The holidays are always a happy time for everyone, but also a really stressful time when it comes to being able to afford gifts and holiday get togethers. Many people worry about going into debt just to be able to buy and give gifts. According to a CIBC poll in 2017, the average Canadian will spend about $700 on gifts and will use credit cards to purchase instead of cash or debit. While most people enjoy giving gifts, nearly half of the respondents said they feel obligated to give presents.
In the past, I use to shop specifically on Black Friday in order to get the best deals and save money on buyng gifts for all the kids that I planned to give gifts to, but that has changed. The past few years I have viewed "things" in a very different way of course, and I value experiences much more than having another item enter my home. Our homes are already filled with so many things and kids own so many toys and games that they don't even play with. I think more about what I am buying and if it will bring any value or joy to someone when I gift something to someone.
So I wanted to really come up with other ideas of gifts to give that were obviously experience gifts instead of things. However, I also realize that some experience gifts are not always affordable and sometimes "things" are more affordable to give, but if I am going to give "things" I make sure that they are consumable and temporary items as much as possible.
Here's a list of my tips and gift ideas to be more mindful (and minimalist) during the holiday season:
3. Special events and shows. My Dad use to take me to see a musical when there was a good show playing in town, and sometimes these were birthday gifts... but why not a gift for Christmas! I really remembered these moments with my Dad and I think its so important to introduce music, arts and culture to kids to open their minds and a life of creativity. Why not give a ticket to concerts, music festivals, or even sporting events that are great for the sports fan.
4. Memberships. Give the gift of an annual gift to the museum, art gallery, science centre or even the zoo, with access to special exhibits included. These memberships are great for an entire family to enjoy for a whole year and you definitely get your money's worth if you go more than 2x a year. I usually visit the museum during March break, summer holidays and even Christmas holidays, so I can imagine that other people do as well and memberships would be really useful.
5. Single passes to attractions. This is a great gift idea for your friends kids or even extended relatives. Why not give a single or a couple passes to the movies, zoo, aquarium, museum, art gallery, etc. if memberships are out of the budget.
6. Activities. There are lots of activities out there that people can enjoy from bowling, arcade/video game venues, lazer tag, escape rooms, cat cafes (if your city has one, usually there is a fee to enter), axe throwing, photo walks, rock climbing, the list goes on and I'm pretty sure they all offer gift certificates.
7. Consumable gifts. There are so many gift options in this category, from chocolates, baked goods, wine, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, candles, etc. These gifts only temporarily live in the home which is great.
9. Food & Drink Experiences. Enjoy options from wine or beer tastings, local food tours, beer crawls, high tea, cheese tastings, beer festivals, food & wine events, and there are so many Airbnb experiences (they don't just offer accommodations, locals offer experiences too!) to also choose from.
Overall I think what people should give more of is their presence than an actual present, since time is what people don't always give much of...but this may only work with adults and not so much what children want. Also donating to those in need will really make the holiday season more meaningful when you can make someone feel good about celebrating this time of the year.
Hopefully these options will help make your holidays filled with more experiences to enjoy rather than things that will create clutter and unwanted things. Be mindful of your spending and don't be afraid to let people know if you are not able to participate in gift giving or any celebrations if it does not fit into your time or budget. As life gets more and more expensive, its better to make life easier during the most major consumer holiday and change what this season has been about for so many years. The holidays should be a joyful season, and not a time to go into debt and be stressed out...it's just not worth it. Happy holidays to you all!
When I was in-between jobs and had more time at home, I decided to declutter my home because it would bother me to see how many things that my family and I had in the home. In 2016, I was able to create a room in my home to rent out on Airbnb and this side-gig helped me to have some income while I was figuring things out.
While I was working on my e-commerce business in January 2017, I was working from home of course and was still not happy with my home and the amount of stuff I had. I had watched "The Minimalists" on Netflix and that really opened my eyes and it made me feel very strongly about this lifestyle and how people should live. I was inspired and I wanted to become a minimalist, so I started an Instagram account "modernandminimalist" to track my journey. I did different methods to declutter, like the "Minsgame" where you let go of things for 30 days and start with one thing on day one, two things on day two, etc. It felt good to let go, but I still had too many things.
In February 2017, I decided to read the book "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by bestselling author and tidying guru Marie Kondo. I was so glad that I read it and then decided to do the method...because this finally worked for me! I got the results that I wanted at home, and I felt so excited that I discovered a way to live that made me change my way of thinking and how to choose what to keep in my life. I was so impressed with the book and the method, I decided to look up the KonMari website, and voila...I discovered you could be a KonMari Consultant! I think this was the magic I experienced with the method because this was what I felt I really wanted to do for a living and as an entrepreneur. I strongly felt the universe has lead me to this path, so I decided to train to become a KonMari Consultant! I then changed my Instagram account to follow my journey to become a KonMari Consultant.
