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Marie Kondo on 'intentional gifting,' dealing with holiday clutter and presents that 'spark joy'

Plus, she told us exactly what you should do if you get a gift that you don’t love.
Konmari Media

While we love seeing the look on our loved ones' faces when we present them with the perfect gift, actually finding those presents can be a long and tedious process. But if there's anyone who knows about the things that bring people joy, it's author, tidying expert and Netflix star Marie Kondo.

In an exclusive interview with Kondo about her new collaboration with Stasher, she revealed to Shop TODAY that her strategy for finding the perfect present starts with being intentional about her picks. "This year, I am looking forward to giving my family and friends thoughtful gifts that remind me of them," Kondo shared in an email.

"An intentional gift should ideally spark joy for the recipient for years to come. In choosing gifts, I start by thinking about my loved ones' lifestyle like their daily routine, their living spaces and interests. It can be as simple as a handwritten card or keychain from their favorite place, but taking the time to put thought into your gifts will spark joy for all!"

These "intentional" gifts are going to look different for everyone on your list, depending on each person's interests and passions. "Your best friend, partner and sibling probably have different wish lists from what you might want," she said. "When intentionally gifting, think about the recipient using or holding the gift, and if this sparks a positive feeling, that is always a good sign."

Though when it comes to the gifts that you receive, not every item is going to be an automatic home run (think: that ugly sweater that you got from Grandma or the gag gift that your co-worker gave you). In these cases, Kondo said she still encourages people to try out the gift at least once — you may be surprised to find that it brings you more joy than you originally thought.

"If you try using the item and decide that it still doesn’t suit you, thank it for the joy it brought when you first received it and consider donating it or regifting it to someone who may enjoy it," she said. "I always like to say that the true purpose of a present is to be received, because gifts really are a token of appreciation for someone. When viewed from this perspective, there is no need to feel guilty about parting with a gift that ultimately might not spark joy."

As happy as the holiday season can be, once all the festivities are over, seeing the mess of decorations and wrappings that need to be cleaned up can be quite the joy-killer. Thankfully, Kondo had some advice to share. "The post-holiday tidying and organizing process does not have to be overwhelming if you prepare correctly beforehand," she said.

To start, she recommends making sure that you have all the storage solutions you need already at your disposal so that you're ready to go once the holidays are over. "Assess how many storage containers you’ll need to house everything neatly, and where possible, opt for reusable containers to eliminate unnecessary waste," she suggested.

As you're taking everything out, take stock and see if there are any items that you no longer need or connect with. "So much can change in 365 days and you might find you can part with some items and earn back space for new decor," she said.

Finally, when it comes to the actual cleanup process, taking down your decor a little at a time isn't always the best strategy. "While it really depends on your style, I find it more productive to carve out time to do it all at once so you can devote your undivided attention," Kondo said. "When all your holiday decor is packed back up in boxes, you can plan how to effectively utilize your designated storage space. Slowly putting items back into storage one piece at a time can result in ineffective space utilization and a lack of organization."

Below, we asked Kondo to walk us through of the items that have been "sparking joy" for her lately that would make the perfect holiday gifts. Plus, she shared a few storage essentials that might be helpful in the post-holiday cleanup process.

Marie Kondo holiday gift picks

KonMari x Stasher Holiday Set

"The decision to partner with Stasher was harmonious because at the core of both the Stasher and KonMari brands are our passions and expertise for solutions that help you better organize your life," Kondo said. "One of the many things I love about Stasher bags is that they create multi-functional storage solutions with an emphasis on low environmental impact since they can be reused endlessly around the home and on the go."

The new set comes with three sizes of the brand's popular Stand-Up bags (including one in a Cherry Blossom shade that's exclusive to the collaboration), all of which are designed to be dishwasher, microwave, and oven-safe. Plus, they come wrapped in a Furoshiki cloth, which not only makes it easy to gift right away but is also serves as an additional element for them to enjoy, so she said it's like "two gifts in one."

"Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese cloth that is primarily used for wrapping gifts, but can also be used as a picnic cloth or tied into a tote for everyday carrying of goods," she said. "It’s a wonderful alternative to wasteful packaging because the Furoshiki is meant to last years for a variety of uses."

Kamenoko Tawashi Zebra Body Brush

"Made in Tokyo from natural fibers, this brush quickly invigorates and revives the skin. A thoughtful self-care gift!" Kondo said.

POJ Studio Yuzu Incense Making Kit

"DIY gifts are always a great choice for the hands-on people in your life," Kondo said. "This incense making kit is not only fun and unique, but burning incense can remind us to slow down, set intentions and express gratitude for the present moment."

Will & Atlas Versatile & Neat Jute Basket

"Handwoven by women working within a Fair Trade program in Bangladesh, this all-natural basket is practical and beautiful," Kondo said. "Use it as a plant holder, toy organizer or laundry hamper.

Gudee Life Stacking Storage Box With 9 Compartments

"When storing holiday decor, I like to have storage solutions in all sizes to accommodate everything," Kondo said. She added that this storage box is "perfect for storing many things according to category so when you take it out, it’s easy to identify what is inside. You can buy it in multiples to stack and make the most of vertical space."

Savor Safe Deposit Keepsake Box

She added that this keepsake box "is a great way to store holiday heirlooms or precious ornaments that require a more sturdy and secure packaging."