by Bethany of Kathi’s Clutter Free Academy Team
When I make the choice to control the clutter, I find freedom waiting in the living room. A lot of family life happens in the living room, and I want to make it a point to spend a lot of time in there with my hubby and three kids. But I can only do this well if I keep the clutter from sucking the life out of the living room. Our living room needs to be a place where we connect and laugh together, not trip over junk and shift piles of books to find a spot on the couch.
Here’s what I know: The kids won’t remember if the pillows, couch and rug coordinate but they will remember the tickle fights. Guests won’t remember if clean floors or dust bunnies greeted them when they crossed the threshold of your living room but they will remember your kind hospitality. Why? Because these are the things that actually matter, not sparkling floors and not throw pillows.
Contain clutter and gain freedom to live—really live—in your living room.
Here are seven ideas to get you started.
1. Dance Party
Turn up the volume on some of your favorite tunes and dance until you drop. Learn a line dance together and hilarity will follow.
2. Indoor Picnic
Spread out a blanket on the living room floor and break out the picnic foods, whether it’s 95 degrees or raining outside! Bonus: Dinner is easy peasy!
3. Game Night
Choose a night and invite a few friends over for pizza and games. The invitation and the fun are all that matter. Enjoy your guests. Repeat.
4. Lightsaber Fight
It just doesn’t get much better than a lightsaber fight. Get ready to watch the force in action—everyone is a kid with a lightsaber in hand. For extra fun, make it as dark as possible to stay safe and then record it. Everyone loves to see the action over and over again.
5. Coffee Shop
Make (or buy) a batch of cookies or muffins. Set out books, magazines, and candles. Brew your favorite cup and turn up some background music. Relish the blissful sips of clutter free life with family or friends!
We have a little putting mat that we bring into the living room now and then because…well, why not? Make a game of it and see who can sink the best out of ten putts. Winner gets to choose the snack.
7. Date Night Movie Night
After the kids are in bed, break out an appetizer extravaganza, whether its from your grocer’s frozen section or an exotic array of cheeses and fruit. You pick the food, fancy or fun, and hubby gets to choose the movie.
• What’s your favorite way to live — really live — in your living room?
• How does becoming clutter-free make it easier to enjoy life in your living room?
While you’re at it, how do you connect with your kids? Each of them has a different personality and each has different needs to feel loved. With 21 Ways to Connect to Your Kids, you’ll learn each of his/her personality traits and how to use that information to create real connection.
LEARN MORE >>>
When was the last time you served a beautiful Christmas dinner on a nicely decorated table with your favorite poinsettia table runner, nice silverware and glasses, pine cones to decorate each place setting, and Thomas the Tank Engine napkins?? (huh?!? Uumm yep it happened). Check out the full story in the book under Project 20 Tablecloths, Napkins and Foof, Oh My!
For More Details: Get Yourself Organized For Christmas – Page 106
Well my friend, today we are not going to let that happen to you, no sir-y we are simply finding all of our table decorations and linens and getting them ready all in one spot.
Assignment and Supplies: Find your napkins (the ones you intend to use), tablecloths (wash it if there are spots), runners, napkin rings, plates, silverware and stemware or glasses.
**Note** if you are striving for simplicity this year and are going the shabby-chic method of paper or plastic, make a list of the things you need to purchase and where. (There is some real cute stuff out there these days that make a table look great. Don’t feel bad about it, remember your goal of simplicity). Embrace it!
Did you know that Evite has a blog section all about planning for parties? They can help you get ready so you too, don’t serve Christmas dinner with themed birthday party napkins! Check it out here.
Share Your Thoughts
Share with us! When did you have your party all set only to discover the teeny tiny thing of having no ______ ? What did you do?? This year, join us in our vow to be prepared! Plan today what you will need for tomorrow.
It’s time to give the kitchen a little TLC. Spend some time today clearing any clutter hanging around your countertops. Put away mail, Christmas cards, leftover Christmas decoration containers, etc. Here are some basic tips of things you can do to spruce up real quick.
- Clean your sink up so it is nice and shiny.
- Clean out any science experiments from the fridge.
- Wipe out your pantry, fridge or cupboards of tiny crumbs.
- Complete your meal plan for the month finishing the shopping list.
- Pull out any serving dishes, holiday dishes or platters you may need and wash off any dust.
- Restock your pantry of any essentials you will need for cooking or baking.