The KonMari Consultant Training seminar in New York City (Sept. 2017) was an amazing experience, and I met so many great people who were so passionate about the method and being their own boss. Attending this training seminar inspired me even more and pushed me to continue on this path. I was such a fan girl when I got to see Marie Kondo in person and meet her, I felt even emotional (kept it inside of course) because I felt that because of her I was able to discover what I could do for a career and to help people learn the method. When I started my training it took a couple months of doing practice sessions and in less than six months I became a Certified KonMari Consultant in March 2018!
I felt so good to finally be certified and that this was the one thing that worked out for me after all the rejection from doing job interviews and trying to figure out my new career path, it just felt so right. The KonMari community is also a really great one to be a part of because every consultant is so supportive and everyone helps eachother grow as a consultant and in their businesses. I was able to start getting paying clients by the time it was spring 2018, and that really made me feel like I could do this and provide for my family.
I became a KonMari Consultant because after all the paths I tried to take, this was the one path that made me feel like I was making a difference in people's lives because it made a significant difference in my own life. I use to work for other people and help make money for big and small companies, but now I can do something that is truly more fulfilling by helping others to live a life that they really want. Life is really interesting and the journey will lead you in so many paths that you don't expect. I'm glad that the KonMari Method lead my life to being a KonMari Consultant, taking my life into my own hands and creating a life that I want to live.
Tidying may seem like such an easy thing to do, but it's a lot more then just dusting, vacuuming, taking out trash and washing dishes. Shifting things from one room to another, or hiding things behind closets and basements does not solve the problem. As per the KonMari Method, cleaning is your confrontation with nature, but tidying is confrontation with yourself.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your current house state:
So you may need someone to teach you how to be tidy because you might need the guidance, support and focus to really get through everything that you own. A KonMari Consultant will not judge you, and will help you to live the ideal lifestyle you want, and be that support you need to help you in your "joy checks" when you are deciding what to keep. Once you have finished decluttering then you will be taught how to organize your things so that everything has a home and you can easily find things. Once go through this experience, you will never have to purge your things every year, this will happen all at once and that's it. The process will however take some time and can't be achieved over one session, but through several sessions and in the long run will save you time wasted in the future.
You can also read the "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" or all the other books by Marie Kondo and try to do the entire KonMari Method on your own, but sometimes people don't have the time to read or to really push themselves on their own to start the tidying journey. Sometimes getting the help you need to learn this method will be a great investment for your overall well-being and life. Don't be afraid to get the help you need and to live life with more time to do things that matter.
I wanted to share a blog about my KonMari experience doing books with a seven year old kid, and this process went really well I have to say. I did the session during a Saturday afternoon and this worked much better than a session on a weekday after school. I think if a child has been busy with school and you plan to do a KonMari lesson, this will be overwhelming and the child will lose interest easily. I believe the same goes with adults after a long day of work of course, but flexible schedules are making this easier for people to do nowadays if you are lucky to have that. So if you decide to work with a kid make sure that there isn't a lot of things happening during his/her day like school or any extra curricular activities. Choose a day with less activities going on, perhaps a PA Day when there is no school or on the weekend if there are no plans. Rainy days or snow storms are always good to make this a part of the day.
So I laid out all of his books on the floor and I used a small desk to place the books that spark joy and that don't spark joy into two separate piles. I would take every single book from him and I instructed him on how to do his joy checks, basically which ones he would keep by deciding what sparks joy, and then for books that no longer spark joy to thank each book and pass them along. He knew right away which books were to stay and go, and he would even read some books a bit again to make sure.
Some of the books that he let go were of stories he had read when he was younger but about characters that he no longer had an interest in, or the level of reading was too easy. But he did keep some books of stories that he had when he was a baby, which were still special to him.
We only took one break in between for a snack, but then getting him to continue was a bit tricky because he was losing interest, but I let him know that he was doing so well and that he could get through it faster. He pushed himself and he continued the session without any other breaks.
I would say he was able to let go of around 30 books as seen above, which I feel was a really good effort and session of decluttering, I think he even got through this very well compared to an adult. In the end I organized his books by separating the educational books into one section, and then a section dedicated to his love of Pokemon and Skylanders, then the others were a mix of story books and reference books but were put together more because of their sizes. KonMari with kids can be fun if they are not jam packed with a day of activities, and make sure they don't have many things to do when you want to try this out with a kid. You can also have a reward for your child at the end of a session, it could be either more time to play or extra screen time and maybe let him or her know this so it motivates them. Below is the final result of all the books he chooses to keep that all spark joy for him. Stay tuned for the paper category with kids!
Tidying with kids can be a bit challenging, but just like adults, every person is different no matter the age. I attempted doing the KonMari method with my six year-old son and it was an interesting experience. If you are not familiar with the KonMari Method, it was created by Marie Kondo who wrote the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up-The Japanese Art of Decluttering” which has sold millions worldwide. The main concept of this method is to tidy by category (not rooms) and to only keep what “sparks joy” and let go of what doesn’t. So I chose to do the KonMari lesson with my son after he had finished school with no homework, so it happened after 3:00 p.m. and after he had some play time. I brought him snacks and drinks to have in his room to get his energy up. Be sure to include a child’s favourite snack or treats to boost their happiness to do the lesson.
