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Blog: Organize This!
Clutter-free Gift-giving All Year Round!

Hello Organizing Fans, Welcome to 'Organize This!' I'm your blogger, Vali Heist, professional organizer for homeowners and businesses. This is the blog that offers practical tips and ruminations about your CRAP! CRAP specifically means clutter that robs anyone of pleasure. So, let's get to it!

Well, the holidays are over and the memories of battling crowds and spending money on a gift that may have been forgotten before the snow melted are almost gone. Today, my rumination about CRAP is clutter-free gift giving and that means giving gifts that aren't stuff, that aren't tangible, but are memories or experiences. But I'm not just advocating clutter-free gift giving during the holidays, but all year round!
Why do I advocate clutter-free gift giving?? Did you know that two-thirds of our newspaper and 40% of our mail is advertisements? Now, that's not hard to believe coming out of the holidays, but in reality it's like that all year round. We are constantly encouraged to buy without limits, always be discontent with ourselves, and always be discontent with what we own so we continue to buy stuff to make us feel better.
One of my clients gave me a DVD called Affluenza, and it is a film available from Bullfrog Films in Oley, Pennsylvania. You can find them on the web. Affluenza is an awesome film that diagnoses a serious social disease, 'affluenza', which is the unhappy condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. It outlines the devastating impact that affluenza is having on our families, communities and the environment. By using personal stories, expert commentary, and amusing old film clips, the makers of Affluenza have shown us how consumerism, commercialism and rampant materialism has given us more stuff, but less time, and our quality of life is deteriorating.
I show this film when I teach a class on organization at the local Community College. Before we learn about organizing our stuff, we need to understand where it's all coming from, why we are bringing it in the front door, and the ultimate effect it is having on our quality of life. Affluenza has also appealed to other audiences from freshmen orientation programs to marketing classes, and from consumer credit counseling to religious congregations. After watching it, you can't help but wonder how your life has been taken hostage by your stuff.
In the film, Dr. Richard Swenson, a physician-futurist, best-selling author, and award-winning educator, points out that our society was happiest in 1957 and then the age of possession overload started. We went from a nation that prized thriftiness, simple living and high ideals to the ultimate consumer society. Today, he says, "Never before has so much, meant so little, to so many!" We throw away seven million cars per year and our rate of consuming far exceeds the ability of the planet to absorb our pollution. Is it any wonder that one of the definitions of consume means exhaust, pillage, and destroy? Dr. Swenson said that as a result of our consumption we starting taking care of things instead of taking care of people. It is an awesome film!
As we start the New Year, I'd like to advocate clutter-free gift giving all year round!! Here's a list of gifts to give family and friends that are 'clutter-free': the gift of time, the gift of memories, the gift of an experience, the gift of health, or a gift that helps others who have needs beyond what we can imagine. Let those you love know how much you care by going clutter-free this year so here's a few tips on how to do that! Let's break it down:
Clutter-free gifts
-Savings Bonds or TAP contribution
-Gift cards for long-distance minutes, gas, or groceries
-Gift cards for garden nurseries, restaurants, or Starbucks
-Spa and pampering gifts
-Gym membership
-Museum membership
-Tickets to local symphony
-Tickets to a Broadway show
-Movie and a dinner
-Pottery/glass-making class
-Cooking lessons
-Dance/yoga lessons
-Self-defense classes
Non-profit gift-giving
-Give a gift certificate so they can choose what charity to donate to: www.justgive.org.
-Disaster Relief: Donate funds to the American Red Cross to help with the latest disaster around the world: www.redcross.org
-International Relief Fund: www.oxfamamericaunwrapped.com
-Green gifts for global impact: www.thegreenguide.com.
-Life-sustaining gifts to help abolish global poverty or renew our planet's environment: www.altgifts.org.
-Donate an animal in honor of someone: www.donate.worldvision.org or www.heifer.org.
-Find the closest toy drive: www.secretsanta.org.
-Give a tree in honor of someone: www.newgrowth.com.
Gifts of time
-Join a friend: local art studio classes, yoga, book club, film club, scrapbooking classes
-Babysitting coupons for nieces, nephews and grandchildren
-Take a child: Go to lunch, take a day trip, go to the museum, go to a local college for a sports event, go to the zoo, go to a movie
-Clutter-free Coupon Book: Make a list of the things you know your partner would enjoy and include practical and fun things: for example, a backrub, do the dishes for a week, make a candlelight dinner, do grocery shopping, etc.
Can't go clutter-free?
-Choose a gift that donates a portion of its profit to a non-profit agency. Verify the charity at www.give.org.
-Christmas or Hanukkah cards that donate profits to your favorite charity
-Gifts that support disease research 
-Charity T-shirts and gifts: www.CafePress.com
-Fair trade gifts: www.agreatergift.org
-Support coffee farms in Uganda: www.ugandangold.com
So what do you think? Can you go clutter-free with your gift-giving? Remember, each time you do you are literally saving the planet!
Let's close with two quotes today, one is from Ralph Waldo Emerson which is perfect for clutter-free gift giving: "The greatest gift is a portion of thyself." And lastly, here is an excerpt from the poem, What Will Matter by Michael Josephson. "How will the value of your days be measured? What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave."
Thank you for reading 'Organize This'! Your comments and suggestions are appreciated. Have a great day!

posted on: 8/7/2010 2:30:00 PM by Vali Heist
category: General Organizing Tips

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Organize This!

by Vali Heist

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About Vali:

Vali Heist is a Professional Organizer, the owner of The Clutter Crew for homeowners, and a Certified GO System Trainer for businesses. She also writes a monthly column for the Reading Eagle called 'Ask the Organizer' and has a radio program called 'Organize This!' on BoomerGenerationRadio.com. Vali's bachelor's degree is in Business Administration from Shippensburg University and her Master's Degree is in Higher Education from Kutztown University. Vali has an extensive background of 24 years in Higher Education including training, administration, project management, writing, and editorial production. Her passion has always been organization and how it relates to the simplification of work and personal life in order to enjoy both to the fullest. Her ultimate goal is to continue finding simple, easy to implement ideas that work in the real world and pass them on to her clients.

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