Are You Ready For The Holidays?

christmas-simple-traditions-memoriesThe holidays always seem to just come at me with full force each year.  It’s not a slow process, it’s fast and furious.  We start out fall with back to school and two birthdays in our immediate family.  We follow that up with many additional birthdays in our extended families lasting until early December.  Then, of course, we have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas mixed in there as well.  It’s busy to say the least. 

Each year I tell myself to start thinking of birthday and Christmas gifts in August because as organized as I am, I still am running around much later than I intend to be. 

This year my focus is on doing more with less.   I want to spend less on presents, but give more.  I want to stress less and enjoy more, and I want to eat less and savor more.  Those are my goals for this holiday season and here are some ways I intend to do  just that:

1.  Give more by buying less.  I recently read a blog post on Matt Jab’s site, DebtFreeAdventure, where he talks about buying less stuff and giving more from your heart.   Click here to read the post.

2.  Send free e-cards.  I discovered Smilebox a few months ago.  It is a site that is owned by Hallmark I believe, and you can send free photo e-cards using the free software that you download from their site.  They have a ton of different designs and you can attach one photo or an assortment of photos.   Some of the cards include a slide show and there are even newsletter cards.  You can send a family letter with an assortment of pictures, all for free!  This is of course only via email, which uses less paper and postage.  A plus.  I am going to combine this with actual cards that I’ll be sending to close family and friends.  However, instead of sending out 50-75 cards, I am going to send a lot of folks on our list the e-cards.   It’s free and it saves time.  Bonus.

3. Decorate less.  In our attempts to continue to minimize our belongings I have sold and given away a lot of my holiday decorations and I am in the process of selling more.   My husband is not a fan of a ton of decorations that just sort of clutter up the house.  He’s not a Scrooge by any means, he just likes simplicity and I do too.  This year we will get a smaller tree, and maybe a real wreath.  I’ll hang our stockings and maybe a few other very special decorations, but that’s really it.  This not only saves me time and energy, but looks better too.  It’s simple yet still festive.   The Christmas holiday is about a lot more than just a bunch of decorations, so instead of focusing on decorations, I want to focus more on the meaning.

4.  Stress Less Over Meals.  I want to enjoy the holidays with good simple food, family and friends.  I will be looking for classic, easy recipes and not trying to be Martha Stewart. 

I found a great website that has a lot of great ideas, recipes, tips, etc.  It is called Organized Christmas (love the name), and the tag line is: “Simplify Your Holidays and Celebrate the Season!”  Perfectly said.  I couldn’t agree more.  That is what I plan on doing.  Check out the site when you get a chance.

Let me know if you have any time-saving or money-saving ideas that can help us to enjoy the meaning behind the season rather than getting caught up in too much stuff!

Update : 10 Things

It’s been over a week since I took a bunch of items out of my purse and minimized them down to 10 total.  (See previous post on the 10 Item Challenge) It has been great!  My shoulder has been thanking me all week, it feels so much better not lugging a heavy purse around.  And obviously it was unneccessary.

I have not missed one thing that I took out.  I even went to Costco the other day and realized I did not have my Costco card, but they will print out a temporary card for you in minutes if you do not have your card with you.  Problem solved.

I realized now that most of the things I carried, just in case, were not used very often.  It is silly to carry so many items around and rarely use them.  I love this minimizing stuff.  It is very freeing (and more comfortable).

I will continue to keep my purse like this, but now I need a smaller purse.  I will ask Santa for that.

Next…I’m going to work on my car.  I recently cleared out the stuff that I do not use, now I need to go back through and minimize further.  I need to get it to 10 items total.  I love a challenge.

What do you need to minimize?

A Mission to Minimize

I truly am on a mission.  A mission to minimize our stuff.  And I’m having so much fun.  I really enjoy this.  I decided to have a garage sale this Friday and Saturday, so I’m busy clearing out anything we don’t use and I’m pricing it as I go.  It is going to feel so good to get this stuff out of our house.  I can’t wait. 

