What To Give When They Don’t Want Stuff

Christmas is coming!

Like most families, we’re making plans and collecting gift ideas. It’s a wonderful, joyful experience to give someone a gift-especially if you know it’s something that would truly make them smile.

But what do you give a loved one when they really aren’t too keen on “stuff”….AND you’re not too keen on only giving gift cards?

Welcome to a post on minimalism-gift giving edition!

You may have a family member or friend who falls into this category, whether they use the label or not. They’ve cut back on their possessions in order to enjoy more experiences and relationships, their homes have few to no tchotchkes, little clutter, and few items that serve only one purpose.

You really want to get them something…something they would enjoy, and is not likely to end up on the Goodwill pile a month after Christmas (sorry, that’s the truth of it). If this is you, then I have some good news for you!

There are PLENTY of gift ideas for a minimalist! But before we get to these ideas, there are a few points that need to be made, to help you understand your loved one’s mindset better:

  • They DO like stuff. They just don’t enjoy the unnecessary or general excess in their lives, and are more selective when it comes to material items that stay with them.
  • A thoughtful gift will have more meaning to them, and likely be something they will always remember.
  • They recognize and respect a friend who has paid attention to who they really are, minimalism included

Okay, now to the fun idea list! Gift ideas galore!!

  • movie tickets
  • concert tickets
  • sport event tickets (you get the idea)
  • paid membership for something they enjoy (gym, dance class, climbing, etc…)
  • if you’re a really close friend, personally contribute toward something you know they have been saving for (car, travel, house, etc…)
  • If you know they’re traveling in the upcoming year, gift them something they can enjoy there (wine tasting, dinner, hotel upgrade, special tour, ect…) Many of these can be booked ahead of time
  • Netflix/AudioBooks/Amazon Prime subscription for a determined time
  • Cooking classes
  • Special dinner for two in their city
  • A “Stay In Date Night” package: wine, movie rental, popcorn, candy, etc…
  • Overnight getaway to a local spot
  • Hire a cleaning service for a month for their home (if they have little kids, this is awesome!!!!)
  • Offer to come over and do laundry one week
  • Meal deliveries (homemade or paid for)
  • Spa/massage certificates (yes please!!!!)
  • Offer to the pay for or be a babysitter for their next date night (that is HUGE!)
  • If you’re a handy person, offer to come over and help with around the house projects for the next month
  • Pay for a car detailing or offer to do it yourself
  • Schedule flower deliveries for the next month (a special thing in January!)
  • Zoo membership
  • Swim classes for kids
  • Offer to carpool for a week
  • Offer to help with all the prep/set up for the next birthday party
  • Donation to a cause they’re passionate about in their name
  • If you’re friend/loved one is pregnant, offer to help with “nesting” to prepare for the arrival of the new baby (a nine month preggo lady climbing up and down chairs is not a good time…)

These are all gifts that, although do not always take material form, are extremely meaningful. And, in addition to all the above, there are always gift cards, which are wonderful gifts!

One last thing, if none of the above strikes you, or perhaps you still would rather just give them SOMETHING…..then all you have to do is ask. Seriously, just be honest. Say, “I know you prefer to have fewer things around, but I would really like to get you something for Christmas that you would enjoy. Would you give me some ideas?” Boom! Done! Odds are, there is something they would like, or would like to replace/update, but may not be something you had thought of. Always ask. It’s greatly appreciated.

I am one of these people. A minimalist in my own way. The older I am, the less I enjoy things….or rather, many things in one place. This past birthday, my mother took the above approach and asked me to put together an Amazon gift idea list for her to use. That was one of the best gifts in and of itself to me. I appreciated that she recognized how uncomfortable I am now with clutter. She wanted to give me something I genuinely wanted.

So I did. It was fun, low pressure, and I knew I could put anything on the list and not worry about how it came across. Some items were practical, others were updates to household items I already had. And a couple were lovely extras. It made my birthday feel all the more special. And she got to choose ultimately what she wanted to give me. Win win!

So maybe think outside the box this Christmas, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the joy you bring and give!

Unless something else pops to mind, this may be my last post for a little while, as I prepare for baby #4’s arrival in just a couple of weeks!!

Merry Christmas to all!!

 

A Letter to C-Section Moms

Dear C-Section Moms,

You ladies are amazing.

