Archive for December 2013

What to do after Christmas

Now that Christmas is over, we are packing our decorations into storage for another year. But before I pack everything up, I'm carefully examining each item. Are there items that I didn't put out for Christmas this year still sitting in our storage bins? Is it because I don't like them anymore? Or has my style changed or my sense of decorating? These are all questions I'm asking myself so that I don't continue to store items that I don't find useful, beautiful or that I don't absolutely love.

I urge you to ask yourself similar questions this week. As you gather your holiday belongings into your storage containers, is there something in there that you don't fancy anymore and could it possibly make someone you know happy? Maybe you have a friend who has always admired your Christmas village but you don't like setting it up anymore or maybe you prefer a different village that you already own. Why not consider blessing your friend this season and removing the burden of one more item to store and take care of for yourself?

Since I'm very sensitive to passing my stuff on to other people and it becoming clutter for them, I generally just donate everything to my local thrift store. That way, people can decide if it's something they want to purchase without any guilt offerings from me. :)

Years ago, when my husband and I were going through leaner times, it was such a joy to find items that I needed and truly wanted at such stores for such an affordable price. Now, I like to bless people with that same experience as I had. Not to mention, most thrift stores use their proceeds for worthwhile charities.

We currently have two large storage boxes for our Christmas decorations. It's my personal goal to get everything condensed down into one box (the thought of only one box of decorations makes me happy). But, this has not happened yet. We have a rather large faux wreath that would be completely smooshed if we tried to fit it in one box with a tree stand, ornaments and lights for the tree. Maybe one year I will donate it and start purchasing fresh pine wreaths for the door. I think the scent of pine would be so welcoming to our guests.

Next week, I will start a Q&A series for the month of January. So send in your questions via email or post below in the comments section. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Any of my fellow Chic Planner readers donating some of your holiday decor now that the season is passed?

Our minimalist Christmas - part 2

Last week, I mentioned how we are simplifying our Christmas in the decorations area. Today, I'm addressing traditions. Many of you have already started traditions with your family such as an advent calendar or maybe it's an Elf on the Shelf. Whatever you are already doing, keep with it, unless it's making you crazy and if that's the case, by all means let it go. If your spouse finds you curled up in the fetal position in your closet crying (I've personally experienced this), then this is not good. Your sanity and that of your family is much more important.

For several years, after Steve and I moved back to Birmingham, we had the annual tradition of cooking a fancy meal and inviting friends and family over on Christmas Eve. We would do a standing rib roast with fresh horseradish and mashed potatoes, salad, and sometimes my mother would make a chocolate roulage log. Simply divine. But then we had kids. And to rush home from our Christmas Eve service to finish cooking a meal while children were crying and hungry did not work. Also, trying to keep sticky hands from pulling my beloved Herend china off the table was near impossible. So last year we changed the tradition. That's the wonderful thing about traditions. You dictate them. You get to change them and alter them and you get the option to say, "hmmm that really didn't work for us last year."

Last year, I borrowed an idea from my friend, Michelle (who has given me lots of great ideas) who started a tradition of eating Japanese hibachi with her husband on Christmas Eve the first year they got married. Five children later and they never stopped that practice. It sounded fun and yummy to me along with no dishes to clean, and what kid isn't mesmerized by a volcano made out of onions and fire? Last year, we did the hibachi dinner and had a wonderful time. This year we will do it again. Simplify!

As the years go by and our children get older and can show restraint with mommy's crystal and all things breakable :), we may get back to a home cooked Christmas Eve meal. Or we may continue eating japanese remembering that the point of the tradition is to create solidarity between your family and give them a special memory. As they grow up and get married, they will create new traditions with their spouses. And so the tradition continues... the tradition is to make new and special memories with your family whatever that looks like for you.

What new tradition are you implementing this year and what are you discarding?

Our minimalist Christmas - part 1

Tis the season to be merry and bright. And with that comes also the expectation to meet everyone's wishes for gifts, demands for time and scheduled events. There is no one right way to celebrate Christmas, only what you deem is right for your family. That's why I'm writing this two part series on how we celebrate this most beloved season in our own minimalist way. It's my hope that this post causes you to reflect on what is most valuable in your celebrations and to discard what is clutter.

Over the past years, our Christmas and general holiday activity has become more minimalist in nature - in our decorations, gift giving and our celebrations. This is not to say that we are scrooges, far from it. However, we are not intent on defining this special holiday season by what marketeers project on us: the need for the latest and greatest item of the season. So my husband and I have purposed to disengage from this aforementioned philosophy and to do our best to reign in the materialism so often associated with Christmas. We want to do things our way: meaningful, simple and in budget. (My husband especially likes the in budget part, but then again so do I. No one wants to spend the day after Christmas adding up bills from overspending. It's not too late to set a budget for Christmas. :)

When it comes to holiday decor, there seem to be extremes of it. Our neighbor down the street, who has a yard the size of a postage stamp, has managed to cover it with every inflatable Christmas themed blow up piece possible. Santas, trains, snowmans, and everything under the sun that inflates and has blinking lights. My son loves to walk down to this house and admire all the decor. We can appreciate all of this neighbor's effort and he has provided entertaiment for our whole family and neighborhood. However, our Christmas decor will look quite different at home.

In our home, we have three items we use for the season: wreath for the front door, a Christmas tree (borrowed artificial or a modest real one), and a small red sign painted by my friend's sister. That's it. I minimally decorated my home to begin with so my "holiday decorations" reflect that. The less I decorate with means the less to store, take care of, keep, put up, take down and dust off.

It's not about what you have always done or what others do, it's about defining the right celebration for you, so think outside of the box. Everyone has different circumstances this Christmas and different budget constraints so if you need to scale back or do something simple this year then do it. Don't let the comparison of what everyone else is doing keep you from being free in this area.

Is there an area where you are struggling to simplify this year or something you decided to do this year that has given you more freedom? Comment below, I would love to hear about it. 

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