Gift certificates get lost. They probably have one already somewhere.
You don’t want to add to the accumulation.
It’s a dilemma.
Maybe Christmas, he [the Grinch] thought, doesn’t really come from a store? -Dr. Seuss
Here are some gift ideas collected from the COH Support Group, the FLY Lady website’s list of clutter-free gifts for women, or sent in via email to us. A site you might find some other ideas is: Unclutterer.com.
I’m thinking of giving her the book “Sink Reflections” from FLYLady, to start her personal journey into cleaning the inside of the house.
Cash Presentation Ideas
I plan to give my Mom and Dad cash $ money for Christmas. It’s the one thing I know that will not get lost in the house! (Sure, they may feel bad I’m giving them such an ‘ordinary’ gift, but, it won’t get lost, and they can get whatever they want with it. I call money the “universal gift certificate, redeemable at all stores, nationwide!”
Back to the cold, hard cash…
I think it’s all in the presentation too-My mom really gets a kick out of bills that are folded up really small, into little miniature fans. There you have a great presentation of cash inside a box that is a conversation piece if necessary. Another idea is to scrunch the cash up and wire it to a tree branch with the garbage twisty-ties that never get used anyway, and you could call it a money tree.
FYI, some hoarders *do* lose cash – put it in a “special place” and then can’t locate it again (I’ve seen both my parents do this – checks, too). But, where there’s a will, there’s a way – you could always make a deposit directly into your favorite hoarder’s account!
Donations to charities on their behalf
How about a donation to this organization on behalf of your hoarding loved one that helps those for free who have had their children taken away due to “unsafe living conditions.” It’s called Better Homes For Children.
After years of trying different things, I’ve settled on gift cards to charitable groups. For Mother’s Day, I particularly like to “buy” things for orphans. I adopted one of my kids from China, so this is a big family interest anyway, but it’s also just very cool to do something for a kid in honor of a mother, I think. Plus, the gift becomes tax deductible. Two groups I regularly use are Angel Covers, a non-profit in Colorado that helps orphans in several different countries, and Love Without Boundaries, which focuses on orphans in China. Their web sites are www.angelcovers.org
I donate to Unique-a support group and source of information to families and individuals affected by any rare chromosome disorder and to the professionals who work with them. Like compulsive hoarding, this is another misunderstood disorder my family is affected by. The group receives no government funding and is heavily reliant on donations and fundraising to continue its work. Donations.
A donation to “Save The Children” on their behalf. All they will receive is a photo card of the child being helped with the donation and what the donation will go towards (you can choose how it’s spent).
I donate a cash amount to the Gideons or church or library in her honor. She does not complain (to me anyway).
Donations to Heifer International, which gives cows, pigs and chicks to people who live at a subsistence /poverty level.
Several organizations will plant trees in people’s names and send them certificates, bumper stickers, etc. (Crafty-type COH could also photoshop a huge old tree with a brass plaque–the Hoarder Parent oak–but that’s sort of a sarcastic comment).
Tree organizations that do this include:
Trees for the Future
Then there are zoo programs which will let you ‘adopt’ an animal in a person’s name.
Donate a “brick” in her name. For example: I bought a brick for our new library and had it engraved with my mother’s name to commemorate all the times she took me to our hometown library as I was growing up and the love of books she instilled in me (I’m an English professor now!).
I got my father an honorary veteran’s brick in the military museum in his town. It was put in the sidewalk where he (and his friends) can see it every time he visits. He loved it, and felt very honored and special. Also, later, two of his friend’s sons ended up getting ones for their fathers also – they were also war veterans and were also very moved. They all said it was one of the most special gifts they had ever received
Instead of giving our family members physical gifts, we make a donation to their favorite charity or donate a book to the library in honor of that special person. My children love to pick who is getting “Honored” each year and enjoy the reaction they get when their loved ones find out that they cared enough to remember them this way.
Experiences & making memories
“Favorite people, favorite places, favorite memories of the past.
These are the joys of a lifetime. These are the “things” that last.”
A dinner together out
An experience that is out of the ordinary for them; like a spa day (together?)
Time together, such as going to an interesting restaurant or a day out at a museum (though have to find a creative way to avoid the gift shop or be resigned to spending 2 hours in there)
Last Christmas we bought them a gift certificate for a dinner cruise around the lake.
Experiences (dinner, trips, plays etc.) have been my family’s favorites. Good times, good memories, no additional clutter (well, except for travel souvenirs…)
For her Birthday I took her to the circus. Now this was a big deal. Apart from having to maneuver the wheelchair into the BigTop – I hate circuses but Mom loves them. So she got a gift she loved and more importantly I didn’t add to her collection.
This year my sister and I are giving manicures and pedicures by taking our mom, my MIL, and my SIL directly to the spa and making it a day for all of us!
