Certified Feng Shui consultant Katie Rogers joins us today with some great ideas for cutting through the holiday chaos while keeping your sanity intact. Welcome, Katie!
Let’s be frank. The holiday season is loaded, right? While we can all pretend that everything is merry, merry and gobble, gobble, many of us instead drown in anxiety at the sight of rows and rows of Christmas “stuff” lining the shelves.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m far from a bah-humbug. I can belt out “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and watch It’s a Wonderful Life with the best of them, but it seems that in our consumer-obsessed society, Christmas gets buried under a snowbank of “stuff” and stress, rather than being the lighthearted and joyous occasion it is intended to be.
So how can we conquer the holiday pitfalls and avoid getting sucked into the consumerist vortex and Christmas hustle? First, change your thinking around gift giving, and employ these tips to keep things simple.
1. Take your time when holiday shopping.
Procrastination only leads to overspending and buying things just because. At this point, you have time. Make decisions now on who, what, when and where, and then execute the follow-through. After that, sit back and enjoy the season.
2. Don’t buy what they are selling.
Large and big-box companies are clever, and they make bank on our desire … our need … to make the holiday season special. These companies spend gazillions of dollars coming up with pretty ads that play on our vulnerable holiday emotions. Don’t buy into it. Most likely, you don’t need any more decorations, and buying “stuff” for the sake of giving a physical gift actually does more harm than good. What people need even more than a new chachki to collect dust is peace, and adding to a person’s clutter by giving more “stuff” is in no way providing peace!
3. If you buy, buy locally and consciously.
The mom-and-pop shops and local artisans work hard and want your business! Supporting them is great for the local economy, and you know exactly where your money is going, too. Again, some of these larger companies are doing naughty things, such as polluting the earth and testing their products on innocent animals. No more! Your dollars are essentially “votes” that tell these companies it is not okay to engage in such practices. When you buy consciously, you do good and you feel better, too.
4. Ask them what they want.
Sometimes people have specific wants or needs, so if you’re able to, go ahead and provide them! Go in with other friends or family members on bigger purchases. One thoughtful gift is much better than a thousand so-so trinkets.
5. If you give food, think.
I’ve cleaned out many a client’s pantry, and it’s almost comedic to see the food items received as gifts from three Christmases ago still taking up space. While you may love Aunt Sue’s pepper-pickle jelly, not everyone does. How about gifting a box of fresh fruit instead? Our neighbor gave us a box of pears each year, and they were delicious and memorable! Be sure to check for allergies and other dietary restrictions before buying.
For the person who has everything, why not donate to their favorite local spot — the zoo, botanical gardens, etc. — in their name?
7. Give gift certificates, but use caution.
When opting for the easy option of gift certificates, exercise caution. I’ve discovered many an unused gift card tucked away in a junk drawer when helping a client declutter. Perhaps opt for a credit or gift certificate at places you know the recipient already enjoys. A month off from a regular payment to the yoga studio? Yes, please!
8. Go green with plants or flowers.
What better way to make a space happier than to bring it to life with a beautiful floral arrangement or live plant? Prices run the gamut, so options are endless. Orchids, poinsettias, lilies … the list goes on and on.
9. Write a heartfelt note.
The days of handwritten notes are no doubt fading, but there is one way to preserve this lost art: do it! In our busy lives, taking the time to express gratitude and love may be the most generous gift someone receives this season. (Throw in some ecofriendly stationery, and you’ve got a great gift times two!)
10. Book a photo session.
Photographs are legacies for years to come. And how many of us want to get those photos mounted and framed but forget to do so? Do your loved one a favor, and do it for them! Or better yet, purchase a session with a local photographer to capture a new photo with the whole family.
These are just a few ideas to keep the holidays merry … as they should be. Cheers!
Thanks for these great tips, Katie! Need one more gift idea? Check out Katie’s 27-day Declutter Your Way to Clarity e-course that begins in January.