Clutter-Free Christmas… Without Being a Scrooge!

If you’re a busy mom with children, you can proclaim the true meaning of the holiday season as much as you like however the truth is that giving gifts is an integral aspect of the holiday season for the majority of children, especially when they’re young. This is fairly normal for me, as long as you are a part of the mainstream of American culture.

They are the expression of affection and love, and they’ve always played a major role in human interactions. But gift-giving, coupled with the crazed consumerism that is often the norm during Western holidays, could quickly transform a celebration into a tinsel-covered, cluttered celebration.

1. Minimize as you move

When you take the tubs with holiday themes out of the attic, take note of the decorations that no longer fit the family you share with. Are you surrounded by boxes of ornaments and nativity sets or table runners you don’t need? It’s time to let these items be given to someone who might make use of these items? Do you have things you’ve decorated that you don’t want to display? If yes, snap photos, remove them in gratitude and love for the hands who created them. As a principle, you should ensure that the number of decorations that you have on show should be the same as the number of decorations that you own.

2. Decorate your space with nature

My little girl is an avid lover of nature and my usual tablescape includes her outdoor collection of the seasons. In summer, we display a variety of wildflowers, dandelions and, well, a few blossoms she grabs from flower beds in the neighborhood even when I’m not there. The fall is when we place small bowls of gourds and pinecones, which are arranged on bed of gathered leaves. One of the best things is that each of these decorations can be composted once the season is finished.

In the event that you do not have children’s hands in your house there’s no reason not to get out and hunt for natural decorations for yourself! You can also help the local florist by buying an organic wreath, instead of synthetic or plastic one that requires storage, and eventually end in a garbage dump.

If you’re creative, grab some pine boughs and design one of your own. When I was a child I remember my mother taking grapevines and soaking them in the bathtub that she later fashioned into wreaths. To decorate the tree, you can make popcorn strings instead of tinsel. Then let the strings hang open for birds to feast on in January.

3. Limit gifts

Some might think this is a scrooge-type move however, I believe that most Americans ought to limit the amount of gifts they offer especially to young children. If children receive a lot of gifts, the season of giving and love becomes an unending cycle of gimmicks, and the only reason you should give back to other people is to secure your place at high on Santa’s wish list.

I’m not aware of any parents who deliberately convey this message however, when we cram our children with gifts and presents, we’re doing it.

I’m not saying that we should not give gifts to children. Quite contrary. They should be given gifts however, within acceptable, transparent limitations. As an example at the age of six, we began with a “One Big, Two Small” gift system, which I learned from a former client. I explained to my children that Santa would give them a “big” gift and mommy and daddy would give the kids 2 “small” gifts for Christmas.

4. Give experiences as gifts

Think of tickets to the theater season passes to amusement parks or a punch card for an exercise studio, or even a gift certificate for massage. I can remember a time when I asked for a gift certificate for a women’s only boot camp class I used to take part in. I’ve given up trying perform burpees in the morning at 6:30 am however, during the “boot camp” phase, I truly appreciated this present!

5. Gifts of learning

Consider of cooking classes, magazine subscriptions or museum admissions. For instance when my daughter was young and wanted to take ballet, I offered her a ballet class.

6. Give consumable gifts

I was a wine lover But I do remember the year my mother-in-law gave me a membership for a month-long wine subscription. I was so thrilled over that present! It was not only free of clutter, but it also kept being delivered several months after the Christmas season had ended and brought me joy every time. If you’re looking for monthly delivery clubs, you should check out You can join an bacon club, a bagel and the cake club, or a cake. You can even join all three and have some delicious bacon and sweet cakes! Other great gifts for the consumables include beauty products and fruit baskets, candles, bakery goods, candy and more.

7. Offer gifts for service

I’m not aware of any parents of children in the midst of their development who wouldn’t appreciate a gift of babysitting services for free. I’m sure that anyone who doesn’t be grateful for a lawn mower food preparation, dog walking.

8. Make gifts that are a memory

When I taught at the time, I made sure that my students create the “Gift Piece” in December. Each student chose a significant person in their life and wrote the person an essay, letter or story in class. Then, we wrapped the gifts on the day prior to winter break, and presented during the Christmas season. Every time, we received grateful letters from grandparents and parents who received these unique presents. Even if you’re not an professional writer picture calendars, frames for photographs and video montages produce similar results.

9. Give time-based gifts

In an class I taught many years ago, a lady in the audience shared that her 13-year-old grandson wanted a specific gift in the year he was born which was a special day for the two of them. I can still hear “Awww!” from the crowd when she spoke about this! What can you do to give your time, which is truly your most precious resource to your loved ones this year? One method my husband and I go about this is to planning an evening of date nights for us to enjoy together. Similar to that as my children were little, we gave their friends gift certificates to sleepovers and movie nights.

A sleepover gift card my children made for their best friend Charlotte as they turned just six. So adorable!

Another gift certificate that the boys created to their best friend Carter as they were kids. I’d like to have someone give me a present of “wun moovee nite”!

10. Give gifts that will keep giving

I believe an episode of a Seinfeld episode could have made fun of this however, all jokes aside, charitable contributions that are made in the name of the person receiving the gift are wonderful presents! One of my favorites charity organizations, Food for the Poor has a gift catalog on their site, specifically to serve this purpose. Click here for Food for the Poor Gift Catalogue to open it.

I hope I’ve convinced that the holiday season needn’t be a time for clutter. If we’re mindful of how the decor of our houses and homes is how we what we can give to those around us and bring joy to the season in all the right ways. I’d love to hear about your ideas on how to create festive and clutter-free celebrations at your home!