The registration fee for a fun workshop or mini-course — maybe it’s a one day flower arranging workshop, or a ‘quilt-in-a-weekend’ session, or a watercolor class… Happy holidays!
Schedule an afternoon get together once a month in lieu of gifts to each other. These could be lunch out together, a walk in the park, a visit to the zoo, a matinee, any other activity you enjoy together. Time is a gift of love
What is bought is cheaper than a gift.
I think a great idea for a gift would be a spa day or even something as simple as a manicure or pedicure if you’re on a budget. This is a great idea for people who are busy and never have time to pamper themselves. It also prevents hoarding cuz it’s an experience, not a bracelet or clothing or a gift card which they can use to buy stuff they don’t need. And it can bring you closer with your mother if you go on the spa day/pedicure with her.
Go to LV, NV; NYC, NY; Branson, MO; or any local shows that are sort of Broadway-like. These would be grateful gifts for any special occasion. Oh, and be sure they do NOT buy anything from the show’s after-show store, merchandise, and/or gift area, even, you could make sure they do not get a program, if you can. The local shows in LV, NV are Mamma Mia, about four or more Cirque De Soliel shows; Mystere, Ka, and Zumanity, many, many rock concerts (though, these may be taxing on the ears, go to where you can stand it!), comedy acts, et al. Eat out, and especially order only one dish for the two of you (Bring Tupperware/Rubbermaid!), two dishes for the three, or four of you, and so on, and so on. You could look online for the various multitudes of free talk shows tickets. Do the price is right, or other game shows. You could look online for NYC, NY shows. Go see NASCAR. The main operative word is, do NOT bring any material possession back from these!
Flower Dilemma (The vases end up getting hoarded)
I usually send flowers from Proflowers.com - they let you exclude the vase.
Food (What to give that won’t spoil?)
Send A Meal, for healthy options for those that can’t utilize their kitchens, they just have to be micro-waved.
Since the stove is unusable, I freeze homemade soups and cornbread (her favorites) and take a load to her. She thaws and microwaves as needed.
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
~Kahlil Gibran, the Prophet
My dad lives alone and out in the country. I did a major cooking for my family, but separated single serving size meals into disposable containers. These are all things you make and freeze, so all you have to do each morning is decide what you’re going to have for dinner that night, let it thaw, and pop it into the microwave.
My mother had a real sweet tooth, so I would bake her brownies, lemon meringue pie, chocolate fudge or cookies. (She never saved these
Gift Certificates (We know, they get lost in the piles)
A gift certificate that YOU hold on to. Maybe make them one yourself for them on your computer and YOU hold on to the original and give it to them the day before the appointment?
I have an aunt who gets her hair professionally washed and styled weekly. Several family members chipped in money and we sent that to the salon as a credit to my aunt’s account. (Make sure you speak to the salon owner and let them know what you are doing!) My aunt was given a homemade gift certificate–signed by all of us to let her know that she had several months of free hair care waiting for her at her favorite salon. It was an easy gift and no clutter to dust or hide when company comes.
A pre-paid card to a gas station. Yes, it’s still a gift card, but it’s something that everyone can use & (hopefully) buys something that doesn’t add to the hoard. Also, online access only (not in paper form) subscriptions to newspapers, genealogical websites, or other sites related to your loved one’s interests. Exception: this would NOT be a good idea for someone that regularly prints everything they find online.
In the most recent clean out this month, I found a box of our nicer family photos tossed in a box in the garage. There are other photos in the home; of course, these just were chunked into the garage. I took them back to my house, scanned them, labeled them and am putting them into a scrapbook album for Mom. I also burned them all into CDs to pass around to other relatives as insurance against the inevitable disaster-spill, fire or hurricane! She’ll at least have them in one spot, relatively protected, and everyone else will be able to finally make their own copies. Plus I’ll have the security of knowing they can be replaced if that’s ever necessary.
I’ve evolved in the direction of taking time to write something reflective and meaningful in a blank or home-made card (yup, more to hoard!!); giving some nominal requested item; and wrapping it in, or including, something really special for her collection: a metallic twist-tie, or tri-color rubber-band, and especially handsome Zip-loc bag, etc. Mom knows what the underlying message is with these trinkets, but she loves them all the same. And hey — what’s one more?? This has been terrific therapy for me, anyway…
The best gift I ever gave my mom was a “love jar”. Can’t remember where I heard of the idea but she loved it. For mother’s day I put 52 scraps of paper, each with a different typed message telling her about a memory I was grateful for like “I’m grateful for every meal you ever cooked, especially the ones you felt least like making”, and put them in a clean candle jar with a lid, wrapped some raffia and the instructions around the outside. The instructions told her to open one once a week (she does it on Sundays), read the message and think nice thoughts about the person who gave her the gift LOL.
We made a videotape with the best bits from all the school plays, concerts, etc. she would have attended had she been able.
