I enjoy giving gifts to the people I love. I feel that by giving something thoughtful and special, I show the person how much I care. It’s not about how much the gift costs but how much I show them that I have been observant, thoughtful, and that I love to make a smile come to their face. But this is not always an easy task.

I often just ask the person outright or ask someone in the household, “What do you think they are hoping for this year?” I will then take something from that list and add another small gift that might go along with the item. If I am lucky, I will have been with the person at some time in the past year and had that “aha” moment that points the way to the perfect gift.

Then there are gift cards. Normally I really dislike giving gift cards. Part of the reason for that is I have come across so many unused cards at clients’ homes. I think of all the money spent on these cards that is totally wasted. But for some people there are items that they love but they need to buy the items themselves. For example, my brother loves books. I have no idea what he already has or what he wants to read so a gift card to a book store is a great gift for him. I know he would totally use up that gift card and probably add some of his own money to it and come away a happy man.

My favorite gift is one that allows a person to have a wonderful experience. That lets them to something they might not otherwise do. Tickets to events, gift cards to their favorite restaurant, a season pass to a museum or botanical garden, or a promise to spend a day with them are all very special gifts.

I would love feedback on how you handle the art of gift giving.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Ho! Ho! Ho! Tis the Season for Gift Giving

It’s fun to receive gifts. I think it is even more fun to give gifts. But, let’s give this whole gift giving a bit of thought.

When we decide to give a gift consider:

  • Do they really want it?
  • Will it clutter up their space?
  • Do they have a designated place to put it away when not in use? 
  • Does it require upkeep or maintenance?
  • Will they use it?
Let me explore this from a recipient’s point of view. I love to give parties. People know this and it is great that they think enough about me to acknowledge this. But I have received at least 6 sets of decorative cheese spreaders and some novelty items that really don’t work for me. I like cats. But I have received boatloads of kitty figurines, picture frames, plaques, etc. Now, I do not have a problem passing these on to a charitable donation site but some people do.
I have worked with clients who have kept things just because they were gifts even though they do not like or use the items. These clients are limited on space and the gifts become clutter.
Consumable items are usually a good choice – but know the recipient’s likes and habits. I have one client who gets a case of cherry preserves each year. She lives alone. She rarely uses preserves. Cases have stacked up. She has a limited space. I have finally convinced her to pass these items on before they expire.
Gift cards can be a good choice. But I have come across many gift cards that have not been used. They are years old. Some people don’t know how to shop online and use an Amazon gift card or they don’t want to bother. Others just forget they have them or don’t shop at the places where the cards are intended.
Perhaps the best gift is a gift of your time. Still, know the person and what they would like to do with that time. Time is precious.
As you finish up your shopping this year, just give it some thought.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Holiday Presents

Buying and receiving presents is so personal. Every family has their traditions and even within the family there are differences.

One of the things I like about my family gift giving plan is that each year we give to a different family member. This year I give to my sister and her family in Washington. Next year I will give to my brother and his family in Ohio.

When I reflect on gifts I consider:

  • The gift should be personal. I like gifts that show you know the person. You are aware of their  interests and needs. I do not want a gift card unless it is for an event or an experience. As an organizer, I have seen so many unused gift cards floating around and I wonder how many just get lost. To me a generic gift card is just like giving money. You give me money. I give you money. This is not very special to me.
  • Gifting memories is better than gifting items unless the person you are giving to has some real needs. Using the gift money for a holiday get together or a special play or event beats a sweater.
  • Thought should be given as to if the receiver has a place for whatever you are gifting. A bread maker is not a good gift for a person with a tiny kitchen.
  • Consumable gifts are good. This might be special coffee, sweets, special soaps, or being taken to the spa or to a theater.
  • Once something is gifted, it belongs to that person to do with as they wish.

Now having said all of that, I do try to listen to the wishes of others in my family. If all my nephew wants is a gift card to Amazon – so be it. If my brother wants a gift card so that he can buy the books that he wants – OK.

I would love to hear comments on how you and your family handle gifting.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Christmas Gifts

I love to shop for Christmas gifts. I like to think about the people I am buying for and try to find something that reflects their likes and interests. I like to keep an eye all year round to find the special gift but usually really get motivated in November.
I remember so many Christmases past when our extended family would gather and presents would get piled up around the tree. The quick looks at a package- the lifting to feel the heft- the poking- all heightened the anticipation of opening the gifts on Christmas morning.
I love receiving the gifts as well. When I open the gifts I can tell that I have been thought of. I know that people cared enough to spend time finding what they thought would please me. I love to read, so I often got books. The books might not have been the ones I would have gone and bought myself, but I often found myself enjoying a book that I would never have chosen. I might find myself wearing and enjoying something that I would not have bought myself. You could feel the love.
I love seeing the aftermath of the gift opening. Especially rewarding is seeing the children, still sitting among the strewn papers playing with a cousin a new game.
Gift cards are great for some people- but for me- I love a gift.
I would love to hear what others feel about holiday gifts.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Gift Cards

You would think that as a Professional Organizer I would like the idea of giving gift cards. After all, they take up very little space and the recipient can buy exactly what they want with the card.
Actually, I am really against them. Time and time and time again while decluttering with a client I come across old gift cards. Sometimes I come across whole stacks of gift cards. They are often years old and no longer good. Someone who cared about this person put out money that was basically just thrown away.
There are many reasons why this happens. One reason is that the person receiving the card is in some type of transition or stressful time and is not 100% there.
I have recently come across bundles of cards from a couple of clients that were married several years ago. Now we are going through the wedding gifts, cards, and pictures and making decisions about them. It’s sad to see all of these gift cards that have not been cashed in or used. I have also had some clients who were given the gift cards when they were recovering from a fire, an illness, or a death in the family. These gift cards were lumped in with the greeting cards and put in a box or a drawer. The clients are just now getting the courage to go through these items and make decisions about them. It saddens them again that they did not cash in the cards and lost the gift that was given to them.
At other times, the recipient has ADD and has laid the cards in a stack of papers or on a bookcase “just for now” and forgotten about them. They don’t mean to not use them- they just forgot. It makes them feel dumb that they forgot about the cards.
So we now have not only money spent that did not get used but we are in the long run making the recipient feel bad instead of good when they refind them.
If you do give a gift card, please follow up and see what they were used for. Maybe go shopping with the friend and help them get something they need.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer