Season's Greetings & Farewell to STUFF

>> Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If someone asks me if I've started my holiday shopping yet one more time, I think I may freak out. I feel like I say this every month, but I can't believe it's already November 30th. Halloween . . . done. Thanksgiving . . . also over. My answer to the shopping question, by the way, is a big fat no. In fact, we still have pumpkins in our house from Halloween. As much as I enjoy the holidays, they always speed by. I'm always stressed when I realize it's one week until the big day and I've got . . . nothing ready.

It's not that I don't care. It's not that I'm a procrastinator (in all reality, however, I most certainly am. I thrive on it.). The time simply slips away from me. Working full time will do that to a gal (or guy), am I right? This year, I'd like it to change, though.

For my actions to be proactive -- planned -- for once.

But in all of this, there's also this intense desire I've had recently to eliminate STUFF from my life. To live more simply. To buy less. To want less. To invest more time, energy, caring, love -- more of myself -- into everything I do, everything I have, everyone I know. So, by now I think you're starting to see that (cue the music) I'm dreaming of a handmade Christmas.

Realistically, I won't be able to knit, bake, and toil over gifts for every man, woman, and child in my life. And that's OK. But I have some holiday goals. (I guess we can add them to the list of my life goals.) Hopefully by following this guide, we'll make it through the season with a little less stress, strife, and less STUFF cluttering our spaces.


Consider this the pre-present preparation. We started over the weekend with our wardrobes. We'll continue over the next couple weeks with our kitchen, our games, our books, and all other items. We want to live with less. What this means is purging our house of all the excess.

The task can seem daunting at first, but becomes incredibly liberating upon completion.

How to begin?
  1. Choose a category of STUFF. For example: Clothing.
  2. Dump all that STUFF in a room. Create piles of "keep" (gotta-have-it) and "toss" (broken or unusable) and "donate/sell" (still of worth, just not for your) and "not sure" (self-explanatory). Write out labels if it helps.
  3. Then go through your STUFF and put it in a pile that corresponds with your feeling toward it. This part is tricky, but try to go with your gut. (If it doesn't fit or you haven't worn it in years, seriously -- get rid of it!)
  4. With the "not sure" STUFF, you may want to go through it again and see if your feelings have changed by the end of your sorting. If you have the space, you can hold onto it for a couple months (in your attic, perhaps) to see if you find yourself looking for it. If you don't -- TOSS or DONATE/SELL.
  5. Choose one area of your STUFF each weekend until you've gone through most of your belongings. Who knows, you may even find some gifts in there!


Most of us have things we need and things we don't need. When giving gifts, it's hard to tell what that other person might need or want sometimes. Take out the guesswork by asking. When receiving gifts, it's hard for that other person to tell what you may need or want. Take out the guesswork by sharing. C.o.m.m.u.n.i.c.a.t.i.n.g. Before doing so, though, you may want to examine your current activities/hobbies/things you find enjoyable, goals, and life situations.

By examining your life, you'll be able to tell your aunt, for example, that you really would like a winter coat this year versus 4 sweater sets. Or your brother that you'll like a gift card -- even if it's only for $15 -- to Wegmans versus a scarf that you'd otherwise just add to your pile of many, many scarves (I'm speaking, of course, from personal experience. Ryan -- Did you catch that?). Sometimes, and as in the case of my grandmother, you may want your loved ones to give on your behalf to a charity or other organization.

No, you won't always have the opportunity to openly communicate gift desires, but when you're able -- it can be most helpful to you (and your friends/family members) for both giving/receiving.


Quite literally. There are countless presents you can give that don't involve wrapping paper or boxes. I actually enjoy these kinds of gifts better than others in many cases. What am I talking about? Here are some ideas:
  • Yoga classes. Cooking class. Crafting classes. All sorts of classes!
  • Movie tickets. Concert tickets. Hockey tickets. All sorts of event tickets!
  • Dinner. You cook (little cost!). Or take a friend/family member out. 
  • Pedicures. Manicures. Spa treatments. Haircuts. Etc. 
  • Day trips. Nights out. Just going someplace -- even if it isn't far -- can be an awesome gift.
  • And, of course, homemade stuff always works. Think scarves, cookies, photo prints, etc. Whatever your talent is, you can put it to work!
Basically, don't give stuff. Give experiences. An iPod that may be obsolete next month. Or a bag that may go out of style next season. If you gift experiences, they'll create memories that last a lifetime!


I think we've all had one of those awkward moments where we've either received or given a gift that wasn't reciprocated. Well, folks, it's OK to NOT give gifts. I've read in magazines that it's advisable to be ready with some emergency presents in case you receive from someone unexpected. Nah. I say nip this problem in the bud before it becomes, well, a problem to begin with! Sometimes all you need is, again, communication.

If you're in a bad spot money-wise . . . or even just trying to simplify, start a family-only rule. Your friends should truly understand if you explain the reasoning behind it. Plus, saying no to gifts (and I'm mostly talking about STUFF) doesn't mean you can't still do something special like many of the items in tip #3. Same goes with coworkers. If your office doesn't already have some sort of system in place (like Michael's Yankee Swap), be frank. Maybe agree to treat each other to coffee or something.

But save the elaborate stuff for those nearest and dearest to your hearts. Even then, consider all these ideas for a less wasteful, less financially burdensome, less clutteriffic holiday season!

Now, I'm sure you've got some of your own tips. And we'd love to hear them! Just leave a comment or email us at neverhomemaker [at] gmail [dot] com.

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