Tips to have a Clutter-free Christmas

I’ve been thinking about gift-giving differently this year since our family tidied up using the KonMari Method. I still love celebrating Christmas and getting together with friends and family, and really do enjoy giving gifts. However, I’m trying to be more mindful about what I give. Since I spend hours and hours working with people helping them declutter their homes, adding material things to my friends’ and families’ homes just doesn’t feel great anymore. Instead, I’ve been thinking about what I can give to show I care without adding clutter to someone’s home. Remember that the thought behind the gifts are what’s important, not the items themselves. As Marie Kondo says:

“Someone important to you used precious time to pick them out and buy them for you. They are an expression of love and consideration...The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feeling.”

I used to think gift cards weren’t very thoughtful presents. I’ve totally changed my mind. This year I’m giving gift cards to local Little Rock small businesses that I want to support.

Food & Drink

These are shops we’ve gone to over and over, are a little bit out of the ordinary, and are fun, interesting places to visit. We slow down when we go to these places, which is such a blessing.

Izard Chocolate | Nathaniel Izard is the only chocolate maker in Central Arkansas. During a trip to his shop in Hillcrest you can see all the machines he uses to make bean-to-bar chocolate, and probably actually see him making his chocolate bars, caramels and truffles. He’s great at patiently explaining the chocolate making process, so not only do you get an education, you get some delicious chocolate as well.

River City Coffee | If you want a smaller coffee shop that’s in a historic building, River City-also in Hillcrest-is the place to stop. The owner, Jeremy Bragg, is a music lover as well as great barista. There is always some interesting music playing, but it’s never blaring. The baristas never seem rushed and are friendly. They usually have a display of some local artist’s work for sale too. Check out the lamps hanging over the bench in the back part of the shop. Lots of interesting one-of-a-kind decor here.

Le Pops Gourmet Ice Lollies | We go to this place at least once a week during the summer. They sell handmade popsicles that are super fresh and delicious. It’s so much more fun to actually drive to their shop and make an event out of getting dessert than digging a popsicle out of the freezer. It’s nice to stop and take a couple minutes to sit on the bench outside the door and savor these yummy things. My favorite is strawberry dipped in dark chocolate. They have a good selection of vegan options as well.

The Root Cafe | This is another kind of quirky place that has the best vegan pancakes and spicy brownies I’ve ever eaten. They have really interesting food and buy a lot of their ingredients from local farms. It just feels like a healthy place to eat. There are mismatched tablecloths, napkins and furniture that’s endearing and fun. It’s in the SoMa district and another plus to going here is that it’s across from the best ice cream shop.

Loblolly Creamery | Another Little Rock original, Loblolly used to be in the Green Corner Store, then moved into their own space, which is a super fun place with silly paintings on the walls. They have tons of flavors, and a great vegan ice cream selection as well as vegan cones. It’s heaven for our family. You can get a flight of ice cream if you can’t decide what you want. We’ll make a 20 minute drive out here to get an ice cream cone. Again, it’s not only the food that makes it worth it, it’s taking a ride together, the sitting down and talking while we eat the yumminess.

Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. | This is our daughter’s favorite restaurant, hands down. They have a beautiful, hipster, kind of minimalist space that is just lovely. They basically serve 3 things - noodles, dumplings, or steamed buns. We love the dumplings and noodles.

Cool memberships

Little Rock Climbing Center | We have all had memberships to this gym at one time or another. Neither of our girls enjoy going to a traditional gym, but they love climbing and the climbing center has a huge indoor space with 30’ walls. Anyone can climb here, from absolute beginners to experts. There are friendly people that will set you up with the gear you need and give you lessons to get you started safely.

The Innovation Hub |This place is amazing. We recently visited for the first time while attending a seminar. There are co-work meeting spaces, classes, and open art studios, including pottery, print-making, woodworking, 3-D printing areas, and lots more. If you have someone creative, check out what they offer.

Box-of-the-Month subscription | There are subscriptions for almost everything these days. Our daughter got a tea of the month box for a while and loved it. We had an eco-friendly box and were exposed to a new product every month. We still use everything they sent to us, and you can usually just buy one month at a time.

Things that might sound lame but are actually cool

Carwash membership | We had a membership to a carwash for several months this year and can’t believe how much we liked it. We’d stop in at least twice a week, and our car stayed sparkling clean. Vacuuming it was easy, and it gave us a chance to get rid of any trash, fold up and put away our grocery bags.

Grocery store cards | My mom is 90, and she doesn’t need any more things. She really appreciates a gift card to a special grocery store in her area. It’s a treat to get to shop there and buy something weird.

Ride sharing cards | Our oldest lives in Chicago. She doesn’t have a car, and usually takes public transportation. Every once in a while, it’s a treat to take an Uber or Lyft. Her uncle gave her an Uber gift card last year, and it actually brought tears to her eyes.

Regifting something you’ve received | If you have received a gift that you appreciated, but find you aren’t using, think about who could actually use it. Marie Kondo says:

“Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it…..Giving things you can’t use to others who can is an excellent idea. Not only is it economical, but it can also be a source of great joy to see these things being enjoyed and treasured by someone close to you.”

I’m sure you can think of a lot of other ideas for gift giving that don’t add to the clutter in people’s homes. Leave a comment with your ideas!

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant.