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Monday, November 10, 2014

"Now there's something I didn't know that I needed!"

Picking up a few things at Dollar Tree yesterday afternoon, I noticed an end-cap on one of the aisles with Christmas-themed chair seat pads, like for kitchen chairs. I had a flash of a thought, "oooh, I don't have chair pads in a Christmas-y fabric. Maybe I need a set!"

Fortunately, it was only a flash of a thought, and my better sense took over immediately. But it did make me think about how many products are marketed, that we've never even thought we may "need", but are persuaded by marketing/advertisers that we do indeed "need" these items.

Maybe you would like some chair pads in a nice red and green poinsettia fabric. That's okay. But what annoyed me was I had never even thought I might want some sort of seasonal chair pad before. Just the sight of them made me think I could use some.

This time of year, I receive stacks of catalogs with all manner of Christmas decor items. Several years back, I saw some Christmas bed sheets that I felt I "just had to have". Fortunately, again, better sense prevailed and I skipped them altogether. I've found that it's just best to toss those catalogs into the recycle bin without ever opening them.

I must confess, I've even been tempted to buy Christmas sweaters in the past. If you like them, and will wear them, that's great. But many of these impulses to buy seasonal items are often regretted by me later. I'm really not a Christmas sweater-type of girl. (I do have a couple of nice red sweaters (plain, red sweaters), and I do wear those on or near the holidays.)

While keeping the commerce wheel spinning is important for our economy and keeping folks employed, what I feel is excess begins to bother me after a while.

I'm not against having "stuff". For myself, I only want to own the stuff that I really want to have, long term. I have a true minimalist brother-in-law. He says that "stuff" begins to "own" him after a while. "Stuff" needs to be maintained, housed, dusted, repaired, etc. He'd rather not spend his time taking care of his "stuff". He's got a point. How much time and space do we want to devote to our "stuff"?

I guess I really don't "need" those Christmas-themed kitchen chair pads. Our backsides will simply have to deal with our regular chair pads -- they are sage green, after all. Maybe our behinds will still think that they are Christmas-y.  ;)



  1. When I was in my early 20's and newly married, I went overboard buying seasonal decorations for a couple of years. I wasn't as frugal minded back then, I loved decorating for the fall/winter Holidays, and I had a hard time resisting all of the Holiday displays in the stores. It even got a little worse after the birth of my first son...all of the cute 'Baby's First Christmas' clothes, ornaments, stockings, etc.

    We began to struggle with money a bit a few years later and I had to learn how to stop myself from making those purchases. It was hard at first, but when I would see the Holiday displays in stores I would keep telling myself that the season passed quickly and I would only use the item for short amount of time. I eventually convinced myself. :) That, and I did give myself permission to splurge if I found a truly special décor item...something unique that really spoke to my sense of style. I rarely found anything like it worked for me.

    I also started to carry on a tradition with my sons that my Mom started with my sister and I. We select three new Christmas tree ornaments each for each of my sons and one that my husband and I share. My sons will take their ornaments with them when they leave home, just like my sister and I did. We have a 'hodge-podge' tree and not a themed tree. It's really fun searching out the special ornament each year and we always 'ooh and ahh' over each one while we are decorating the tree and have memories of where and when we got the ornaments. By having the tradition of looking for the new ornaments each year, it makes me want to look at other Christmas decorations less.

    So, I've reformed from somewhat of a materialist when it came to decorating for the Holidays, to somewhat of a minimalist. Part of the reason was the decorations 'owning me'. I started to dread dragging all of my décor out and then putting it away each year. I changed and started to love the simplest of decorations. I put out a couple of pumpkins and pots of Mums on my porch and that looks very nice for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I have one really special, antique looking ceramic jack-o-lantern that I burn tealights in each Halloween and my Mom's clear glass pumpkin with a lid candy jar. For Christmas we do the tree and I mainly just make the house festive with a few festive candles and some Christmas color accents. We also have a few strands of LED lights and we outline our roof and porch out front. Simple, beautiful, frugal and not time consuming. :)

    I know some people that really go all out decorating for each season and Holiday. If that's what someone loves to do, and it's in the budget I say go for it! I'm much happier with myself since I 'reformed' though. :)

    Sometimes I'm still tempted though. Just the other day, I was at Walmart and I saw some really pretty serving bowls and platters that had pines boughs and pine cones etched along the edges. They were done in a bronze like finish and looked a bit old fashioned so they caught my eye. I looked at them for a few minutes and was slightly tempted. Then I looked at the cost and asked myself, how long would I actually use these each year, and where would I store them when I wasn't using them, would I enjoy digging in the back of some seldom used kitchen cabinet to get them out each year. I passed and was happy with my decision. I only want to have things that are special to me, that I truly love.

    This is a great post for this time of year and good thoughts to keep in mind during the season of spending.

    Have a great day!

    1. Hi Angie,
      I feel the same way, only want to have the things that I will truly enjoy for years to come. We have 1 closet for storing holiday items, and that's now full. Sort of puts the kabosh on me doing any holiday decor shopping!

      If you feel you may still want those serving dishes, after the holidays, start checking out your local thrift shops in the spring and summer. I saw a lot of new holiday items that I had seen in stores, in Value Village this summer. But still, there is that where-do-I-store-this dilemma!

      Have a great day, yourself!

    2. I have noticed the same thing at my local Goodwill store. It seems that in the summer, I find brand new looking Christmas décor for sale. That would definitely be the way to buy.

