It's November, so it's cool if I start talking about the Holidays now, right? I've got a really great way for you to cut out some of the holiday stress and clutter and really make the season memorable!
I know for me, it's easier to start preparing for Christmas now and spread tasks out over the next seven weeks so it never feels too overwhelming. The most important thing for me when it comes to the busy holiday season ahead is to keep it simple - less stress, less stuff, and more joy.
Every year when November rolls around and all the toy catalogs start showing up in the mail box, the kids and I have a little talk about our family values. I know that presents are fun and that great joy comes from gift giving, but I always like to remind myself and my kids that the holidays are more memorable and joyful when we focus on people, experiences, and memories rather than stuff.
But even though we know this, the holidays can still feel like too much!
A lot of people feel this way too! According to a national survey, more than 3 in 4 Americans wish that holidays were less materialistic and nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe that holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.
But, I think it can be hard to step back from it and really simplify the holidays. We want less stuff and more connecting, but 25% of U.S. consumers plan to spend more on holidays this year and on average, Americans spend 3 to 4 times as many hours shopping as Europeans do. If the rest of the world consumed like Americans, we'd need 4.5 planets to provide enough resources for us all!
I've also noticed that with the exception of special handmade toys and books, most of the "stuff" my kids receive isn't even being used a month or two after the holidays are over. Disturbingly enough, studies show that only 1 percent of the materials used to make our stuff are still in use six months after the product is sold.
I'm doing something different this year!
This year, instead of making wish lists for more "stuff" and bemoaning the holiday clutter, we're using an Alternative Gift Registry.
SoKind Registry is a nonprofit alternative gift registry that lets you build wish lists based on experiences, homemade and secondhand goods, as well as practical things you need. It is the perfect way to manage the influx of clutter that comes with the holidays!
I was excited as soon as I heard about it! The kids and I sat down together and made our family registry. Everyone had input and everyone got to pick things to put on the list. It was a fun family experience just making the registry and a perfect time to talk about our family values and why we are celebrating the holidays. You can check out our registry here: www.sokindregistry.org/AllisonandtheKids
SoKind Registry is beneficial to your kids, to you, to your relatives and to the planet:
1. Your kids get memorable experiences and things they really enjoy. There are multiple benefits to kids from having fewer toys and significant research demonstrating that experiences are more beneficial (and bring more happiness) than things.
2. Your house stays less cluttered, you save money and you don’t have a pile of stuff to get rid of at the end of the holiday season. Asking for experience gifts like museum memberships or zoo passes doesn’t take up space in your house, and you save money throughout the year.
3. Grandma still gets to purchase something that lets her show her love for your kids
4. Your family uses fewer resources and helps protect the environment and slow climate change.
And another thing that I really like about this Alternative Gift Registry is that it lets people know that we aren't expecting traditional gifts. We won't be disappointed if you give us a secondhand item, a used book, or a handwritten coupon for some babysitting! Our friends and family don't have to worry that we'll be disappointed or think they aren't good gift givers. Our SoKind Registry gives them all permission to move away from mainstream gift ideas and know that we'll welcome less traditional gifts.
I am excited to see how this works for our family this year. I've already noticed a big difference in the kids, who haven't been grabbing for the toy catalogs at all. They keep bringing up the possibilities of going out to eat as a family and visiting the museums as exciting holiday gifts. I am so on board!
Can't think of Gift Ideas? Check out SoKind Registry for a great idea list.
You can also browse our family registry and sample registries like these for more ideas:
Need help getting in the simple holiday mood? These great articles emphasize holidays that focus on nonstuff gifts and memorable experiences.
If you're ready to Simplify the Holidays and really bring your family's focus back to what matters most, I would highly recommend the SoKind Registry! For 15% off the premium registry price, just enter this code: simplify2015 (promo code expires January 1, 2016).
Join me this Thursday, November 5th at 1 PM E.T. for a Twitter Party (#GiftOutsideTheBox) to learn more about the SoKind Registry. We'll be giving away some amazing prizes - including a National Park Membership and a Museum Membership. You can find me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/somethewiser
It’s not just giftgiving that makes the holidays crazy. Check out the Center for a New American Dream’s Simplify the Holidays guide for practical tips, printables, and more inspiration.
How do you Simplify the holidays in your family? What do you think about an alternative gift registry? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
SoKind Registry is a project of the Center for a New American Dream, a 501(c)3 organization working to encourage more sustainable lifestyles based on thoughtful consumption, sustainable environmental principles, and increased community connections.
This post was sponsored by The Motherhood with the Center for a New American Dream. All opinions are entirely my own and even if this wasn't sponsored, I'd be using a SoKind Registry for the holidays this year.