The holiday season always makes me a little anxious because I know clutter will do its very best to claim a stake in our home. It is inevitable.
I have to guard the door of our home against clutter like a superhero (or supervillain if you ask my family). I have no shame. If I don’t work diligently, it will sneak in like no one’s business, and I will be the one left to sort through it all.
I’m no Scrooge
Don’t get me wrong. I love gift-giving, but this season can stress me out. I get anxious about finding the perfect gift, staying on budget, and making sure I don’t contribute to someone else’s ongoing battle with clutter.
Equally, it stresses me out to think me of all the stuff that is about to enter our home, whose feelings I will hurt if I don’t want something to stay or the stress I’ll likely put on my kids to continue to purge.
I’m working very hard to make the holidays more about time spent with family and friends and making memories than finding a gift I can afford that may or may not appease someone’s wish list.
It’s been a journey to get here, and admittedly, I’m still working on it.
How to control clutter over the holidays:
If you are stressed about the upcoming holiday clutter (and budget), here’s some tactics I’ve learned over the years that help control the clutter (and keep us on a budget):
1 – Stop giving gifts to acquaintances and friends
Tell your good friends and even your acquaintances that usually participate in gift-giving that you would prefer to opt-out this year.
Tell friends you would love to put a coffee date on the calendar, have dinner out together, or do something else that includes spending time with them. You are friends after all!
2 – Stop exchanging gifts at work
Ask your coworkers if they would like to do a special lunch out or spend time together after work (if you like them), rather than exchanging gifts. The same goes if you have direct reports.
Chances are, your coworkers may be relieved to not have to participate in gift-giving at work.
3 – Tell your family
Tell your family you are wanting to cut down on clutter and excess this year. (You have to mean it too!)
If your family insists on doing gifts (or if you still want to do gifts), ask for things that are more focused on consumables, experiences, or items you NEED!
Help your family with gift shopping by providing specific ideas. Most family members appreciate the help!
4 – Set expectations for your kids
If you have kids, start preparing them now for a Christmas that may look different from years past.
Explain gratitude for what we already have, the focus on family and fun over stuff, and gifts that are of quality over quantity.
If your kids are super young, lucky you! You can start a new normal without them even noticing!
Have your kids write out a special holiday gift list that focuses not only on what they want but on what they need as well.
Related post: Too Many Christmas Presents?
5 – Say no to excess obligations
I believe in saying “no” to excess obligations all year round, but I especially believe we need to remind ourselves that it is OK to say “no” during the holidays.
It is OK to say “no” to the third work holiday outing, the up-teenth Christmas party where you are expected to bring a gift, and one more Christmas exchange.
Stay home in your PJs and watch a Christmas movie marathon with your family or play board games. You won’t regret missing out on one more party (and the new lotion bottle or mug you bring home with you).
6 – Learn to let go
Learn to let go of gifts you don’t love.
Appreciate the act of receiving the gift, love the other person for thinking of you, and then be OK with letting it go if it doesn’t fit your home, life, or needs.
Letting go of gifts was a tough one for me as I was decluttering our home and simplifying our life, but with practice, it has become easier.
It is OK to let something go, even if it was a gift.
Related post: Why is Decluttering so Hard?
7 – Create new traditions
The holiday season is all about spending time with family and friends, giving without the expectation of receiving and celebrating whatever traditions we value.
Take consumerism and the accumulation of more stuff out of your traditions! Create new traditions.
When you create new traditions, you will be well on your way to control holiday clutter, as your holiday will become more about intention and less about stuff.
Related post: I’ve put together my favorite Christmas traditions bucket list for you! It is also super budget-friendly.
Take back Christmas!
Control holiday clutter and take back Christmas!
Christmas doesn’t have to be about the accumulation of more stuff, spending too much money, or stressing ourselves out over which event to attend next.
Make the holiday your own, even if it is different!