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Gift Ideas for the Holidays, Birthdays or Other Special Events for Friends with Hoarding Behaviors

November 11, 2012
Adults / Mental Health
“Staff Tips and Strategies” and a drawing of a family in green

Senior Services Department

Whatever activities you choose from this list or creatively come up with on your own, remember that what will be appreciated most is quality time spent together. Memories get better over time whereas purchased items only take up space!

Gifts of Time:

Consider giving thoughtful acts and memorable experiences, rather than material items.

  1. Invite your family member to help you decorate for the holiday; in your home not theirs
  2. Bake or prepare part of all of a traditional meal together that can be eaten that day or relatively soon
  3. A meal out provides an opportunity to spend time together, be social and perhaps create a new memory
  4. Reminisce together by looking at photo albums and scrapbooks; perhaps make a new book together from items in the home
  5. Watch a favorite holiday movie together, or better yet watch home videos of holidays passed
  6. Takoma Park, MD has an annual event called “Alternative Gift Fair.” The idea is to give a charity/non-profit a donation in someone’s name as a gift to them. Check out this web site for more information:
  7. Organize a gift extravaganza and make this year the year that only the kids get gifts and where the adults gather to join in by watching the kids unwrap gifts from the adults

Tangible Gifts:

Notice this list is very short. Purchase only items that add value to the receiver’s life; an item that you feel the receiver could truly benefit from. These items need to be ones you believe they ‘need’ not just ‘want.’

  1. A professional massage
  2. Payment of a doctor’s bill
  3. An hour with an organizer
  4. A food treat that you can eat together right away

Thoughts for the Family Member on Gifts from a Person that Hoards:

  1. Re-gifting may be an option. Many people who hoard are willing to let go of their items if they know where the items are going – such as to a ‘good’ home. Re-gifting may also be a way to reduce duplicates.
  2. The Center for a New American Dream offers ways to reduce and shift consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice. Here are two of their many ideas taken from their web site:
  3. The Japanese are masters of cloth wrappings for just about any object; this is called the art of tsutsumi. Wrap gifts in material from old sewing projects that never got finished. The wrapping could then be reused.
  4. Consider foregoing gifts. Make a pact that you will not exchange “obligatory” gifts. Few of us need more stuff, certainly not items received on an “obligatory” schedule. This can be a loving exemption. Instead, focus on having serious fun when you get together.