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The 15 Best and Most Unusual Creative Gift Ideas

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When it comes to giving, most of us opt for a physical gift. Something that will delight our loved ones, something they can use, or something that makes them smile.

But, how often do we give a gift that just ends up as another piece of clutter that gets thrown out when the giftee is downsizing his or her home? Sure, we may think it’s fabulous, but to someone else, that expensive gift might just be another thing they have to store and clean around.

The reality is that most of us already have too much stuff. Take a look at these statistics from the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO):

  • We never use 80% of the items that we keep.
  • Downsizing your home and getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of housework in an average home.
  • 25% of people with a two-car garage don’t park any cars in there (because of clutter) and 34% park only one.
  • 1 in 11 Americans rent a storage unit to hold their stuff, and spend over $1,000 per year in rent.

Yikes!

There’s no doubt we simply have too much stuff. And with the holidays coming up, wouldn’t it be great if we stopped contributing even more stuff to our already-overwhelmed households while also saving an immense amount of money?

I vote yes. So instead of all these unwanted gifts and gift cards, I decided to come up with a list of the best gifts we can give that have nothing to do with a physical object, something I like to call “no stuff gifts.”

The Best “No Stuff” Gifts

1. Adopt an Elephant through Elephants.com. Gifts help support the care and feeding of elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Elephants there roam wild on 2,700 acres. All are sick, old, or have been rescued from abuse.

2. Give a cheap gym membership. Most of us could always use more exercise!

3. Give a class. Why not sign up your friend or loved one for that kickboxing class she’s always talking about (but never wants to splurge on)? Also, community recreation centers are great sources of fun and interesting classes.

4. Give livestock. Heifer.org is one of my favorite charities because it truly changes lives. You can “buy” livestock like rabbits, goats, bees, or cows (and more) in honor of someone you love. These animals go to needy families all over the world. They’re taught how to raise and care for their new animal which, in turn, will provide them with income and much needed food for the rest of its life. They must also give that animal’s first born to someone else in their village, which further enriches the community.

5. Give a restaurant gift certificate. This can be a fun way to get your friends and family to try new restaurants, especially restaurants they might be reluctant to try on their dime.

husband giving his pretty young wife a surprise gift

6. Give a gift certificate for a luxury service such as a massage, facia,l or pedicure. Many people don’t splurge on themselves, so this can be a much appreciated break.

7. Give a Spa Day. Many large hotels and casinos have excellent spas on location. These spas are filled with waterfalls, hot tubs, saunas, and plenty of chairs for lounging. You can often buy a day pass for $30-$50 depending on the spa. This would be a great “mini vacation” for someone you care about.

8. Adopt a polar bear. As their habitat shrinks due to global warming, polar bears are facing tough times. Adopting a polar bear through the World Wildlife Fund helps fund conservation efforts.

9. Give a ticket.

Has your friend always wanted to see an opera? Ballet? Kings of Leon? Buy tickets to an event and give them an experience they’ll never forget.

10. Give a membership. There are tons of clubs to join in this country: AAA, Costco, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Museums, Zoos, Art groups.

11. Give monthly gifts. I love this idea because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can sign up for monthly deliveries of whatever your friends love most. Cigars, bread, fruit, flowers, cooking magzines…all can be delivered to their door once a month.

12. Treat them to dinner. Why not give them a handmade gift by hosting dinner yourself? Cook your friend or loved one a high-class meal that she might be too busy to ever cook herself. Go all out with wine, candles, cloth napkins, and organic fare.

13. Give them a certificate for beauty splurges. A fancy color and cut, teeth whitening, a session with a personal trainer…these are all splurges that many of us don’t do for ourselves.

14. Movie tickets or improv comedy club tickets are fun ways to pass the time.

15. Give an IOU for yard care, pet/house sitting, babysitting, gardening, snow shoveling. If you’re on a strict budget this year, IOUs can be a much appreciated and totally free way to “wow” someone.

Bonus Idea: Homemade food! I was a canning maniac this summer, so I’m going to be giving homemade goodies to many of my friends and loved ones. Jam, dilly beans, homemade cookies…there are tons of ideas online for making inexpensive gift baskets of homemade treats.

Last Word

Do any of you have ideas for “no stuff” gifts? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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