“There are two ways of spreading light; be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”–Edith Wharton
What a year it has been! Over the past year, I gave birth to a son and moved from a one (albeit roomy)-bedroom loft downtown into a four-bedroom home in my city’s historic district. It was all gloriously overwhelming, and in the six short months we’ve lived in our new place, I’m settling right in and already noticing an accumulation of stuff. Admittedly, some pieces were direly needed (hello, dining table that seats more than four people), but some of it is just that inevitable creep of stuff one acquires to fill space (toilet paper holder that turns out to only hold super small rolls, I’m looking at you).
For a few years now, I’ve avidly avoiding collecting stuff, and my downtown living arrangements helped keep me in check. But as the holidays approach and I see the White Elephant parties looming, I’m getting hives on my neck just thinking about the impending stuff I am bound to receive during the holidays by people who are simply trying to tell me they love me dearly.
Thankfully, a colleague saved me from adding another item to my “re-gift” cupboard (talk about showing someone how much you love them). While my office was scheduled to have a holiday gift exchange, she (brilliantly) suggested that we each bring an item to donate to a local charity instead. No pointless accumulation AND spreading a little Christmas cheer? Count me in!
If you don’t need another scented hand soap this season, you might consider asking your office/holiday partygoers to bring a donation instead of exchanging gifts. We can be the mirror reflecting the candlelight with which we’ve been lavished, and something tells me someone truly in need could use a brighter holiday.
Ideas to point you in the right direction:
Office Party: Bring a toy to make a child’s holiday brighter (toysfortots.org). Locally, Crystal Lake Elementary is in need of Dollar Store gifts which they allow their students to “shop” for their families. School closes on December 18th, so these gifts are needed ASAP (Ms. Gambill, 863.499.2966)
Dinner Party: Holidays are often difficult for seniors. If you’re hosting a party, ask your guests to bring a new throw or blanket to warm their heart and legs instead of a hostess gift (Viste.org).
Girlfriends’ group/book club: We often think of food and clothing for the homeless, but underpinnings are often sorely needed as well. Collect bras and underwear for those spending the holidays in a shelter (Lighthouse Ministries, lighthousmin.org, 863.687.4076).
Extended Family Gathering: We often gather with our extended families, but someone in your family probably knows a soldier who isn’t home for the holidays. Consider bringing care package items to wrap up and send them with a note of appreciation. This would be a great activity with kids. Go solo: Are you a party of one this Christmas? Consider making an extra round on your next trip to Target to compile a bag of supplies for PACE Center for Girls, a school whose program is nationally recognized for keeping girls from entering the juvenile justice system. They are always in need of gift cards for restaurants and establishments teenaged girls would enjoy (used for academic rewards—I think of Black & Brew, Taco Bus, Target Starbucks, etc.), hair accessories, make-up items (eye shadows, perfume samples, lip gloss), journals, costume jewelry, and fun snacks (PACE Center for Girls, 863.688.5596).
Beaded sweater: Banana Republic
Pencil Skirt: Express
Leopard Calf Hair pumps: Ralph Lauren
Necklace: J. Crew
Sunglasses: Cole Haan
Bag: Ralph Lauren (blue glitter poinsettia not included)