December 03, 2018

How to Simplify the Holidays

Do you find that you make great strides toward minimizing, purging, and organizing only to find yourself right back where you started after the hustle and bustle of Christmas comes and goes?

One of the most important steps in home organizing is addressing and adjusting our relationship with the stuff we purchase moving forward. Many of us have great intentions to declutter and streamline, but if we aren't also scaling back on the items we continue to bring in, we will be right back where we started very quickly.

Christmas is one of the most difficult times of year to scale back - Particularly if you have children, or were raised with the tradition of a tree bursting with presents, over doing it in December is a common concern for many of us.

The good news: there are a TON of creative ways to simplify the holidays. Small shifts can offer big impact! And over the years, we have found some great ways maintain our focus on conscious consumption and meaningful presence (vs. presents)... all without turning into the Grinch.

Over the years, we have discovered a lot of great resources for simplifying the holidays, but nothing quite as good as the New Dream's guide to simplifying the holidays. This guide is FULL of practical tips for reducing stress and increasing joy during the holiday season. It provides awesome ideas on how to connect with children and family, streamline gift giving, create new traditions, minimizing waste, and ultimately, create a holiday season that everyone in your family will enjoy and remember or years to come (without filling your life and home with chaos and clutter.)

  • give away the last great book you bought and enjoyed to someone with similar taste.
  • if you like to cook or bake, try your hand at making fresh salsa, pasta sauce, jam, bread, or baked goods. Or prepare homemade soups or dinners that can be frozen for future use and include the recipe.
  • make and package up homemade green cleaning products.
  • plant a tree or perform a “random act of kindness” in your recipient’s honor.
  • put together a booklet of favorite family recipes.
  • display a special heirloom - frame a recipe of your grandmothers in her handwriting, find a unique display box for a handmade piece of lace or knitting, or turn a pair of baby booties or a treasured baby rattle into a tree ornament.
  • re-gift a cookbook you no longer use often. Highlight or flag a few of your favourite recipes.
  • have a “re-gift” swap. we all have gift-quality things in our closets that we don’t actually use - get together with a few like-minded friends and trade them for items that fit your gift list. 
  • celebrate your loved ones—write your friend or family member a letter listing all the qualities you admire most about them 
  • have family home videos converted to DVD, or make a slideshow of old family photographs.
  • commit to a monthly lunch date with an elderly relative or friend.
  • offer to teach a skill you possess- canning, photography, gardening, swing dancing, knitting, furniture making, or doing the butterfly stroke to name a few. 
  • give tickets to a community theater or a membership to a museum.
  • buy renewable energy certificates to offset the carbon emissions of a friend. 
  • purchase gift cards/ credit towards car or bike share programs or ride share apps like Uber. 
  • set aside a few hours to volunteer in your community in honor of your friend or loved one.
  • vow to send a letter or postcard each month for the entire year to friend or family member in a different city (this is especially great for kids and grandparents!)
  • make a donation to charity or buy a gift card to an organization like canada helps or kiva and let the recipient decide where to best allocate the funds.
This is, of course, just the smallest sampling of ideas shared in the New Dream guide- you can download the full guide here for more ideas and inspiration.

May the holiday season be filled with beautiful memories, family and dear friends, delicious food, and moments of pure delight.

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