MickeyBarRooks

I just spent two days in Disney World. Let me just say that I actually love Disney World. I know there are loads of people out in the world who don’t love Disney World (I am talking to you Brenna M.). And that’s fine. You are missing out on It’s A Small World and Cinderella’s Castle and ice cream treats shaped like Mickey Mouse. And I like all of those things.

Still, for someone who loves Disney, I do not own one piece of Disney gear. Nor will I ever own a piece of Disney gear. I don’t need a shirt or pajamas or a mouse-ear hat. I don’t need my name embroidered on anything because I know my name – at least most days.

But, as most of you know, I have four children. They like Stuff. So much so that Henry I Like Stuff Blackford should be on a birth certificate. They couldn’t wait to spend their allotted souvenir money at the end of our trip. Of course James bought his souvenir a bit earlier than the rest; a book about Abraham Lincoln that he spied after we left the Hall of Presidents. God love that child – he’s the only one that will take care of us when we are old; the only one who will make sure we have slippers with grippies on the bottom and solid reminders of the past leaders of our nation. The others? Not so much.

Disney was an early Christmas present to the children. Andy is getting therapy in his stocking.

Disney was an early Christmas present to the children from my mother. Andy Blackford asked for therapy.

We walked into The Emporium on Main Street and it was as if the largest blizzard or hurricane or other natural disaster was approaching and the only hope of survival was BUYING LOTS OF STUFF. I was busy keeping my four in sight. Andy was busy having a panic attack in the corner. My tiny little mother was outside, on the street, braving the throngs of people in those motorized carts that my sister, who left earlier for the peacefulness and tranquility of Manhattan, calls Manatee Movers for sad but obvious reasons.

Because she was too little to go on Space Mountain, this happened.

Because she was too little to go on Space Mountain, this happened.

We were in The Emporium for about three years. After much hand-wringing by my children and some disturbing looks from Andy Blackford, we walked out with two Pez dispensers, one large spiral lollipop, a box of miniature fairy figurines so encased in plastic and zip ties they could have survived a launch into space, a spinning light machine and a bubble gun which CC wanted to open and use in our rented Kia mini van; a request Andy refused because bubble machines on the highway weren’t safe and driving a Kia minivan, according to him, was “hard enough on Daddy.”

I realize I am writing what’s supposed to be a design blog. And it appears to be a blog about Disney. But it isn’t. It’s a blog about not BUYING LOTS OF STUFF. I am sitting in a Starbucks a half a mile from where I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. I am the youngest person here. There is a group of older people nearby who – I swear to God – are talking about Polident. Looking around, it’s hard to find the coffee counter because there is so much merchandizing happening here. Mugs and frothing machines and ornaments and even an Advent calendar (take note social media!). There are chocolate covered coffee beans and I am dying to ask the Polident group if they can even eat those coffee beans while wearing the falsies. I bet not.

Starbucks Advent Calendar. Good news, America - it's edible!

Starbucks Advent Calendar. Good news, America – it’s edible!

Last week was Cyber Monday and Target was offering an additional 15% off of everything. Apparently the entire site shut down because so many people were trying to BUY LOTS OF STUFF. The guy on the morning radio show said he called Target’s 800 number and the recorded message was Wow, this sale was bigger than we thought! right before he was disconnected.

You can’t believe the number of clients I have who call me to help them BUY LOTS OF STUFF to redesign their space and what we end up doing together is purging, editing, repurposing and repositioning. I had a client who wanted me to double the space in her mudroom by finding a contractor to widen the door, rip out a wall and steal space from her foyer. But then we went through the coats. And the boots. And the dog leashes. And the umbrellas. And the flip flops and goggles and backpacks and the reusable grocery bags. And voila. No contractor needed.

It’s December 8th. There are people out there who want you to buy, buy, buy. You know why? Because that is how they make money. Yep! It’s true. Sometimes we forget that the reason there is so much Stuff For Sale is because we continue to buy it and people like Sam Walton’s family and companies like Apple keep making money. Buckets of it.

Decorating your home for the holidays or preparing for overnight guests or simply hoping for a little facelift for your space does not mean buying a bunch of holiday-themed décor from a big box store. Really.

Don't we want our homes to feel like this?

Don’t we want our homes to feel like this?

...and not this?

…and not this?


Here’s some advice from a so-called expert in interior design (I mean me)

  • Spend money on things that last a while, like paint. And on things that truly make you and your family happy, like gin. Expecting company? Upgrade your sheets and towels and learn how to care for them. Focus your décor on the areas that matter, like the mantle or your entryway. Stick with a simple color theme, like black and white, and add a punch of color. String popcorn and white lights on your tree. Watch the Charlie Brown special, drink cocoa, use the holiday cards from your friends as decoration and tune into free music stations like Pandora to find sing-along worthy melodies.
  • If you, like me, walk into your basement to pull out the boxes of decorations and then need to lie on the dusty storage room floor for 20 minutes whispering it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s time to purge. I cannot tell you how many Halloween decorations I recently donated. I do not like Halloween (sorry, kids) so why in the world did I have all those stupid pumpkins and odd witch hat napkin rings? Because someone gave them to me or I bought them one year the day after Halloween while supposedly buying diapers before accidentally gorging on a bag of candy corn that was 75% off, and thus ending up with Stuff I don’t even like for a holiday that I dread.

This year, it’s out with the old and in with nothing. Can you do it? Can I? Can I go the next 17 days without buying holiday Stuff? Even those darling plates from Pottery Barn Kids or Christmas sheets from Land of Nod?

So cute. So not necessary. But so cute.

So cute. So not necessary. But so cute. Especially if you have a child named Elliot. I don’t.

YES! Yes I can. And you can too. Spend this season clearing out space in your house. And your head. Why cripple yourself with overdoing things that don’t matter? Make room for things that are important, like family. And friends. And sanity. And sleep. Because as much as I loved our Disney days watching Georgia’s face when she saw those princesses and James crying with laughter when we got doused on Splash Mountain, I didn’t need to buy anything to mark the occasion. The joy of that time – and the memories – are tucked nice and tight in my heart. Just where Christmas can be found.

See you next time  – or next year – at The Neighbor’s House!