Tell me if this sounds familiar, friends. Your family members make the lists of all the things they simply MUST have for Christmas. Each list alone might actually be pretty do-able, but as you shop for those must-have items you also pick up a few dozen “Oh, they’d like this” type of things.
Or, their list is all big-ticket items and they’ll only end up with one or two things under the tree. That doesn’t feel very Christmas-y, so you pick up a few more items – just some little things, really.
Or you get the under-the-tree stuff done and then are left with stockings to fill with…what? Hmm. Maybe I’ll just head to the dollar store and find a cute trinket or two or eight…
Any of that sound familiar?
I’ve had years when each of those have felt true. In my desire to make the holidays special I bought items for those I love to round out the Christmas gifts or to fill the stockings. Then, after Christmas I realized that what I had done was stuck a bow on clutter and brought it into my home. The aftermath of Christmas can be an avalanche of clutter on top of what you are already trying to purge. Enough of that nonsense. I’d like to avoid that this year. No clutter with bows, thank-you-very-much. Who’s with me?
Here’s my plan to prep my home for Christmas and to bring home less clutter, and more joy.
Mildred, a member of our Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, posted a picture of an empty laundry basket in front of a Christmas tree. Above it was their Elf on a Shelf and a sign that said, “You’ve got to Give to Get! Please fill up the basket with toys you no longer play with and I will take them to the North Pole for other kids.” What a brilliant idea!
There are so many things our children no longer love or play with. So many things our teens no longer use or wear. So many things that are taking up space in our closets and desks. What if we took an evening as a family to get the ball rolling to purge and donate before the gifts start flowing in? Let’s put our items in the laundry basket first and show the kids how it’s done!
Buy Stuff You’ll Use – Literally
When we polled the Clutter Free group for some clutter free gift ideas the number one answer to come in wasn’t the same thing, but the same kinds of things—consumables. These are things we can enjoy, while using up.
Bath fun: fizzies, crayons, bubbles, shower gel in favorite scents
Cologne or body spray (especially for those “fragrant” teens)
Make-up and nail polish
Favorite candy and treats that you don’t purchase often
Spice rubs and entertaining food sets
Special flavors of coffee, tea, or cocoa
What if we filled those stockings with things that wouldn’t be around in a month? Some of the sweetest gifts are those we use up and remember fondly rather than having to dust or trip over all the time. This mindset works well for those we are buying for outside our home as well. Give the blessing of clutter free gifts!
Let’s Do Something Fun
Experiences were the second most popular recommendation for clutter free gifts. When grandmas and grandpas ask for family gift ideas, we can share places we’d love to go and things we’d love to do instead of stuff we’d like to have. Here’s a few ideas:
Memberships for the zoo or a museum
Season passes to the amusement park, local pool, or state park
Trip to a local attraction, escape room, or some fun thing you’ve wanted to try
Gift card for dinner out together, coffee dates with mom or dad, or other special treats
Pampering gift cards for mani/pedis, massages
There are all kinds of things we could do together that would be more meaningful than another video game or a piece of clothing that will wear out. Asking for experiences can be a brilliant idea. One year a friend of mine asked her mom to give her family an evening at a local escape room from a Groupon deal. She got a money-saving deal and they had so much fun together. It was a clutter free win-win.
Think Outside Boxes
When it comes to Christmas giving, we love to give gifts that are meaningful. I think we need to reframe what a meaningful gift is – sometimes it doesn’t need to be something our loved one keeps forever. Simple and small can be special. Pampering is something we can enjoy to recharge and when the massage is over we aren’t burdened with clutter. Family experiences provide memories we can treasure in our hearts and require no dusting or storage.
This Christmas, just say no to more clutter and yes to gifts that we can consume to bring joy. Merry Christmas, indeed. (Kids, in case you are reading this – I will take a massage.)
Kathi Lipp is the author of 16 books including Overwhelmed, Clutter Free, The Get Yourself Organized Project, The Husband Project, and Happy Habits for Every Couple. She is the host of Clutter Free Academy the Podcast! with Kathi Lipp and speaks at conferences across the US. Kathi is also the creator of Communicator Academy and Leverage: The Speaker Conference, both designed to help writers and speakers become the communicator God has created them to be.
