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December Mixed Bag

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Welcome to the December Mixed Bag, the Holiday Edition of my monthly brain-dump. December is here and I’m ready to launch into the parade of holiday traditions that begins with decking the halls of our home. Over the years I’ve scaled the parade back to focus on quality vs. quantity and I find that it serves me much better, which in turn serves my family better. I focus on just a few activities that feel doable and let my family opt in or out as they please. I find as they get older that they are opting in more often, gone are the days when I had to have some Forced Family Fun on the agenda. Read on for some ideas to keep the season (and your home) merry and bright for you and your people!

gift influx

Get ready, the influx of new things entering your house disguised in gift wrap is just a few weeks away. If you have children you have likely had the pleasure of admiring the array of holiday loot as it sits on the floor of your family room for weeks after Christmas and Hannukah, waiting to be put away – only to find that most of the appropriate closets, shelves and cabinets are full of stuff already. So the loot just lingers until it is slowly picked off by the kids and stowed who-knows-where. I suggest passing on that ritual this year and instead starting a new one that involves prepping your house for the incoming avalanche. Pick a time and round up your kids for a Possession Purge. The objective of a Possession Purge is to remove any possessions that have faded in relevance/importance and find them new homes with kids who will appreciate them; in turn making room for the new things that will undoubtedly be coming into their possession shortly. You may be skeptical that your kids would want to participate in such an activity but I have found, with my own kids and also my clients’ that when children have some agency in prioritizing their stuff they really take to it. You can nudge them along with a holiday treat of some sort to be consumed at the conclusion of the purge, once you have dropped off the old stuff for donation. This ritual is a trifecta win; it teaches them to declutter, develops prioritization skills and leads them to discover the joy of helping others. Plus you skip the weeks of hangover gift clutter in January!

card influx

Who saves old holiday cards from friends and family? Who has boxes of cards with all of the years mixed up? I tried the box thing, also keeping a scrapbook but eventually gave up on both and started recycling all the cards when I strike the Christmas set each year. But then I got this ingenious idea from a client and wanted to share – she keeps each year’s trove of holiday cards on a D-Ring. It’s so easy and neat, I just love it! I guess you do have to go through the effort of punching a hole in each card but otherwise it’s pretty low-maintenance. Just passing on the joy of a great idea – You’re Welcome!

bright idea

Does anyone else write a Holiday letter? I do. I realize there aren’t that many of us out there (laughing emoji.) I will admit that my Christmas letter has caused me a fair amount of stress over the years as I struggled to find the time to write it, but in retrospect I’m so glad I did because when I recently took the time to gather them all up (from many disparate digital and physical sources) I realized they represent a sweet documentation of our family life over the years. It’s fun to read letters that span over 2 decades and see what bubbled to the surface each year and was included in my letter. Anyway, I had a fun way to re-use those old letters that I plan to execute in time and wanted to share it in case A) there are any other letter-writers out there that may want to use it or B) anyone out there is considering quitting their letter-writing tradition and needs encouragement to keep going or C) there may be someone who wants to start writing a letter (P.S. you can pass over the holidays if you are too busy and do a New Year’s letter!)

Okay so here is the idea: The year my youngest graduates from college I’m going to gather all of the letters and pair them up with the Holiday Card photos for the same year. Then I’m going to create a photo book that includes the letters and the pictures from all of the years and gift one to each kid. It will be a little capsule of their childhood. They read they letter each year but they have never gone back to read old letters so I think it will be a really fun surprise!

If you would like to execute your own book I recommend Shutterfly, they have excellent layouts for books that have photos but also a lot of text. Or if you don’t want to execute yourself I’d be happy to help you with a Custom Memories project!

personal milestone

This is not a holiday tip or fun idea, just a personal milestone I’m proud of and wanted to share. This month I will reach my goal of 20K minutes of workout time, something I set out to do last January. Most of those minutes are on my Peloton bike, a lot of them are out walking Gus and I counted my strength efforts as well as stretching. Twenty thousand minutes equates to roughly an hour of exercise every single day of the year. If you’ve been reading for awhile you know I’m slightly obsessed with health and longevity. This milestone represents a big part of my strategy to take care of my body and keep it working for me as long as possible. I credit Peloton with employing many of the tactics described in James Clear’s Atomic Habits, which encourage and motivate me to build small habits that have a big impact on my lifestyle. Anyway, I’m proud of myself for putting in the time and achieving my goal for the year. It feels good! Thanks for staying while I expounded on that.

Happy December to all, this month my posts will be focused on staying efficient and sane during the busiest time of the year. In the meantime I’m off to plan my Christmas Cookie Project, in which I select 9 cookies to make over the course of the month, choose the lucky recipients and then match up who gets which cookies (this freakish project was born in the pandemic but it brings me joy so I’m letting my Freak Flag Fly!)

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