Christmas commitments

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This Christmas, I will…

Mend a quarrel
Dismiss suspicion
Seek out an old friend
Share good news
Encourage someone
Listen
Apologise if I’ve been wrong
Be patient and understanding
Re-examine my demands on others
Think first of others
Show appreciation
Be kind
Be gentle
Laugh more
Express gratitude
Welcome a stranger
Gladden the heart of a child

(Author Unknown)

Happy Christmas!

Thank you for being a part of my minimalism journey and for all your support and comments during the year. A very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year 2018. See you on the other side!

Catherine x

10 Ideas for a Clutter-busting Christmas

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I have previously written about gifting with grace and love, but I’ve been thinking lately about ways to achieve a clutter-less Christmas.

If you’re a minimalist yourself, you may want to be intentional in your gift giving and emphasize ‘experiences over stuff’. Perhaps you’re hoping that any gift you might receive would support your clutter-free goals. Or maybe you’re just looking for some ideas that won’t involve going to ‘shiny spending places’, which would almost certainly result in both you and your wallet feeling depleted.

Here are my 10 Ideas for a Clutter-busting Christmas

1. Try home-made

I’m baking iced Christmas tree decorations this year. Made with love, these little tokens are inexpensive to make, are low-impact when it comes to packaging, and I can be generous in gifting as many as I like. If you don’t want to hang yours on the tree, that’s fine. You can simply eat it.

Pictured above are my cookie jars from a couple of years ago. Again, these are simple to do, visually appealing and require no gift wrap. Let me know if you want the recipe!

2. Go uniform

If you can give the same little love token to lots of people, your gift wrap (if needed) can be uniform too. Try brown paper or newspaper tied with ribbon or string. This is less wasteful than buying myriad gift bags or multiple packs or rolls of gift wrap.

3. Embrace digital

I have an annual subscription with jacquielawson.com. This UK based company designs online greetings cards that can be personalised, so you can write an individual message to the recipient. Send as many as you like, save yourself a small fortune at the post office, reduce waste and avoid clutter. I know that some people still like to send physical cards, but if you lead a busy life and want an efficient way to send a meaningful message, this is one option.

4.  Buy experiences

A trip out to a venue such as the cinema or theatre isn’t a cheap night out. So, gifting an experience that will appeal to loved ones is a fabulous clutter-free option. Alternatively, buy them a music, sporting, driving or dance lesson. There’s no clutter involved and you’ll also be gifting a sense of anticipation, as they’ll have something to look forward to once the festivities are over.

5. Adopt a less is more approach

When it comes to decorations, more is not always better. You can achieve a sense of ‘hygge’ (cosyness) just as well by displaying only your very favourite items. A little bit of sparkle is lovely but you don’t need your home to look like an outpost of John Lewis. Equally, if you bring down from the loft decorations that you never use, it’s OK to let them go. Don’t be hard on yourself if you really don’t value Auntie Mabel’s Christmas baubles. You really don’t have to keep them.

6. Be of service

Have you a skill – or maybe some time – you could offer to others? If ‘acts of service’ form a part of your love language, why not offer a massage, a night’s babysitting, an afternoon’s gardening or something home-cooked? When my pal, Michelle, was 50, she asked for a home-cooked meal for her birthday. I was delighted to offer this unusual present; she and her family were pleased to eat it!

7.  Contribute to others

There are some ways to mark the festive season that will add value in ways that can really make a difference to others’ lives. Once again this year, a colleague of mine is coordinating a collection of gifts for looked after children. Local charities such as Helping Hands also distribute hampers across the community to families who will benefit most. Maybe this provides the opportunity to re-gift things you never used, but which someone else might appreciate?

8. Consider a subscription as a gift

Buying someone a subscription is a lovely treat. Perhaps a year’s membership of a group such as the WI, a magazine or music streaming subscription would be appreciated. What about a subscription box of delicious consumables? There are all kinds of subscription boxes available; why not check them out?

9. Consumables are king

This brings to my favourite gift category: consumables. Gifting something you can eat, drink, spray, apply, cook with or (better still) share is a lovely way to celebrate the holidays in a way that means the recipient won’t end up with something that will ultimately end up in the charity shop or – worse – the bin.

10. Ask them what they want

This might seem obvious, but if you’re unsure about what to give someone you love, why not ask them? Knowing you’re buying something that’s genuinely wanted or needed will guarantee they receive something they’ll truly appreciate. And don’t forget, kids love to have their own spending power, so cash (whilst not very imaginative) is often very much appreciated.