Spring isn’t the only time to tackle cleaning. As we face down holiday prep for the busy season ahead, tackling some of the things we do in our annual Spring Fling in the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group are a great idea. In this video from spring, Kathi’s talks about her famous 3 Questions that you need to ask to decide if something has earned the right to live in your space. There are a variety of reasons we hold onto things and with her usual grace-filled manner, Kathi talks about making the hard calls to live free. Let’s clear out some clutter and make way for the family fun and festive season we are about to enter. Watch now:
This one is up to you! What is something you have always wanted to do this time of year but just never had the time? Today is the day to do that thing. Whether it’s a craft you want to make, a tradition you want to start, or time you want to spend with certain people.
If you can’t think of something, there are some great ideas in the book to give you a jump start. Because these projects have gotten you organized and totally prepared this Christmas, consider this a gift to yourself for all of your hard work. Enjoy!
Assignment: Do that one extra special thing
Think of your own special task that you have wanted to do for years but have never had time for. Today is your day to do that thing.
Doesn’t it feel great to have everything done, ready and finished so you can really enjoy those last few days of the holiday season with your family?
When you see others’ decorations and trees and well-behaved children (ahem!), or when you read those family Christmas letters, remember that you can either envy or enjoy, but you can’t do both. Let’s abolish overwhelm by choosing to enjoy!
When was the last time you served a beautiful Christmas dinner on a nicely decorated Christmas 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!”
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), tablecloth (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 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!
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.
Have you ever noticed that, “How does the table look?” and “Doesn’t the table look pretty?” are two entirely different questions? One encourages critique while the other invites celebration. Avoid the overwhelm in your household by asking for the feedback you want.
Meal planning at Christmas can make the whole season so much easier! Take some time today to meal plan every day up until Christmas as well as Christmas dinner. (I promise, you will thank me later.) Spend time in the kitchen today taking stock of what you have, what you need, and what meals you will make your family each night for dinner.
Be sure to look at your calendar for any nights you have plans. If you need to take a dish to an event, mark that on the meal plan, so you know how to prep and shop.
If you have dinner at another home or event, revel in a night off! Either way, it goes on the meal plan. Make life easier by utilizing LOOP (Leftovers On Purpose) meals and frozen meals whether they are yours or store bought. Once you are all planned out, make a list of ingredients you need to buy as well as perishable items you need to buy at the last minute.
Make Your Life Easier, Dinner Prep Ideas
Another great dinner prep idea to make your life even easier is to have a frozen meal swap with friends. You can implement this one of two ways. The first way, invite friends to your home. Everyone brings ingredients to make a meal of their choice that is freezer friendly (enough to share with however many friends are joining in on the fun). Then you all help with the cooking, family portions are placed into gallon zip-lock bags ready to freeze, and everyone goes home with a variety of meals to freeze and enjoy throughout the month.
Another way is for everyone to make something at home (enough to share family portions with anyone participating), freeze them, and swap them with friends. This way, you might have made a huge batch of soup, but you might end up with soup, enchiladas, lasagna, and a chicken casserole.
Assignment: Spend some time in the kitchen
Create your meal plan for the rest of the month.
Plan your baking list so you know what you need to bake and when you’re going to do it.
Plan out your Christmas dinner.
Make a shopping list of all necessary ingredients. Divide list into non-perishables and perishables.
Shop for non-perishables and the next few days’ meals.
Make a list of things you will need to buy at the last minute.
Today, my friends is a fun day! You have permission to go surfing online to finish up your last minute shopping. You have the chance to sip coffee in your pj’s and shop for your loved ones all at the same time! No standing in long lines, feeling all hot and bothered with bag imprints going up your poor arms, no whining kids begging to go home already, no eye-rolling husband waiting for you. Best of all, no sore feet! No, this is a day to celebrate, for we have this great invention called Amazon! YES!
Here’s your objective – find a great place to shop with great deals. Next, shop away! (Don’t forget about places with free returns, free shipping or discounted shipping costs). This is going to be the best Clutter Free Christmas yet!
Where do you like to go to get great deals? Are you one of those infamous Cyber Monday shoppers? Share with us your favorite places to online shop. Where do you find the best deals with the lowest costs on shipping and handling? Share with us on our page!
Remember – even when everything seems important, not everything is possible.