practices

Christmas Spirit

Holiday Advice: Don’t Place These Three Things Under Your Tree!

Holiday countdown in 3—2—1…let the shopping begin! 🛍

Does it feel like the race is on, now that Christmas commercialism is in full swing? Despite our best efforts, it’s easy to succumb to the notion that we need to spend freely and often.

“Lowest prices all year!” 🛒  Don’t miss out on all the deals!” 🛒  “Hurry before they’re gone!” 🛒 

If we truly loved our family, we would show it with a multitude of smartly wrapped gifts. Our homes would be fully decked out with holiday decor. The table would be groaning with handcrafted dishes and treats. Really? 🤫

Before we get swept too deeply into the retail hype of the season, let’s pause for a commercial break.  (hehe, see what I did there?! 🤓)

Today’s #CoffeeBreakStory focuses on avoiding 3 over-the-top behaviors for a holiday that is meaningful and relaxing.

So grab your peppermint scented cocoa ☕️ and read on!

holiday
freestocks.org | pexels

1. Over-spending

Everyone has different perspectives on what to buy and how much to drop 💵 for the holidays. 

Who wants to be a Scrooge? 

We start feeling the twinge of guilt if we don’t buy something for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, friends, neighbors, and so on.  

Then while shopping, we are seduced by the sale prices and the desire for something new. Why shouldn’t we treat ourselves, as well?

Without a doubt, retail marketers are stellar with redirecting our focus to spend on ourselves as well as each and every person who touches our life in some way.

Yet what if we stop and think about expressing our love, affection, or friendship in a different way? 🤔

Certainly, thoughtful packages under the tree are always appreciated. But if we are frantically shopping with no particular item in mind because someone already “has everything” or is “hard to shop for“, is a physical present the ideal token of our love?

Or will it end up being something never used or stashed and forgotten in a drawer or closet?

Think about the impersonal “teaser” items on racks jamming store aisles or suggested items on curated lists of “what to buy“. They are often the first things to declutter when it’s time to keep only what matters.

Consider giving what doesn’t have a physical price tag attached.

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gift of friendship
kari fumek | pexels

The gift of our appreciation and fellowship is priceless! ✨

How about a special holiday card with a hand-written message about how much we value that person in our life?

What if we express our love with a gathering at our home: a potluck where everyone participates in creating the meal?Alternatively, a catered meal with less work for all?

How about activities: an outing to a movie, a show, a bowling alley, or even a weekend summer getaway? You choose what fits your budget.

Our presence together 💝 will be remembered long after the presents are discarded.

holiday
elina fairytale | pexels

2. Over-decorating

I have many fond childhood memories of preparing for the holidays. 

I remember Dad bundling up as he braved the Midwest cold and snow to hang outdoor lights. Next, he would haul in the live tree for the rounds of ornaments and silver tinsel. The family cat would even scale the tree at some point!😹

Mom would unpack and arrange the Nativity créche in the living room. Familiar Christmas knickknacks were also displayed. Then finally, brightly wrapped packages would gradually appear under the tree.🎄

Holiday baking also played  a large role  as we anticipated Christmas Eve and Santa Claus!

These holiday rituals will never fade from my mind.

Yet is there a point when the decorating becomes too much?

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family first
nicole michalou | pexels

Does your Inner Over-Achiever detract from the fun and the fellowship? 

If you find yourself stressing over how long your to-do list is, consider scaling it back!✂️

It’s also easy to get carried away with adorning every room. Your guests may appreciate a coordinated theme; you enjoy the compliments. But at the end of the day, it’s the laughter and the conversation that truly take center stage.

Don’t lose sight of what your own priorities are, in the scheme of things. 

Simple yet elegant touches can still relay the holiday spirit without demanding excessive time and effort on your part.

overdoing
kostya levit naddubov | pexels

3. Over-doing

Who doesn’t want things to be just right? 

From the gifts and the decorations to your holiday outfit and the tablescape, there are so many moving parts to orchestrate. 

IG Influencers, Pinterest Pros and TikTok-ers share remarkably clever decorating ideas but who can possibly execute all of them? 😝  Social media sets the bar high—too high! 

Once again, the focus gets distorted when we invest our energy on the outward appearances at the expense of relaxing time with those who matter to us.

