Okay, I'm sure the panic is just starting to creep up! It is inevitable, the holidays
are here! Hanukah and Christmas parties have already started. Cards are starting
to show up in the mail. You're feeling pressured to shop, clean, organize, cook
and get all the holiday gear out and up. I know because I am feeling it too.
I started preparing and getting things done earlier this year then
ever before, because I am 50 plus years old now, and I just can't afford to
stroke out over Santa and burnt out bulbs. I also decided to downsize some of
the hoopla. Instead of unpacking all the Christmas/Hanukah Holiday stuff, I kept it
simple and put out about half the trinkets and decor. I also strung only half
the lights around the house and garden then I normally would hang. I used the
tiniest fake Christmas tree for our official tree this year. Normally I make a
huge plate of Latkes (painstaking potato pancakes), and this year I bought
them from a woman who makes them way better then I do. Also Trader Joe's Latkes are spectacular.
In our home we celebrate Hanukah and Christmas so it can get complicated. This year I did
not let that happen. A Menorah here and a Santa there, not the gazillion
items I usually put out, and the house still looks, smells, and feels like
the holidays. And I feel more rested and at ease then I have ever felt during
these hectic holiday happenings.
When I have discussed with friends, family and clients about easing it up a
bit around the holidays I usually hear the heavy hearted whine about "doing it for the kids".
Well, let me tell you, having your kids watch you spaz out about what tree to buy,
where to put it, what to put on it, hunting down the dreidel from Aunt Ida, while drowning in butter cookie dough, is not what makes them feel warm and cuddly. Do you really think they are enjoying watching you have a merry melt down? No, the kids would rather see you relaxed, communicative and well MERRY. Take a sip of that good ol' fashion...ol' fashion.
In the ol' days, we just did not have that much stuff. We had one nice dress or suit to wear.
One dressy shoe choice to put on our feet. We had one tree, one Menorah, a few candles, one wreath, one Dreidel, and a very few presents around that tree, mostly consisting
of what we actually wanted like clothing, shoes, food items and necessities. The holiday celebration of today has become so large, fast and furious it is like a heart thumping
marathon, ending with a meal that would give most people heart pains and indigestion. It just starts to feel so overwhelming and stressful it takes the "holi" and of holiday and that leaves "day", just another day of stress, strategies and desire for sleep!
This year take it easy, and don't use the kids, Martha Stewart's latest Christmas articles, or the
neighbor’s neon holiday front yard displays as a push to push you over. I always say if you push, you fall. And remember we are going into another seasonal change....Winter.
Winter will be on December 21st, 2016 so enjoy the end of fall without falling down. Clown around more, talk to more friends on the phone instead of texting, have a holiday potluck dinner instead of putting in all on your shoulders and just sit with your kids and talk about the spiritual aspect of the holidays and why they started in the first place! Put things into perspective when it comes to spending and giving. Give to a charity, epecially the homeless around the holidays. Know how fortunate you are and have gratitude for a new year to come!
Marla Stone, Ideal
When talking about shopping on "Black Friday" I assumed it was for people who are in the "black" with their money, yet considering most people are in the "red" with their dollars it may be a foolish jaunt out the front door.
People always want new stuff but then there is always "buyer's remorse" and returning items seems to be as popular as buying them. My suggestion is if you don't have the newest gadget, control the urge and wait until you find it on eBay or craigslist, facebook marketplace, let go, or nextdoor, hardly used or unused. By the way, I always noticed that black Friday is not the cheapest way to go, especially if you travel from California to Arizona to find shorter lines. The best deals on any new products seem to appear in February. The best, best deal is to not walk out the front door, and notice that you own the item you want, somewhere in your garage.
I decided a long time ago to stop buying newly made products, and concentrated on finding items that were slightly used or even new that someone didn't want. I have been a thrift, consignment, garage sale and swap meet shopper for years. I also like discount stores where the items that were ordered new from places like Wal-Mart, Target and Nordstrom end up at the end of their cycle, as a still new item, i.e. Ross, TJ MAX, Big Lots, Marshalls, The Rack etc... I will ONLY buy something new if there are no other options. I will shop the discount stores a few times a year, to buy things I want that will ultimately end up in our dumps. I find a lot of new and great stuff shopping green. The other idea I like is to find a local clothing designer who makes and sells their own one of a kind designs.
I have been buying brand new shoes, clothing, designer purses, art, fixtures, vintage dish towels, furniture, household goods and anything you can think of, primarily from thrift stores for over 30+ years. I started in Old Town Pasadena, before it was commercialized, when there were old Vintage Thrift stores on every street. I bought dresses and shoes from the 30's and 40's before it was even cool.
I have bought numerous paintings by established artists that have appraised for over $30,000.00. I paid close to $150.00 for the lot. The shoes I find, you will never find in regular department stores, or even your favorite boutique, since often times they are unused vintage and or extreme designer shoes (often one of a kind). I have bought Gucci, Ralph, Coach, Louis, Dior, etc... in purses, wallets and date books for pennies on the dollar. Hats, scarves, socks, skirts, pants, suits, and gloves vintage or designer, collectible and gorgeous, Chanel and St John. I have never felt deprived, and have refused to pay the big bucks to have luxury and love for beautiful keepsakes.
When you buy animal, leather or fur goods please find vintage or used products. Do not buy new leather and or fur products. Get leather, fur or items made from living things from your relatives and or thrift stores. I do not believe in killing animals for pleasure or to look good. Purchasing new leather or fur goods only perpetuates an already horrific practice of killing animals for vanity. There are plenty of leather goods and furs already on the planet to be enjoyed without contributing to more death of animals.
I have lovely Kreiss furniture and a handmade Italian Iron bed that is a one of a kind with two antique marble nightstands. I saw the nightstands on-line for $300.00 a piece (I paid $120.00 for both). I sit on designer chairs, and eat at a high end dining table that is worth $10,000 new (I paid $700.00 + $25.00 for delivery). All my furniture, except some family pieces are from consignment and thrift shops.
I have always supported local "starving" and non "starving" artists. If I meet an artist that I like, I always commission a painting. I have some of the most delightful art in my home, and knowing the artist that created it is even more precious. I would rather pay someone locally that I know has to feed themselves, and their family, then to buy some mass produced modern scenery art, from an "art fair." Many people started turning towards "junk" art, that looks nice, but those "paintings" are copies, upon copies, upon copies produced by large foreign entities that pay their local artists hardly a cent to paint them.
I buy fruits and vegetables, not at Vons Pavilions or Trader Joes, but at local markets and farms that only buy from local farms. It just makes sense, and I can even ask the store owner where it comes from and they can say....."Jones Farm down the way grew those peaches." I grow vegetables and herbs anywhere I can find dirt.
One of the most recent ideas I've had to shop more green and cut down on pollution would be for neighborhoods to choose only one or two gardeners, instead of having ten or twenty gardeners driving in and out of your neighborhood weekly. Finding two of the best gardeners to serve each neighborhood would save money, and your lungs from all the extra pollution. Gardeners would love the idea, since they would save tons of money on gas, and be able to work one neighborhood per day. I would also make sure the gardeners use electric instead of gas run blowers. Even better, get rid of your grass and plant a native garden.
I think buying green, shopping locally and supporting our local artisans, who paint, sew, create pottery, and can make just about any item you dream of, is the way to go if you want more stuff! Be creative and see how you can shop or think green!!
Marla Stone is a Lifestyle Consultant and Professional Organizer
Serving Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties!!!
Marla is known as the Declutter Your Strategy™ expert. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of