So that’s my list, but what about you? Do you have some clutter-busting holiday ideas? If so, please do share by replying below!


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Reasons for buying and the Life Energy Experiment

Reasons for buying and the Life Energy Experiment

Why do we buy the stuff we buy?
1. To please others?
2. To satisfy a bigger, emotional need?
3. To keep up with the Joneses?
4. To tell the world something about ourselves (look how successful I am!)?

Do you return from a shopping spree laden down with bags but find it hard to remember – just shortly after – exactly why you bought the things you did? Can you even remember what you bought? Maybe you shop online and love the feeling of winning when your bid comes out top?

Our ‘why we buy’ can be any number of things. Do these resonate?

– it was a bargain

– my friend got one

– I just love those little gift bags they give you when you buy one

– they had ‘buy two, get a third free’

Take stock. Think for a moment.

– was it such a bargain if you didn’t really need it?

– just because it suits your pal, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you

– no-one else cares whether you’re carrying a status symbol or not

– did you need that many? really?

Believe me when I tell you that the one ‘winning’ in this scenario is the organisation or individual who’s made a sale. Your ‘why did you buy’ becomes less convincing when you consider that you’re not buying what you need; you’re buying an idea. Aren’t those marketers very, very clever?

So, join me this month on my Life Energy Experiment as we ask the question:

What value, fulfilment and satisfaction did I derive from what I bought in relation to ‘life energy’ expended?

 

 

 

Gifting with grace and love 

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The tradition of gift giving is one of the many threads that binds the generations throughout the centuries. We give gifts for symbolic reasons, for celebrations, to mark important occasions, to say thank you or simply as an expression of love.

Sparkle and shine

The Bible describes how, following the birth of Jesus, Wise Men from the East brought gifts to worship the new-born King. The careful selection of these rare and valuable items (gold, frankincense and myrrh) denoted the importance of the Christ Child to the magi.

Modern day gifting

Modern-day gifting is certainly a different story when you consider the historical meaning of the word itself. The Old Norse word ‘gipt’ corresponded with Old English ‘gift’ meaning ‘payment for a wife’. Anyone who has purchased a diamond solitaire for an engagement ring might still agree!

However, the giving of gifts in the 21st Century is a minefield, especially when the world is full of things to buy.

  • How much should I spend?
  • Will they like it?
  • Might they already have one?
  • Do they even need it?

Wise is the couple celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary who politely tell their guests: ‘No presents, please; just your presence.’

Experiences over stuff

In late August, my thoughts turn to birthdays, as we have a number in our family that fall in September. Increasingly, I ask myself if it’s possible to buy an experience rather than an item.

My philosophy is to buy fun (i.e. an experience), food (consumables) or flowers (a beautiful but affordable luxury). For example, for their birthday last year, my twin godsons enjoyed a day out with their family members (an experience, using leisure vouchers) rather than another toy to add to their collection. Everyone enjoyed it; the family was making memories together.

The gift happens in the giving and receiving

In a live meet-up held on Saturday via Facebook, Courtney Carver of said something that really made me think:

‘The gift happens in the giving and receiving’.

It’s the act of giving itself that we should consider carefully. Maybe that’s why we often hear, ‘it’s the thought that counts.’ Courtney is right. It’s not the gift itself that matters; it’s the intention behind the giving *and* receiving that matters most.

Receiving with grace

For a minimalist, the other side of the coin is the question of what to do when receiving a gift (especially a decorative item) that doesn’t really fit in your home or which truly doesn’t ‘spark joy’ in the Marie Kondo sense. Again, this is where the act of receiving – and the grace in so doing – is in your hands.

Minimalists take a pragmatic approach to unwanted gifts. The mantra ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ is not for nothing! Some like to keep a gifts box into which unwanted items go.

This provides a useful source of raffle prizes or stock for fundraising car-boot sales. Once full, some of us happily take the contents of the gift box to the charity shop where someone else can grab a bargain to help a good cause. There is no shame in doing this; once in your hands, the gift becomes a part of your belongings over whose destiny you have ultimate control.

Happy holidays

So, as summer breezes into autumn, think about your gifting strategy. Think about it now, before the summer holidays become ‘Happy Holidays’.

Remember this: it’s the gifts that are made, offered and received with grace and love that mean the most.


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