Really. Truly.

I’ve heard the strange comments you’ve received (“It must have been nice to not have to give birth” or “So, you couldn’t handle the pain?” or if you have a VBAC at some point “So great you were finally able to experience birthing”), as if what you did experience was merely some zen form of osmosis.

I’ve seen the look of some of your faces when asked about your child’s birth-guilt, shame, sometimes verbally dismissing the whole experience as unimportant, since it doesn’t measure up to a vaginal birth. You sound apologetic, as if you did something wrong-something less than worthy.

And it breaks my heart.

Because you’re amazing!

You’re body is amazing! You GAVE BIRTH TO A HUMAN BEING!!

You willingly went through major surgery to make sure your child was ok. Then endured weeks of painful recovery while caring for that new tiny life. Your body will forever bear the scars of that sacrifice-that incredible love you have for your child.

You are not a cop out. You are not a failure. You did not “give up” and settle for an easier option.

You fought. You sacrificed. You endured. YOU GAVE BIRTH.

You amaze me.

You are moms, just like the rest of us. Having a C-Section birth did not give you a false start or disqualify you from the “real” moms’ club (and if there is one, I still haven’t figured out how to get in…).

Be proud of what your body has done. Please tell us your birth stories! They’re incredible, and I for one love hearing them! There will be some that will discredit what you have endured, but ignore them, because the majority of us think you are amazing! We want to share the joy in your memories, because the joining of a child to a family-be it vaginal, C-section, through adoption, or fostering-is joyful!

You ladies are strong, beautiful, extraordinary mamas.

And I salute you.

Sincerely,

A (so far) Vaginal Birthing Mom

 

A Note on Kids

So here’s the thing…

I’m still a young mom, and definitely do not have this whole motherhood thing figured out yet (or ever will...), but there are two absolute truths about children I have learned:

  1. If there is a room that is clutter free and open, they will always gravitate there to play.
  2. More toys out and about= more complaining and boredom from said kiddos

(side thought: I’ve noticed many adults function the same way…)

Anyway, our family seems to go through a cycle (and I’m sure many of you fellow moms will recognize it): we have a season of accumulating more toys (birthday, Christmas, hand me downs, visits from grandparents, etc…)-our play/spare room becomes cluttered-kids lose interest in toys/playroom and gravitate to the nearest open space (living room)-more complaining and boredom ensues

We have recently been swept into this cycle once again. Take exhibit A:

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This was two weeks ago. I know it doesn’t look like an overwhelming amount of clutter, but after one container of toys was dumped out, the kids would soon after vacant to the living room (cue whining…).

Enter Mama Bear.

I took some time one afternoon and executed a quick sweep/purge:

  • zebra push toy was stashed on a shelf in the closet until baby #4 needs it (Little Bear is fairly confident in his walking abilities now and rarely notices it anymore)
  • baby activity center (we like to call these the command centers) is also no longer being so used, so moved to guest room along with the empty plastic container for the next Goodwill run
  • play rug is adorable, but I quickly noticed that the kids don’t actually play on it, they just trip all over it while running around. So I rolled it up and stashed that in the closet until my mom’s next visit (she was lending it to us)
  • quickly sorted through toys and removed anything they have not recently played with, and added those to the Goodwill bag

After all was said and done, take exhibit B:

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Again, may not appear drastic, but it always is enough to the draw the kids back into this room. They once again have more space to play, run around, and be more creative with their playing.

I noticed that I’m the same way too! Space to think, create, and simply LIVE is a wonderful thing…but requires seasons of ruthless examination of my own possessions.

But you know what?

I never regret doing it.

 

 

Simple Project-Back Patio

Remember my list of simple, achievable goals for our little rental? I have finally taken care of updating our back patio!

Here is what it looked like a short while ago:

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A little messy, right? And that lovely strip of dirt (that never grew any grass!), would become a lovely strip of mud every time it rained (which of course, always seemed to fall on grocery day…)

Something had to be done.

This was the first time we have ever had a patio, and I was excited to make it into a more livable, fun space! So after a couple months of subtle changes (gifted patio furniture from the parents, found a temporary shed in which to place all the lawn equipment/toys, moved the grill, and rounded up some new + used stepping stones to fix the mud path issue) and scrubbing the vinyl siding clean…..

