A flurry of texting erupted a few weeks ago as my sister-in-law and I tried to make Christmas plans. The goal– to not fill up each other’s homes with useless Christmas presents. “We don’t really need more toys at our house,” Becky texted. That’s her very nice way of saying “Dear heavens, I’m drowning in crap and I just can’t take any more!”



Although I’m willing to bet Becky’s not alone, they did just move to a new house this year (here’s the blog post about their house), and space really is at a premium in this radical new way they’re living. We decided to do for the kids what we’re doing for the adults, which is bringing a small gift of something delicious. Quality coffee, good chocolates, that sort of thing. Easy on the wallet and no need to store it for long.

(We will not comment on how the presents might actually turn into fat and get stored for infinity on our waistline, because it’s Christmas and holiday calories hardly count.)

Jenny and I had a similar conversation over the weekend. We decided that although our kids have swapped presents in the past, this year we’re going to skip it. This conversation took less than sixty seconds and we were off to something new, but what if a situation is more complicated? What if a person is facing a tidal wave of well-meaning relatives and friends who come bearing gifts in an endless parade of holiday wrapping and bows and scotch tape?

What then?

Here are my ideas. I don’t know if any of them will work for you, but maybe one or two of them won’t be super dumb and you can benefit. If nothing else, at least you might start thinking about how to keep Christmas clutter from overtaking your house. If you have better ideas than these, share them in the comments below!

  1. Communicate. It’s only a few weeks before Christmas so you might be too late for this round, but maybe you can start Grandma thinking for next year. Say the words out loud: “Mom, the kids have too much stuff. I have too much stuff. We need to stop buying all the things.”
  2. Clean out the stuff you already own. Whilst the little dears are snug in their beds, start hauling stuff out to the garbage (or recycling bin, if you live in California). Dump the broken toys, the mangled stuffed animals, and the puzzles that only have three pieces.
  3. Ask for presents that result in experiences, not clutter. Art classes, zoo memberships, theater tickets, or trips someplace fun. Think outside the hot-pink, plastic box.
  4. Buy Legos. The Lego company is not paying me to say this, I just happen to think they have an excellent product that is well worth the money. My kids are playing with the Legos my husband owned as a child. Those plastic bricks are 30 years old and work perfectly with the ones we can buy now. Endless fun, endless options, not a waste of space. Way to go, Lego creators!
  5. Copy your friends who have some brains when it comes to Christmas. Some of our friends give gifts this way: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Each child gets four gifts, and I think those categories are genius. I might rephrase it like this: Something to read, something else to read, here’s another book, and oh yeah, I got you some underwear. But you get the idea.
  6. Remember that adults are adults, not super tall children who need $400 gifts to experience the magic of Christmas. Things don’t only go terribly wrong when it comes to the children. Sometimes we panic when we try to buy a gift for a beloved adult. “They already have everything, so maybe I’ll spend $75,000 on that new Mercedes like the commercial suggested”, we think to ourselves. No, no, no, no, no. This is madness and we shall refrain from it.

What else? What did I forget?

9 Comments on All I Want for Christmas Is a Clutter Free House

  1. David
    December 9, 2014 at 6:23 pm (3 years ago)

    About the Lego Jessie. I need to photograph John’s bedroom and email you. That desk we got him in IKEA for his homework – covered in Lego. The windowsill – covered in Lego (and a very nice light sabre on a stand). In fact there is Lego everywhere. Including other parts of the house. Not to mention the 787 Dreamliner in my office (a Christmas present from Marilyn a few years ago).

    And if someone wants to buy me the $75,000 Merc well I’ll happily save them some money and take a Ford Kuga Titanium instead (the one with four-wheel drive and the remote opening boot (trunk) please).

  2. Jessie Clemence
    December 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm (3 years ago)

    You know, after I published the post I realized the car would actually be a clutter free present. How can you argue against a car sitting in the driveway? That’s hardly the same thing as 20 dolls, a pile of skates, 92 tiny cars, 100 books…

    I’ll get right on buying that for you, dearie. I hope you can wait the 92,392 years it will take me to save for it.

  3. tammy @ faithhopelovefood.com
    December 9, 2014 at 10:30 pm (3 years ago)

    I love it and totally agree! My 11 year old son would love you….all he wants are Legos….I agree that they are a great toy, but boy do they hurt when you step on them!

  4. David
    December 10, 2014 at 6:28 am (3 years ago)

    I was wondering …. perhaps there is a Lego version of a Mercedes or a Ford Kuga?

  5. luanne
    December 10, 2014 at 10:26 am (3 years ago)

    Clutter? What clutter?! If I walk around the house with my eyes closed, I don’t see any clutter! I nearly broke my toes doing it, but it works! 😉

  6. Jessie Clemence
    December 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm (3 years ago)

    Excellent solution, Lu! My next post will be on Blindness and Broken Toes.

  7. Jessie Clemence
    December 10, 2014 at 12:07 pm (3 years ago)

    True, and I swear they can be found in every nook and cranny through our house. The weird little pieces have a way of traveling all over.

  8. memyselfandkids.com
    December 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm (3 years ago)

    I really like 3 and 5. And we certainly do number 4 around here.
    In terms of clutter – we are the anti-clutter family. Both my wife and I are not into it. She is great organizing and getting rid of stuff. I simply like space.

  9. Mitch Bear
    December 11, 2014 at 3:39 am (3 years ago)

    Yes, I always thought how strange it is for adults to give other adults presents – if they want the stuff they can buy it themselves. I don’t see what’s wrong with just enjoying company over a great meal.