For more details: Get Your Christmas Organized Page 83
Share your thoughts:
Share with us all that you accomplished! For some this may have taken a while, for others, it may have been easier than you thought. Did it go by quickly or did you take the time to gut your kitchen? Do you have any tips to share with someone else? What did YOU do?
Does prepping your kitchen (or the fact that it is December 1st ) give you the holiday jitters?! Check out this article about how to nix those pre-party nerves.
Friends – this is Kathi, and I’m so thrilled that we are getting a head start on the holidays this year. No – I’m not asking you to push up your Black Friday shopping by a month – I want us all to have an opportunity to prepare our hearts – not just our homes. So I’ve joined forces this week with several of my friends who have similar hearts – Let the holidays come! – but let our hearts be in a place where we can truly experience the best that the season has to give us! My first friend who is sharing is Amy Carroll.
I have long admired Amy from a far, but today we get to hang out with her up-close-and-personal. Amy is the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and I know that most of us are going to need a lot of that as the holiday’s approach.
Be sure to head over to her blog to win a copy of her book!
The further I read into the editorial the shorter my breath grew, and I felt the heat of stress radiating from my constricted heart. “At my house, the bustle stops when we gather with our daughters to trim the tree,” Gayle Butler, editor of Better Homes and Gardens, gushed.
Then she went on to describe her family’s lovely evening complete with traditional music, story-telling, and eggnog. She ended by saying, “By the time our quiet evening concludes, we’re energized and ready to try something new.”
Wow. That sounds just like my family. (Insert sarcastic tone here.)
My case of hives from the article came from memories of the previous year’s tree trimming at my house.
We all started well–hubs, the boys and me–matching up with the perfect pictures of Christmas preparations in my mind. It was just like BH & G. Amy Grant crooned Christmas carols in the background. Egg nog was poured into the red glass tea cups I had snagged at a tag sale, and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.
However, it all started downhill over the lights for the tree.
Squabbles erupted over tangled strings of bulbs. Somebody turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of telling lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood. It all fell apart faster than you can say, “Mama’s in a snit.”
Maybe they just got distracted, or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree. The rest of my family had abandoned the traditional decorating of the tree.
I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and… TIMBER! It fell on me, driving the metal rod of one of the artificial branches into my arm.
That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a disgruntled perfectionist’s heart—a big, fat, four-letter word.
That brought the family back into the room.
“Mom! Did you just say #*!@?!”
To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.
So much for the perfect family Christmas. Ours might be rated R.
It’s hard to give up the pictures of perfection in our heads–especially during the holidays. It seems to be the time that Perfect takes a strangle hold with visions of the perfect pumpkin pie, the perfectly peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, and the perfect gift.
But surely there’s a better way to do the holidays. Surely there’s more joy to be had.
I’ve spent about a decade now breaking up with Perfect, and I’ve learned a few things we can all do as the holidays approach that will usher in the elements we all want this time of year—joy, peace, and a Jesus-focused heart. They’re all centered on relationships—with yourself, God, and others.
Surrender to Your Truest Self.
God created you, and there is no other that can take your place. In a world that’s dying to see real women living a real faith, God created you uniquely, so be unique!
Anna Quindlen says it this way, “Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted.” Love that.
I’d go a step further, though, and say that your true unvarnished self is what God wants and what most glorifies Him. When you take off the façade of perfection, Jesus’ light shines brightly through you and draws others to Himself!
So what does that look like in the holidays? If deep in your heart you have a passion for pink flamingoes, then go crazy with pink feathers instead of red and green plaid ribbon! If you’d love to have quinoa and kale instead of turkey and dressing, make it! Create new traditions around the things you love instead of just comparing and imitating. You’ll find fresh delight as you do, and others will be attracted to your joy.
Savor each person, each moment, and most importantly, savor time each day with God. Linger in the candlelight of early morning. Let music of praise wash over you. Center your mind and heart on Him.
For me, it’s particularly hard to savor my relationship with Jesus from November through December. I know that’s horrible to confess, but it’s true. My lists lengthen in my mind in any quiet moment, so this is the season when I need some great devotional books to keep my thoughts focused. Here are a couple I’ve got close at hand for this season:
- The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
- The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs
Keep It Simple
Don’t drive yourself this season, and for heaven’s sake, don’t drive others either (a lesson I’ve learned the hard way). Keep a family calendar and preserve some white space. For each opportunity, ask yourself what should NOT go on your calendar.
Have a discussion with friends and family about what is important to each person, and then let the rest go. I shake my head in sadness when I think of all the years I drove myself and everyone else crazy with all the things I thought had to be done… that nobody enjoyed anyway.
