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5 phrases to become a minimalist giver this holiday, according to a KonMari expert

Plus, how to minimize your holiday to-do list.

minimalist holiday season

Being a minimalist during the holiday season in a society that forces the need for having all the material items is no easy job. How do you make sure the gifts you give are memorable and won't end up in the regifting pile? Should you give more experiences versus goods? Is it really possible to give less? You're not alone, mama—38% of Americans feeling an increased level of stress during the holiday season, but don't fret, there are ways to be less stressed and still be a minimalist giver.

First, set your intentions for a joyful holiday season. How do you want the recipient to feel? Who do you want to spend time with? What are the activities that will make you feel the most connected? What traditions do you want to honor and pass on?

Once you've set your intentions, put them into action. Here are five minimalist phrases to ask yourself before purchasing gifts this year:

1. "Does this purchase align with their values?"

If they've shared with you that they are trying to be more active or get back into yoga, the last thing you want to do it gift a box of yummy home-baked cookies. While this may make you feel good, it might give them a sense of guilt and hesitation. Think of items that align with their thinking and you won't go wrong.

2. "What are my favorite products that I want to share with friends?"

What are the simple purchases that have made a significant difference in your life? The holidays are a great way to introduce your friends to your favorite things, like the home goods, beauty products accessories that you love.

3. "Will this purchase support their ideal lifestyle?"

Don't sabotage your loved one's goals by adding more useless clutter to their lives. What do they want to achieve in 2020? Ask them what matters most to them and plan accordingly. If the gift is a surprise, think back to moments with them. Are they a planner? Get them a nice calendar. Are they a foodie? Give them a cookbook with recipes of their favorites.

4. "Am prioritizing traditions and experiences?"

Make a spending plan to prioritize what matters most to you. Maybe you live far away and want to spend more time together in the new year. Or you know your niece loves going to concerts. Get creative. Bonus: You might even save money by focusing on experiences instead of physical gifts. Bake cookies, go ice-skating or see holiday light displays.

5. "Does this gift show that I value our connection?"

When gifting, remember it's the thought that counts. People appreciate when your gift illustrates your connection to them. When you do this well, the price point doesn't matter. For example, last year I printed photos from old family slides that were collecting dust in the attic. My parents were overjoyed with the gift and it cost less than $15.

Now that you have a minimalist purchase plan, try these tips to minimize your holiday to-do list:

Productivity guru Amanda Jefferson of Indigo Organizing introduced me to the concept of the four D's and it has truly helped me become more of a stress-free minimalist during the holidays.

First, make a list of all of the things you could, would and should do for the holidays. Everything from sending Christmas cards, making homemade latkes or attending the company holiday party—write it all down.

Now go through the list and ask yourself which items make you feel the most alive. The ones you love doing and can't wait for each year. Those are the items to keep on your list.

For the rest, apply the four Ds:

1. Delete: Remove anything that drains your energy and doesn't have to get done.

There, doesn't that feel good? I deleted sending holiday cards from my list. No more looking for addresses, buying stamps or writing notes—I throw a cocktail party for friends instead.

2. Diminish: Make life simpler.

Perhaps you want to send holiday cards but are overwhelmed by the process. Instead of sending holiday cards with professional photography and perfectly color-coordinated outfits, will candid from your iPhone gallery work just as well? If the matching outfits make you happy, consider buying them secondhand through an app like Mercari, or try organization apps like Awesome Note or CloudMagic to keep your list organized.

3. Defer: Reschedule the task for a later time.

Maybe sending holiday cards is not feasible during the busyness of the season. Consider sending New Year's or Valentine's Day cards instead and make a new tradition for your family to enjoy the process of thinking of loved ones and sending notes when you have the time to do so properly.

4. Delegate: Outsource the task to someone else.

Look into services like postable.com that will do the mailing for you. You can also delegate to partners and children (if they're old enough!). Get everyone involved and spread the emotional labor of making the holidays more joyful.

Rarely is a woman more concerned with what her body needs than when she's pregnant. We start to question and research everything, right? From swearing off turkey sandwiches to diving down the rabbit hole of prenatal supplements that make up what we lack, the stress of overthinking is real, mama.

One of the main reasons we launched the Motherly Shop is to help take some of that stress away. We've tracked down the best brands and products developed by people (and in many cases, women!) that truly work to serve the needs of real mamas, especially throughout the overwhelming transition into motherhood.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

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