3 Ways to Enjoy a Minimalist Holiday

christmas-fireplaceA blog post that dares to ask the question, is it possible to celebrate the holidays without the clutter and overabundance that characterizes most households during December? Let’s rephrase that: is it possible to do away with the clutter and overabundance and still have a fun holiday?

You bet! First, study after study has shown that happiness comes from experiences not from things. Second less stuff means less stress. Third, fewer gifts equals more money, and more money is the equivalent of greater peace of mind.

Of course minimalism does not mean no gifts. It just means less. It means fewer, more meaningful remembrances for loved ones. Think quality, not quantity.

Make and Give Homemade Gifts.

jacket-aspxFor instance, Country Living Christmas Joys: Decorating, Crafts & Recipes has chapters titled “Handmade gifts from the heart” and “Homemade Gifts from  the kitchen”. Gifts of food are great because they are an experience, both the making and the eating. And food is a gift that leaves nothing behind but good memories.

Enjoy Shared Experiences.

jacket-aspxShared experiences are another memory-maker that creates fun and costs little to nothing. Family holiday movie nights are a great way to celebrate all month long. Make special treats and check out a holiday DVD or blu-ray or stay in the warmth of your house and download a Christmas movie.



jacketAnd let’s not forget the gift of giving. The Giving Way to Happiness : Stories and Science Behind the Transformative Power of Giving by Jenny Santi discusses the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, and makes the case that the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us.

It’s simple. Cook. Eat. Share. Laugh. Give. Enjoy.

The Day I Forgot My Phone

taber-No-Cell-Phones-AllowedI left the house without my smartphone and didn’t realize it until I arrived at work.

It felt funny at first. I had become used to carrying my phone with me. But as the day went on, I noticed something peculiar. I felt calmer.

There were no texts interrupting my concentration. No buzzing of a phone set to silent to distract me during a meeting. No notifications from apps warning me of impending weather fronts.

I didn’t text my husband with thoughts the second I had them. I didn’t send any “how are you” or “where are you” messages to my daughter.

Jacket.aspxAs if to reinforce the strange but not bad quiet of my day, I saw a book on the new book cart that caught my minimalist eye. The Joy of Less: 101 Stories about Having More by Simplifying Our Lives, a book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Flipping through the pages, I discovered, by a great cosmic coincidence, a section titled “Joyfully Unplugged”.

This section has stories about taking a sabbatical from Facebook, going without television, and generally disconnecting from electronics in order to reconnect with life. One of my favorites is titled, “Why I Gave My Smartphone a Lobotomy” by Nicole L. V. Mullis. It is simply a short essay about a woman who began to pay more attention to her phone than to those around her and cured herself by deleting all her apps.

I’m not quite ready to do that, but I am ready to lay my phone aside and forget about it from time to time. I don’t need to be available 24/7. I don’t want to be available 24/7.

The quiet of my phoneless day was an unexpectedly nice surprise. I realized with a shock that quiet is now a treat, something that needs to be planned. And, I have decided, it is something worth planning.

Interested in the effects being constantly online? Try these titles, which explore the bad and the good sides of being online:

Jacket1          Jacket.aspx          Jacket.aspx

Downloadable Audiobooks:

 Jacket.aspx          distraction






Taming Information Overload

Ironically, here’s some more information for your information-overloaded life that is actually about coping with all the information that bombards us each day.  Fortunately, you can relax and quickly browse this easy-to-read post. There’s no need for long descriptions. The titles say it all.

ParadoxThe Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz




organizedThe Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin




BlurBlur: How to Know What’s True in the Age of Information Overload by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel




mindfulMindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives by David M. Levy




distractionThe Distraction Addiction: Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

How to Throw Things Away

apartment-cleaningOkay, let’s get something straight right at the beginning. This is not a blog post about how to store your stuff more efficiently. This is all about having less stuff. That’s right, it’s about throwing stuff away.

Part of minimalism, which I’ve been exploring in my own life these last few months, is living with less. This doesn’t mean building more shelving or uber-organizing my books. It means LIVING WITH LESS.

