It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go.......... Isn't it just!
Christmas gives clutter a huge opportunity to infiltrate and take over our homes, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and disorganised. Don't get me wrong, I adore Christmas and love making our home festive with all the decorations. There is something special about this time of year when everything is all cosy and Christmassy. However, there are some parts of the Christmas holidays that can easily lead to having too much stuff in the home before, during and long after the big day.
So read on for some useful tips that can help you maintain some control over that Christmas clutter.
Christmas creates clutter
It can be hard to know what to get for people at Christmas time but worry not, as the retailers have mastered this market and have come up with lots of ideas for you. These tend to be novelty gifts such as Christmas branded items or books which quite frankly end up at the back of a cupboard or are even re-gifted the following year. Whatever way you look at these things, they usually end up as clutter somewhere in the home.
Well make this the year, the year where you rebel against the novelty gift and go for something that won't end up on the clutter pile.
So, what are the alternatives?
Some simple solutions can include:-
Food and drink as they tend to get consumed quite quickly. Just make sure you are getting something you know the person likes, otherwise they will get lost in the pantry until they are no longer good enough to eat.
Gift vouchers for places you know the person shops are also a great idea and can always be presented nicely if you want to turn up with something wrapped.
Restaurant vouchers are a good contribution to a night out or for those who can't get a babysitter, how about Take-Away vouchers.
Experience gifts can be more cost effective than you might think. These types of gifts range in price but you can usually find something within your budget. Cooking classes, gin tasting, afternoon tea, treatments, and theatre vouchers, the list goes on, just make sure you pick something that the person you are buying for will be able to use.
There are even experience options for kids such as vouchers to go to the trampoline or climbing park, bowling, the arcade or cinema.
TV Streaming, gaming and e-book vouchers are also good options that won't cause physical clutter and will definitely get used if the receiver is an avid reader, gamer or TV box set binger. You don't need to spend much on these things either.
Charity gifts are also a nice option such as sponsoring an elephant or tiger or an animal closer to home such as a local wildlife centre or dogs home. Charities have some great, cost effective, packages that keep on giving throughout the year. It is lovely to get updates on how your sponsored animal is getting on.
Memberships can be a nice present for a family or couple such as The National Trust or English Heritage. This is a gift that will create memories for a family long after Christmas Day has gone.
So, you see there are lots of ideas out there that don't have to create physical clutter. You just have to think outside of the box.
So kids get to write their letter to Santa of exactly what they would like for Christmas. As grown ups this isn't common practice, understandably so. But how many of us have opened up a gift on Christmas morning and had to use our best acting skills to say how much we love it. I know, we should be grateful for getting anything at all, and I know we are. But if it's the difference between getting a gift that will just add to the clutter pile compared to something you want, need or love, then where is the harm in dropping a few hints for Santa to hear.
Managing Present Expectations - Quality vs Quantity
We can sometimes feel a pressure to ensure there are piles of presents for our kids under the Christmas Tree. Some of us feel the need to buy lots of little things, as well as the big things, so that when the kids come down on Christmas morning, they see a big stockpile of presents. One of the problems with this is maintaining it year after year. Especially when you find that as our kids grow bigger, the expensive toys they want tend to get smaller, and so that pile doesn’t seem as big anymore.
A top tip for those small expensive toys is to wrap them up in a bigger box. They will love the present just as much, and there will be a bit of fun whilst they wonder where that present might be. Filling under the tree using this tip will mean that you don't have to buy extra things that they don't necessarily want or need.
Financial Pressure of Presents
This year in particular is a time when we should really think hard about the choices we make when buying presents for those who are not in our immediate family. We should not feel like we have to if we aren't currently in a position to do so.
Spending time together and creating lasting memories are much more important, especially at a time when people might be struggling.
I always find the Christmas message from Martin Lewis a great way to understand the pressure on people to buy each other presents, and it is also a good way to start the conversation, if you do want to discuss it. Here is the link to his message for this year, which includes a video he did in 2018.
If you are worried about having the conversation then you don't have to, most people would understand if they don't receive anything from you this year.
Declutter the Kids Toys
It is always a good idea in the run up to Christmas to have a clear out and make some room for the new things that Santa will be delivering on the big night.
Involving the kids in this process will depend on their age but a good incentive is to start thinking about it around the time that Christmas Lists are being written to Santa. Making room for that new toy can be a great motivator for some children. Also don't forget to use that Naughty and Nice List as another way of getting your kids to tidy their room ready for Santa's visit.
This is also a good time of year for selling toys as people will be looking for bargains or for things that may have sold out or are no longer even available. Or if selling the items isn't important to you there are charity shops or even pop-up charities around Christmas time that are on the look-out for nearly new toys that can be given to kids who may not be as lucky as others.
100% Recycled - Eco Friendly Wrapping Paper and Bows
Why is this such a good idea, aside from the obvious of being better for the environment than non-recyclable wrapping paper?
Think about Christmas morning when the presents are being opened and the wrapping paper has been ripped up, screwed up and tossed to one side. Some of us find it quite annoying and dare I say stressful when you have to separate what can and can't be recycled. It's so much easier if you know things can go straight into the recycling bin.
The day I discovered most wrapping paper couldn't be recycled I was not a happy bunny, and feel guilty when I bag it up to go to landfill. Some people find it a huge barrier to letting things go if they can't be recycled and it can become part of a much bigger problem.
So please think before you buy this year and go for an eco-friendly option.
If you are lucky then Christmas is a time when lots of food and drink can find its way into your home. So, make sure you are prepared for this! Otherwise, your pantry will be bursting at the seams, and you will lose items at the back of cupboards and forget you ever had them.
Now there is a line of thought that we should be doing a meal plan of what to buy for Christmas, and whilst this is the sensible option, we don't always have time for. But let's at least make some space for what is inevitably going to arrive.
Declutter your Toiletries
Christmas is the time of the gift set. How many of us end up with items we know we will never use? These things will take up space in our cupboards, shelves and drawers, if we let them. So, before Christmas arrives have a clear out.
If items haven't been opened, they could make a nice gift for someone else, maybe as part of a small hamper of items. Make your own gift set that you know someone will like. You could also donate the items to a charity shop or even a food hub (they do take non-edible items too). Maybe look locally to see if any schools are collecting contributions for their Christmas fayre raffle or tombola. These items can help to make money for those who need it.
If you have empty make-up or beauty product containers, there are now retailers such as Boots, Superdrug and The Body Shop who will take them in as part of a recycling programme. The Perfume Shop will even take back empty bottles and give you a discount voucher in return.
Whatever Christmas brings, do enjoy, keep smiling and remember wherever there is clutter there is a way to let it go! Merry Christmas.