Monday, December 13, 2010

Reducing Clutter During the Holidays

Christmas Presents
To continue my efforts to Reduce Clutter; Make Space, I have to be more conscious of the decisions I make this holiday season.  For me, reducing physical and mental clutter is about being mindful.  I didn't get rid of so much "stuff" this year just to acquire more. So I really want to be aware of the things I buy, the things I give, and the things I receive for Christmas.

Many of my family members want to keep the gift giving simple this year, too.  In fact, instead of giving each other big gifts, we adopted a family together.  (Thanks for the idea Matt and Lins!)  Although we won't get to see the kids open their presents, it sure felt good to give without expecting anything in return.

Here are some ideas and small changes you can make to simplify your gift giving while keeping the true meaning of the holiday season in perspective.

1) Bag gifts All Together  How about instead of buying gifts for friends and family, you find a local family in need of the necessities.  That way you ensure your gifts won't go to waste and you'll be helping those who truly need it.

2) Give Experiences, Not Stuff  How about giving a zoo membership to that special family in your life, or offer to baby-sit for those new parents, or consider planning a potluck game night with your best friends.  These types of experiences are so much fun and usually way more memorable than the stuff. (What about an e-course? Gift certificates are available and my discounted price ends this Wednesday!)

3) Limit the Dollar Amount   I mentioned that my immediate family decided to adopt a family rather than give big presents.  But we still like surprises and opening gifts.  So we decided to buy each other one stocking stuffer under $10.  Limiting the dollar amount will help you to not go overboard and it actually forces you to be more creative in choosing the right gift.

Felted Coffee Cozy
4) Recycle, Reuse and Re-gift!  What can you make using recycled materials?  Did you see my felted sweater projects?  Check out Crafting a Green World for more ideas.  And I know some of you may think re-gifting is taboo, but think of it this way:  Look around the house for something that is very special to you, yet it has served its purpose and you are now ready to let it go.  I'm not talking about giving a white elephant gift or something you don't like, but actually consider giving something you love that you are ready to pass on.

Hand-Made Wrapping Paper
Another idea:  How about making your own wrapping paper out of brown paper bags and your tags out of scraps you find around the house?

5) Avoid Plastic  It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose.  Isn't that horrifying when you think about that stuff filling up our landfills?  Look for natural and organic items when possible.  Check out Hip Mountain Mama's shop for ideas.

6) Buy Local & Support Independent Artists  If you do plan on spending money, consider doing so in your own area and from independent artists and businesses.  This is a great way to support your local community.  If you don't know many artists in your area, check out Etsy.  There are many amazing independent artists on that site who offer beautiful and unique products!  Here are a few of my favorite shops:  Artsyville, Lady Bird Land, Ampersand Shop, Gypsy Forest, and Mishmish Market.

Lavender Bath Salt
7) Make Gifts With Meaning  I'm a sucker for handmade gifts.  I love receiving things made from friends and family and I really enjoy making gifts, too.  Check out Craft Magazine for fun inspiration.  Here's an idea I got from my friend, Jennifer: (I made enough to fill 10 jars last fun!)

Lavender Bath Salts
* glass jar 
* 2 cups Epsom salt
* 2 T baking soda
* approximately 20 drops of lavender essential oil
* contents of two chamomile tea bag
(makes one jar)

Mix all of the ingredients together and fill the jar to the top.  Another option: add olive oil to the top of the jar for added moisturizer.  Remember to make an extra one for yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing soak in the tub!  

Olive Oil Salt Scrub
I'm by no means an expert in this area, but reducing clutter over the last year has been a wonderful learning and life-changing experience for me.  I am fully enjoying the season and don't have the stress that can be so prevalent this time of year.

Simplifying this year's gift giving will help you reduce clutter and create space for the quality time we all so desperately need.  Let's give presence, rather than all the presents, and make our celebrations more mindful, meaningful and memorable!

Your Personal Reflection:  Are you getting caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season?  What simple changes can you make this year to be more present with your loved ones?  Take a deep breath, slow down and find stillness...doing so will be the greatest gift you can give yourself.


  1. Great post! Sounds like our Christmas every year. We've never been in a position to go hog wild. Perhaps that is a blessing as I don't think I would change it if I could. One year I came up with the theme of recycle/re-gift. Everyone either re-gifted gifts they received and never used or wanted, or they found something they owned that would benefit the recipient more, or they purchased second hand and giftcycled (made up word). Everyone put a lot of thought (not money) into what was gifted. It ended up being a wonderful, stress free, thoughtful Christmas celebration! Of course no one seemed to follow the rules when it came to the kids!

  2. you always have the best suggestions. and I'm honored to be on your ETSY round up. I saw that triple stack of laundry from a previous post and I was right there with you girl. I don't know how far back you've gone on Inner Toddler but go read The Duckie Towel and know that there are other "clutter free people" who ended up mommies and have piles and piles of CLEAN laundry to be folded. Oy. And yet you handle it all with such grace. xox

  3. Fabulous post. I really like your ideas. When we were kids, my family would occasionally adopt a family. Once we each got a kid our age and went shopping for them. I remember being so excited, even though I never met the recipient!

    Love the homemade gifts you've featured and the notion of giving experiences over things. Way cool.

    :) Happy Holidays.

  4. Your post is wonderful and I feel every word of it. I am in the middle of tossing, recycling, donating myself and I shudder at the thought of more stuff coming in the house. As a matter of fact it is something I struggle with and kind of resent every holiday. So I am trying the things you mention in your post. I am also making a lot of homemade things this year too. Maybe we'll try the stocking stuffers in our family next year! Thank you so much for your wisdom and creativity! xoxo Angela

  5. great post. Shannon!

  6. Thank you. I appreciate the mention. And that salt scrub just got added to our list of things to make.... so easy & perfect for holiday giving :)

  7. i love your ideas... and thank you for the mention! i'm thrilled i made the 'clutter cut' xoxoxo

  8. Great suggestions thanks!

    It is so busy this time of year and I agree with: "Take a deep breath, slow down and find stillness...doing so will be the greatest gift you can give yourself." I had been doing this but then the past couple of days I've felt as though I've way overdone it. My whole being is crying our for a little r&r. So easy to get caught up in the craziness.

    Hope you & your gorgeous family are all enjoying the run up to Ashton's first Christmas.

    Kat X

  9. Great ideas. So good of you to adopt a family.
    We've made some changes over the last few years.
    Only kids get presents and the ones they're getting I bought on Etsy.
    I still want to make lots of crafts from random scraps that I already have - we'll see how that goes ;)
    Thanks for the inspiration

  10. Thanks everyone. Glad to hear so many of you are making gifts, too. Wishing you a very happy season.


Thanks for sharing!