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Showing posts from November, 2018

A Handmade Christmas

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There's still time to hand make gifts for Christmas! Several of the following projects can be finished in a couple of hours while you're watching a holiday movie.  Some can be done by your kids or with their help.  All are useful or will be used up, so they won't contribute to anyone's clutter. For the family Using large needles and chunky yarn, knit or crochet a cozy throw.  If you're not sure of an appropriate color, choose ivory. Gather quart-size glass jars and grocery store ingredients for homemade bean soup mix or cookie mix . Roll up some beeswax candles . Tie a fleece blanket . Create a wall calendar using Shutterfly .  For Her Knit or crochet a soft and cozy scarf or shawl with variegated Red Heart Unforgettable yarn. Mix up some sugar body scrub . Sew some therapeutic hot/cold rice packs . Embellish a sweatshirt (there are hundreds more ideas online). Make a laminated bookmark with your own art, a poem, dried flowers, or eve

7 Ways to Be a Minimalist Parent During the Holidays

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By late November, toys have been relentlessly advertised for months.  Long lines of children wait to meet the mall Santa, encouraged to ask for whatever they want.  Letters to Santa, some asking for dozens of toys, are mailed.  At school, the dominant conversation is about who wants what and whether their Christmas wish will come true.  Grandparents, aunts and uncles, even kindly strangers on the street greet kids with the question, "What do you want for Christmas?" In this atmosphere, the minimalist parent can feel like a Grinch and his kids can feel cheated if the holiday haul seems inadequate. You've read the latest studies confirming that children are happier with fewer toys.  They're less distracted, more creative, and more engaged in their play.  They imagine and make do more effectively.  With fewer toys, they're more likely to take care of what they have, and the whole family benefits from less clutter and frustration. So your values are c

A Gift List For People Who Actually Need Gifts

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'Tis the season for "Best Gift Ideas" lists in every magazine.  These tend to be trendy, expensive, and full of soon-to-be clutter.  They also seem to be for people who have everything they need and most of what they want. Here in northern California, devastating fires have destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.  While insurance will eventually help most people recover, many are currently homeless, jobless, and needing to move elsewhere to start over.  I haven't seen any "Best Gift Ideas" that would have value for them. You may have friends or family who are seeking work, others who are in "starter" or other low-wage jobs, some who are paying off student loans or consumer debt, who are living on a fixed income, or who are living frugally in order to save toward a goal (a car, a house, their kids' college, etc.).  You don't want to insult someone or come across like a financial know-it-all, but you don't want to ignore th

Receiving Gifts

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How does a minimalist deal with receiving gifts?   Perhaps you think minimalism requires an offensive "reverse Scrooge" attitude that shouts, "Don't you dare give me anything that will clutter up my life!" Here's what I do. If you're new to minimalism, or even just starting to feel that you want to live with more lightness and freedom, by all means share your resolutions and desires with your loved ones.   Prepare to be patient with them, because the idea of wanting less rather than more is startling to some people, and can be a difficult concept to take on board.  As time goes on, and they see that your lifestyle becomes permanent, they'll make adjustments.  That's what happened for me.  Now my family and close friends know I'm not interested in acquiring a lot of things I don't really need, so they try to choose gifts they think I'll use and enjoy. Minimalism makes room.   As your home becomes less clutter

This Holiday, Just Say No

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Every year I have to remind myself again that the most memorable events of the holiday season are the simplest. Why do I need to complicate it, or get so busy that I don't have time or energy to savor the things that make me happy? For a more satisfying holiday season, don't forget to say NO. Just say no to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other forced shopping situations. I feel more pressure to purchase when something is on sale, even if it's not exactly what I want.  Really, if the best thing about something is the price, is it worth it? Just say no to new holiday d├ęcor. I know the Christmas Village dinnerware is festive, and so is that cute Nutcracker doormat.  New holiday gear is always tempting, since retailers need us to buy every year to preserve their profits.  But take a look at what you already have.  Is it enough?  If there's plenty, but you still want more, think about what's making you so dissatisfied.  I have enough, and I'd

Ready for Black Friday

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"Are you ready for Black Friday?" It was just friendly chitchat from a grocery store clerk, but it caught me by surprise.  The aisles were packed with people shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, just as I was.  But in our consumerist culture, Thanksgiving Day has become Black Friday Eve.  In fact, if you count Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving is just the prelude to a very long weekend of shopping. Does that bother you?  Thanksgiving, which is supposed to be a day about being grateful for all you have, has become a time to make your shopping list and check it twice, because everyone you know (yourself included) needs even more . Apparently, the true meaning of the holidays in America isn't family, or peace on earth, or the light of goodness and joy shining in spite of the darkness of human woes. It's about a bunch of new stuff. Even children are encouraged to expect that Santa will bring them all the stuff they want. I'm not immune to this.  It's n