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Jordan and I are packing up to live abroad for a couple of months. With a one-way ticket to Buenos Aires, we know where we’re starting… but have no idea where we’ll end up.

It’s exciting, and it means we have about a month to get rid of stuff.

If you’ve ever “purged” your belongings, you know how good it feels when you’re done. And you also know this conversation:

Friends and family: What do you want for Christmas?


If you’re one of those people looking to reduce “things” and make way for more joy in your life – or you’re in a holiday conundrum trying to shop for one – here’s my guide to giving meaningful gifts that add zero clutter.

hands holding a heart represent simple photography gift guide

The Clutter-Free Gift Guide:

1. Experiences. Massages and pedicures are nice… but try something you can do together, like a cooking class, dance class, or art class… opera tickets, helicopter tour, trip to wine country, culinary tour of your hometown, or some other fun way you can make memories. Bonus points for offering to do something THEY love, not just something you love.

SUPER bonus points if you bring your camera along and shoot photos of it for stock! Authentic experiences are huge now, and so are “real” people, doing real things.

2. Knowledge. E-books and movies are easy. How about an online language course (like perhaps our Spanish course!), membership to a cooking site full of recipes and videos… or even a seat to a workshop, like our Ultimate Photo Event coming up in Baltimore.

3. Time. Instead of giving “stuff,” you could buy your loved-one some quality time by hiring someone to do their yard work, grocery runs, house cleaning, or other menial tasks.

4. Mind expansion. You can find great apps to help you relax, unwind, and live a higher-quality life. One that I love is the “Headspace” app, which leads you through short meditations daily. The app itself is free, but you can gift someone a full year of high-quality meditations for about $80.

5. Memberships & subscriptions. Wine clubs, magazine subscriptions, Audible, Netflix or Spotify subscriptions… hook up your friends and loved ones with gifts that keep coming all year – or put them on your own list.

Who needs more “stuff”? The best gifts bring true happiness, create memories, and help people grow. You won’t find that in a bread maker or a perfume bottle.


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