“Get comfy and grab your tea!” That’s how Shira Gill, our favorite minimalist and author of a new book on streamlining your home and life, welcomed guests to a recent Zoom class. Her new book Minimalista: Your Step-by-Step Guide to to a Better Home, Wardrobe and Life showcases Shira’s 12 years of expertise helping people live more intentional lives. She just wants to help folks stop feeling overwhelmed by clutter, and make organizing both fun and accessible.
It’s a great ethos to take into the holidays, which is why we were psyched that Shira focused her clean, cheerful lens on the busy, stressful season. “Identify what’s essential and strip away the distractions that stand in the way,” she says.” We couldn’t agree more. Here are some of her top tips.
1. Get Clarity
Take a minute to step back and question, says Shira: “What’s the most important thing to you and how can you be more intentional with your holiday season?” We often don’t slow down and think about it, she notes. “How do you want to spend your precious time and money?” Puzzle it out ahead of time.
2. Make a Holiday Mission Statement
Cheesy-sounding, but it works. “The most important thing is X. I want to feel Y and prioritize Z.” Shira and her husband both did this; they realized they both want to feel calm and relaxed, and be present with family. They also hosted a family meeting to check in with their two daughters, learning what the kids’ priorities were.
3. Edit, Edit, Edit!
Toys, gadgets, all the rest of it: “The bulk of my work is about editing,” says Shira, and “letting go of what’s distracting. She does “a big decluttering-donate session” with her family. “I like to remind my kids that there will be new things coming in, it’s time for some things to exit the home to create space. Even with reluctant kids, set up a donate bag, set a timer for 15 minutes, and anything you’re ready to let go of, put it in the bin.” She also does a food bank dropoff, discarding expired food and making a nice bag of still-good food you won’t use for the local food bank.
4. Say “No” to Too Many Events
“One of the most important things is taking a step back and kind of holistically looking at the calendar,” says Shira. “Look at all the events and all the obligations: Do I have space on the calendar to catch my breath, to have that time and space with family, to have a day off?” She encourages you to prioritize fewer, better things. “Make the decision ahead of time so if you do get invited to many, many things you can say, “You know, I decided to just attend three events this year and call it a day.”
5. Do It In Advance
“When it comes to holidays, one of the ways I eliminate stress is just by doing everything a week in advance,” says Shira. Whether it’s packing a bag, making pie dough, or planning the playlist in advance of a big holiday dinner, do it a week out! “I know that sounds crazy if your schedule is already super-packed,” she admits. “But I’m gonna show up now so a week from now I’m cool as a cucumber.”
6. Make a Budget
In Shira’s family, she buys gifts for her kids and their teachers, and that’s it, opting to invest the bulk of the family holiday budget towards throwing a big holiday bash for their closest family and friends. Decide ahead of time how you want to allocate your gifting budget and stick with it!
Can you make it a potluck? Can you order in? “No shame,” says Shira. Her mother-in-law hires help with cleanup after her parties. She finally made that investment after years of staying up all night cleaning post-party.
8. Go Minimal on Wrapping
A big roll of butcher paper goes a long way for Shira. It’s compostable, biodegradable and chic. She wraps presents in it, using greens, cinnamon sticks, and fresh lavender as accessories. (She also mentions that you can repurpose tea towels or fabrics as wrapping paper.) For her recent launch party, her chef brother laid out every single bite on a big sheet of butcher paper. They removed all the chairs, called it a “grazing table,” and people milled around happily. The whole roll of paper went into the compost bin, and there were no dishes to do. Epic.
9. Make Décor Reusable
“Another big pain point I’ve seen for people is so much décor to sort through,” says Shira. Go small and renewable. Shira has one small box of décor that gets edited annually. In it are reusable greenery, reusable candles, and a big “CELEBRATE” sign made of felt. It goes into an airtight weatherproof box, and into a cold, dry place like the basement or attic.
If you can muster the energy, donate and return things right away, so things don’t build up or cause clutter. Pack up your décor as soon as you’re done enjoying it. Sometimes taking some time just for yourself can be the biggest holiday gift of all. Thanks, Shira. Words to live by.