One of my least favorite tasks in life is cooking, so I’m ending with a simple recipe from my friend Sharon Sloan, author of SerenDIPity, that even the least domestic of us can make for a holiday party. Let’s all commit to surrender, savor and keep it simple!
The Now-Famous Cherry Cheesecake Dip by Lisa Lohwasser – SerenDIPity 2011
1 Box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake Mix
1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip
1 21-ounce can of cherry pie filling
(or use any other canned fruit or fresh fruit you desire)
Prepare Jell-O Cheesecake Mix according to directions on box. Stir in the Cool Whip. Place cheesecake mixture on desired serving tray and pour cherry pie filling on top of cheesecake mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or another dipper of your choice.
Looking for encouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Breaking Up with Perfect.
You can enter to win a signed copy by leaving a comment directly on Amy’s blog.
PLUS, you’ll also be entered into the grand prize drawing for the Wrapped In Grace gift package: signed copies of all five of our books, a $100 Visa gift card, and a bunch of other fun goodies. All winners will be announced Saturday, October 24th at http://www.WrappedInGrace.info.
Amy Carroll’s passion is leading women to deeper delight through the matchless pleasure of rich relationship with God and others. Amy is a member of the Proverbs 31 Ministries’ speaker team, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and the blissful director of Next Step Speaker Services. She lives in NC with her 3 favorite guys and a little, red dachshund. You can find her on any given day typing at her computer, reading a book or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Visit Amy at her blog to join her in a journey toward more joy.
In January, I’m launching Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space, but guess what? I’m also launching Happy Habits for Every Couple and you could be a part of our launch team!
Yes, I know…two books in one month! That’s how we roll!
So could your marriage use a little tune up?
When was the last time you flirted with your husband? Was it before you had kids?
Does your idea of a hot date include a drive-thru and springing for the extra-large fries?
What would your marriage look like if for 21 days you turned your attention to happy habits that will better your relationship? Plenty of books describe how to improve a marriage, how to save a marriage, even how to ramp up intimacy in a marriage. In Happy Habits for Every Couple, Kathi Lipp and husband Roger show you practical, fun-filled ways to put love and laughter back into your marriage.
Here are just a few of the results you’ll see when you put Happy Habits for Every Couple into practice:
new levels of warmth and tenderness in your relationship
a deeper sense of security with your spouse
a marriage filled with fun and flirting
If you haven’t given up the dream of being head-over-heels with your spouse again, following this 21-day plan will give you just the boost you need to bring you closer together.
Standard game rules apply: love on each other; share hope, grace, and encouragement; read the book and write a review.
We are sending out copies of the book next week, so tell us why you’d like to be a part of our new family!
If you are interested, just take a moment to fill out the application below:
HAPPY HABITS FOR EVERY COUPLE LAUNCH TEAM APPLICATION!
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. -Theodore Roosevelt
Perhaps it takes a purer faith to praise God for unrealized blessings than for those we once enjoyed or those we enjoy now. -A.W. Tozer
Thanksgiving is a time when the world gets to see just how blessed and how workable the Christian system is. The emphasis is not on giving or buying, but on being thankful and expressing that appreciation to God and to one another. – John Clayton
Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. – Henry Van Dyke
Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more: Peace in the hearts of all men living, peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving. – Joseph Auslander
Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. -E.P. Powell
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Remember God’s bounty in the year. String the pearls of His favor. Hide the dark parts, except so far as they are breaking out in light! Give this one day to thanks, to joy, to gratitude! -Henry Ward Beecher
If we meet someone who owes us thanks, we right away remember that. But how often do we meet someone to whom we owe thanks without remembering that? – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. – W. T. Purkiser
“Gratitude can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” -William Arthur Ward
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into God’s presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Praise the Lord.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have pleasure in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy,
they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant for ever. Holy and awesome is his name!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who practice it. His praise endures for ever!
We Give Thanks
Our Father in Heaven,
We give thanks for the pleasure
Of gathering together for this occasion.
We give thanks for this food
Prepared by loving hands.
We give thanks for life,
The freedom to enjoy it all
And all other blessings.
As we partake of this food,
We pray for health and strength
To carry on and try to live as You would have us.
This we ask in the name of Christ,
Our Heavenly Father.
– Harry Jewell
And just for giggles…
What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? -Erma Bombeck, “No One Diets on Thanksgiving,” 26 November 1981