Monday, November 21, 2011

Simplifying Christmas

Holly Garland Kit, at Paper Source

Holiday Simplicity

Because this blog often features shopping related info, images of things I've bought to enjoy in my own home, and excitement about new products, I hesitate to spend too much time talking about frugality. There are enough blogs on the net talking about money saving tips and budgeting. Lovely Living has a different focus.

However, I appreciate the idea of a simpler, less hectic Christmas. (Plus frugality is important right now with our troubled economy). That's part of why I begin my Christmas shopping early in the year, and finish by December 1st whenever possible. I shop for fewer items, make more careful decisions about the few gifts I am going to buy. I spend less time shopping and more time with family.

You can simplify Christmas, and yet still enjoy shopping, just by cutting down on the amount of gifts you purchase. I love shopping but I don't feel the need to buy a gift for everyone I know. I love giving gifts, but this year I'm only buying presents for children. I will buy just one small gift, one piece of clothing and one book each for my nephews and nieces. My foster daughter needs a lot of clothing, and I am excited to be giving her a gift of something she can actually use and wear - not just something that would sit getting dusty on a shelf.

No Need to Buy More Decorations

I realized a few years ago that there is very little I need to buy for my own home for Christmas, other than a fresh live tree. I already have more ornaments than I have space to fit on the tree; plenty of holiday decor; I already have more than enough wrapping paper and beautiful ribbons to wrap the few gifts I'll purchase. I already have stockings for my household members, and I don't need fancy mantel stocking holders like they're always advertising in the Pottery Barn catalog.

I don't need Christmas-themed kitchen towels, placemats or tablecloths. Until something wears out, I have plenty of holiday linens. I already have Christmas dishes, which I have to store in the garage because I don't have room for them in the house. I have a wreath for my front door, and tons of Christmas lights for outside. It appears that I don't have room (or need) in my life for any more holiday decoration supplies. At least not until I give some away, throw some away or recycle them, or trade them with a friend.

So this year the only things I should be buying for the holidays are a few gifts, fresh food and some fun beverages.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD, on Amazon

I'll be frugal with my time and activities too. I want to prioritize enjoying time with family - even if it's just doing something simple like making popcorn and hot cocoa, then settling in to watch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Or we might play board games all night. Rather than running around going to endless parties (though parties are extremely fun!) or driving myself (and family) crazy by throwing too many parties, I'll budget my time carefully. I'll keep it simple.


  • I like eating hard-boiled eggs on my salad, or for a quick shot of protein in the morning. But I don't often plan ahead enough to have hardboiled eggs on hand for convenience. Today I'm going to take just a few minutes to put four or five eggs on the stove, set a timer, and take them out once they're done. I'll label the eggs with a pen so I know what day I made them. Tonight my salad will be adorned by some tasty hard-boiled egg slices! Want to do the same thing too?

  • Recycle old newspapers, catalogs and magazines. Any newspaper that's more than a week old, throw out mercilessly. Don't be one of those people who accumulate a huge stack of newspapers thinking they'll get around to reading them someday. You can always visit your favorite newspaper on line and scan the headlines to catch up. Also, instead of keeping an entire catalog so you can remember something you want to check on later, pull out that page instead, then recycle the rest of the catalog.

  • If you're going to any plays, operas, ballets, or concerts this season, do you have tickets yet?

  • Check over your Christmas gift list - do you keep one in your purse or in your cellphone? (If you don't keep a list with you when you're out and about, I highly recommend this technique). Cross out anything you've bought, add any new ideas you've had.

  • Need to stock up on gift wrap tape or packaging tape?

  • Exercise for at least twenty minutes.

TODAY'S PROJECT: Home Office Organization, part 2

Today I am going to clean and organize my garage storage space. Because I run business out of my home, and especially because this is my busiest time of year, my office and storage space are a huge ongoing organization struggle. I pack my merchandise by reaching to bookshelves behind me, or quickly jumping up to grab something off a nearby shelf. So I need things nearby, and that limits how much stuff I can put away in drawers or out of sight.

Clean off your desk, and dust thoroughly. Clean your keyboard, mouse and monitor (I don't use anything fancy, just Windex sprayed onto the cloth, never directly onto the monitor, and Windex on Qtips for the keyboard).

Empty desk drawers and sort what's in them, throwing or giving away as much as possible. Organize your computer CDs and software collection. If you can get yourself to throw away the pretty-looking boxes that computer games come in, you'll open up a lot of space and get rid of so much clutter. Can you part with any old computer games you don't play any more?

Organize your pens, paper, notepads, staples, and other office supplies. Pay attention to how many pens you already own - I bet most of us truly never need to buy another pen for the next five years. Test each pen and throw out any that don't write. Make sure you can find tape, scissors, a calculator, a postage scale, stamps, and a stapler when you need one.

Clean your office chair and Febreze it or use leather wipes if applicable. Vacuum, mop or sweep the room depending on what type of flooring you have. Sort and clean any bookcases you have in your office. Replace needed items on top of your desk, but try to keep the clutter down.

LOVELY BLOGS: Deck the Holidays

This blog features "Folklore, facts and features about holidays around the world." Currently posting about pumpkin cream pie, the Detroit Thanksgiving parade, and the origins of Thanksgiving.

LOVELY BOOKS: The Hoarder in You

I'm so looking forward to Dr. Robin Zasio's book, which comes out tomorrow. I use the TV show Hoarders as a tool to horrify me into getting rid of belongings. (I'm a packrat, not a hoarder, but the show is truly frightening!) I try not to have an emotional connection to my possessions, but struggle to release sentimental items (such as the porcelain dolls my mother made and painted so many years ago). The book will present practical ideas on managing the items in our lives, decluttering and staying organized.

The Hoarder in You, on Amazon


Brussels Sprout Slaw with Mustard Dressing (Brown Eyed Baker)

Chipotle Lime Cranberry Sauce (All Day I Dream About Food)

Chocolate Peppermint Roll (Bakers Royale)

Cranberry Sauce (The Pastry Affair)

Cranberry Sauce with Ginger and Cloves (Girlichef)

DIY Flavored Salts (CHOW)

From Scratch Green Bean Casserole (Annie's Eats)

Macarons, Macaroons and Macaroni: The Curious History (Slate)

Quince Honey: The Perfect Thanksgiving Host Gift (Bon Appetit)

10 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dishes (CHOW)

Three Easy Day Trips from London (Conde Nast Traveler)

What Is a Fashion Icon? (Slate)

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