For so many of us the Holidays can be such a rush of business!! One event after another, endless junk food, and so much material stuff that we just do not need. I hated the clutter and all of the rushing around. I longed for open days filled with sledding and sipping cocoa and nights at home cozy by the fire reading books or watching movies. Being lazy in my pajamas watching the snow fall and cuddling with my children, husband and pets. So I decided to simplify!! I decided to stop doing a lot of the time consuming stuff that didn’t make me happy (Christmas cards, extra social engagements, stressful Santa visits, obsessing over cleaning my house, overly elaborate gifts and wrapping…) and focus on the Holiday memories that I enjoy, like cooking traditional family recipes or baking cookies, spending time at home with the family and enjoying time in nature.
A few of the benefits of simplifying for me have been more eco friendly gifts and wrapping, less spending on unnecessary items, more time to relax and enjoy my time off, and mostly, it has allowed me to focus more on the little moments, less on the stressful nonsense.
Simplifying is going to look different for all of us because we all enjoy different winter activities and celebrate different holiday traditions!! But here are a few things that I do to cut back on my holiday waste and help help me be more present, mindful and connected to the magic of the season.
*SHOP SMALL. If you have a friend that makes jewelry, paints, cuts hair, takes pictures, makes amazing cakes, teaches yoga, sells crochet this is the time to support our small artist community!! Buy art, handmade gifts, gift cards for local classes or services, etc. We love and need our local artists and small shops!! More now than ever!! 🧘🏻♀️
*SHOP LOCAL. We have all been doing a lot more online shopping these days, next year I will do much better!!! BUT we can still be mindful of shopping local and finding delivery or curbside pick up at our favorite local shops!!! I love how my downtown is decorated in the Winter and all of the boutiques are glammed up with Christmas cheer. Just doing some local shopping or checking out the local Christmas markets help me get into the holiday spirit along with supporting local businesses and finding unique and one of a kind gifts! And my local toy shop brought out my gifts curb-side wearing an elf hat! 🎄
*Shop Vintage!!! Once again, so many local and vintage shops are doing curbside pick up!! Although it is more fun to browse!! I love old pieces because they have a story. Finding a one of a kind item that holds a piece of history is so meaningful and sentimental!! 👛
*Farmer’s markets, art fairs and local Christmas markets. Usually a great opportunity to amp up the holiday spirit and get into some traditional or local holiday food and drinks!! If you don’t like the holiday rush (like me!!!), do your shopping early and enjoy unique finds throughout the entire year!! I have been known to shop for Christmas all year long, if I see something unique or one of a kind for the perfect person I get it and save it, sometimes for months, until Christmas!! Which makes me even more excited to wrap and give! 🎅❤️
*Find small businesses, vintage shops, or artists on Etsy for online shopping options. I bet a lot of the shops you love and miss at your local farmers market are on Etsy!! Check it out!!! 👩💻
*Handmade gifts or homemade baked goods. My ABSOLUTE fav!! 🍪
*Experiences instead of stuff!! We have too much stuff!! Why not go to one of those drink and paint places or jump out of a plane!! Possibilities are endless!! 🎨
*Family photo shoot with a local photographer. Local, beautiful, meaningful. All heart, no clutter. 📷
*Instruments, art supplies or science activities for kids. Bonus for going to your local small owned music and book shops! And you are guaranteed to fall in love with the smell of both!!!! 🎹
*Used books or vinyl records!!! Once again, local small or used book (and record) shops have the best smells!! 📚
*Framed artwork or pictures. I take black and white pictures, old calendars , cards, magazines and pressed flowers and herbs and make beautifully framed pieces!! 🖼
*Book a message, spa treatment or purchase a package for a yoga session!!
*Take a class! You are never too old to learn something new!! Painting, violin, rock climbing, basket weaving!!!
*Plan a trip or weekend away!!! Something to look forward to!!
*Adopt a pet!! If you are 💯 up for it!!
Now that we have a lot of sustainable gift options, it is time to wrap!!! This is my favorite because getting eco means getting creative! I keep a giant bin of wrapping materials that I collect and scavenge. I haven’t bought actual wrapping supplies in years!!! This I what I use instead…
*Cloth wrapping, scarves, bandanas or dish towels
*Vintage baskets, bins or tins (bonus when recipient can reuse the container!!!)
*Repurposed gift bags and tissue paper!! I never make anyone ever feel bad for gifting me non-eco wrapped gifts!! I just save them and reuse!!! And scavenge and collect at celebrations!! Seriously tissue and bags can honestly be reused so many times!!! Fold um’ up and save them!! And yes, my mom thinks I am nuts for going through her garbage but I don’t care!!!
*Brown shipping paper or craft paper from online packages or your local art store. Bonus, have your kids paint it first!! Fold it up nice and dress up with some pine twigs, cinnamon sticks, star anise and some twine!! So delightful!!
*Boxes, cute bags and literally anything I can find!! Old cards, magazines, newspapers, berry boxes, the list goes on once you get creative!! I have wrapped gifts in a cute lemon bag from Trader Joe’s stuffed with flowers from my garden before. I save ribbon, sashes, twine, etc from gifts and packages. I use as many natural elements in my wrapping as possible!
*I also make my own Holidays cards with family photos, dried pine needles, paints, kids craft projects, the stickers from bananas (lol) Christmas cards from last year, old books and magazines. Get creative and have fun!!
Not only is eco wrapping so much fun and great for the environment, but it has saved me so much money over the years!! Wrapping paper, bags and cards are expensive! I love that mine have an artsy and eclectic feel that only I could create!! Art!!
Shopping small, local and eco is obviously great for our community and our planet, but I love my unique finds and one of a kind gifts. I get so excited giving Christmas presents because I have always put so much thought, meaning and purpose into the gift itself as well as my own personal expression of wrapping.
I truly believe that we should bring this type of intent and meaning into each aspect of our life!! It nourishes the world around us and sparks a joy and purpose in ourselves. Because honestly, what is the point otherwise. When we are on our yoga mats I teach my students to set intentions. Intentions help us steer our practice into depth and meaning and mindfulness. And the ultimate purpose if yoga, I believe, is to bring this teaching off of our mats and into our everyday life. Find that purpose, sing your song, and live from your soul.