The multi-colored lights are twinkling, the stately conifers bear treasured ornaments, the carols crackle on the airwaves, the menorah and kinara candles will soon burn brightly, college students are trickling home for winter break, the sales are in full swing, and the number of holiday shopping days are dwindling.
Did that last phrase cause your shoulders to tense up and a wave of panic to surge through your body? Struggling for gift ideas with no clue where to start? Running out of room to store any more items in your home? Let this be the year that you start a new tradition, one that is more relaxed, joyful, and fulfilling. Here are some practical ideas to save you money, time, space, energy, and most of all, your sanity.
- Cut back on the number of presents per recipient. 1-2 meaningful gifts are guaranteed to bring more lasting memories.
- Gift an experience such as a day out on the town, a dinner at a favorite restaurant, a massage, or a movie. An event might just be the perfect antidote to winter doldrums.
- Have a house-bound friend or neighbor? Spend an afternoon with them. Host a mini tea-party, offer to clean, or run errands for them. You will surely brighten their day and do wonders for their mental and physical health.
- If your circumstances allow, gift a budget reliever such as a month of utility expenses. For instance, now that my daughter is living on her own, she requests each year that we keep her on our family cell phone plan. That frees up her funds for other essentials.
- Endeavoring to find a gift for those in your life who already have everything that they need? A donation in the recipient’s name to their favorite charity will double the impact as it warms their heart, and you will feel good knowing that your present supports a worthy cause.
According to a 2014 TimeInc.com survey of Affluence and Wealth, there has been a “substantial increase in the number of parents who expect to donate to a charity as a gift to themselves. More than doubling from 5% to 11% , the gift of charity now represents a wonderful way for parents to feel good about the accomplishments of their successful families and, at the same time, express their sense of obligation to their community.”
- Don’t have the funds to make a cash donation? You can donate your time. Bring along family members to share in the giving.
- Wondering where you will put all the new items that make their way into your home? Clear out some space by donating gently used goods and toys to local charities. Their need never ends. For ideas where to donate, The Practical Sort offers a variety of options on our Disposal and Waste Reduction webpage. From clothes, to toys, to books, or electronics and many more, options are a click away.
When my kids were young, each winter they chose one or more gently used toys from their collection for donation to our local children’s charity. The benefit was three-fold: it taught them that giving was just as important as receiving, they gained perspective about those who were less fortunate, and it freed up space in the playroom for current year gifts.
- Are you dreading the long lines at the mall? Order online. Be sure to customize your delivery so that prowling thieves do not swipe unattended packages. Options include requiring a recipient signature, tracking the delivery so that you are home when it arrives, shipping to an alternate destination where a friend or family member will be home during delivery hours, or requesting a delivery service hold on shipments for you to pickup at your convenience. Holds are particularly useful if you plan to be away for the holidays.
- Another option if you want to avoid the crowds is to shop locally. Locally-owned stores are typically less crowded. You are also more likely to be rewarded with personalized service while doing your part to support the local economy.
Once the gifts are bought, distributed, and admired, proper disposal of packaging and old decorations can be puzzling. If you are unsure what goes into recycling vs. the trash, check out this video by Portland Metro for recycling and disposal tips:
These are just a few suggestions for alleviating some of the holiday stress this season while offering you and your family a more rewarding experience.
If you need a hand getting sorted this holiday season, contact The Practical Sort Eco-Organizing Solutions at thepracticalsort.com. We can help take the stress out of your holidays and get your home ready for entertaining or quiet comfort.
Happy holidays. May your holiday be stress free and your clutter be gone.