Why not choose just one or two areas that you enjoy embellishing?

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simplify
ma boîte a photos | pexels

Pause and choose the activities that most resonate with you.

Are you the “Yes, Chef” type?  Then relish the Christmas baking.👩‍🍳  Are you more of the “crafty” type? Go forth with paper, fabric, and stamping supplies for uniquely adorned decor and gifts. 🎁   

In fact, recruit your family or guests to join in with the meal prep or even some of the tree decorating. 

There’s no reason you need to master it all! 

 It might surprise you to learn that people care less about the full menu or extensive decorating than you do. So this is definitely a time to reconsider where to focus your energy if other activities are preferred (by you) or appreciated more by others.

There’s no pressure to do everything—other than what is self-imposed. 🤯

holiday

The Wrap On Holiday Prep

The holidays are a peak time for folks to be stressed, depressed or some combination of the two. 

Relax! Cut yourself some slack. We feel the tug to get a gazillion things done even though our time is already filled with everyday obligations.

Give yourself permission to release the unrealistic expectations that often descend at this time of year.

Why let social media or the retail marketers dictate what is meaningful for you? The pressure is relentless. Which is why disconnecting from the hype is critical so you can hone in on what you choose to do.

Fellowship, laughter and love: those are the best gifts to place under the tree!  They never go out of style and they stay in our heart forever! ❤️

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Circle back to this post for more simplifying concepts:  But First: Plan Now For A Peaceful Holiday Season!

Head here and close your eyes: listen to a soothing 6-minute peaceful instrumental music roundup! The Christmas Pines

…and thanks for stopping by! 🤗

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In Case You Missed It 👇🏼

Holiday Advice: Don’t Place These Three Things Under Your Tree! Read More »

declutter your house

5 Easy Ways To Declutter Your House Now & Still Enjoy The Holidays

Believe it or not, you can add “declutter your house” to your December to-do list and not feel overwhelmed!

Are you thinking, “Surely you jest…I’ve got a ton of things to do before family and friends descend upon me!” 

Well, stay with me: I’m thinking of areas where you can weed out excess stuff and still be ready to toast the holidays with your loved ones!

I know…it’s traditional to begin a new habit on January 1st. It’s a logical starting point for those who make New Year’s resolutions. December is often a final hurrah for eating the cookies, sipping the eggnog or laying on the couch for a Netflix binge. 

Then, when the holidays are behind us, our attention is not pulled in quite so many directions. We can focus on where we want to head next.

But if you incorporate making some small uncluttering decisions while you’re preparing to celebrate, wouldn’t it be awesome to make headway now?

After all, you’re already handling many of your possessions as you prepare your home for the holiday get togethers. 

Where to start decluttering your house can start in those very spaces you’re cleaning and clearing as you prep for your guests.

Read on about five places where you can declutter your house before the end of the year!

declutter your house
laura james | pexels

1. Declutter Your Holiday Decor

Holiday decorating both inside and outside the home is part of many a family tradition. 

When I was growing up, we amassed and displayed a fair number of Christmas ornaments, Santa Claus collectibles and outdoor lights. Some of them were even passed along to us adult children as our parents scaled back. 

If you also regularly transform your home at this time of year, how about setting out fewer items? You, too, could let your grown kids pick and choose their favorites.

Or consider donating some so others who are less financially stable can also create a festive atmosphere in their homes, too. As you’re hauling out and unwrapping your decorations, review which ones are your favorites to keep and which ones can now be shared.

Crating extra space between your favorites will also feature them front and center. Everything you look at will make your heart swell.

And then think about how streamlined next year’s holiday decorating will be when you have less to set up and then store again!

tips to declutter your house
anna tis | pexels

2. Declutter Your Everyday Decor

We generally need to swap out our knickknacks when we display holiday trinkets and decor. 

Instead of simply boxing up all your things temporarily, think about sorting and releasing some of your customary items now. It’s an ideal time to clear out what no longer thrills you, especially if you’re planning to make a move into a smaller space next year. 

Oftentimes, we don’t see clearly what is in our home because we are so familiar with our things. Once it’s time to move it or pack it, only then do we start to look at our stuff with a critical eye.

