Modern*Simplicity

Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Do You Need Less or Require More?

This post is by Peter DeHaan. Peter is an author, blogger, and magazine publisher. He lives and works in Michigan with his bride of 33 years. They have two married children and two grand puppies. Access Peter’s blogs, social media, and newsletter from his website, www.peterdehaan.com.

When asked “How much would be enough?” John D. Rockefeller reportedly answered, “just a little bit more.”

That push for more has propelled people to accomplish some amazing things, but left unchecked and unexamined it can leave a wake of devastation – destroying lives, organizations, and resources.

When the push for more focuses on wealth, it is never satisfied. Seeking more can become an inescapable snare.

Many people live beyond their means. For them, they desire just a little bit more. They are, in fact, greedy.

A few people live within their means; they spend responsibly, not letting their reach exceed their grasp. But even these people are often one paycheck away from the collapse of their subsistence. They are living on the edge; financial disaster is knocking at their door.

It’s rare for people to live beneath their means, to live more simply than they can afford, to save money and give money away. They are wise.

Whichever category we find ourselves in, we’d do well to ask, “How much is enough?”

An even better question might be, “How simply can we live?”

Are there changes you need to make in your lifestyle or with your attitude towards money?

5 Tips for Organizing Gifts All Year Long

Photo by asenat29/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/72153088@N08/

Photo by asenat29/Flickr

I have a gift closet, though it’s not the same type of gift closet I used to curate. When you mention “gift closets,” most people think of a stash of random, generic gifts, bought throughout the year to use in a “gift emergency” — when a gift-giving occasion pops up and you’re unprepared. I used to have one of those. I thought I was being frugal, buying on sale and picking up deals whenever I found them. I thought I was being smart because a gift closet makes me “prepared” for all occasions, right? It turns out I was being wasteful instead.

A random stash of generic gifts is just that — random and generic. There’s nothing thoughtful or loving about pulling out a slapdash thingamajig bought on sale, slapping a bow on it, and calling it a gift. I’d much rather put thought and effort into picking just the right thing for that special person. I’d also rather not store generic gifts in my house for months on end.

I do recognize the need to plan and organize gifts though. I like to buy things on sale, but only if the things I see are just right for someone specific. So I had to come up with a better way of keeping track of my finds, taking up the least amount of space while making sure the gifts I found went to the right people at the right times, and not getting lost in the shuffle. Here are 5 tips for organizing gifts and keeping your “gift closet” to a reasonable level.

  1. Clean out your gift closet, if you already have one. Be brutally honest — are you actually going to give this stuff to anyone? If you are, great! Put a name tag on it and make a list of what you have and who it’s for. Anything that doesn’t have an actual occasion or person associated with it should head for a charity donation. I’m a little embarrassed about how much I sent to the charity bin after cleaning out the closet.
  2. Plan ahead. I mean actually plan ahead. Grab a notebook or start a spreadsheet, and list out any gift giving occasions you have coming up. If you had something stashed in your gift closet for one of these upcoming occasions, great! Write it down, set it aside with a tag, or go ahead and wrap it up. If you don’t have anything yet, make a note in your to-do list of the who/what/when and make plans to go shopping or make a homemade gift. For example, my niece and two nephews have birthdays coming up in the next few weeks, and my cousin is getting married too. I’ve got gifts finished for the kiddos, so I made a note of that, but I still need to find the perfect wedding gift for my cousin, so it’s now on my to-do-list.
  3. For people you frequently need to give items to (gifts or just in general), set up a bag or box for them in your gift space. I am always setting aside stuff for my parents or my husband’s family, so I set up plain brown paper grocery bags with their names on them in the gift closet. Whenever I have something I need to remember to give them, I place it in the brown bag. When a gift-giving occasion rolls around, I use the bags to organize their gifts — my sister-in-law’s bag is currently full of birthday gifts for her kids. In the meantime, that CD I meant to return to my dad or the photos I need to give to my mother-in-law can be kept in their bags until I see them again.
  4. Keep good records of what’s in your closet. Any gifts you buy in advance need to be noted somewhere where you won’t forget, whether that’s in your smart phone or a notebook on your desk. Knowing what you have keeps you from buying more than you need, and ensures that perfect sweater you found your mom doesn’t get forgotten on her birthday.
  5. Don’t go too far in advance, especially if you don’t have the space for it. I used to plan a year out — I’d start shopping for birthdays and next Christmas months in advance. That resulted in an overflowing closet full of wasted gifts. I would often find something I liked better for the person, their tastes would change, maybe they picked that item up for themselves before the gift was able to be given. What a waste. Now I try to keep my planning to 3 months ahead, and I only pick up something earlier than that if it is truly perfect. Keeping myself on a tighter timeline ensures my gifts are appropriate, timely and (hopefully) actually wanted.

Do you keep a gift closet? How do you organize your gift-giving occasions?