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Blog: Organizing For Special Needs
Holiday Gift Giving

If you are thinking about organizing, you already know the impact of too much "stuff".

How can we let our loved ones know they are cherished, and that we appreciate who they are?

This is the greatest gift we can give.

We may not be conscious of the effect of mindless, and obligatory gift giving...but the impact can be negative rather than positive.

As a young girl I would see my aunt once a year at Christmastime. She would give me warm sweaters with Reindeer or other holiday motifs. This was definately not my style, so several things went through my mind.

"I love my auntie."
"She doesn't really know me."
"Maybe she wishes I'd dress like this."
"I'm an ungrateful person."
"I'm smiling and telling her I love it."
"Can she tell I'm lying?"
"This is terrible, I hope she can't tell."

How many of us have kept an unwanted gift around? Anyone who lives in a cluttered household has items that they don't care for that they keep out of guilt. People may find that the "thing" symbolizes the person for them.

The mind trap is that we love the person, but our energy is pulled down by the "thing" taking up our space. We can hold our loved ones in our heart without toting that orange kidney shaped ashtray that belonged to Grandpa Milt through the years with us.

If we can learn to give a gift freely, we can allow it to leave us and travel where it will most be appreciated. We may never know it's final resting place. What a beautiful cycle. What a good lesson to learn at a young age.

I have a friend who I will call Robert. Robert felt he "owed" his newly married friends a gift. He felt guilty for being late, so decided to go all out. He purchased a work of framed modern art, which wasn't cheap, and presented it to them.

He himself admitted that it might take some getting used to, but since all of his art came from friends, they would surely appreciate this sort of gift too.

They had trouble containing their lack of enthusiasm.

He felt offended, confused and hurt. What went wrong?

It may be the thought that counts, but how can we give with meaning?

Giving needn't be costly. We can avoid spending money "just because we have to get something".
I try to keep an ongoing list of gift ideas. If someone I care about mentions something they'd love to have sometime during the year, I try to run and make note of it, before it slips my mind.

Think about what people need and don't need. As an organizer I see many "Cosmetic Graveyards". These are the cupboards full of a myriad of lotions, tiny soaps, makeup, hair products, and free samples.
The only way a family will ever use these up, is if they don't buy or acquire a single toiletry for several years. They would then be subjected to all kinds of smells and textures, which could cause allergic reactions, or even bad hair days.

If you must give toiletries, give something so nice that they wouldn't buy it for themself. I buy a very mildly scented but wonderful hand cream from Le Occitane for the women in my life. Personally, I would rather have a small tube of something fabulous, than something I will have to make room for on my shelf.

Teenagers can be very difficult to buy for.

Gift Cards are always welcome, as kids generally don't have their own cash to spend, but they really wish they did. Welcome choices for both sexes is Best Buy for music, games, movies, or electronics. The young women generally love Sephora, with a huge selection of makeup and perfumes for all ages. VISA gift cards can be used anywhere, Nordstrom's has a great teen section, and they also have The Rack, for low cost choices. Barnes and Noble gift cards are always nice too. Be careful about buying from stores that may not be located near where your loved one lives. If you send a gift card to an obscure book store, it may sit in their wallet indefinately.

Consumables- Consider making something that is special to your family or culture. Everyone likes to eat and drink, and you can always share food gifts with others.
My dad makes Italian pizzelle wafer cookies every year. Someday the torch will be passed to me, but right now I enjoy going home for Christmas and opening up the tin, lifting the wax paper, and pulling out one of his hand made cookies. If your loved ones drink, a nice bottle of wine or any popular beverage is always a welcome addition to the bar.

Books- Give a gift of a book that changed your life, or just something you love. The older or more unique, the less likely they've read it. Write a personal note on a nice piece of paper and tuck it inside. This way they can keep your note if they decide to pass the book on. You can find inexpensive, gently used and new books at Amazon.com. Sometimes I order 5 of the same book at discount prices to share with friends.

Housewares- When was the last time you bought new towels? Most of us could use a matching set of soft towels, and Ross Discount Store carries housewares at super cheap prices. You will definately find something for the kitchen or home if you look. What about a nice bath mat? Tuck a gift receipt in the box, and they can shop for a different color if they like.

Memorabilia- Give gifts that have meaning while you are still here to see them appreciated. You may already know what someone would love to have. By giving things that have personal meaning to you, you build ties to your loved ones. My lovely, elderly neighbor Evelyn gave me a vintage and elegant tape measure. I love it, and I always think of her when I use it. Be sure to pass things on at appropriate ages. If you give your jewelry to a 13 year old relative she may not be organized or mature enough to keep track of it through her many upcoming transitions. You can let her know it is hers, but her parents will keep it safe until her 21st birthday. This will prevent heartache if something were to happen to it.

I myself am hoping that one of these years my dad will give me the pictures of my grandparents cavorting on the beach when they were young and newly in love. I would honor and cherish them, and displaying them in my home would make me happy to think of my families history.

Have a wonderful holiday, giving freely all the love in your heart.

Lisa Alishio, COTA/L

Clarity Home Consulting

Live Well In Your Home

Next week: Toys for children with disabilities

posted on: 11/21/2007 12:30:00 PM by Lisa Alishio
category: Special Populations

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Organizing For Special Needs

by Lisa Alishio

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About Lisa:

Lisa Alishio, COTA/L, is a professional organizer with a background in pediatric and adult occupational therapy. Her intention is to help people of all ages and abilities to "Live Well in their Home".

Lisa's Website:


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