From Monica Ricci’s Catalyst Organizing newsletter:
When November hits, many people shift into holiday mode, beginning their planning for December events. Holidays, by definition, are a time to relax with friends and family, retreating from work and responsibilities to enjoy our relationships and the festivities of the season. Do your holidays reflect rest and relaxation? Or do they reflect added stress, debt, hectic schedules, and weeks of frantic “busyness” that you could do without?
When I work with clients this time of year, I find that much of their holiday stress comes from the pressure to give gifts. I also find that much of the clutter that exists in the lives of my clients are past gifts from well-meaning friends and relatives. We are so accustomed to gift-giving at birthdays, holidays, and other events that we seldom think about the impact that giving a gift will have on the receiver.
As an example, think about yourself. Do the gifts that you receive always add real value to your life? Or do they simply add more clutter? Do you really need another tie, knick-knack, or coffee mug to add to your growing collection? Do your children really need another toy or stuffed animal? If you’re like most people, and you tell yourself the truth, the answer is no. So if YOU feel this way, chances are that your friends and relatives might also feel the same. Is it even possible that you might all be buying for each other out of a sense of tradition or obligation, each wishing that the other would speak up and put a stop to it? Or maybe you’d like to change the style of gifts that you give, as not to add clutter to the life of someone you love.
If you are tired of feeling pressured to buy, tired of spending a fortune at the holidays, or are tired of your family giving your children a whole lot of what they really don’t need, this is your year to make some holiday gift-giving changes for the better!
Below are three ideas for simplifying the holidays that will change your outlook on giving and receiving gifts, along with a list of ten new gift ideas that won’t add clutter to anyone’s life.
Can We Talk?
Have a frank conversation with your loved ones about your feelings surrounding the gift-giving tradition. You might discover that they are as willing to simplify or eliminate gift-giving as you are, but were hesitant to bring it up.
Just Say No
Set limits for yourself and your children. Let your friends and family know in advance (that means NOW) that you are endeavoring to simplify your life and to teach your children that more is NOT better. Set limits on the number and/or type of gifts that you will allow your children to receive. As a parent, you have not only the right, but the responsibility to shape your child’s expectations of the holidays. Do you want to teach them that the holidays are about getting as many gifts as possible or do you want to teach them something different? It’s your choice, and your action (or inaction) will speak for itself.
Change Your Habits
Choose to change your gift-giving habits. Unless someone has specifically requested a particular item, try giving gifts of time, services, or experience this year. Here are great suggestions for clutter-free gifts that you can give, and suggest that your family give to your kids. The wonderful thing about giving gifts like these is that the person giving the gift can EXPERIENCE the gift with the recipient if they want to, and isn’t spending time together the best gift of all?
Clutter-Free Gifts For Kids:
1. A matinee movie.
2. Tickets to a play or musical.
3. Tickets to an ice show.
4. An evening at a kid-themed restaurant.
5. A trip to the zoo.
6. An afternoon at a local art or science museum.
7. Gift cards to an ice cream shop.
8. Host a homemade ornament-making party.
9. Host a cookie-making party with holiday music.
10. Host a weekend slumber party.
Clutter-Free Gifts For Grown-Ups:
1. Babysitting services for new (or veteran) parents.
2. Dinner at a nice restaurant.
3. Tickets to the orchestra or a concert.
4. An evening at a dinner theatre.
5. A carriage ride around the city at night.
6. A gift certificate for a half-day at a spa.
7. Tickets to a sporting event.
8. Gift certificates for car detailing.
9. A nice bottle of wine and some wonderful cheese.
10. A month’s worth of personal chef services.
These gifts of experience are the kind that will long be remembered even after they are used, which means you’ll be remembered fondly at the same time.
Extra Special Gift Idea
Agree that you’ll each pick a tag from an “Angel Tree” and purchase a gift for a needy or foster child in your area. Get together to have holiday snacks and wrap your Angel Tree gifts before you take them back to leave under the tree.
There are many other gifts of time, experience, or services that you could give. If you have an idea for one that isn’t on the list, write and tell me, so I can include it in next month’s newsletter. Happy holiday planning!