, so have roses most of the year.) It began as an anomyous vase of roses to the classroom, and now when I am seen coming (I come mid day when all are in class) lots of smiles and secret wishes that the viewer is one of the recipients. I give to current and past teachers and office staff most often. In fact, there is a teacher that gets occasionally because she just lit up at seeing the flowers one day, so I make a point to send her some once in a while. I don't even know what grade she teaches, just that she loves flowers.

Some ideas that aren't too cluttery.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 5:05PM
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Since this post came back up, I wanted to say I also ordered the soap thing talley mentioned. I love it. The company was great to work with. They didn't have the shipping listed and sometimes we really get ripped off here in Alaska. People want to change a ton for something which will fit in a flat rate mailer. They mailed it at no charge since I wasn't allowed to OK the shipping.

As I was re-reading the posts, I thought I would comment on the birthday gift thing for kids. I only allow the kids to invite four or five friends so I don't think we have the gift overload problem. I'm not sure when the idea of inviting everyone in the school class started, but we automatically say no to those parties. It's just become a contest of who can have a party at the "best" place and I'm not inclined to spend money for a gift for someone who my child doesn't really play with.

We just finished up parties for the dd and ds in the past 3 weeks. Dd had someone who didn't RSVP and when asked, the girl said she forgot about the party. I can live with that, but when she turned around and gave dd an invite (with an RSVP note) I decided we would just pass. At least we did call and thank them for the invite even though she wouldn't attend. Hope those parents could plan better since they expected a level of politeness which they didn't show to us. I know we've discussed the RSVP issue, but it still irritates.


    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 5:52PM
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When I hear about birthday parties where the little kids are not supposed to receive gifts I think about the Mommie Dearest movie about Joan Crawford--who made her kids give their gifts to the poor.
As a former teacher I would say the idea of inviting the whole class started when people began to bring cookies, or cupcakes to class on the kids birthday,and sometimes only brought a few. We said--you cant hurt the other kids feelings. Bring enough for all or keep it at home. (and where's mine?)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 1:04PM
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If I'm reading this correctly, you're saying it's not ok to encourage gift free parties, and at the same time, we need to invite the whole class.

In my daughter's case, that is 20 children from class, plus her 8 personal friends not from school, for a total of 28 kids.

At the end of that party, she'd have around 10 Bratz dolls, around 8 Barbies, 5 assorted stuffed animals, and 5 toy horse presents, just from the party.

Add onto that all taht she'd get from the aunts, grandparents, etc.

I remember a few years ago, Talley sue and I were talking about this and I totalled up the quantity of just Barbie dolls that she got that year (not counting barbie accessories like the horse and buggy). That one year she ended up with 23 dolls.

I'm no Mommy Dearest. She gets to enjoy plenty of toys. She also enjoys consumable gifts just as much. And even if we had a charity birthday to collect stuffed animals for the police, or books for the children's hospital, she'd still have enough toys left over from other gifts she receives.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 2:58PM
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I didn't read that as marge's intent. The idea was no one could be left out of invites "if" the invitations were issued as school. I really think if my child doesn't know someone well enough to either have their phone # or address, then they shouldn't be inviting each other to parties. I don't let my kids take the invites to class, rather then drop them off at the child's home or call and issue a verbal invite.

I think the best thing is to invite the 8 "real" friends away from school and not issue huge group invites.

Gloria (also a teacher who sees the hurt feelings when the child is left out or not invited)

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 5:04PM
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I'm glad you all like that NeverMT soap-dispenser kit. I think it's ingenious!

I'm w/ Gloria (as I so often am)--I think kids don' tfeel hurt or left out if the party includes only 4 or 5 kids. It's when "everybody but me" gets invited that feelings get hurt. And definitely, when the cupcakes or cookies come TO SCHOOL, there had better be enough for everybody. In fact, I believe there should be enough for teachers too!

The hardest part for me, living where I live, is that I have no way to get the addresses of my kids' friends. The schools don't issue them, the PTA doesn't help with this at all (which, frankly, I think it should--maybe I should get off my butt and try to organize that).

So I send the invites to the teacher and ask her pretty-please to help me get them to the kids in a way that doesn't call attention to itself. I guess it works. And, as I said, if only 6 of the kids in the class are getting invites, the other 20 hopefully won't feel crushed and left out; maybe just mildly left out.

I remember the Barbie discussion, Karen! I think you beat me--our 23 Barbies were accumulated over several years. Though we may have more by now. I've been in heaven; DD let me pack them away recently. Not *give* them away, yet. But I'm hoping....

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 6:29PM
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Does anyone have any gift ideas for a man turning 30? Everything I want to get, he doesn't want or can get a better deal on. I hate shopping for men! I am planning on taking him out for dinner, but what else can I get him?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 1:23PM
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Gift certificates for car washes, a really good leather (lizard or something equally as nice) belt, tickets to something. Mention some of his hobbies or interests and we can come up with other ideas.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2006 at 11:03PM
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Thanks for those suggestions...I remember him mentioning a belt.

Here are some of his interests: he loves sports! Currently basketball is on all day. He loves basketball pools, and he also loves cars.

Thanks for your help :o)

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:41AM
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a really good-quality umbrella (men seem to like those huge golf ones that make some sort of territory-grabbing statement, which is really annoying in NYC).

tickets to some event you think he'd like (though if you get him a pair, he may feel he HAS to take you--depends on the dynamics of the relationship)

a new wallet--if you can see what style he's using already. My DH gets these from time to time, and they are useful, bcs his wear out eventually.

Does he use a day planner or a PDA? Could you "up the ante" by getting him a new binder, or a new case for it? Perhaps a higher-quality one than he's got?

And who cares whether he can get a better deal on it than you can--the point is not how much it cost, but that you thought of it in connection w/ him.

And there are always books, if you know what he likes to read. Or DVDs.

And, don't pressure yourself too much. Once people get to be grownups, the importance of presents falls a little--just one small, nice thing is great.

Oh--oh--TOYS! the phrase "once people get to be grownups" made me think of this. Grownups don't get toys--not TRUE toys. We get "toys," w/ quotation marks. We get iPods instead of GameBoys, DVDs instead of action figures.

Get him a toy, even if it's a smallish one.

Lego makes these really great little things called XPods, I think, that are $10 or so, and you can make little bitty cars, or robots, or whatever is in the Pod.

(here's a pretty good selection--they change the colors periodically, though)

and for $20, they have kits for making dinosaurs, etc.

And for $7, there are "mini Designer" sets

The XPods are neat, bcs they result in a little result, which means they go together fast, and he can stick it on his computer monitor at work, or something, without looking like an immature geek. (not that a guy who puts together Lego dinosaurs is an immature geek, mind you...)

I gave the Xpod to every one of the guys in my family at Christmas this year--they didn't go ballistic, but they were amused and they thought it was fun.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 9:43AM
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The electronic 20Q game. They're less than $15 at Target and everyone is always fascinated when they play and the toy guesses what they are thinking.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 10:18PM
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Thanks guys for your help. My husband actually does need a really good umbrella! and that 20Q game and xpod sounds really cool. We actually only get eachother gifts once a year. And when I say gifts I mean fun suprise gifts; in my case that would be purses, shoes, clothes: he never gets fun suprise gifts! I went to the mall and decided I would stick to the basics: he loves running shoes. So I bought him a pair, he mentioned he needed a brown belt so I found him one. He also needed a watch, so I got one! His next gifts: umbrella, 20q and an xpod!

Thanks Again :o)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 8:56PM
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