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Gift Sets to Make the Most Dreaded Chores More Delightful

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Day 13 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: Don't forget the dishes.

Someone once told me the right gift is the one the recipient never thought they needed but would use all the time if they had it—or the one they know they'd use but would never buy for themselves. Even if I can't remember how the saying goes, know that gifts that make chores more delightful apply to either botched truism.

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There are few sure things in life and dust and dishes are two of them. So to make everyone on your holiday list's life a little brighter, figure out their most dreaded chore and give them the corresponding set of goodies that'll make it a little better. Their expression when they unwrap a box of baking soda will probably be amusing, too.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

For the one whose ikea bag "hamper" is always overflowing

Grey Narrow Elevated Laundry Basket

Grey Narrow Elevated Laundry Basket

From $60
Round Carry Basket

Round Carry Basket

$90

1. Get them a real laundry basket that will hold large amounts of clothing, then stitch a little pocket onto the brim. Stuff it with playing cards or a flask for them to stay entertained at the laundromat.

2. Give them the gift of lavender so their nerves from doing laundry are calmed: Make lavender sachets for their sock drawer and/or lavender linen spray.

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Grey Wool Dryer Balls (Set of 6)

Grey Wool Dryer Balls (Set of 6)

$38
Meet Brooke Petry, Whose Dryer Balls Make Laundry a Little More Beautiful and Virtuous

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3. Throw in some dryer balls because not only do they make drying a little more eco-friendly: They also mean you can juggle while you wait for your wash to be ready.

4. If this person really, really hates laundry, incentivize them to get clothes back into the closet with some rustic, DIY hangers.

For the One Whose Life Isn't Changed by Tidying

Brass Canister

Brass Canister

$95
Large Copper Storage Cup

Large Copper Storage Cup

$40

1. Pick out a pretty storage container or device.

2. Include a copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Tell them skeptics have been swayed.

3. Include an edible gift—see why below.

4. In your note to them, tell them you made a fun and funky thematically-appropriate tidying playlist for them to listen to so the laborious chore is a little more enjoyable. If they finish tidying in the time the playlist is done, they get to eat the edible gift (this can be a joke, or not).

For the one who avoids the litter box

Hawkins New York Candle

Hawkins New York Candle

$48
Hexagonal Incense Burners

Hexagonal Incense Burners

$32

1. Give them something that smells in a good way to put near their animals smelly-in-a-bad-way stuff: a candle, incense, or a reed diffuser you made yourself.

2. A little pet humor can be incentive to pick up poop: one scoop, one joke. For cat owners, include I Could Pee on This—for dog owners, Underwater Dogs.

3. The real way to win over pet owners is to give their pets a gift: While catnip or a water bowl are fine options, dryer balls are both toys and laundry helpers.

For the one who "can't find" the broom

Traditional Broom

Traditional Broom

$80
Turkey Wing Whisk Broom

Turkey Wing Whisk Broom

$35

Turn sweeping into hockey—and therefore a lot more enjoyable. Give a very lucky person a set of skates (or a coupon to pick out skates). The broom is their stick, and dryer balls are the puck. Not sure if the house will be any cleaner—I'm imagining new scuffs on the wall from roller skating inside—but I think this might be the most fun chore revival of the bunch.

For the one who lives among dust bunnies

Rattan Carpet Beater

Rattan Carpet Beater

$28
Unpaper Towels (Set of 16)

Unpaper Towels (Set of 16)

$40

1. One time a really long time ago, I was dusting and found a funny, googly-eyed ring in a never-dusted corner. That is when I learned that in order to dust well, you need incentives. I would like to advocate hiding treats in your friend's dust bunny lairs, but that seems difficult to pull off and maybe a little invasive. So instead, offer a list of your—or our—favorite podcasts to play while dusting. They're long enough that they can dust a whole lot of stuff during one episode.

2. Then, include a reprieve for those hard-working hands in the form of hand salve that you made or a lotion.

for the once-a-week dishwasher

I am so bad at washing dishes that I am now not allowed to do them in my household. That said, these items make me want to be better at them, just so I can use these pretty things:

Wood-Handled Dish Rack

Wood-Handled Dish Rack

$65
Big Dish Brush

Big Dish Brush

$39
Flour Sack Tea Towel (Set of 3)

Flour Sack Tea Towel (Set of 3)

$39
Reusable Pot Scrubbers (Set of 5)

Reusable Pot Scrubbers (Set of 5)

$30
Reusable Swedish Sponges (Set of 4)

Reusable Swedish Sponges (Set of 4)

$24
Glass Brush

Glass Brush

$33

In this dishwashing gift set, also include ingredients to simmer—maybe a bunch of eucalyptus or rosemary and citrus peels—so that the kitchen smells nice while the person is doing dishes. They'll probably be whistling with joy, thinking they got the best gift ever.

What to Simmer for a Fresh, Seasonal-Smelling Home
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What to Simmer for a Fresh, Seasonal-Smelling Home

For the one who only cleans the toilet when you come over

Le Parfait 35 Ounce Bail Closure Canning Jar (Set of 2)

Le Parfait 35 Ounce Bail Closure Canning Jar (Set of 2)

$22
Ball 1.5 Pint Wide Mouth Canning (9 Jars)

Ball 1.5 Pint Wide Mouth Canning (9 Jars)

$20

This gift set is extra thoughtful because it makes a terrible task better (mostly through incentives and good smells), but also because each item will be made by you.

1. Prepare a jar of baking soda and a jar of distilled white vinegar: Decorate the jars if you please, and include instructions for mixing together a natural toilet bowl cleaner that sizzles! Cleaning toilets could in no way be more fun.

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Large Concentric Soap Dish

Large Concentric Soap Dish

From $36

2. Make them hand soap—yes, you can!—for their bathroom sink. Definitely beats the boring bar soap they might have currently.

3. To further help them associate the bathroom with good things, mix them up some bath soak—every time they clean the bathtub, they then get a bath soak.

for the one who begs not to take out the trash

Grocery Bag Holder

Grocery Bag Holder

$20
Noaway Countertop Walnut Compost Bin

Noaway Countertop Walnut Compost Bin

$175

Give gifts that make the trash not smell so dang bad. Then, maybe then, your gift getter won't pretend the trash doesn't exist.

1. Wrap up a box of baking soda and some essential oils. Don't make them guess what it's for! In your note, explain that sprinkling baking soda or dropletting essential oils in the trash bag will make trash duty a little less painful.

2. Make them a batch of natural air freshener to spray before they have to clean out the trash can.

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Three Dozen Reasons Your Pantry Should Never Be Without Baking Soda

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What are some other gifts that will make doing the chores a little more delightful?

Tags: 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving