Tuesday 19 October 2010

Festive Balance

I love Christmas.

I love all the sparkly things in the shops, I love decorating the house, eating yummy festive treats, and buying special gifts for all my friends and relations.... and I love sending out the things I've made to my customers, knowing they'll be under someone's tree or in someone's stocking on Christmas day.

But I definitely "get" why people feel a sour taste in their mouth about how commercial the Christmas season feels nowadays, and how overloaded with consumption the season can feel.

To get a bit of balance at this time of year I always try to make time to make my own decorations to add to my store-bought ones (like lots of paper snowflakes!), to bake biscuits or make little homemade gifts for friends and to take the time to wrap my gifts with care to make each gift personal and special...

I also set myself a little challenge every year, to give something away every day in the run up to Christmas.

I usually do it for a month or two but this year I've set myself a bigger challenge and am trying to give away 100 things before Christmas. Picking one book or one CD or one bit of jewellery every day to give away to the charity shop (or to friends who you know will love it) is dead easy, it's a great way to declutter and it feels great as a counterbalance to a season full of buying stuff.

So far I've cleared out 42 things, including spare bedlinen for a bed we no longer own (why did I keep that?), dresses that no longer fit me (ditto!), and all sorts of other stuff that was sitting unloved on shelves or lurking forgotten in the backs of cupboards. I always think it'll get harder each year I do it, but I'm always surprised to find how easy it is once you get started, and at how good a bit of charitable decluttering can make you feel!

How do you find balance at this time of year?

UPDATE: Read about what I gave away (and what I learned) during my 100 Things Challenge.


Tumus said...

I like to bake bread. It gives me a chance to slow down and practice patience which is essential when messing with yeast. And if I have more than I need I am always giving stuff to our backdoor neighbors.

I'm going to make a popcorn garland this year for our tree, hopefully the cats will leave it be :)

fergusandme said...

your snowflakes are marvellous; so pretty. and i love the way you've constructed your 'giveaway' project -- it makes it so much more achievable if it's broken down into small, daily tasks -- thanks for the idea! lynn-anne

Watkins35 said...

I can relate, I systematically have to go through various areas in the house and "de-clutter" (ie donate to the charity shops) about twice a year things that don't fit or we no longer use/need.

I try to spend more time with my parents, and definitely bake & sew more! x

Laura said...

I love your idea to give away 100 things before Christmas. Like you I enjoy making gifts & baking treats. This year I'd really like to give more attention to how I wrap my gifts so they are just as lovely on the outside as the inside. I'm already huge on reusing paper, tissue, ribbon etc. so the green aspect is covered!
While I agree Christmas is very commercial now I can't help enjoy looking at all the shiny decorations and such in the shops as the big day grows nearer!

Kasia said...

wow that's a great idea... I shall try this year, to make chrismtmas even more special :)

Cate said...

This is such a lovely idea! I am definitely going to embrace this - and get the kids involved. It is exactly the kind of message I try to impress upon the kids at xmas...that not everyone is as fortunate as we are...and this is a great way to put that into action. Thank you!

davybidosa said...

Good idea to declutter before holidays! i think i can use it, though we don't have charity shops(at least not in my town, for sure). will the relatives presented with another sweater or skirt 'not being worn' do? :) as for decorating our house, most of the things are self-made, as garlands on the windows or ribbon bows and nuts wrapped in foil for the Christmas tree. i'm already getting holiday fever with that post of yours:) thanks

Anonymous said...

We tend to bake things for people as pressies... I tend to go mad and have a clearout for charity every two months so 100 things would be a push for me (it usually happens to me when trying to tidy and I decide I have too much stuff!)

One of the nicest things I think we did one christmas was one of those shoebox appeals (through itv's this morning)... was so much getting the presents and it made me feel all glowy inside wrapping it up and dropping it off :)

Anonymous said...

I love this idea !
I think it's also a great way to end a year and begin the next one a bit lighter.
After moving in a new apartment in the Spring, I have already decluttered quite a bit, but I'm still going to give your idea a try. From now until the end of the year, I will look at my surroundings for forgotten things that could live happier somewhere else !

As for presents, I tend to add a small handmade item to a regular gift. (Am I the only one to worry about the underwhelmed reaction handmade gifts sometimes get ? )

Fiona said...

That's a great idea. One item a day. I cleared out 10 things on Monday evening. So I'm ahead for this week! Off to blog now, will let you know when I've done it.

Bugs and Fishes said...

Thanks for your comments everyone :)

Tumus - good luck with keeping your popcorn garland away from the cats! Taking the time to be "slow" is one of the great pleasures of baking, I love making my own pastry for that very reason... the longer you spend on it the better it gets.

lynn-anne - yup, doing a bit daily is the key I think!

Laura - there are lots of gift wrap projects on my blog if you're looking for wrapping ideas. I love all the eco-friendly old fashioned family-orientated crafty side to Christmas but I spend lots of time cooing over all the lovely Christmas things in department stores too!

Cate - I hope it works for you & that your kids get into the spirit of it :)

davybidosa - giving things away to friends and relations definitely counts, I've gifted some of my cleared-out stuff to my sister and my neighbour. There might be places near you other than charity shops that take donated goods, a pile of our old warm clothes has gone to a local group helping the homeless.

Bugs and Fishes said...

conversationpieces - we usually have a "box for the charity shop" on the go during the year, but I'm a terrible one for keeping things "just in case" and hanging on to things I really don't need just cos I think they might be useful eventually... I like the annual challenge to clear out 30+ things cos it helps me make decisions and be honest that I've not worn that in years or don't really need that book, etc, it helps me conquer my hoarding instincts :D

mycraftyways - yes, it's a great way to start the new year! I know just what you mean about the "underwhelmed" reaction to handmade things... I usually stick to little things like Christmas ornaments for people I don't know well enough to make them something they'll treasure. Baking is a good compromise I think, everyone loves biscuits and cakes and appreciates the effort that's gone into them, in a way that they sometimes don't with hand crafted things.

Fiona - good luck! :)

lucky girl m. said...

I love that window display! I've just moved into an apartment that has a large bay window in the front -- seems like that perfect space to showcase some delicate snowflakes. Thanks for sharing!!

Cate said...

Well I said we were going to do it...and we are!!
thank you for the inspiration...I'm always on the look out for ways to make my life more meaningful xxx