Here is now how it all looks:

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The kids have far more space to play, and enjoy the backyard, and the seating area makes it feel more grown up (it’s amazing how “adult” you can feel setting up patio furniture…), and a bit more….well….OURS.

I’m excited for autumn weather, leaf piles, walnut gathering, and more opportunities to relax in our little outdoor nook with mugs of tea, watching the leaves gracefully fall.

And….I’m also excited for next year’s changes that I’m already planning: more potted plants on the patio, pillows, and maybe a chalkboard hanging on the fence for the kiddos.

Simple, subtle changes. Sometimes, they’re the best ones.

 

DIY Project-Touchable Wall Art

Here’s the deal: I finally hung frames and canvases in our living to create a gallery wall and LOVE it (even though I have yet to paint one of the canvases….)! Here’s the before:

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Frames and canvases hung-before any changes

 

BUT……a frame and one of the canvases hangs low enough for our little ones to touch.

That’s right fellow moms, I purposely hung something low enough that three kiddos ages three and under would be tempted to touch.

And we both know that no matter how many times I tell them not to, THEY WILL TOUCH THEM!!!

Fine then, I had two choices. I could move the frames, but that would change the entire look……OR I could give them something “cool” to touch.

The frame was inexpensive so I wasn’t too worried about that one, but what would I put on the canvas that would be fun for little hands?

Rocks. BOOM!

Kids and rocks. You can’t go wrong, right? So I gathered up a few supplies and tried my hand at this:

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Supplies gathered (pardon the glare…)

 

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Gluing madness! (I burned my fingers several times..)

 

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A few coats of flat white spray paint

 

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Annnnddddd voila! Crazy, touchable wall art!

 

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Gallery wall with current updates

To be honest, I’m not yet sure how I like it. I don’t dislike it, but I’m not sure if it is quite right….

 

I still have the other canvas to mess with, so perhaps that will bring it all together!

First, let’s see how long this one lasts on the wall…..I’ll keep you updated!

Weekend Sips

Looking for a good book to browse, idea to chew, or inspiration to marvel? Here are a few I’ve come across and would love to pass on to you guys!

So cozy up with a lovely cup of tea, iced coffee, or whatever weekend treat you prefer, and enjoy this beautiful day!

I recently finished reading With: Reimagining The Way You Relate To God by Skye Jethani and LOVED it!! With clear, concise language, he manages to pinpoint exactly why my generation of Christians struggle with a lack of fulfillment. Highly recommend it!

How to Deal with Sentimental Clutter without Losing the Memories by TicoandTina Some fantastic ideas on how to minimize items that carry memories along with them. Not easy, right? I know! Perhaps some of these ideas with help you!

In case you have not seen this yet, it’s a pit bull cartwheeling. Adorable and inspiring (since I still can’t pull off a cartwheel…)

 

 

Simple Project-Master Closet

This is our master bedroom closet.

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Well…..this was our master bedroom closet. (Ahhh, the beauty of that tiny little word).

As you can see, it had become a wreck-a catch all area for donation items, papers, boxes I couldn’t remember what they held, random items for sale-as well as housing our regular clothing and shoes as a closet should.

And-though I don’t have a picture to show you-our bedroom was showing similar treatment with little random piles here and there.

I was really really tired of it.

So a couple days ago, I finally tackled what I knew had to be done. It took me one afternoon and all of $0 to accomplish, and thankfully all the kiddos napped well so I could.

Here is the “finished” product.

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  • IMG_20160817_170616661donation, sale, and project items moved to empty guest room (to hopefully be disposed of or used within the next few weeks)
  • box contents reviewed and sorted (some into donation pile, others for sale) two of those white boxes are empty now!!!!
  • clothes shifted for better placement within the closet
  • diaper bag hung for easier access
  • regularly accessed boxes moved for easier reaching

Better, right? Even the Bear noticed (yay!). Amazing what a little time, a chair, and my strange little minimalist mind can accomplish when our own space becomes a priority again. Our bedroom/bathroom/closet is ours (the Bear’s and mine), for conversation, connection, and rest. Our little haven shouldn’t be clutter with the leftovers our of days and weeks; it should feel welcoming.

I’ll keep working on that. Little baby steps. Simple steps.