I’m starting to get emails and hear concerns from my followers and clients about the upcoming holiday season. It’s not that we don’t love celebrating this beautiful time of year…and we certainly enjoy focusing less on the pressures of life and more on faith and family. It’s just that it’s so busy! And expensive. It’s unfortunate that the hustle and bustle can become so overwhelming that it overshadows the true magic of the season.
But what can we do? Family traditions and expectations make us fear disappointing other people. We might be scared to make any real changes. To address these concerns, today I would like to talk about the idea of clutter, and it might just give you a whole different take on some of your holiday traditions. One of my definitions of clutter is something that takes more than it gives. If we look closely at our holiday celebrating, we will probably find a lot of it clutter. For example, if some of the gifts you buy cost more money or take more effort than the joy or usefulness they give the person, that item could be clutter. If some of your family traditions take a lot of time and really aren’t that fun and enjoyable, that tradition might be clutter.
Looking at clutter through this lens, today I would like to offer three challenges to help you enjoy a Clutter-Free Christmas this year.
1. Décor. Have you noticed that you have about 5 times more Christmas decorations than any other holiday? Who made the rule that our whole house had to look like the North Pole? We certainly don’t do that for Valentine’s Day or Halloween!
Challenge #1: Eliminate one piece of the décor. Using the definition of clutter, pick that item you dread putting up every year, and don’t really get much enjoyment out of. Remember, this is just for this year. If you find yourself wishing it was there, you can always put it up next year. But more likely you will realize that you didn’t even miss it, and you’ll have discovered a way to declutter your holiday decorating.
2. Traditions. You know you have yearly traditions that have lost their appeal over the years. Why not have a family meeting and see how everyone really feels about it? Pick the top traditions that really bring joy, and save yourself the extra stress during a highly stressful season.
Challenge #2 – eliminate one tradition that neither you nor your family really enjoys.
3. Gifts. As an organizer, this is one area that is always on my radar. We already have so much stuff! If you are wondering what to get your child or loved one who already has everything, there is a good chance that most gifts you are considering will very quickly become clutter.
Challenge #3: Consider replacing a physical gift with some of these ideas below. Ask yourself if one of these gifts will give more joy and memories than the money they cost or the space in your home that it will take?
- A vacation. This is the best holiday money we have ever spent. Within a few months the kids can’t really remember what gifts they’ve opened, but they always remember a vacation.
- Season pass…to the zoo, a waterpark, amusement park, museum, even to the gym. Pick something the receiver would really enjoy and it will be a gift that keeps on giving!
- Experiences. Plan a date or outing they will never forget. Take them to do indoor skydiving at the Solomon center. Get the tickets to an upcoming production. Arrange to have an expert take you rock climbing or canyoneering. Think of all the perks. You’re connecting with each other, turning off the screens, and making memories together.
- Homemade coupons or vouchers. You know on Mother’s Day how the kids make those cards with the coupon to do the dishes or mow the lawn? Imagine their reaction if they got one from you! What if you gave them a coupon that YOU would do one of THEIR chores? Or a stay up late coupon, or “pick what we eat for dinner for a whole week?” This could even be fun to do with your spouse. A night out with your buddies or girlfriends, no dishes for a week. Can you imagine? I don’t know if I’d rather get this or a vacation for Christmas! These gifts cost very little in time and money, and can create a lot of excitement, and definitely can’t be defined as clutter!
- Lessons. Has your child, spouse or friend wanted to learn to do something new, maybe something impractical? This gift might really light up their eyes. A horseback riding lesson? Cake decorating? Scuba diving? Think outside the box, and your gift will give more joy than the space it would take to store an item you might buy instead.
- Outdoor Gear. This might be pricey, but has the potential to create a lot of experiences and memories that just keep giving. Sometimes it’s hard to justify a big purchase before a vacation or when you get a whim to do something new outdoors. If it’s something they will use over and over, it definitely qualifies as a clutter-free Christmas gift.
If you have other ideas that have helped you simplify Christmas, we would love to hear about it! Have you discovered a way to eliminate Christmas clutter? How to navigate through expectations of loved ones when it comes to traditions? More clutter-free Christmas gift ideas? Please comment below. Nothing encourages us more than seeing something that has worked for you!