Holiday Balance

If you’ve been a reader here for a few months, you know that I’ve really been working hard at decluttering our overstuffed home and being more careful about keeping only items that we really use/need/love. I would not in a million years claim to be a minimalist, but I’m definitely making huge strides in becoming less of a consumer. Enough so, that the looming holidays and knowing we’ll be adding some new (and likely unnecessary items) has kind of been stressing me out.

One one hand, my kids are still in the prime years of believing in Christmas and Santa and I don’t think it will be lasting much longer for the older two. I want to embrace these ‘magic’ years while we have them…browsing toy catalogs and circling what they want, writing letters, the anticipation, the holiday movies, searching for our Elf on the Shelf (Stitch), and the excitement of Christmas morning and finding surprises under the tree.

On the other hand, I don’t want to buy my kids things just for the sake of having items under the tree. I don’t want them to think that ‘stuff’ is the best part of the season. I don’t want them to believe in quantity over quality. I don’t want to end up with a bunch of junk toys that have been played with once before being cast aside for the next toy.

Ideas for the Kids

It’s an interesting balance and it’s one I’ve been struggling with the past few weeks as the Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads started creeping in and I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with all of it. I realized I needed a plan and a way to stay mindful of my purchases. I have decided to adopt theSomething They Want, Something They Need, Something They Wear, Something They Read idea of gift-giving this year. This will help keep my shopping focused so I’m not buying a few items here and and a few items there without realizing how much it’s adding up. It also will be a great balance of fun and function.

As a family we also try to include a number of “experience” gifts – dance class, passes to the ninja warrior gym, lift tickets, etc. I love that it encourages us to try new things and do family activities. It also helps us budget in the extracurricular activities (which really adds up with four kids) by using some of our Christmas money throughout the year.

We are also going to embrace the season more by taking drives to look at lights in our PJ’s with hot cocoa. We’ll walk around the neighborhood to look at decorations. We’ll adopt a family to buy gifts and food for. And, we’ll spend a day clearing out toys that we no longer need, but that someone else could enjoy.

Last year we started a sibling secret Santa, which we will also continue this year. We put all of the kids’ names into a hat and they each secretly drew a name that they will shop and buy a gift for. Then, on Christmas morning, they each present their gift to the sibling. I think that was one of the highlights of last Christmas, so I cannot wait to continue this new tradition.

For Her

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting pretty new things all wrapped up 🙂 Here are a few of my favorite jewelry finds that perfect for every day wear and are unique pieces that make a subtle statement. Plus, they are all small businesses run by amazing women!

Native Clutter

I adore this ring set (and it’s only $30). I do not have any Native Clutter pieces, but I’ve been admiring them on Instagram for a while. The pieces are unique, very reasonably priced, and responsibly made right here in Colorado.

p1019652_1024x1024Nickel and Suede

The new starter sets are a perfect assortment of colors and styles in this lightweight, leather earrings. I got a few pair last year that I loved so much I bought a pair for my mom. They are so easy to wear and add a fun statement to any outfit.


Teeny Tiny NY earring set.

I recently discovered all of my earring holes from my teens were still open, so I bought two of these tiny gold sets and I LOVE them! I have worn them daily for a couple of months (even to sleep) and have had no issues with irritation and they still look great.


Gift Cards

Gift cards often get a bad reputation of not being a ‘thoughtful’ gift, but it totally can be. Recognizing that someone is trying to be mindful of purchases and clutter and giving them a gift to use on something they NEED or LOVE (and on their own time frame) is a thoughtful way to honor where they’re at. Shops I’d love gift cards to: Brass Clothing (for beautifully made classics), Everlane (the go to for ethically made fashion) , Nordstrom (tons of made in USA options) , Levi’s (hello, denim!) , Etsy (the widest possible range of gifts), Lotta From Stockholm (for a pair of fun, new clogs)

Couple Gifts


Nisolo 5 for 5 club. This is a gift that just keeps giving. It’s a $500 investment up front, but that buys you two pair of shoes every year for the next five years (that’s $50/pair people!!). My husband and I decided to split this gift and we will each get one pair per year (he already got these and LOVES them). It surprised even me that I was willing to go for this big upfront cost, but in the long run it is a wonderful deal on some beautiful, responsibly made shoes. It’s also a great exercise in patience and making thoughtful wardrobe additions.


Date Night

If you’re like us, getting out regularly for date nights is a challenge (whether it’s because of coordinating schedules, finding babysitters, or paying for a night out). Last year my friend, Kari, shared this idea and I loved it! Instead of purchasing gifts for one another, buy gift cards to restaurants, clubs, or activities around town. Put each gift card in a blank envelope and mix them all up. Randomly write a month (or however often you’ll have a date night) on each envelope. When the time arrives, open the envelope to see what you’ll be doing on your date. I love that it prioritizes time for your relationship, minimizes the ‘stuff’ gifts, and helps with the cost and planning of date nights.


As if it were planned, these two posts popped into my Facebook feed:

How do you balance the holiday season (and sales and expectations that often come with it), while still being mindful about purchases and ‘stuff’?

More about Paige


    1. What has helped us a lot is downplaying Santa. He brings a small gift, and candy in the stocking. Everything else comes from family. DS is old enough now to know that we are Santa, but still wants to “do Santa” anyway. Luckily, he gets a lot of “Santa Jollies” by wearing a Santa hat as a regular hat, which is no extra cost each year.
      My husband and I have also continued our families’ tradition of advent calendars with DS, which helps to serve as a visual reminder of “how many days is it until Christmas?” We get the ones with teeny, tiny chocolates in them, so he gets a special treat every day.

      1. Anne,
        That’s a great suggestion to downplay the role of Santa – why have I not thought of that?! Maybe because I’m too busy using him to bribe my kids to behave 😉 I think this year Santa may bring the toy (want) and everything else will come from us/family.
        Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Love this whole post. I am so on board with a scaled back Christmas. My kids are already so into gifts, toys and things, that I don’t want to feed the frenzy. Last year we followed the same method for kids gifts (I wish there was a shorter way to call the one you mentioned) and it went over well. This year my big take away is not feeling like I need to buy Christmas decorations – it’s great! Adjusting my mindset about clothes has really helped with how I view buying things for the house.

      1. Yes! Last winter I did a major decoration purge and only kept the ones I love having out (sound familiar ;)?). I will be really interested to see if I can stay strong as the big day gets closer and not feel the pressure to have tons and tons of stuff for them to open. I think I may try to come up with a new gift opening tradition to draw out the process and make sure everyone really enjoys unwrapping and taking in what they do get! Let’s brainstorm it?!

    1. Thank you so so much for including Native Clutter in your gift guide! I can’t even tell you how much I appreciate the support and how much love goes into everything that I make. I LOVE those tiny studs too, so thanks for the introduction.

      1. Stephanie,
        I am a huge fan of your work and love that you’re a fellow Colorado gal, so it was a no brainer!

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