A simple concept with life-changing implications and many questions, the biggest of which is, how do you even begin to get rid of all your stuff?

Frankly, you have to face your mountain of clutter and be ruthless.

Jacket1For instance, in the book, Simplify Your Space by Marcia Ramsland, she recommends the following tools to simplify your bedroom: a wastebasket, a recycling bin, and three boxes. One box is for things to keep. The other two boxes are for items to donate Jacket2and sell. In  For Packrats Only by Don Aslett, he outlines four steps to follow to ditch the junk.

  • Recognize that junk is bad.
  • Repent (Admit that your junk is hurting you, your energy, your bank account, and your relationships.)
  • Remove the junk. Yes, perform the physical act of throwing things away.
  • Refrain from bringing new junk into your life.

Get the picture?

Fortunately, there are dozens of titles that can help you on your way to a clutter-free life. These books outline plans of action, suggest tips for helping you decide what to keep and what to get rid of, and advice on how to deal with the emotional side of throwing things away. My favorites are listed below.

Personally, I found getting rid of stuff liberating, although, to be honest, so far my family is not quite on board yet. Stay tuned for the further adventures of a hopeful minimalist.

50 thingsThrow Out Fifty Things : Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life by Gail Blanke

Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter : Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time  by Erin Rooney Doland

The Ultimate Guide to Clearing Your Clutter : Liberate Your Space, Clear Your Mind, and Bring in Success by Mary Lambert

Jacket.aspxThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Decluttering by  Regina Leeds

The 100 Thing Challenge : How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul by Dave Bruno

Clutter Control: Putting Your Home on a Diet by Jeff Campbell

Downloadable Audiobooks

Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life : Discover Why You Clutter and How You Can Stop by Mike Nelson


Winning the Clutter War by Sandra Felton

Conquering Clutter : Getting To The Bottom Of Clutter by Megan Francis

Decluttering Secrets : Tips And Tricks To Becoming Organized by Sally Munroe

Giving Minimalism a Try

messydeskCan getting rid of stuff make you happy? Does paring down possessions lead to a higher quality of life? Do downsizing and minimalism really bring contentment?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I thought I would give it a try, and since it all begins with getting rid of stuff, I turned to the library shelves for some guidance on the subject.

It turns out downsizing, getting rid of clutter, and minimalism are hot topics nowadays. Ironically, there are hundreds of books and blogs all trying to help people learn how to live with less and love it. And, as they all claim, having too much, whether it is stuff or information, is not helpful. The number of titles was overwhelming, and I didn’t want to clutter up my life with them while I was trying to unclutter my life!

Since the underlying spirit of minimalism is quality, not quantity, I decided to see if I could come up with a short list of  titles that were interesting and genuinely helpful for anyone who truly wants to get started simplify and downsizing her life.  Listed below are the titles I found most helpful. I will also be reporting back on how my efforts go, so stay tuned!

Wallman interviews anthropologists studying the clutter crisis, consults with scientists who have linked ‘stuffocation’ to rising cortisol levels and declining psychological well-being, and introduces the concept of choosing experience over stuff.  He examines the pluses and minuses of minimalism, voluntary simplicity, and materialism, giving a fair look at each concept. Useful for those who are wondering if they should give minimalism and simplicity a try.

Jacket.aspx Clutter Busting your Life by Brooks Palmer.  In these pages, Palmer shows how we use clutter to protect ourselves, control others, and cling to the past, and how it keeps us from experiencing the joy of connection. With insight-prompting questions, exercises, and client examples, this book is a how-to, self-analytical spiritual journey. It will help you deal with clutter and the reasons behind all the clutter. For those wishing to remove both physical and emotional baggage.


From basement to bedroom, kitchen to car, and into every corner of life, Mellen’s system yields lasting results. Discover how to: Never lose your keys or wallet again, stop mail, magazine, and paper pileups for good, feel empowered to tackle bills and budgets, reclaim space and time once dominated by clutter. For those who love having a step-by-step plan of action.

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

And the ultimate space-saving sources of info: ebooks!

 E-Book 5 days to a clutter-free house : quick, easy ways to clear up your space by Sandra Felton and Marsha Sims.