Unstuff Your Holidays

A couple years ago I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner for 16 people and 4 dogs!

With Black Friday less than a week away, even a minimalist like me cannot help noticing that the pressure to buy Stuff has already ratcheted up to a frenetic level. (For more on Stuff, check out one of my favorite little spoofs by George Carlin.)

So what do you give to the person on your list who has everything? (And what do you do if that’s you!?) How about reversing the trend? How about organizing and purging to make room so you can find the things you actually like and spend more time with the people you care about?

I’m excited to be teaching Unstuff Your Holidays: A 1-Day Decluttering Workshop on December 8th and Organize Your New Year: A 2-Part Decluttering Workshop in January. I look forward to sharing the tips and tricks I’ve learned as I’ve lived in a tiny house on wheels, taken on My 200 Things Challenge, and explored the difference between Simple Living & Intentional Living. If you’d like to give a spot in the class to a loved-one (or yourself) this holiday season, you can claim one of the five spots left in the December workshop and six spots in the January workshop by registering for Unstuff Your Holidays or Organize Your New Year on the Niche website.

cross country skiing with friends around new years – so fun to get outside to play!

Meanwhile, as I make plans to visit with family for the Thanksgiving Holiday, I know I’ll encounter the throngs of Black Friday shoppers. So I’m fortifying myself and building up my resolve. I admit that one of my best minimalism strategies this time of year is just plain avoidance. I don’t expose myself to much advertising. I don’t have a TV so watch movies on my laptop and I’m not bombarded with television commercials. My New Year’s resolution was to go paper-free by Strategizing Digitizing so I don’t subscribe to the newspaper, which means I don’t have to deal with all those glossy print ads I can’t shred and compost. My sisters and I have decided to produce a holiday card in PDF format to send out to our loved ones. I intend to avoid the mall completely. Anything I do acquire during the holiday season will probably be the result of comparing my wishlist against the deals at the after Christmas sales at REI. Like everyone else, I do have things on my list. I, too, wear through my rain gear, accidentally shrink my favorite wool sweater, and occasionally need to buy replacement parts for my favorite gadgets.

I spent last Xmas in a hostel in Miami with a couple friends on my way home from Cuba – Father Christmas filled our shoes – a sweet, simple Xmas morning

But my consumption feels sensible these days. I own beautiful and practical things. I don’t feel deprived in the least. But I’m so glad that I rarely get that feeling greedy feeling anymore that I used to always get this time of year. Of course, sometimes I do. For instance, my rate of impulse-buying hot cocoa soars this time of year! But I recognize now, more than ever before, that money can’t buy happiness. (Actually, tiny houser Tammy Strobel’s book You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap) is the counterpoint to that, but only sort-of!)

The stuff is Just Stuff. It won’t bring me as much joy as the stuff that money can’t buy: the pine scent of the wreath on the door, the twinkle of the lights in the trees, the squeals of glee from kids on the carousel, the flicker of candles in the menorah in the window, the coziness of cocoa and fires and scarves and walking mitten-in-mitten with someone I love.

Unstuffing my holidays helps me focus on what really matters: Giving Thanks for Tiny Living!

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