Rather than giving grandma another embroidered throw or crafty sweatshirt all the grandkids got together and wrote her a letter of what she meant to us – and of funny and touching things we remember from growing up – There were seventeen letters total – we put them in a book and gave them to her after dinner – We read each letter out loud and all got to enjoy them.
A gift certificate that YOU hold on to. Maybe make them one yourself for them on your computer and YOU hold on the original and give it to them the day before the appointment?
Give the gift of taking something AWAY: old car in the driveway, big pile of branches, dead computers, whatever.
For someone who uses their computer a lot you could gather screensavers, games, pictures from the internet for desktop wallpaper, family pictures for wallpaper or a screensaver, recipes, fun links or links to information about a hobby and copy them to a disk for them. The possibilities are endless and there’s a lot of room on one disk!
I’m sure a note listing good qualities would be appreciated, like the night she helped with a last minute book report. Also a framed picture that can be hung on the wall is not as likely to get lost in the pile.
“There’s a company online (I have no interest in it – just think it’s a fabulous idea for the hard-to-buy- for) voicequilt.com. You buy use of a cheap 800-number for a day (free), week ($14), month or more. You can add time, so the initial outlay is pretty inexpensive. We had about 40 people who contributed messages, and a week of time was plenty.“
Individual charms for a zoppini charm bracelet, so that it builds up over time (and takes no additional space).
A favorite unusual dessert for the end of the celebration meal.
Tickets for hoarder and friend to attend a show in their hometown (waiting at Will Call so they can’t be lost!)
A TOOL KIT geared towards ladies (since a repairman won’t be allowed in).
For Christmas, my standard gift for the last 20 years, has been a large size calendar. He likes to keep all his appointments, lunch dates, utility bills, rainfall amounts, temperature etc. written down. I guess it’s part of the OCD. The calendars are all kept together for reference. He loves them and they are always used. I’m lucky I found that one item that he wants and uses and one day will be a record of his daily life for me to treasure.
Last Christmas I gave my mom and dad a paper shredder. Often people are afraid to put their personal papers in the garbage nowadays. I thought this would help to get rid of some of the papers with a sound mind.
BY HAND: For someone who uses their computer a lot you could gather screensavers, games, pictures from the internet for desktop wallpaper, family pictures for wallpaper or a screensaver, recipes, fun links or links to information about a hobby and copy them to a disk for them. The possibilities are endless and there’s a lot of room on one disk!
I would like a gift of having all my knives professionally sharpened. So I am guessing that at least one other person who cooks a lot might like this same gift.
How about paying for a month (or 3, etc.) of her internet service provider?
A spare car key and a place to hide it on the car.
I know this may sound a little strange, but how about a fruit tree. They can plant it in their yard to enjoy and it. This also allows you to have fresh fruit certain times of the year.
Last year we gave my elderly mother-in-law a cell phone and we pay for her bill. She has the peace of mind that she can get help if she’s out and needs it. She got lost one time and drove all the way back home to call and discover that she had not driven quite far enough. She is de-cluttering, too, and doesn’t want or need “STUFF”, and really appreciates having the phone.
My mother-in-law is 81 years old and has a very cluttered home–has not thrown anything away for over 45 years. It has been very difficult to find a gift that she would not “store”. Our family has discovered a gift that “Grandma” truly enjoys and is thrown away every month. We give her a “gift certificate” for a monthly bouquet of flowers (delivered by her grandchildren). She receives them the first of every month and enjoys them until they are “gone”, and happily awaits her next bouquet!! We are all very happy with this!
My parents have so much STUFF, my father is German and loves German food. I was lucky enough for my Grandmother to live long enough to teach me how to cook some of his favorite foods. My kids and I now make one or two dishes as his Christmas, Birthday or Father’s day presents. He loves it and I feel like I am passing something important to my children; family tradition and how to give gifts from the heart!
Reminder to COH When It Comes To Receiving Gifts:
If a gift giver gives you a gift FREELY, then it belongs to you and only you. You can do with it whatever you want! It’s yours; you own it now. It’s now your property! But on the other hand, if the gift giver gives you a gift with STRINGS attached, then they really didn’t give you a gift. You know your gift has strings attached if the gift giver:
- expects you to keep it forever
- expects to see you enjoying, using, or displaying their gift
- Asks, “Where is such and such?”
- Asks, “Why don’t I ever see you using such and such?”
Instead of a gift, they’ve given you fear, guilt, and a BURDEN that you must keep their gift, carry it around, and display it. Many fear they must hang onto gifts given to them. Even if never used. Even if they don’t like it. Even if it doesn’t fit their needs. Fearing by giving it away they will betray the gift giver. Oh the POWER they have over you.
Remember, it’s YOURS, YOU own it now!
Source. The Anger Management Sourcebook By Glenn R. Schiraldi, Melissa Hallmark Kerr
“The amount you care about someone, is
not measured by how long you hold onto their stuff.”
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