One of the intimidating factors about moving into a tiny house is the thought of getting rid of all your stuff. For many this is the specific reason for moving out of their standard-sized home, for others it can be a source of stress. Although the dream of downsizing and living with less, enjoying the freedom and adventure this lifestyle represents to the wanna-be minimalist, it can still be a daunting thought. After all we have been conditioned to identify and associate who we are to our accumulated possessions.
This concept can be no more strongly felt than around the holidays. This is the time that we pull out Grandmas China, drag in the 9-foot Frasier fur (that by the way, was very content living and growing outside), string up 364 feet of exterior lights, cook and serve enough food to feed a small country and buy mounds of expensive gifts, most of which will be forgotten in less than a months time. No wonder the holidays are so stressful. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you do not live in a tiny house these following concepts can be adapted to help you minimize your accumulation of stuff, lower the unrealistic, outdated personal expectation of the perfect holiday, be more present, lower your stress and authentically enjoy your holiday the way it should be enjoyed.
Decorating your space can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the holiday. That is if you don’t overdo it. Remember, what goes up, must come down. Wonder why you see that house with the Christmas tree lights still up in June? Don’t be that guy. Save yourself the holiday decorating hangover by being selective with your decorations.
A good idea is to choose a few focal areas to decorate. What will make the greatest visual impact? May be a wreath on the front door to great guest, some garland around a window that you will look out of often, strings of holiday cards from friends that remind you of cherished relationships. The walls of a small space are an excellent place to hang decorations for obvious reasons. If you are dead set on getting a tree stay true to O Tannenbaum, which represents constancy and faithfulness, and get a live version. For years I decorated a live Australian pine. There are many small living options at your local home supply stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Another favorite on mine is the rosemary tree. All of these can be planted outside later or maintained in their pots to bring in again next year. You can also forgo the price of a tree completely by going into the woods, trimming pine branches, or whichever tree strikes your fancy, and placing them in an urn with water. And with the money you save and your new-found conservatory spirit you can donate to American Forest. An organization dedicated to conserving forest ecosystems.
Folks who live in tiny house are always looking for ways to multipurpose their things. Use this same mindset when decorating. If you use placemats or table coverings sew or fabric glue two styles together so they are reversible like this example. Try decorating for the season, not just the specific holiday. For example, I put out pumpkins and mums on my front porch at Halloween and this splash of color serves me until after Thanksgiving. The pumpkins can then be smashed open out back for the deer and the mums can be planted elsewhere to come up again later. Then I put out the winter décor. I have preserved a grapevine wreath that I can decorate and hang on my front door for any occasion. Here are some examples of how you can use this versatile décor piece for yourself. By the way, it’s super easy to make your own grapevine wreath. A great way to decorate and get into the holiday spirit is to make your own decorations that can be used later for another purpose. This can take the form of gingerbread houses that will later be covered in peanut butter and seeds to feed the birds or personalized ornaments you can pass out to friends as gifts. Here is another great article for small space decorating ideas. You are only limited by your imagination.
Oh yes, we must buy, buy, buy. Gifts for mom and sister and Uncle Clark. Well, there are many creative and thoughtful gifts out there that you may not have thought about. Gifts that don’t take up space, become obsolete in a month or create a burden on the environment. The key here is to know your audience and get something thoughtful and useful. A few examples are tickets to an event, a class or lecture on something they are interested in, a charitable donation in their name, or gift certificates to a favorite store. Food and drink are always great gifts, we all eat and drink! With so many meal kit companies around a fun idea is to send a gift card to a loved one, they choose their own meals that are delivered to their home and you’re the hero!
We are also in the time of “experiences”. Even though this is a recurring buzz word, and I’m not one to jump on a trend, I am neck deep into this one! More doing, less collecting of things! Many families are deciding to forgo the gift giving tradition and opting to allocate those funds towards a trip, vacation or adventure.
If you still need a thoughtful gift idea you can choose something that gives back like this list of goodies that donate a percentage of their proceeds to charitable causes.
Another integral part of the holidays is the feast. Most people look forward to this once-a-year indulgence and why not? If you are hosting Christmas in your tiny home, you will be faced with your own special challenges when it comes to what you should cook. This is most dependent on what type of kitchen appliances you have. Some tiny homes have a full kitchen while others may only have a cook top or less. I wrote an article called Hosting Thanksgiving in a Tiny House that goes into detail on this topic.
Hosting a holiday celebration in your tiny house is different in many ways from hosting it in a standard size home but regardless of what kind of structure you live in, the real focus should be on the people that you surround yourself with. Don’t worry about not living up to past expectations. Don’t worry about how things have always been done. Cultivate and express your own values. Your Aunt May thinks you're crazy for living in a tiny house anyway so just go for it!
Published on 12/12/2023. Published in Downsize-Organize-Simplify, and Tiny House Living.