Over on one of my yahoogroups populated by plain folks who use the Internet, there’s a big discussion on the commercialism of Christmas. One I kinda have to agree with, especially when I drive past the mall and the traffic to get in is so congested you can only imagine what the stores are like. I’m not a big fan of cramming Christmas shopping into an already busy season. So, I started thinking of ways to stay out of those crowds and slow down a bit.
- Buy gifts throughout the year, as you see them. Summer is big on neighborhood craft fairs and art shows, so you could pick up a pretty blown-glass candle holder for your mom, or an fun little print for your best friend made by a local artist.
- In the late summer and early fall, can fruit and make jam. Then, at Christmas, tie a pretty bow around the jar, or put a collection of canning in a basket and give it to the whole family to enjoy.
- Make gifts as you have time throughout the year. Know what’s really in right now? Aprons. Yep, thanks to TV shows like Mad Men and movies set in the 50s and 60s, those fun retro aprons are back. They’re straightforward to sew, and guess what … the fabric stores are full of cute retro fabrics to match the era.
- Reuse and recycle. Another way to use your creativity is to look at old things with an eye to making them new. Do you have a jewelneck T-shirt that you don’t wear anymore? Get some chiffon, a couple of sparkly buttons, and some ribbon and dress up the neckline. Check out tops in online stores like Nordstrom to get design ideas and make your own. Or how about that sweatshirt with the stain down the front? Cut off the binding at hem and sleeve, cut it down the front, and bind all the raw edges with strips of velvet. Then embellish the front with ribbon roses. Voila–the advantages of looking new with the comfort of feeling old.
- Decorate with things from the yard. This year, our Christmas tree is a recycled one from a local event at the community center. And the garlands on the mantel? They’re branches from the trees outside. We have bay trees everywhere in this neighborhood–I joke that they flourish like the wicked instead of the other way around :)
- If you make your garlands from bay leaves, they’ll dry over the season–and hey, you can strip the branches in January and put the leaves in an airtight jar to use in cooking throughout the year.
What kinds of things do you do to simplify things during the holidays? Sometimes just the gift of your time can make someone happy--so think about freeing up a couple of hours to give that gift.