As you handle each item, is it something that you truly love? Do you use it now? Is it in working condition? Might it be something to pass on to somebody else? 

 Not sure? Then defer the decision for now but at least give the process a chance.

Don’t agonize over the decisions—if your gut instinct is to let it go, do it and move on!

declutter your linen closet
elisabeth smithard | pexels

3. Declutter Your Linen Closet

Who doesn’t set out their nicest kitchen and bathroom towels at this time of year? 

They may or may not be in holiday hues but we display the ones that are in the best condition. While you’re doing this, take some time to straighten out the linen closet or shelves.

We often have many more everyday towels, washcloths and bed sheets than we truly need. Our tastes change as our decor changes. And eventually, all towels become faded, frayed or even stained.

If you do laundry on a weekly basis, why not just keep two or three sets for those in the household and perhaps another set or two for overnight guests? All the rest would be welcome donations at any charitable organization. Animal shelters in particular would appreciate your slightly frayed hand-me-downs!

Enjoy the sight of a tidy linen closet with matching pristine towels in the shades you prefer now! 

declutter the kitchen
andrea piacquadio

4. Declutter A Kitchen Cabinet (Or Two)

For all the bakers and chefs out there, the holidays are a prime time to churn out seasonal savories and goodies.

Baking cookies with my mom is one of my favorite Christmas memories! We had sweet treats by the dozen stored in the unheated breezeway between our house and garage. Someone always had an excuse to go to the garage as a pretext to sneak a few cookies!

These days, my cookie baking marathon is no more. I’ve saved a couple of the treasured cookbooks. And I whip up a couple choice treats. However, I’ve let go of the cookie press, the tin cutouts…even my kitchen-aid (gasp!) but I have other appliances that I reach for now.

Truth is, it’s just my husband and I now and we don’t need all the sugary temptation around us. Oh, I’m not averse to making a few goodies. But the extras go home with my adult son! 

If you, too, are cooking differently, why not weed out cookware and recipe books that are no longer used? Someone else likely wants a new tradition of making Belgian waffles on Christmas Day. 

Me? I’m content with an easy overnight pop-in-the-oven breakfast casserole.  You? Perhaps you’d rather make reservations….go for it!

Declutter your kitchen gadgets in a nod to how you cook now!  

decluttering conversation
askar abayev | pexels

5. The "Declutter Your House" Convo With Family

Our families gather from near and far when the holidays arrive!

Most would agree that seeing our loved ones gathered in real life is the highlight of the season. Sure, there can be some mini-dramas here and there…all part of the deal!

It’s not often that everyone convenes, due to hectic schedules and scattered home bases. So while you’re all together, initiate the conversation about what things of yours they have always admired. 

Parents often assume their kids have the same regard for family heirlooms or mementos but it’s not true. Tastes vary and so does the capacity to incorporate large furniture or collectibles into a new household.

Here’s a short of what they likely don’t want: Top 10 Objects Kids Don’t Want!

Or check out this iconic article from The New York Times: Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff & Children Who Don’t Want It.

Instead of making assumptions about who wants what, just ask! It will help your distribution process when you start paring down in earnest. 

And if more than one of your kids wants dibs on an item, now’s the time to know. 

There are a few ways to resolve this, whether drawing straws, or making concessions on one item in return for another. It doesn’t have to be finalized now. But it’s good intel for future reference.

Above all, don’t take it personally when they feel differently about your stuff.

We each have the right to decide what enters our own homes. And no one welcomes guilt at the door, don’t you agree?

The rap with Mary V

The Wrap: How To Declutter Your House In December

  • Prune your things as you go about your holiday prep routine. You can toss, donate or gift several things in as little as 15 minutes!
  • Initiate a conversation with your adult children to learn what they would like to incorporate into their own homes. You may be surprised with the answers!
  • Your small but powerful head start to declutter your house now can reinforce your New Year’s momentum!
  • Above all, enjoy the one-on-one time with your loved ones!

Your Turn!

  • Do you normally go all out with the holiday decor?

  • Is holiday baking your thing?

  • Do you prefer hosting or making the party rounds?

  • What tradition are you ready to pass on to your kids?

Share your thoughts below …and thanks for stopping by!

5 Easy Ways To Declutter Your House Now & Still Enjoy The Holidays Read More »

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