I’ll be the first to admit, I tend to go a little overboard at this time of year, in the name of holiday cheer. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of the season, forcing cheerful memories of Christmas mornings, complete with piles of torn paper, ribbons, bows and toys, toys, toys. Maybe it’s spending time with family and friends that inspires a desire to give. Or, maybe it’s the bright lights and clever marketing in every shop I enter, leaving me with my arms full of packages and a little less in the wallet.
If you’re like me, however, you soon realize what comes with the packages and bows and cards and ornaments…CLUTTER (and maybe a little less joy associated with it). Are you still looking at unused gifts from last year’s holidays, trying to save a little cash, or maybe (hopefully) trying to appreciate more of what the holiday season is really about? If that’s where you’re at this year, I have a few tips to help you can the clutter and make room for some real holiday cheer.
- Think About Storage. Before you buy that 6 foot, fully decked out tree for your front window (because it would awesomely complement the 8 foot one you already have in your living room), think about where it will be in one month. Consider having a set number of bins or a designated corner of your garage or basement for holiday decorations. If you run out of said space, you have a choice: forget about the bedazzled tree, or get rid of something old. Holiday decorations are an important part of the cheer, but remember they spend most of their lives in boxes in your space.
- Take Inventory. A tie seems like a good gift idea. Right? Unless you’re the one wearing it, and you already have more ties than you know what to do with because “a ties seems like a good gift idea” every year. When shopping for the people that live with you, snoop around. Find out how many ties (or scarves, or slippers or bottles of unused perfume) they already own.
- Be Smart About “Deals”. This is a tough one. We all get suckered into buying something outrageous because it’s a really good deal. But, is it? Do your research. Are you buying something because it’s the right gift, or because you think you’re getting a bargain.
- Give Experiences and Services. I think we can all agree that a trip to the spa, dinner and a movie or a day at an amusement park beats clothes that don’t fit and gadgets that won’t be used because you forgot to buy the batteries (AGAIN)!
- Plan Outings and Gatherings. Create memories, not clutter. Spend the money you would have spent on gifts on a weekend getaway or throw an unforgettable ugly sweater party. You know you’ve always wanted to. Get a couple of families together for a sleigh ride. Go caroling (yes, people still do that!) Tour neighborhoods for holiday lights. These are the kinds of events that bring the cheer we crave at this time of year.
Remember the season of giving doesn’t have to mean succumbing to the commercialism we’ve grown to associate with the holidays. Not to go full Charlie Brown, but there has to be more to it than presents and bright lights. Time with family and friends, a festive meal and your favorite Christmas songs bring much more joy than anything you can put a bow on. If you take the time to get rid of the excess this holiday season, you’ll be surprised at all of the room left over for holiday cheer.