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November 2017

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I’ve always been disorganized when it comes to wrapping gifts. I enjoy it, but I’m disorganized. I wrap at the last minute. I don’t measure. I don’t go slow with the scissors (can you say, choppy?). And I’m certainly not a pro with the tape. So anything to make my life easier, I’ll take! Especially if it means I don’t have to give a gift to someone with my messy pen-scrawl in permanent marker all over the pretty wrap. Enter THESE cute little scrumptious holiday gift tags!

I designed these little cuties a couple years back, and actually used them on my presents – I was excited to! But I revamped them this year, and decided to post ’em so that everyone can print and use them! Because gift tags aren’t always free.

What’s better than printing a coupon? Printing some adorable, FREE gift tags – without the headache of leaving your home. (Unless, of course, you’ve run out of paper…or ink. Then yes, a coupon would definitely help.)

Come and visit my shop anytime of the year for printable party sets in various cute themes and personalized invitations!

Gone are the days when I used to go out on a whim, often, and shop for new clothing. It was kind of addictive. I loved the look and feeling of fresh fabric and something new to wear. I would go on my own and spend hours, just brilliant alone time, amidst the hangers and racks and change rooms.

A New Wardrobe or Social Contact?

But today, as a stay-at-home and work-from-home mother, what I crave more than a continuously updated wardrobe is adult companionship and socialization. Something that’s tough to come by when you’re on your own with the kids most of the time. I love my time with my children, but it’s easy to forget about remedying your own isolation that can often come about from spending the majority of our time without adult contact. We need our moments, our dates with friends, and we need evenings to catch up with the people that are a part of our lives. I know my time spent with friends outside the home is limited, so I relish any and all times where I can connect in a nice long gab session of catch-up.

Tomato sauce and grease often find home on my clothing. Laundry will more times than not remain in the basket, waiting to be folded, for a couple of days. So I find it tricky to keep my wardrobe unstained and unwrinkled, and before long, keeping up with a new wardrobe without spending a ton of cash and time becomes impossibly difficult.

Swap Not Shop

But a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a “Swap Not Shop” clothing exchange at a friend’s house. She had set out sangria and wine glasses and we’d all brought an appetizer to share. I remember this lovely friend mentioning to me previously that she’d love to host a clothing swap party and include games. So as I prepped some homemade hummus and bagged some clothes from pre-pregnancy status that I knew I just wouldn’t wear again, I excitedly anticipated how the night would go.

All the girls brought a garbage bag or two of chosen clothing to swap. We each took turns, starting with the host, sitting in a circle, to show one item of clothing at a time to the group until our bag was empty and it was time to move onto the next person. If we wanted a specific item, we’d put our hand up. If there were no competitors, the piece of clothing belonged to whoever had their hand up. If there was more than one who desired the item, we’d play a quick game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. You’d never guess how much fun this was! The night went so quickly and our new wardrobes grew and grew. We couldn’t believe how quickly 11:30pm rolled around. We all went home with “new-to-us” clothing that we were all excited to wear, and made plans to do this again soon.

There are a LOT of Clothes to go through – take Breaks and have Fun!

Halfway through, we broke for munchies. There was cheese, hot finger food, cake, fruit and veggies with dip to try. And believe me, it’s quite the spread when you’ve got about ten ladies over for a gathering!

Overall, it was a fantastic evening and a great time to spend catching up and meeting new people, eating good food, drinking wine and “shopping” from home – all in a few hours’ time!

Try a Swap not Shop the next time you’re looking for an excuse for a fun get-together and a closet purge AND renewal all at once! You won’t regret it! As I write, I’m wearing a cute little striped sweater dress with pockets I scored at the party!

Donate the Rest

We kept a space on the floor open during the party to toss clothing that no one vied for – to be donated to the Salvation Army or a Goodwill location. Everything was accounted for!

Doing Good for the Earth

And you can feel proud that you’re not purchasing new clothing that’s questionably or unethically made. The fact that you’re reusing and recycling each other’s wardrobe keeps them from adding to our landfills. So call it an Eco-Conscious Swap Not Shop Party, an Earth-Friendly Closet Purge or whatever creative name you can come up with for your event and make sure to invite a crowd so that everyone can go home with something they love!

I’ve never been a coffee drinker because it gives me a bad case of the jitters. I always have to limit myself to one cup – if at all. Although I do love a good cup of decaf, and people often look at me, puzzled, and wonder why. Yes, there are people out there who enjoy a nice warm and soothing cup of decaf!

