(NOTE: This original post was published on 11/17/2018, and has been updated for 2019.)
While it's nice to share stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in small spaces, I think its just as important to discuss the things that we can happily live WITHOUT particularly during the holidays, when stuff just of all sorts just seems to swell. After all, making a home of a small space isnt mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters its about experiencing more by owning less.
As always, before we jump on in, heres a lil disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items might be easy for easy for some folks to forego, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best. Habits shift, tastes change, lives and practices evolve. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone. The following is just a small sampling of Holiday items you may want to reconsider. (View all the entries in this series here.)
Love those little warm, battery-operated twinkle lights? Me too! Do you have flameless candles in your child-proofed home? So do we! A great way to cut down own spending and waste is to use rechargeable batteries. A simple 4-slot charger set can usually handle both AA and AAA sized batteries.
Tree Skirt and Tree Pots
Getting a potted, living tree from a responsible grower? Amazing. Depending on your plant nursery, you might even be able to leave their standard plastic pot there for the staff to reuse if you have one on-hand already that you intend to use instead. (Or you can return the pot to the store once youve planted your tree.)
Did you get a more traditional tree? Lovely! Challenge yourself to skip a tree skirt. Investigate your existing belongings perhaps you have a washable scarf, Turkish towel, or table runner might work perfectly. Then it can go back to its intended use after the holidays.
Skipping the standard set up? An upcycled wine crate or basket might fit your lil tree juuuust right.
Excessive Travel Gear
View my full post: Some Items You Can Go Without: The Travel Edition, here.
Wrapping Paper, Packs of Generic Greeting Cards, and Tags
No need to buy and stash all of those paper goods. Make your own from by repurposing book jackets, newspaper, craft packing paper, canvas shopping bags, tea towels, and more. A bit of twine can cinch it all up with understated elegance, and a creative tag can be made of almost anything including fallen leaves.
To me, clever packaging such shows more care than the typical store-bought formats. But if you have any shiny new packaging set aside, go ahead and finally put it all to use then stop the influx of similar purchases in the future. (View my recent post regarding Playful, Low Waste Gift Wrap here.)
Generic heading, I know. But heres a typical example of what I mean: Did you get an invite to yet another ugly sweater party? Skip the retailer sweater, which youll likely wear once and then toss out, or cram into the back of a drawer for 364 days. Fast fashion is terrible for the planet, and theres no reason to spend real money on a moment like this particularly since other people will probably have shopped in the same place, and be sporting the same attire. Thrift shops usually have a myriad of options, and theres oftentimes a charitable element thats threaded through such businesses. As such, you can feel good about supporting their cause via your discounted, second-hand purchase.
Seasonal Tabletop Decorative Tchotchkes
I love the look of those little holiday villages all lit up on a mantle, but theyre a bit silly in a small space. Same goes for random winter objects, artificial pine cones and similar vase-fillers, and seasonal figurines.
Want a festive display that looks great on a surface, doesnt cost much money (if any), and requires zero storage space? Simple winter branches and florals, dunked into an existing glass, pitcher, watering can, or vase. When theyve passed their prime, simply compost them or drop them in your citys green bins. (Dont get me started on seasonal napkin rings and name card holders. Is there anything more unnecessary?)
With some greenery, you can easily holiday-up your small space gatherings without buying themed plates, cups, napkins, etc. Just use your everyday tableware, candles and/or twinkly lighting, and then let the clippings, food, and beverage round out the seasonal experience.
There are endless causes for us to support every day of the year. There are millions of people in need of food, clothing, and safe shelter. There are children lacking basic school supplies. There are folks who need financial support for out-of-the-ordinary medical issues and family emergencies. Consider donations instead of tangible gifts.
If youd still prefer to give something to your recipient directly, perhaps an experience would be welcome. A museum membership, a quick getaway, or a meal with friends and family are all lovely options.
We all know this, but its helpful to remind ourselves that its NOT ABOUT THE STUFF.
Decorating for the season can be so delightful, but its really all about making human connections, giving back to our communities, engaging with one another, loving each other, and sharing the responsibilities of protecting our planet.