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December Mixed Bag

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December is here and I’m ready! I have some good plans laid with friends and will be ramping up to celebrate the first time since last Christmas that we have all 3 of our kids home together! We could not get it together this year, it was too hard with conflicting schedules and some other challenges so for the very first time I will send a Christmas card that has individual pictures of us on it instead of a group shot 😂

In other news I have some tips on keeping both your holiday decor and your gift list clutter-free, plus sharing the holiday spirit I plan to soak in when I head to New York this weekend. Welcome to the Holiday Edition of the Mixed Bag!

Declutter as you go

We decorated the house this weekend and it reminded me of a good decluttering habit you can employ each year when you haul out your stuff; Declutter As You Go. I’ve done a so-so job of this over the years but now I’m really into it.

Here’s how it went before: I’d pull everything out of our Christmas Storage area and notice a few things that I didn’t want/need to use. Because our Christmas Storage is in the basement, bringing it all out requires many trips up and down the stairs and so what was the point of bringing up stuff I wasn’t going to use? So year after year that stuff would just sit in storage.

Fast forward to now: I bring everything upstairs and separate the edits from everything else – there isn’t too much as I’m a pretty good curator. This year it consisted of lights that never get used because I bought the wrong size one year, a large Santa popcorn tin (that the wrong-size lights were in) I’m pretty sure I’ve had since my 20’s and a few ornaments that haven’t made the cut in a while.  I won’t miss these things and my people won’t even notice that they are gone.

When I go to strike the set at the end of December it won’t be quite as crowded in the storage space and it will be easier to get the stuff in and out next year.

So Declutter that decor when you’re in the moment – it’s a perfect opportunity to streamline your holiday decorating.

Clutter-Free Gifting

Gifting is getting tougher for me as most of the people on my list have been receiving gifts from me for decades and I hate the idea of giving gifts that are going to turn into clutter. Our kids give us specific lists, which is helpful but for everyone else it’s up to me to figure it out!

I use four filters that help me stay in my clutter-free lane while shopping – here they are!

Is it useful? Last year I gave Jay a Roomba because he is constantly sweeping up Gus-Fur from our main living area. I knew he would use it because it filled a specific need.

Is it consumable? I like giving food from cool places like Zabar’s or Zingerman’s (no it doesn’t have to start with a Z.)  Most of my people have a population swell during the holidays with kids home from school and/or family visiting. So I know the food will get eaten!

Does it wear out?  There are certain categories that people may have a lot of but they are constantly wearing out. I put dish towels and potholders in this category (my assumption is that most people burn their potholders like I do?)  Socks are another good one in this category as they are always either wearing out or getting lost.

Is it something I love? I like the ‘Favorite Things’ filter, even though it feels a bit riskier than the others (just because I loved it doesn’t mean they will) because I get that same feeling when you are excited for someone to see a movie you loved or meet a friend you think is fabulous. I have given Glassybabies for years because I love them so much. Bombas socks are another favorite that has made it into stockings and gift bags – I love Bombas! Books I’ve read and loved are another easy buy.

Experiential gifts and philanthropic donations are other clutter-free gift options, though I find them both limiting and only go there when it’s something very specific and/or personal to the recipient.

Holiday in the City

I’m headed to New York this weekend, a quick trip but one I’m excited about for multiple reasons. I get to spend no-distractions time with a dear friend, see some college girlfriends, hit a Broadway show and museums but most importantly I’ll get to soak in the ‘Christmas-in-the-City’ vibes.  There is something about the buildings all dressed up, the huge tree and the spirit of the random people you see on the street. It’s infectious and instills a specific kind of holiday spirit. No offense to Seattle or my home city of San Francisco but for whatever reason I credit the apex of this vibe to two cities, New York and London. Actually I know the reason, it’s because of movies. From When Harry Met Sally, to Elf, to Love Actually there are so many depictions of New York and London during the holiday season.  I’ve never been to London in December but for years I would travel to New York for work and I loved it, soaking up the holiday spirit in the before & after work hours as much as I could. So now I don’t go for work any more but still try to squeeze in a December trip here and there to absorb the vibes!

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