      I was thinking of your blog while I was on my lunch hour today. I went to Kroger and shopped the mega sale. I was able to get 10 pounds of Land O Lakes butter @ $2.49/lb. I also bought 5 cans of whole kernel corn and 5 cans of creamed corn @ $0.49/can. I use the corn to make corn casserole for our Holiday dinners as well as to carry-ins for work, my husbands work, and church. Kroger was out of the tomatoes for $0.49/can, but I plan to go back again this week and stock up on some other things.

      The purchases I made during my lunch, are definitely ones that I'm happy with. I'm so weird...I was thinking about the Kroger sale all weekend. When I saw the ad, I almost felt a slight panic because they have so many good deals! I was so excited. I had to get out my budget ledger and see how much grocery surplus I could spend. My husband was laughing because I got so excited. I'm still excited because I'm going back again this week.

      I guess I'm lucky that budgeting and shopping for grocery deals is one of my hobbies. I'm easily entertained. :)


    3. Angie, you sound exactly like me -- I see that great grocery deal in the add and I'm thinking to myself, "oh boy, oh boy, I get to go stock up on groceries!!!!" I have even been known to rush right out to buy eggs at Walgreens on a Sunday evening, right after seeing the ad. I just can't contain my excitement. I'm a cheap date!

      Great deals you found. I'm waiting to find the canned veggies on sale. I have some green beans, but am hoping for canned corn for corn puddings this winter.

  2. I have toned down my Christmas decorating a lot over the years. Partly because I already have what I need, partly because after I had kids I found that "stuff"--not purchased by me!--was overtaking my house and it was sensory overload. I'm the house on the block with the gentle white lights, not the giant inflatable Santa ... and there's nothing wrong with inflatable Santas, it just isn't "me". A lot of it, for me, is a time issue. I'd rather spend time enjoying the season with my kids than decorating. It's a hard balance to achieve, though!

    1. HI Kris,
      Yes -- time! I want time for meaningful activities more than a magazine-layout home.

      The mention of a giant inflatable Santa cracked me up. We have neighbors with one. We're more the single-strand-of-lights-people, too. :-)

    2. My kids LOVE the showier Christmas displays. I'm afraid I'm a huge disappointment to them. :)

      I knew that someone with a traditionally-styled white kitchen would prefer simpler Christmas displays ... now that I, too, have a white kitchen ... we could probably move into each other's homes and feel comfortable with the decor. ;)

    3. Kris, my kids too! The more garish the display the better it is in their minds! I think you're right on our similar taste in decor, we could do a home swap and feel right at home!

    4. I am the one y'all are speaking of. I do over the top decorating, but I do not purchase anything new. All my kids are now officially adults and I have spent a long time collecting things. For about 10 years I have felt no desire to buy new, but I really do enjoy the process of decorating the house. ( Don't tell anyone but I decorate 4 Christmas trees in different rooms of the house) None is garish, but there is a taste of Christmas everywhere,

      Though they don't get used for long periods ( Thanksgiving night-New Year's Day) I swap dishes and use only Christmas themed ones. Not long amounts of times but they have been used that long yearly for over 25 years. I feel I have gotten my money's worth out of them, and will continue using them yearly as long as I can.

      So in about a week and a half, I will start unpacking, ironing ribbon to re-tie, making wreaths for all the outside doors, and getting everything in order. I will spend all day Dec 1 decorating and will love it until Dec.31.

    5. Hi Anne,
      I'm guessing nothing would appear garish at all in your home!!

      I'm glad that you enjoy the decorating so much. I also have Christmas dishes! Dishes are my one downfall. I collect several different patterns. Thanksgiving, fall/winter themed, Christmas, and an all-purpose spring-y /summerlike pattern.

      I have several mini-trees (3) that are all decorated, and just come out of the closet ready to plunk down in different rooms, plus the one large tree.

      Have fun with the preparations!! Wish I could come for a visit!

  3. Lil, you made me laugh! I just got back from Dollar Tree and saw those same chair pads. I looked at them for a moment, then remembered that we don't even use chair pads!

    1. Hi DW,
      That is too funny!! The power of marketing at it's finest, I suppose.

  4. We will sometimes joke at our house that we're heading to the store to see if we can find what we didn't know we needed! yes, it's only a joke and it gets a laugh every time.

    Sometimes I almost feel used and abused by the whole marketing system, playing on my emotions and telling me what I *need* to own. Since money hasn't been excessive my entire married life I've learned to curb many of those impulses....not all....but many. I mean how many cute snowmen does a household really need??

    1. Hi Linda,
      Oh that's funny! I'm sure it does get a laugh!
      It sounds like your approach is a thoughtful one. You understands the limitations of your budget and make your choices accordingly. You may not be buying lots of cute little snowmen, but you are buying peace of mind and financial security.

  5. I too have very few decorations, but I do appreciate the people who have a lot more. It's fun to go look at lights or visit others who do have a magazine layout.

    1. HI live and learn,
      While I don't want to put up oodles and oodles of lights, I do enjoy going for a drive in December ( a highlight for my kids when they were small) to see some of the showier displays. And my girls and I are getting a kick out of driving past the neighbor's house who is indeed putting up his lights now. They have a Christmas tree in the window, along with several strands of lights in front. Our neighborhood does do an annual holiday competition, and I think this neighbor is hoping to win a prize!


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