Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clutter-free gifts: Consumables

By far the largest category of clutter-free gifts is consumables. These are by and large practical things that are used up over time. They give service and joy to the receiver of the gift, and then they go away, their containers hopefully recycled or re-used. Consumables can be as straightforward as gas for your car, or as luxurious as 80 dollar pomegranate-scented candles for the bathroom. The best thing about them is they have a temporary place in your friend or family member’s life, and they earn that place by doing something useful.

  • Gift cards for gas, groceries
  • Food, from simple groceries to fancy foodstuffs
  • Fruit basket
  • Wine, a bottle or perhaps a mixed case
  • Mass transit tickets for people who use public transportation
  • Of the month clubs: beer, cheese, fruit, wine, bacon
  • Home baked items
  • Homemade dinners, frozen
  • Flowers, cut
  • Seeds for gardeners
  • Nice candles
  • Pet food for pet owners
  • Art supplies
  • Baking supplies such as vanilla extract, chocolate, sugar
  • Toiletries: soap, hair care, shower gel, beauty products
  • Stamps and stationary
  • Batteries (perhaps rechargeable)
  • Cleaning products, sponges
  • Candy
  • Gourmet ice cream
  • Coffee/tea
  • For new parents: diapers, wipes, baby food
  • For teachers: teaching supply store gift certificate
  • Gift card for a place they go to regularly, such as Starbucks

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email 


  1. Two very welcome consumable gifts that I received in recent years were a basket with three different varieties of honey plus a pair of bees' wax candles, and a bottle of hand soap that I would not have purchased for myself. I enjoyed each of these gifts on dozens of separate occasions, each time remembering the giver. And I'm still grateful for the clutter-free gifts.

    Margaret Lukens, New Leaf + Company

  2. Thanks for commenting, Margaret. Honey makes a lovely consumable gift, and the smell of beeswax candles is unbeatable. Well chosen clutter-free gifts can create a great memory for the receiver.