We started with the clothes category of course, and placed all the clothes in one area of his room. My son already has less clothes than the average adult, so the amount to work with was easier. You must be prepared to expect that the child may have a hard time to focus, and getting them to pick up every piece to do a “spark joy” check may not happen. Instead my son preferred that I showed him every article of clothing and he gave me the thumbs up or down. He knew right away what he didn’t like so it was easy for him to decide. He didn’t like any plain shirts or certain characters he outgrew like Sponge Bob. The shirts that sparked joy for him were colourful and with cool designs or characters he still liked. So we created a pile for the clothes he no longer loved and there was no “maybe” pile which may happen for adults who have a harder time to decide.
You will have to give more breaks during the lesson with a kid, its definitely not the most enjoyable activity for them, but it really depends on the person. I taught my son the KonMari folding and he liked doing it once, but doing the folding for all the clothes to me won’t always be possible for kids to actually do. When I tried to get my son to fold again, he quickly lost his patience. If a parent has already taught their child at an early age to be tidy then this may be easier, however I am only starting to teach that now so for me its a whole new challenge. I think it’s important for kids to learn to be tidy so as they get older they will care about this and especially when becoming adults. As an Airbnb host, I have seen many adults who don’t keep their space clean and tidy and I am pretty sure they live like this at home. It’s better to teach these life skills now because it will help in the future. The KonMari method definitely will help as well, as it also teaches that everything you have has its own place, and you only keep what you truly love.
in the end my son was able to discard a good amount of clothes, which also included clothes that no longer fit him. His closet is only half-way full and he uses two drawers in a dresser for folded clothes, as well as a small trunk for more folded clothes that’s easy for him to reach. We also went through his hats and he let go of a few. His socks and undies have been decluttered not too long ago, so we didn’t go though that, but I think the parent can just go though this for the child as it will be mostly just letting go of what doesn’t fit. I think having a reward in the end of doing a KonMari lesson with a kid will make them look forward to doing the next category (which is books). Perhaps something small from the dollar store or a cool book will make them feel good about finishing their tidy lesson. I am starting to tell my son about earning an allowance, so he can work towards learning to save money. I have told him if he helps to tidy around the house he can earn some money and he was interested about that.
I think that it is possible to do KonMari with kids but expect that they will want to play instead of tidy, so making time for them to play or set their expectations that they will get to play will help. Since there will be more breaks, that will probably be the mini-play time or even read a book with them. Also tidying with a kid earlier in the day and on the weekend would be more ideal. Stay tuned for when I tackle another category using the KonMari Method with my son.
There is something about Scandinavian design that just makes you want to have your home look and feel this way. Scandinavian style homes look bright, minimalist, modern, simple and functional. The very first thing you must do to create this kind of space is to start by decluttering and try to avoid having too many storage boxes. Decluttering is a whole other subject that we will discuss in another blog. But for now here are tips on creating a Scandinavian home.
Create light in your room. By painting your walls white and allowing your windows to let the sun come in will help do this. Use white drapes to help let that light shine through (or no drapes), but of course this may be different in the bedroom as darker shade is necessary to get a good night’s sleep. If you have dark flooring, you can also change your flooring to be either white or a lighter wood but if you can’t do this, using a white or black and white area rug can do the trick.
Use neutral and muted colours. When choosing accessories or furniture for the home, choose more muted tones. It's okay to use some colour, but use it in wall art or smaller pieces like pillows or throws. Some furniture should be of natural elements. Bed linens should be white or grey and throw pillows can have some colour.
Choose a smaller sofa. It’s good to get a three-seat sofa instead of a sectional. A three-seat sofa allows for more space in the room, where you can add other seating if needed. It’s all about having more simplicity in the living room and having a huge sofa definitely does give that effect. Unless you can find a sectional that is smaller, than that can work. Make sure to give space to your furniture and let them breathe too.
Add greenery. Having plants in your home definitely adds life and makes the quality of air better for breathing in your home. Plants also add texture and that natural element that is simple. Succulents are becoming a favourite plant to have in the home, which just needs little water and light for them to last long.
Make a gallery wall. Having a collection of art or prints is a great way to add that creative touch to your home. Be sure to mix up the frame sizes and art to display or you can keep it classic and have big frames aligned on the wall. Use nature inspired pieces of art, Scandinavian design always likes to show that element with also black and white pieces. If you want to display family photos, it is better to display in photo books, which are great for coffee table books.
Use patterns and texture. Patterns add more style and character to your home, but don’t go overboard with using them. If you add patterns keep the colours within the same colour family. Also add texture through out, by using different materials like a wooden coffee table to plastic ceiling fixtures, linen drapes, and mix-matched chairs, you can have fun combining many different textures.
Use accessories. Adding small white or black candles and vases are nice small touches and of course adding the natural elements again in these.
Declutter your home. Be sure to take time to do this, it is a process in itself, but necessary to achieve the Scandinavian look. Stay tuned for tips on this.
Now start creating that Scandinavian home that you will love to live in.
Image credits: Top image via Pinterest from blog.froy.com, second image via Pinterest from Homeyohmy.com.