But honestly, on those days where I just can’t seem to wake up even as I’m going about my day, I consider a tall one with whipped cream (Yes, coffee with whipped cream! Yes, decaf with whipped cream! It’s just who I am). If I can’t in the morning, which is an extremely rare occurrence, then I need some sort of wake-up fix.
For those days that you just need an extra boost, perhaps paired with a strong cup of coffee, try these handy suggestions:

  1. Place your alarm out of reach, maybe on a dresser or at the far end of your night table. This has worked for me many a time. It’s a good way to ensure that you will get up on time, especially if you have an important appointment set for a specific time. I’ve even gone as far as setting a couple alarms, or at least one alarm clock and one on my phone, and placing them away from the bed.
  2. Set your alarm for a certain amount of time before you have to get up. Get out a book or your phone and slowly feel your body adjusting before pulling off those covers.
  3. Splash your face with a generous amount of cold water. Brrr! Nothing quite wakes you up physically like a dose of chill.
  4. Shower in the morning. It’s a fantastic way to gently wake your body up. Cold water not required.
  5. Rub some essential oil onto your skin (not directly – use a carrier oil such as coconut or olive oil) or try using a diffuser (check for the safety essential oils before diffusing any oils around babies or children or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding). Try citrus oils such as orange, lemon, grapefruit. Peppermint and spearmint are also good choices.
  6. Put on some music. But not just any music. Something that inspires you – music that makes you want to dance. Music that puts you in a good mood.
  7. Drink a full glass of water. Your body will thank you – it needs hydration after a night of sleep.
  8. If you have time, practice some yoga. There are all sorts of programs – look for something that will rejuvenate you.
  9. Have a bowl of oatmeal. It’ll fill you up and provide you with a good source of energy to get you started for the day.
  10. Take a brisk walk around the block before getting into your car or taking other transportation.

And if you’re still having trouble, try going to sleep without any computer or phone usage at least an hour prior to bed, make sure you’ve exercised during the day, and look up apps that can help with sleep. There are some meditation ones that work wonders! You can place your phone by your bed so the screen does not distract you.

If you’re like me, you are overwhelmed by too many things.

Clutter frustrates me. I become anxious if I haven’t cleaned up after dinner within the following hour. I cannot call upon any sort of creative energy if I’m surrounded by too much stuff. My focus is definitely out of alignment when there is mess. But I think a lot of people are like me. I think it’s important to have a clean space for eating in, sleeping in, playing in, living in. I think that when we take away the things that don’t serve a convenient purpose in our everyday lives, we thrive more.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease. Things flow well in an emptier space – because more space is utilized for living and movement. Minimalism provides more time, more space and a clearer head to think with since there is less material stuff to focus on and contend with (and ultimately, get in the way of the aforementioned).

If you’re new to minimalism, or looking to start with small steps, try it this upcoming holiday season and set the tone for the New Year and beyond. Whether you celebrate Christmas, another important date or not, you’re bound to receive gifts from other well-meaning people in your world, be it through the workplace, your family, friends, even your neighbours throughout the year.

The minimalistic approach to life inspires a world driven by intention and ease.

Here are some simple steps to making this holiday season less focused on stuff and more focused on the people and the experience that the season can provide.

  1. Make your expectations known – ahead of time. Let your family and friends know that you are freshly embarking on the attempt to minimize your material world and would appreciate their support.
  2. Compromise, if required. There may always be those that are going to feel rejected and hurt by your new proclamation of minimalism (read: your movement towards a simpler, more focused lifestyle!). They’re possibly going to name you a “Scrooge”! When this happens, there’s never any harm in compromise. If someone really and truly is hurt by the fact that you’re not accepting gifts for, say, Christmas, try something in between. Try a Secret Santa method – everyone in the family or group of friends picks one name and are responsible for gifting to that one person. In this way, you’re more likely to receive something pretty thoughtful since your gifter’s mind was on you and you alone!
  3. Instead of the impersonal last-minute shopping for gifts, let yourself be inspired all-year-round by things that you recognize as something that a family member or a friend would love. This a wonderfully unique method to try if gifts are in fact expected from you. By gifting this way, you’ll be guaranteed to not only complete your list, but fulfill it with meaningful ones.
  4. Gift an experience. Mention it to family and friends, and try to arrive at an agreement to try gifting something to do rather than something to have. The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.
  5. Agree on gifting something perishable or digital. For example, a tray of cookies or a digital portrait. A tray of cookies won’t last forever on your counter, and a digital picture can be displayed on an iPad or printed and hung on the wall or refrigerater, taking up minimal space.
  6. Get personal. Compile everyone’s favourite recipes onto a file. Write a poem. Draw or paint. Create a personalized story. Get creative!
  7. Gift Away. If you do receive too many gifts, decide which ones you can give away. Think of the people in your lives who may be able to use what you’ve received.
  8. Regift. If all else fails, empty a space in a closet or storage area for the gifts that you do not wish to keep but that could be welcomed by someone else. Throughout the year, you’re bound to head to the “gift shelf” or “gift box” and pick something out for someone.

The best part about gifting an experience is making and keeping memories – and that won’t take up any space! Ideas for gifting experiences can include passes to facilities or parks, gift certificates to a favourite restaurant, a spa package, vacation, plane or concert tickets, vouchers to an event, even sailing or music lessons.

Chances are, people are going understand your minimalistic approach to gift-giving and receiving. If some are opposed to it initially, they may come to like the idea with time. And don’t be surprised if you even have a few following suit. Minimalism can be quite contagious!