My husband was teasing me the other day, come Christmas morning I am very methodical. I open a gift, look at it briefly, and am moving on to the next gift. I tend to do this regardless of how much I like it; oohs and aahs rarely come out of me. A friend we were with at the time commented that I was like a child, eager to see everything. On the other hand, I find my husband a bit of a dawdler; he spends what feels like a lot of time on each item. Along the same lines, after all the gifts have been opened, I am eager to get them put away! You can probably guess that my husband is the opposite; he likes to have them out for a while.
It is humorous to me that we are exemplifying the two extremes. Although I have obviously not been the best example, my philosophy is to find a middle ground between these approaches. With Christmas fast approaching, keep control of your home and avoid letting the new gifts become clutter while making sure you take time to appreciate them.
I recommend that you have a bag to gather all the wrapping paper as the gifts are opened. It is convenient to reduce the clutter since there will be all the actual items around, and having the ribbons, paper, and packaging put immediately into a bag will help eliminate additional stuff.
I was raised to write thank you notes, and find it simpler to pile the gifts according to the giver, and after the notes are written, I can begin to put them away. Depending on how eager I am to get things put away or how much I end up procrastinating writing those thank you notes, sometimes I will write out a list of the items based on the piles I’ve made. I have found the idea of recording the gifts for a thank you note as I go to be a distraction from engaging myself in the experience of the day.
In looking for a compromise between my rather perfunctory approach and my husband’s lackadaisical approach, we have arrived at some wonderful compromises. It uses the middle ground concept that I strive for, the balance between putting things away immediately and leaving them strewn about indefinitely.
The resulting compromise varies depending on what type of item. When we get CD’s, we put them all near the stereo where we can be reminded that we want to listen to the new ones. Similarly, the books are gathered together so we know what is new and can grab them, yet are not disappearing into the book collection. If it is clothing or kitchen items, we like to get them washed as soon as possible so that they can be appreciated more promptly.
Some organizers believe that for every item that comes into your home, something else must leave. I cringe at that idea if held that strictly. The concept holds some value, and Christmas can be a time to consider what you could part with since it is a time when you are likely to be acquiring a larger quantity of things. Our houses do not expand with our stuff, so we need to be able to get rid of things!
Consider the idea of removing some old items as you put the new things away. It is a great time to engage your children in deciding on some old toys to give away – they have just gotten all these neat new toys – and in keeping clutter down, teaching them that it is time to make room for the new things. This can apply to yourself as well, since you have new clothes, you could purge some other clothing that is getting older.
Valuing the experiences that this holiday brings would be minimized if we allowed the gifts to create clutter in our homes. Enjoy the gifts and find ways to maximize your pleasure at being so loved.