To this end, I employed two strategies:
- Asking people what they want - in the past I have always tried to surprise people with the "perfect" gift, but this only works if you are a mind reader. For my nephews and niece, I asked my sister what they want (the answer - vouchers because they like to put them together with money saved to buy things). For my husband, I told him what I want ("Earth" by John Stewart) and asked him what he wanted (lessons of some sort, eg cooking, singing or guitar lessons).
If you want to add the element of surprise, you could ask people to give you a wish list, so while they know they are getting something from the list, they don't know which one.
- Buying non-decluttering presents - when we think "gifts" we usually think "things", eg CDs, DVDs, jewellery, books. But when you ask yourself the question "how do I have a non-clutter Christmas?", you realise there is a whole host of gifts out there that do not take up space, eg tickets to a play or movie, voucher for a massage (Colleen over at 365lessthings has put together a fantastic list). I decided to put together hampers of yummy stuff. While there seem to be a lot of shops selling hampers this year and for quite reasonable prices, the thing that put me off them was the basket. It seems no matter how exotic the contents, suppliers can't get away from sticking everything in a wicker basket and when all the chocolates have been eaten and the wine drunk, you're still left with a wicker basket, aka instant clutter.
I bought Christmas present boxes from The Reject Shop ($3 each - how do they do it?) because I thought, if you want to store things in them they stack neatly in the cupboard, they are hardy enough to recycle next year to "wrap" presents for someone else, or, if all else fails, they can be put out in the paper recycling.
Making your own hampers also means you can tailor the contents for the person you like. With the pre-packaged ones there is always going to be something in them that gets thrown away (for me, its the fruit mince tarts - seriously, I just do not understand the purpose of those things). All the contents I bought at Target, in their Christmas section - fudge, chocolates, shortbread biscuits. Then in the queue at the registers I grabbed a few "stocking stuffers" for the nephews and niece so they had a little something to play with along with their vouchers.
I will see what reaction I get to the hampers, but I think I'll be sticking with these two strategies for years to come.