Since 2008 we have followed, strictly, a holiday rule…for every gift received something we already own is donated. At first this rule was difficult for our whole family, especially the children, but it has evolved into something wonderful for us. In fact, here is a bag the kids brought to me this morning, unprovoked, of items they want to donate to Goodwill now.
Initially, the main intent was to help control toy clutter…on Christmas morning four years ago our living room looked like Geoffrey the Giraffe puked all over it! It was out of control and my husband and I felt a little sick to our stomachs about how much we had, and how much stuff just sat around collecting dust. The first and obvious thing for us to do was to go through what we had and donate it to Goodwill. But how much…well, we decided on a one for one donation. The kids cried, but they did it and they did it methodically….carefully evaluating all of their treasured toys and their not so treasured possessions. It took four days to complete (we only did a little at a time), and then our older kids accompanied us to Goodwill for the drop off.
Doing this has helped to reduce all of the excess stuff in our lives a lot which has helped make our frequent moves much easier for ourselves and our packers. It has focused Christmas wish lists to just a few items, and this year the wishes included activities such as swimming lessons and archery class. It helps teach our children and remind us that what we spend our money on should mean something to us, to be valued more than just an item that could be put in a donation bag when some other neat item came along. This is important to us…after all, more stuff does not equate to happiness.
This year we also talked more about Goodwill stores and that by donating to Goodwill you help employ the local community. The kids like that…so do we.
How do you help keep your clutter under control?