I am very blessed to have a large family as a result of my “blended” immediate family and my Irish Catholic relatives. As a result, not only are our holidays and parties very boisterous, but they also come along with an INSANE amount of presents. Bless their generous hearts, but I would much rather spend time with them and make lasting memories instead of spend way too much money on things that we are all fortunate enough to NOT need.
Thankfully our large family has finally decided to forgo gift giving and instead get together for a meal and games for the holidays (Rumimikub is a favorite), but our immediate family still spoils each other rotten for birthdays and holidays. I love their generosity, but the “simplify” idea is totally ignored when it comes to children’s presents. In my family, it seems like the opposite of “less is more” is true…no matter how many times I plead for them to dial it back (I’m looking at you, Mom)!
So in order to prepare for the holiday and birthday onslaught of the grandmas (it must be in their DNA to spoil their grandchildren rotten–even before they are born), I spend a TON of time decluttering (it is in my DNA to clean nonstop) so that I can figure out what few things to recommend as gifts.
Are you in the same situation as I am, not wanting any new toys for your kids because they are blessed enough but knowing that there will be way too many gifts at family parties? If so, here are some of my tips for having a more simplified, decluttered home in the midst of gift mania:
- Take an inventory and focus on the area that you would like to be more simplified. If it is clothing, go through the closets. If it is toys, go through your whole entire house (you know there are toys EVERYWHERE). Toss the broken things, and isolate the things that get ignored to a bag in the garage or basement. If you don’t find yourself rifling through the bag to find something after about a month, it is time to get rid of it–either sell or donate.
- Donating, especially during the holidays, is always a great idea. There are so many people struggling and it is effortless to help one another. Personally, I avoid using donation drop boxes that tend to be in grocery store parking lots because some can be very inconsistent with how the goods get to those who need them and instead use non-profit organizations such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Locally we love to support The Kids’ Pantry. They will also give you tax deduction paperwork based on your donations.
- Since I am not comfortable with toys taking over my home, I have subscribed to the “hide and store” method since my boys were born. Basically, I put out three or four things that my boys were thrilled to see as a birthday or holiday gifts for them to play with and hide the rest. It might sound mean, but there is no possible way that kids can play with so many toys at the same time. I will rotate the “new” toys in every once in a while then hiding some toys that don’t get much playtime. Based on this rotation schedule, there are often toys that seem “new” but aren’t, so everyone is happy.
- It is incredibly chilly the Fall, Winter, and even Spring in Chicago, so garage sales can be few and far between. Enter virtual garage sales via Facebook! I have found so many great things for my family (construction toys, snow boots, pizza stones, etc.) on these websites and also sold so many things that were cluttering up our house (outgrown baby clothes and toys, never used party supplies, etc.). Simply log on to Facebook and search for your town name as well as the terms of “virtual sale” or “garage sale” and you will find something local for you. Just make sure to read the rules of the site and meet in public places for safety.
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Some of our favorite storage solutions
Hopefully this post will make your home a little less cluttered and a little more relaxed. And if not, buy wine in bulk. Decluttering is not necessary when it comes to a great Pinot Grigio.