Christmas can be one of the hardest times to shop for people as everyone tends to accumulate so much stuff. So let this year be the year you shop for gifts that will bring cheer -- and not add to the clutter.

“The obvious is a gift card,” said Kristin Bertilson, certified professional organizer and owner of Queen B Organizing in Corvallis. “The problem is that people tend to lose them. Especially if the card is good only for one place."

“Instead,” Bertilson said, “give one card the recipient can use multiple places.”

Another great idea is the gift of time. Plan an outing or buy concert tickets and make a day or evening to remember. 

Give a gift that keeps giving. Plan a service activity like helping at a soup kitchen or visiting shelter animals. Shop together and buy something to donate to the needy or fulfill a child’s wish list.

Buying for a friend or family member who already has everything? Shoot for the moon -- or, more accurately, buy a star and name it after your recipient. The International Star Registry will name the star and mail a certificate that can be framed and wrapped.

Also good, especially for family members, is a photo session.

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Bertilson said giving a photo session also is fun for the giver who likes to shop. Pick a color or a theme and buy everyone a shirt to wear for the photo, she said.

Give something usable. Don’t get fancy food items that look pretty for the holidays but are hard to work into an everyday meal. Shop for ingredients and arrange the meal in a nice basket.

If somebody has special dietary restrictions, shop for snack items they can use at the office or at a movie.

Shop by scent. Look for locally made soaps and lotions in favorite flavors opposed to exotic flavors and wrap them up in fancy ribbon. If they smell good and easy to use (are aren't so intricately shaped that nobody wants to mess them up), recipients will use them up -- and Bertilson said gifts that are used up tend to be the best kind of gifts. They don’t sit around catching dust and they can be replenished.

Pay attention to needs. There’s nothing wrong with wrapping a rake when you know your neighbor needs a new one. If your friend likes to garden, new gloves and a packet of seeds would be welcomed. Make the gift useful and make it personal, Bertilson said.

“Tell yourself it’s OK to not buy a trinket,” she said. “Help make their life better.”

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Maria L. Kirkpatrick is a freelance writer who lives in the mid-valley.