Yes and Yes, a blog we both follow and fellow Minnesota blogger, published this great post: How to make your life a million times easier (slight exaggeration). We both liked it, and found ourselves thinking about the little ways we simplify and make things easier for ourselves by removing the decisions required by the seemingly endless array of options for everything from garden tools to hair maintenance.
So with thanks to Yes and Yes, our inspiration, here is our random and not-at-all exhaustive list of things we do to make it easier.
Ditch all the wrapping paper and gift bags and just use brown craft paper. I’m in process with this one and using up my too-large stock of gift wrap, but I’m really liking it. Any color of ribbon looks great on it and the endless availability of cute, free, downloadable tags (try a simple Pinterest search or see our favorites) makes each package feel special. I got my craft paper in an easy-to-cut-and-fold lighter weight from Paper Mart in an enormous roll that will likely last the rest of my life.
I drink a glass of red wine every evening (for my health, you know), so I go through a lot. To make it easier to choose wine I follow this rule: spend about $12 a bottle and then choose based on how much I like the label. Cute, funny, sweet, sassy, daring; whatever mood I’m in. I’m sure no sommelier would give that advice, but it works for me. Bonus if an $18 dollar bottle is on sale for $12. Sometimes a great label design will inspire me to try a less expensive bottle, but $12 seems a safe bet for your everyday wine.
Keep Extras Around
There’s actual research done on this — the stock-uppers and the buy-on-demanders — and how each is stressed if forced to adopt the others’ habits. I must be in the former category, because I feel like keeping extras of everything around makes my life a lot easier. If you have the storage, stock up on extras of your hair products, favorite soaps, best eye shadow colors, and pairs of black tights, plus stuff like toilet paper, Kleenex, dish soap, Tampax — you know, those things that you simply can’t get by without. The essentials, you know. Like hairspray.
What to Eat for Lunch
Streamline your meals. I decided after Blythe was born that I would happily give up novelty for convenience and nutrition, especially in my lunches. So instead of packing a lunch everyday I bring bulk staples like a loaf of bread, jar of nut butter, package of Tofurky (I know, I know, make fun. Everyone does), a bag of apples or carrots, a box of Trader Joe’s Carrot Ginger Soup, and a family-size container of Greek yogurt. Then I’m set for lunches for the week and the ingredients mix and match (try adding a dollop of plain yogurt and almond butter to the soup — yum).
Own one or two pairs of jeans. You’re always going to have your favorite jeans, so why not have your favorite pair be your everyday pair? Donate every pair you don’t love wearing — you never really feel good in them anyway. Get rid of all those old pairs that aren’t worn out but also aren’t in style. A nice darker wash skinny jean will get you through every occasion.
Have a Gift Giving System
If you haven’t yet, start a spreadsheet or document where you track all of the gifts you bought and received for the holidays every year. Include how much you spend. Then use it from year to year to plan your next purchases, and wherever you can, look for efficiency. For example, both Jen and I hand make a gift that we can produce en masse and use for things like friend and neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, etc. (One year we both made homemade hot cocoa and marshmallow sets).
You can also use your doc to steal some of your best gift giving ideas and use them for other people. That’s how I’ve settled on some of my top perennial gifts, like SmartWool socks and photo gifts. (See our gift guides for all of our best ideas!).
We’d love to hear about your make-it-easier strategies, too!