“What’s the hot toy the kids want this Christmas?”
“What size clothes do they fit into now?”
“What do you want for your birthday?”
My family is blessed with generous, far-flung relatives who thoughtfully want to give my kids (and my husband and me) wonderful gifts. But fielding all of these questions for every holiday and event was more than I could manage. Then I had to remember which gift idea I’d given to which relative. Not to mention the added dread of new toys and stuff flooding into a home that I’d tried so hard to keep organized.
THE SOLUTION? WISH LISTS!
People register for weddings, kids send their lists to Santa, Amazon even has a list option. So why not keep an ongoing wish list that relatives could consult for any gift-giving occasion?
I started keeping a Wish List for each of my family members and soon my whole extended family jumped on board.
But I know what you’re thinking...
Last Friday, I had to be rescued from Costco. “What happened?” you ask. “Were you injured? Was there a fire?”
Nope. It was shopping overload. Trying to choose between tenderloins and t-bones, my attention was distracted by the nearby croissants. My inner optimist was cooing, “Ooh, if I got those for the kids we could have a Parisian breakfast tomorrow and pretend we’re in a little café!”
“But there’s no way we can -- or should -- eat two dozen croissants,” fired back my inner pessimist.
I stood rooted to the spot, unable to make a decision.
Getting into the spirit of giving at the holidays is so much fun! You get to spend time thinking about those you love and dreaming up gifts to delight them.
Unfortunately, Americans will spend $15 billion this year on unwanted gifts. This year, instead of giving unwanted clutter, put on your thinking cap and get creative!
To help you along, I’m going to let you in on my secrets for coming up with the best clutter-free gifts. This list is by no means exhaustive, but consider it a jumping-off point to spark your own ideas.
Wondering what to gifts to give your loved ones? Have you seen this funny gag Christmas gift going around? It’s a roll of toilet paper just in case you get crap for Christmas! Don’t be the person who makes them use that paper!
Instead, think of gifts that feature experiences, upgrade everyday necessities into luxuries, or are consumable. Below are some of my favorites, many of which can be bought at the last minute.
Want to save a little money, reduce your errands, and cross some tasks off the list of things you have to remember (but always forget)? Use Amazon Subscribe & Save!
Most of us already use Amazon to order all kinds of household goods, but by using the Subscribe & Save feature, you can group items you need to reorder into scheduled deliveries, saving as much as 15% on each item.
I schedule deliveries every 3 months, but you can choose the schedule that works for you, from monthly to every 6 months.
Some of the items I put on my list are things like toothbrush heads (every 3 months) and refrigerator filters (every 6 months). Why? Because you're supposed to change those things on a regular basis, but I could never remember when I'd last changed them. Now, I change them when the new ones arrive. This also saves space in my house because I don't have to store them (or remember where I stored them!).
On a recent trip to London, I came across this WWII era postcard in the gift shop of the Churchill War Rooms. How could I not write a blog post about it?!
It’s a question I frequently ask my clients to consider: Can I do without it?
There are always tempting things we can buy and there are always tons of reasons to keep excess things we already have. This simple question is a good one for figuring out how valuable an item is to you and whether or not you really want to make a place for it in your home. After all, bringing something home from a store and giving it a place in your house means that you are committed to caring for it, cleaning it, using it, storing it, and looking at it for quite a long time.
Is it worth it?
Can you do with out it?
For one month, try asking yourself this question (when you’re in a store and when you’re looking around your house) and see how many times you can say, “Yes, I can do without it.” At the end of the month, maybe you’ll find yourself with a smaller credit card bill from things you didn’t buy and a big bag of things you now can do without and want to donate.
Need to organize a desk, vanity, or other shallow drawer? You could spend a lot of money on fancy-looking organizers or spend a lot of time devising a custom-organizer box plan, but how much work does organizing a messy drawer really need to be?
I like these simple, plastic drawer organizers from the Container Store.
They cost only $5.99 for the small size and $7.99 for the large and are pre-sectioned to hold items of varying size and have a sliding top section that can hold items you frequently need to grab. Another plus is that they are smooth plastic with rounded corners so they are easy to clean.
With other drawer organizers, I often find that they don’t have the right type of sections for the job – too many small sections or too many large sections or just not the right mix. These organizers seem to have just what I need for so many different organizing tasks: makeup, skincare products, medicine, first aid supplies, arts and crafts tools, etc.
Catalogs and magazines can be fun to browse through every now and then, but this innocent-seeming form of entertainment can have cluttering consequences for your home and your mind.
Here’s a list of reasons why I recommend reducing or eliminating your consumption of catalogs and magazines:
If clutter is driving you crazy, you might think the first step would be to start paring down and getting rid of things.
But how can you control the clutter when more keeps coming through the door?
Step one: Stop the mindless purchases.
Instead of buying on impulse, try this technique to give yourself a little more time to consider new acquisitions.
1. You see a dress/power tool/throw pillow that you really like (online or in a store) and have a strong desire to throw caution to the wind and buy it right now.
(Excuses abound: It's so cute! I deserve a little pick-me-up! This would make things so much easier! It would pull together the whole look of my living room!)
2. Don't buy it! Instead, enter it into your list app (Use my link to get TickTick, my favorite list app) or calendar app with a reminder set for one month from now.
3. When you receive the notice a month later, check in with yourself to see if you even still remember the item, much less still want to buy it.
More often than not, you'll realize you really don't need that thing and maybe not having it has helped you better appreciate the things you already own. If you're still undecided, postpone the decision again with another reminder set for one more month. If you find you still really want the item, it's OK to give yourself permission to buy it. Feel good about having made a considered decision not a mindless purchase.