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The whole Christmas gift giving process is all about the anticipation. It’s exciting to shop, to dream, to plan (assuming that most of my readers are women). We want magic, excitement, joy, even clapping when our Christmas gifts are opened, right? I know I do. It’s part of the joy of being a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, an aunt, etc. Okay, so we did that, but now that the dust has settled from the excitement, where do we start dealing with the Christmas clutter that’s left behind? When it comes to the annual dilemma of Christmas clutter, first and foremost, decide what your family mission is. Here’s mine:
I want a simplified home. I want as much clutter eliminated as possible so that we’re not bogged down by “stuff”, but rather much more focused on experiences. I want to give Christmas gifts that serve a purpose, give a blessing, bring enjoyment. I want the same for the Christmas gifts that we choose to keep in our circle. If the gifts we receive don’t fall into that idea, I want the freedom to keep the flow of giving going.
Everything in life is wrapped up with eternal value when we choose to see it. I think the beauty in simplifying our lives comes when we see something for what it truly is through the lens of eternity. We can choose to see all that comes along with Christmas as a test...a chance...an opportunity to learn to allow a constant flow of energy to pass through our lives. Truly simplifying life allows us to extract the goodness that was meant for us, from everything that passes through...and then embrace the change that follows, thus creating even more blessings.
So what do we do with too much:
Food! Find ways to take food everywhere you go for the next few days and share it. This is the perfect opportunity to visit a friend and walk in with some delicious casserole to share over a cup of tea. Ask your parents to come over and help you eat up some leftovers one night this week. Too much food left with us just adds to the waistline. Food shared can create a moment in time that changes lives.
Candy and sweets! This is where I get weird. I personally don’t want to share sugar-laden junk with the people I love. I confess. I throw it out. Don’t tell anyone. Sometimes I have to let go of the western culture of “never wasting”. I think that we could all afford to let go of things that harm our bodies.
Christmas cards! Here’s a simple idea: Keep the Christmas cards that catch your eye and put them away to make gift tags out of them for next year. It adds a unique touch to your gifts and saves money. For the ones that don't catch your eye, let them go. Christmas cards are simply a short message of good wishes. They're often chosen quickly with no emotional attachment. It's okay to let them go.
Toys! Before you do anything, just get to know each toy with your child. A lot of the reason toys are never played with after Christmas is that they’re placed on a shelf and the kids don’t know anything about them. Put batteries in them. Play each game. Make memories. Show the kids how to have fun with each one. And when all is said and done, you’ll know which ones just didn’t make the cut and need to move on to another child who might enjoy them more. Just remember, toys are supposed to promote creativity, family time, laughter, and fun. When you have a toy that's just not doing that, let it go.
Sometimes we end up with duplicates and toys that aren’t age appropriate: Keep a box of toys to donate to a needy family next year. Keep a box for possible birthday gifts for other kids. For those little trinkets, (erasers, bouncy balls, Christmas pencils, etc.), just toss them into a box. When other kids come over, they can take anything they want from the trinket box. I’ve also donated the full trinket box to the school for carnival prizes. It's a great way to bless another child with something so simple.
Gifts with no purpose! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to the realization that my reaction to a gift is very often equal to the thought that went into choosing that gift; therefore, I’ve chosen to let go of the guilt of needing to hang on to an unwanted gift. In other words, I really don’t think that letting go of the gift is going to adversely affect me or the one who chose it, in the grand scheme of life. If anything, I learn from it, because it shapes the way that I choose gifts from then on.
Should we resell? It’s much easier to resell a unused gift when we stop and think about just how much money is tossed out the window during the holidays. It’s simply a way of balancing out the excessive spending that we all do. Don’t feel guilty. It’s just “stuff”. Our stuff does not have eternal value.
Should we donate? This quote says it all: “Throw it out. In feng shui terms, there is nothing worse than keeping something you cannot stand as the quietly festering resentment you have towards the item creates a yucky pool of energy in your home. Most people can’t remember what they gave you after a couple of years, anyway…” This quote makes me laugh but it's so true.
Recreate! This is my favorite idea: Strange clothing items might be perfect for your (or your kids’) dress-up box, with especially glitzy jewelry great for decorating your Christmas tree in 11 months’ time!
An ugly ceramic vase could be “planted” in the garden to hold a flowering shrub that disguises the original container. A too-fruity perfume could be fine as a bathroom atomizer! There's a delicious satisfaction in reinventing something that otherwise would offer nothing.
- Give experiences instead of tangible gifts. Once you open your mind to this idea, the gifts are endless.
- Create an online wish list so that you’ll know what others truly would love to have.
- Donate to charities instead of giving adult gifts. The blessings could be more abundant than you ever imagined.
- Take a family trip instead of giving adult gifts. Just think of the memories and the places you could see if you simply re-purposed the money that you usually spend on gifts. Remember memories always have eternal value.
- Read reviews on the toys that your kids want. You’ll know very quickly if the toy is something that you want to invest your money in.
Remember that most of the process of simplifying our lives is carried out through elimination. The few days after Christmas are a wonderful time to put this idea into practice and get your heart into a place of peace, fully embracing the year to come.
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