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.  
 
 
Welcome to the October edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival -Enjoyment cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura atAuthentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what brings joy to our lives. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

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"Don’t do anything that isn’t play" was a big lesson in enjoyment that I took away from reading Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I think this wisdom goes a long way towards shifting perspectives so that we can find the enjoyment even in our “chores” and “responsibilities.” Which is something I struggle with a lot. I have a very hard time enjoying doing the dishes, laundry, even driving because I think of all the things that also need my attention or task I would rather do. 

But Rosenberg offered a challenge to his readers. Think about I time when you used the phrase, “I have to/I should [clean the house, walk the dog, go grocery shopping, pay bill]”? Have you ever justified doing something with the phrase “I don’t want to, but I have to”? I know I have. I say it unconsciously all day. 

Now reconstruct that thought using the words “I want to ___ because I need ___.” So in my case, instead of complaining “I have to clean the room because my daughter made a mess.” I might say “I want to clean the room because I need a certain amount of order and cleanliness in my living space.”

This shift in focus does a few things. It helps point our attention into a positive mindset. Instead of focusing the reasons we have to do something on others (kids, pets, the government), we focus on why we need to do this, the choice we are making and the good things that we receive from doing things we don’t always find enjoyable. 

So for example, I decided that my needs for order and cleanliness were not as important as my needs for rest/relaxation, I feel more liberated to make the conscious choice to not clean right now. It might seem cliche or even simplistic to say we don’t really have to do anything.  But the truth is we do have a choice. We can always choose not do something; just sometimes we have to experience the undesirable outcomes of that choice. 

When I choose to focus on why I want to do something and what need it fulfills for me - instead of seeing it as a burden or something I’m forced to do - I find that even my most despised tasks becomes a little more enjoyable.

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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy atLiving Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are make their lives joyful. We hope you will join us next month!

  • No, She Doesn’t Sleep Through the Night - And It’s Not So Bad! - This post on Partners in Kind is about our family sleep habits, how we tried CIO, and how our family learned to let go of the ‘standard’ in order to enjoy a good nights rest for all of us.
  • Don’t Do Anything That Isn’t Play - Momma Bee at Raising a Revolution is inspired by Marshall Rosenberg’s (nonviolent communication) advice “don’t do anything that isn’t pay” to find the enjoyment in doing even the most mundane and disliked tasks.
  • Shared Hobbies - Jorje of Momma Jorje shares her progression of hobbies, since hobbies can wax and wane. She also explains why sharing a hobby makes it the best.
  • The Joy - Relaxation Relation - At Authentic Parenting, Laura discovered how much enjoyment is related to relaxation.
  • Simply Enjoying Life - Mandy tries to focus on enjoying life at Living Peacefully with Children by cutting out some things and changing her perspective on others.