Christmas chaos and clutter and pressure to give holiday gifts can be stress-inducing. But families can use these holidays to downsize excess stuff and start meaningful conversations when family gatherings start at Thanksgiving.
Consider these seven tips to make holiday gift giving tasks into an adventure in downsizing and communicating:
- Prior to Thanksgiving, tell your friends and relatives that you’d like experiences or consumables for holiday gifts – and let them know that’s what you’ll be giving them.
- Also before Thanksgiving, donate your excess gift wrap, bows and unwanted Christmas decorations to a charity that can use them for those in need or for fundraising.
- Put unused fabric such as sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, napkins, bandanas, handkerchiefs and decorative towels to work as gift wrap, instead of paper.
- Repurpose boxes, baskets, tins, jars, vases and bowls as gift containers for consumables (ask about my recipe for spiced nuts!).
- Give heirloom items to family members while you can still tell the stories behind those objects.
- Downsize and distribute family photographs by having a scrapbook session with family members and tell the family stories that the photos document. Toss blurred or unremarkable photos, and those of unrecognized people.
- Make video recordings of elders and youngsters telling stories about what’s important to them. You can find great conversation-starting resources from Have the Talk of a Lifetime at www.TalkofaLifetime.org.
One last thought: consider giving copies of KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die along with a home-made coupon for your time as a downsizing assistant. Your overwhelmed relatives will thank you.
Gail Rubin, CT, is a death educator who works with organizations to connect with baby boomers and seniors concerned about end-of-life issues. She uses humor and funny films to teach about sensitive topics. She’s the author of A GOOD GOODBYE: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, and her latest book is, KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die. Download a 50-point Executor’s Checklist from the book and learn more at www.AGoodGoodbye.com.
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American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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