we must create home where all the adventures live.
~Molly Baker via
We don't need to leave home for adventures;
we must create home where all the adventures live.
~Molly Baker via
It's that time of year when we are thinking about 'stuff' perhaps more than any other time...because gifts. Minimalists + zero-wasters empahsize experience gifts...but even those have us thinking about spending and amassing a wealth of experiences, if not physical things, to gift.
It's not hard to remember the building excitement every new day brought during my childhood Decembers. It was easy to see the same glow in my own girls' eyes, when they were young. It is plain that this anticipation is not totally wrapped up in the gifts under the tree, and yet...
We want the gifts to be special.
But isn't anticipation a part of the gift itself? Vacation is the best example of this for me today. I like to be able to look forward to a vacation or event with joyful expectation. The anticipation colors the actual outing with brighter joy, because it was long awaited. That might just be a lot of what Christmas is about...anticipation of the day...or for what each day might hold. For Christians, Christmas is a celebration of a long awaited Messiah, so there's that too. :)
Maybe giving a child one or two small-ish things they really want is the best gift to put under the tree. Often the gift of 'too much' is less enjoyed than just one or two special, new pieces. Maybe we can get them something small that they looked forward to…and something that we know they will get a lot of use out of. I always liked adding to a well-used collection, when my girls were young. The injection of one small, new part could rejuvenate the entire collection (like the Playmobil or Schleich mentioned here). Could the same idea apply to a beautiful new cashmere scarf in a gorgeous hue or a new pair of luxurious gloves to add to a collection of tried + true, worn denim and tees?
And best of all...isn't each snowflake carefully cut a gift? Isn't each cookie sprinkled + tasted warm from the oven a gift? Isn't each plate of cookies shared with laughing friends a gift? Isn't the glowing tree strung with cherished ornaments a gift? Isn't the warm ride around familiar streets peering from one lit tree to the next a gift? Isn't the same story read by the newest reader a gift? Isn't the first snow, slow + silent, a gift? We are giving and receiving gifts all season long. The gifts under the tree are just part of it. They need not be the main event.
P.S. Expectations can be shifted with a few positive conversations. :)
P.P.S. This article has some interesting food for thought, even if some of it leaves me shaking my head.
How this tribe does fair, closet by closet. I spend a bit of time focusing on my own closet here, but in this house, each closet's owner really has his or her own way of doing fair. Our tribe consists of a home-schooled teenager, a working college student, a papa who works in a casual office setting, and a stay-at-home mama. This is Julia (the home-schooled teenager) + her closet.
key fair closet tool :: less
style :: girly comfort
Julia, do you have an outfit that just makes you feel like you?
Julia: My favorite outfit is a black and white, long sleeved stripey dress with black leggings and my red sweater. I love wearing it because it is comfy and cute, and I love classic stripes.
What does fair fashion mean to you?
Julia: I think fair fashion means fair trade, meaning that the clothes were made well and that the people who made the clothes were payed fairly. It means that you will appreciate the clothes and use them for a long time.
(Jane again): Julia is a minimalist at heart. She is an amazing, smart, talented 15 year-old girl who often reminds me that she doesn't need anything new. Julia would prefer to focus less on clothing than on her daily activities and goals. Playing the cello, reading on her bed, and doing homework on the floor make comfortable clothing essential. :)
Less is the key fair tool at work in Julia's closet. Less clothing means that less resources are used. A small shopping list allows for considered, thoughtful purchasing. We focus on pieces that will mix + match easily in order to keep the numbers at a minimum. All of Julia's tops go with all of her bottoms...all of her sweaters go with many dresses + tops. Choosing solids and a few small patterns, such as thin stripes and leopard print, keep things versatile and interesting. Another tool at work here is the avoidance of fast fashion shopping. We try not to use shopping as entertainment + choose the venue carefully when we do. Thrift shops provide entertainment in the form of laughing at silly t-shirts and making up silly Halloween costumes...and also virtually guilt free shopping as long as "less" + "need" are kept in mind.
I think Julia feels that variety is less important than choosing the right pieces in the first place. Soft fabrics combined with a fit that allows for ease of movement are prioritized. Julia's desire to keep her wardrobe small allows our thinking to be quite focused and for each of her pieces to fulfill a purpose. While I don't plan to necessarily list each closet's contents, I think it might be pertinent here. :) These are the pieces in Julia's wardrobe for the cold season (mostly pictured above):
-red stripe tee
-navy stripe tee
-cream dot tee
-olive wide-leg pants
-chambray wide-leg pants
-leggings x 2
Thanks for letting us peek at your wardrobe, Julia! I love you so much!! :)
Jane (Mama) + Julia
In looking over my previous zero-waste gift suggestions (check the holiday category), I realized that I hadn't listed many gifts especially for children. While I don't have little ones at my house right now, this is the point at which I can really say for sure what was especially loved in the years when they were small + endured as long time favorites.
