Banish tat and enhance your loved ones’ lives with these clever gift ideas.

It may be the Marie Kondo effect. It may be concern for the planet. It may be straightforward austerity. Whatever the reason, there is a distinct feeling around in 2019 that we – and our children – have reached peak clutter.

Earlier this year, The New York Times published a brilliant article entitled ‘The unbearable heaviness of clutter’. As we learn in the piece, researchers have found that having too much stuff in our homes has a detrimental effect on our mood.

Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, who studies the causes of clutter and its impact on wellbeing, told the NYT: ‘Clutter is an overabundance of possessions that collectively create chaotic and disorderly living spaces.’

So, the obvious way forward is to cut out the clutter. But this is easier said than done at Christmas when adults, pets and children are showered with well-meaning gifts. What if there was a way to give a clutter-free Christmas present?

The good news is that there is. There are plenty of ways, in fact. These are the sites you need up your sleeve to do just that.


Brought to us by the Art Fund – a charity that raises funds for the acquisition of artworks for the nation – the National Art Pass is a brilliant present for the culture vulture in your life. For £70 a year, this handy little card allows you to experience over 240 museums, galleries and historic places free of charge and enjoy 50 per cent off entry to major exhibitions, including those at Tate, V&A and National Museum of Scotland. With membership, you also get a subscription to Art Quarterly, the charity’s insightful magazine, and a comprehensive annual guidebook on National Art Pass venues. As well as being a seriously good gift, this pass helps fund the vital work of museums and galleries across the UK.


For over 200 years, Britain’s leading cheesemonger has been sourcing and maturing exceptional cheeses. The holder of a fistful of Royal Warrants, Paxton & Whitfield was established in London in 1797. It has moved with times and now boasts a lovely, clean website (with several excellent ideas for Christmas). We are particularly taken by the notion of membership of Paxton’s award-winning Cheese Club. On the second Thursday of each month (or alternate month, depending on the subscription level), members of the Cheese Club receive four cheeses, every one in peak condition and carefully selected for the season. They also receive by email a detailed fact sheet containing all they need to know about the glorious cheese’s provenance. Consumables don’t count as clutter.


You may, like us, have been sucked in by the adverts on the radio at the moment about the joys of giving Premium Bonds at Christmas. The ultimate clutter-free present, Premium Bonds can now be purchased from £25 for any child under the age of 16. The lucky Premium Bond holder has the chance to win tax-free cash prizes from £25 to £1 million each month. (The power behind the selection of the winning Premium Bonds is ERNIE 5, the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment.) No clutter, no wrapping – just a wonderful gift that keeps on giving.


Making someone a Born Free animal adopter will help protect an endangered species of your choice. Actress, author, campaigner and Born Free founder, Virginia McKenna, says: ‘A Born Free wild animal adoption provides money directly to support the care of individual wild animals or their families. Any extra funds go towards our projects to protect the species and its habitat. The adoption lasts a whole year, keeps you personally in touch with your adopted animal and, believe me, makes a real difference. I regularly buy Born Free wild animal adoptions as gifts for loved ones, who I know love animals.’ Head to the website’s list of animals – including giraffes, leopards and orangutans – and you will want to save them all.


Warning: you should be a little careful about who you give these beauties to. A furious feminist who hates housework will not thank you. Neither will any child. Most men will be pretty baffled. But bear with us… Tincture is an award-winning, London-based range of 100 per cent natural cleaning products that look as good as they smell – and they kick ass on grime, too. The bottles’ minimalist design is so pretty that the right kind of recipient will want them on display. The company plants a tree in the UK for every purchase over £24. They offer refills to avoid single-use plastic. If you’ve got to have cleaning products around the place, they might as well be handsome, eco-friendly ones, right?

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By Becky Ladenburg
December 2019