I know having a garage sale can be a lot of work, but if I can make a little money while also clearing out our stuff, then it’s a win win for me.  I usually take our things to Goodwill.  In fact, I’ve probably made 30 or more trips to Goodwill in the past two years.  But this time I decided we had a few things that would be good for a garage sale and now I’m finding things left and right. 

My husband is being such a trooper.  He’s letting me go through things that he told me over a year ago that he would not get rid of.  I’ve softened him I think.  Actually I think he just sees it differently now.  He sees it as stuff that is just up in a box and not being used.  When you really start to look at it, it’s silly to have things in boxes that have not come out of those boxes in over a year, or in 5 years or more.  We have less and less space in our houses, and the last thing we need to do is store more stuff we don’t use or love.  That’s my mantra these days.  If we don’t use it, or love it….we need to let it go!  (sorry if I keep repeating this, but I feel it’s important to remember)

It’s very freeing.  And yes, sometimes….VERY rarely….you may…..think about something you gave away and wish you hadn’t.  But in my experience (which includes many years of giving things away) I can only think of maybe 2-3 times that has happened, and I quickly got over it.  It was a fleeting thought, and definitely not worth the space I gained in my closet or cabinets.

Think about it….would a garage sale help you clean out your house?  Maybe get together with some neighbors and have a group one.  Or with some members of your church, etc.   Even get the kids involved.  I’m involving mine.  I’ve told them if they go through their things and put things in the garage sale, and help me price them, I will give them a little money from what is sold.  My daughter has cleared out a bunch of her stuff so far.  I’m so proud.

I’ll let you know how the sale goes this weekend.  But in the meantime,  I’m having  so much fun just going through everything and being really tough on myself about whether I should keep or sell each item.  Even for me, it’s hard sometimes.  I think…well I might need that for the holidays.  But I know we can make things work with less.  And that’s what I plan on doing.

Getting Rid of Clutter

As a Professional Organizer I help people get rid of clutter.    And I love going through my own house and getting rid of things we no longer use.  I think my husband is a little nervous that he may come home one day and I will have given away or sold everything but our bed. 

I just do not see any need to keep things that we do not use, love, or reference.  Clearing our lives of clutter, and stuff we don’t use, is so important! 

If we have a lot of “stuff”, then its easier for us to focus on the stuff and give it more importance than it deserves.  Jesus teaches us this about our money and our stuff….”Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21.  That is so true.  If we get more and more “stuff”, then we just want more, don’t we?  Would it ever be enough?  I don’t think so.  I don’t know many people who have acquired a lot of “things” that would say…”I’ve got enough now, I’m done buying anything new”. 

No, the fascination with “stuff” is that you only want more and more stuff.  It can take over.  And believe me when I say….it really can take over!  I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen people with so much stuff they don’t know what to do with it.  It has taken over their homes and their lives.  It’s sad.  They’ve allowed the stuff to take over their focus.  And now they are overwhelmed because they have too much of it and don’t know what to do with it.  Also, when you have  a lot of stuff, you spend a LOT of time working around it, moving it, cleaning it, rearranging it, putting it back, and digging through it looking for something else.  It’s a lot of work.

Now think for a moment about that.  If they’ve put their treasure into all their “stuff”, and it has become overwhelming….then their heart is overwhelmed too.  There is not a sense of peace within their hearts.  If on the other hand, they put all of their energy into God, do you think they would still feel overwhelmed?  Do you think we can somehow get too much of God?  No way.  That could never happened….more of God only brings more peace and joy.  Wow, sign me up!

Take a look around at all your “stuff” and really think about what it adds to your life.  Slowly start giving things away, and see how you feel.   I’m addicted to cleaning out.   My goal is to live simply.  To live with only those things I use, love or reference regularly.  That’s it.  Then I am free to spend more time focused on what really matters…God, my husband, my kids, and the interests God has given me.