Welcome to the December edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Gift Giving cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. This month, we write about what taking sthe stress out of gift giving.
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There can be a lot of green-guilt around gift giving. Nothing brings down the holiday spirit like wondering: "How can I tell my friends and family that we honestly don't need any more cheap, plastic toys filling up our play room, threatening to take over the house..." I don't want to spoil the joy of giving a gift, so I've hinted at ideas that won't take any more space in our house.

Our holiday wish list is filled with non-plastic, non-toy items. Gifts like museum or zoo memberships give experiences that we can enjoy all year long (longer than the average toy lifespan in our household) - and special memories that we cherish for a lifetime. I've been pushing for a new birthday tradition in our house of doing something special instead of giving something special.

This year my family gave my daughter and I a one year membership to the local children's museum. I am so excited to spend the whole year exploring! I usually give my mom a gift certificate for a massage for holidays or when money is tight, I just give her a massage myself. My massages might not be spa-worthy, but I like to return the favor for all those nights she massaged my back when I was growing up. 

For those gifts that come in a box, wrapped with a bow, I have tried to get creative with our gift wrapping ways. Gift wrapping has been my most wasteful holiday habits that I've been trying do away with. Every Christmas morning I imagine all the trees that went into producing that beautiful multicolor gift wrap as I see it getting torn up in a matter of moments and thrown in the trash... I just cring.

But I've found some great simple alternatives to traditional wrapping: 
1. Use newspaper as gift wrap - trust me, it looks cooler than you think (just check out my Pinterest if you don't believe me yet),
2. invest in some reusable gift bags for family gifts
3. don't wrap presents from "Santa" at all... Display gifts on Christmas morning in their full glory sans wrapping paper. 
Bonus: A small Pinterest board with great green gift wrapping ideas!
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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. Read about how others are simplifying gift giving. Check back to see what we have in store for 2014!
  • Keeping Gifts Simple - JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy shares a few simple ways to limit gift giving and keep your holiday about the thought over the thing..
  • The Mindful Holiday Giving Guide - How many times have you carefully chosen a present for someone and find you missed the mark? Zoie at TouchstoneZ identifies key ways to give mindful holiday gifts that will be truly appreciated.
  • Giving Gifts that Keep Giving - At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy shares ideas to help gift givers think outside the (gift) box with gifts that keep on giving.
  • Greening the Giving Spirit - Momma Giraffe at Little Green Giraffe writes more eco-friendly Christmas wish-list for her family this year - passing on plastic and gift wrap and saying yes to memories, moments and experience.
  • No Toys? : Giving Our Children Gifts that Make Memories - This year, Jacquie at My Blessings Homeschool and her husband decided to do things a little differently with gifts that will make lasting memories instead of the toys that will be lost, broken or forgotten.
  • Quick and Easy DIY Gift: Flower Petal Sugar - At Authentic Parenting, Laura whips up a quick and easy last minute gift.
Do you have traditions or methods revolving around simplifying gifts? Do you have a great tutorial on how to make something? We want to hear about it! Just link up your new and old posts before January 16, 2014.  
 
 
The ideals of minimalism have long resonated with me in many ways. I love the idea of simplicity and the counter-focus of materialism. During my time abroad, I lived with minimal personal possession some what out of necessity and some what choice; while I could have carried more, I loved the freedom and the less worry I felt from having less. But I also knew that it was temporary because I could return back home to all my other possessions at the end.

Motherhood has been far from minimalist. Some times looking at my child’s seemingly endless toys covering the room (or the entire house) it is overwhelming. I need order, cleanliness, and simplicity. As much as I would love to just go into her room and clear out, I tried to approach minimalism with the same perspective that I try to approach all aspects of parenting: role modeling. I first have to look at myself. I took a good look at my things, took a mental inventory of exactly what I hold onto, and with a critical eye, I asked myself if I really need it.

I’ll be honest, I have quiet a large collection of books. I just love reading. I love having books; I get comfort from feeling that their knowledge is always close at hands should I need it. So I have a hard time letting go of my books.

On the other hand, I also have quiet a large collection of clothes; my collection is well above 150 pieces. Including, those pre-pregnancy clothes that I hope to wear again. However, unlike my love of books, I definately do not have a love of clothes or fashion. I dread shopping in all forms. And I can (and usually do) wear yoga pants everyday. So why do I have so many pieces of clothing? 

I decided that this was an area I was willing to work on. I’m willing to let go of clothes. If I just start with one item, one room, one at a time, it is much less overwhelming. I’m trying to approach minimalism in a gentle way. When we are use to living in a materialist culture, its easy to get swept way with that tide.