Plastic toys that come with a lot of packaging, lights + sounds lose their appeal quickly. They are often the ones that little ones find most interesting right away, but they don't hold that interest for long. Once the button that plays the song or makes the light flash is discovered...the toy is mastered. Open ended toys made of quality materials will be chosen again and again. I think what makes a toy zero-waste is less about finding toys that arrive with no packaging at all...and more about toys that hold their value and the attention of their little owners. Unplayed with toys are waste (especially broken plastic ones).
gifts for toddlers:
-Board books. Familiarity is so important at this age. Invest in your own (instead of sticky library ones). :) Books have been the favorites of all the little ones I've taken care of, both my own and my little babysitting friends.
-Play food. Our favorites are wood + can be "cut". Present them in a little (maybe thrifted) shopping basket + choose healthy foods.
-Wooden blocks. You'll be tripping over these for years. :) It's OK to just put out ten when they are tiny.
-A car. Boys + girls love to zoom them back + forth for as long as you're willing to do it. :)
-A ball. See "a car" above. :)
-The special little guy that we used to babysit every day loved this set of eggs. They work in a number of simple ways that grow with the child...and can be added to the play food later.
-Playmobil 123. We are devoted. These work just as well along with the sets for older children.
-A small table + chairs. A nice sturdy one will get used for years and years...for eating snacks, coloring, having tea parties, playing games, pretending, building, etc. We bought a little side table at a garage sale, repainted it, and added some small handmade chairs.
-Matching game. You can set out a few and ask them to pick the dog...or start with 3 pairs of tiles facing up to pair. Putting the tiles in the box is fun too. :)
-A basket just their size...for gathering and carrying and tidying.
gifts for preschool children:
-Books. Reading the same ones over and over is still fun + cuddle time. :)
-Add food to the play kitchen...wood plates + cups, a toaster, a teapot, or make a table cloth + cloth napkins. It makes all those other foods new again. (My girls loved to be allowed to fill their teapot with rice...it's fun to pour.)
-Playmobil. There is a set for every interest + it's great for boys + girls. One new set makes all the others capable of new adventures. Blocks combine well too.
-A special stuffed animal. Each of the girls had a favorite or two that came everywhere with them. Too many decreases the devotion...keep the numbers small-ish. :)
-A flashlight for using in forts and to read books in the car on these dark evenings.
-Art supplies. Colored pencils. Watercolors. Stickers. Activity book. Sketch book.
gifts for school-aged children:
-Books. It's nice to own a few classics/favorites.
-Playmobil. This was something that my girls loved + played with almost every day for their entire childhoods. A new little set makes the whole collection new again.
-Schleich. Same as above. Plus they look just as cute on a teenager's shelf. :)
-Lego. They can be something new every time encouraging creativity. A new set offers new possibilities. My girls didn't get into these, but they are popular.
-Stuffed animal. When asked what she liked playing with, Jo responded first with this. It's true. They attended all the tea parties + had countless adventures. Clothes were sewn for them too (by Jo).
-A magazine subscription. Something to look forward to all year long.
-Klutz Kit or other craft kit books.
experience gifts for children:
-A day at the zoo or Natural History Museum.
-Favorite treat coupons (icecream, cookie from the bakery, etc.).
-A movie date + popcorn.
-Tickets to the ballet or a ball game.
And...early December is a great time to do a toy purge. From the time they were toddlers, each daughter + I would go through their toys and pull out the ones that weren't seeing much play. I would ask my daughter if we could let someone else play with it. It's important for them to learn about letting go + being generous. Less is more with young ones... + more is coming. :)
Chances are that most of our children already have some favorite toys, and that's why I try to think of ways to revive interest in them by adding on to them just a little rather than replacing them. Many families have come up with ways to minimize gift giving a bit...like having mantras like...one thing to wear, one thing to read, one thing to play with. Three gifts will probably stand out more and hold their value better than twelve. (It's possible to return some of the things already bought.) :)
Children make the holidays magical. Shop local + have fun!
Sign up for weekly acts of resistance delivered to your inbox.
Plan ahead for some guerilla gardening.
The new sand.
Cozy up with some fair socks (+ my favorites for keeping warm). :)
Bulk brown sugar + powdered sugar!
Check out the "simple holidays" category of this blog for lots of ideas...this post is a good reminder...and this, this, and this list a lot of great zero-waste gift ideas!
Don't hold the weight of the world this weekend. (thanks Jo.)
I think we are going to do a little Christmas decorating while listening to swinging Christmas tunes on Pandora this weekend.
Wishing you a whole bunch of simple holiday cheer,
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time