Thinking Differently about Christmas Gifts

Thinking differently about Christmas gifts 

Christmas continues to be one of my favourite times of the year despite the fact is seems to approach quicker with each passing year.

Since becoming an organising expert, over 5 years ago now, I continue to rethink the type of gifts I give at Christmas and throughout the year.  Rather than give family and friends material items that add to the things they already have in their homes I try to come up with different ideas.  I think most people would agree that we all tend to have enough items and who really needs to receive more?

In my role as an organiser I often find clients are holding onto items they were given just because they were gifts.  Often these gifts aren’t something that is needed, liked or will even be used, therefore taking up valuable space in their home. As part of the decluttering process I work with these clients in getting them to give themselves permission to let go of these unwanted gifts/items.  I regularly use the phrase ‘Once a gift has been given to you it is then yours to do what you like with’.  I understand we tend to have a sense of obligation and I too have felt like this at times and have displayed items that I don’t even like.  However I can report that these items have made it out of my house and I now only have items that I really like, enjoy or use these days.

What about you?  Think about it how often do you get gifts that you do not really like, would not wear, display in your home or use in your day-to-day lives?

So this year before buying Christmas gifts why not start with a bit of planning.  Start with putting together a list of those people you will be giving gifts to and why not think about giving intangible gifts or experiences.  No one seems to have enough time these days so why not give people permission to enjoy an activity.  I am sure those of us who have been given experiences have fond memories of those gifts and the experiences and memories that can come with them.

Some ideas to consider as gifts could be:

  • a massage or beauty treatment voucher (how often do we actually buy one of these for ourselves?)
  • a movie voucher (how about an outdoor cinema or gold class experience?)
  • a restaurant voucher
  • a house cleaning voucher
  • a voucher for ten pin bowling, paintball, trampoline, swimming pool or something similar
  • a round of golf at their local course
  • coaching lessons in a sport they enjoy
  • book vouchers
  • sport store vouchers
  • a lesson in something else thy enjoy – cake decorating, chocolate making, woodwork – the list for this is endless
  • cooked meals for a week – there are many people out there providing such a service these days to busy and time poor people and families
  • a babysitting voucher to have a night out
  • tickets to the theatre or a sporting event ie Australian Open tennis
  • a handyman voucher to complete all those jobs around the home that haven’t quite been finished
  • putting together a photo book for a friend or family member – or giving a voucher for the recipient to do themselves
  • tickets to an upcoming exhibition or museum
  • an experience to do something different – drive a racing car, go up in a hot air balloon or even to jump out of a plane
  • I-Tunes voucher
  • an offer to assist for a weekend around someone’s home – labour gift for a working bee
  • a membership to the zoo, gym or their favourite sporting club
  • or even make a donation to a favourite charity on their behalf.

Other items to consider as presents could include consumables like wine, baked or homemade goods, jams, a plant or what about a nice pot of mixed herbs.  Over the past few years my family has received some lovely home made gifts including a homemade iced fruit cake, a jar with the ingredients and recipe to make chocolate chip cookies and a gingerbread tree.

Last year I gave my girlfriends home made salted caramel sauce, and useful items like a t-towel and a potato peeler that I’d found to be the best on the market.  This year I have a similar idea around food and champagne (can’t tell you more in case they read this article and is spoils the surprise)!

If you put your mind to it the ideas really are endless!  So this year why not think about giving experiences and creating memories rather than material things that can add to clutter.

What do you think you can come up with for your friends and family?  Do you think you can think differently about Christmas Gifts this year?  

Tips for storing Christmas Decorations

It is hard to believe that Christmas has now been and gone and we are fast approaching another new year – 2015.

So let me ask you when do you put away your Christmas decorations?   No doubt there are many different answers to this one question.  Personally I don’t believe there is a right time to do this and in my family we like to make sure ours are down and away before New Year.  Golden-Christmas-ornaments-christmas-Circle

Rather than just pack it all up now would be a useful time to go through all your Christmas decorations and confirm you are likely to use them all over again next year.

Here are some tips for storing Christmas Decorations. Ask yourself these questions during this process:

  • Are they in working order?  Is anything broken?  Can it be fixed or does it need to be thrown out?
  • Do you use all these decorations every year?  If you have decorations you haven’t used for a year or two then maybe consider donating or passing on.
  • Do you have a lot of the same thing?  Ask yourself do you really need that many of the same ornament or the 2 or 3 Christmas trees?
  • Have you accumulated lots of things like bowls, plates and linen that you only use at this time of year?  I know each year we seem to get another new bowl or plate given to us. Assess whether you need to keep all of them or could you donate a few?
  • Are you holding onto decorations out of guilt?  This could include holding on to something someone gave you even though you don’t like it. Take control of your decorations and let it be you and your family who determine your family keepsakes not others. A good rule of thumb is that if ‘you don’t love it then get rid of it’.

These questions will assist you to make sure you only pack up what you will be using next Christmas and not be taking up valuable space for 12 whole months.

So now that you have decided to pack them away for another year the next question to ask yourself is where and how do you store them?   Try and limit the space you have and keep it in one spot.  Ideally it should be a space that is not as easily accessible ie an attic, top of a cupboard or outside in a shed or garage.

A great storage idea is to use plastic tubs so that they are well protected.  I had a client recently tell me that as a result of my advice last Christmas she found it much easier to get her decorations out again this year.  One thing though make sure is that they will fit in the space where you intend to store them so get the right size.  Another tip is to ensure your lights are not tangled and I suggest that you use something as simple as a piece of cardboard for this – wrap them around before storing away.  It is also a good idea to label everything and finally it might be worth putting in a list of things you will need, to purchase or replace next year, so that you will know straight away what else you need when you get them out.

Now you will be ready to do it all over again come 1 December 2015!

So what action will you take in storing Christmas decorations in your home – will you use some of these tips or just box it all up and deal with next year?

Happy New Year!