Remember my Advent Challenge?!

As you can probably tell, I’m a bit behind with my blog and am still catching up with last year’s events! Way back at the start of December, I embarked on the Advent Challenge. The basis of the challenge is that you give away one item you own every day for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. I decided 24 items would be too easy for me, so I went for two items per day instead. I tend to get on a roll when I start a clear out, so I didn’t actually track down one item each day, I just had a couple of tidying up sessions and then counted how much stuff had amassed. It was a lot! I ended up exceeding my 48 item target – I gave away 57 items, plus around 10 pieces of jewellery that I was too lazy to count!

Some of the items that have now left the building include:

  • A freebie inflatable happy hand from the World Cup in Brazil. Cool at the time, not so cool once the party is over!
  • A face mask and an eye mask I haven’t used in years. I happily handed over the latter to a friend; it’s nice when can rehome your stuff to somebody you know.
  • Kitchen items: poaching pods, an assortment of crockery I never use, a shot glass from Seattle, a lunchbox and a timer.
  • Two handbags and a rucksack.
  • Six scarves… I still have quite a few scarves.
  • Two picture frames.

Although I come from a family of hoarders, I’m fairly ruthless with my stuff; if it doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, isn’t needed anymore, it goes, usually to a charity shop, but sometimes to FreeCycle. So I was quite surprised at how many things I had hanging around my house that didn’t need to be there.

Actually, I had already got together some unwanted clothes prior to the Advent Challenge, because around October or November I start thinking ahead to Crisis Christmas. Many Crisis volunteers bring donated clothes along with them to the centre, and they are very gratefully received by the guests. My collection started small, with a few bits from my own wardrobe and a few from friends in Southampton:


By the time December came around, and I’d mentioned to people I was aiming to get a car load of clothes to take with me to Crisis, I ended up with quite a haul. The photo below doesn’t show very well how much stuff there was; one holdall is hidden behind the others and the box on the back right was packed with socks and hats, which were kindly donated by a family friend.

crisis clothes

Then a few days into Crisis, my dad added some more clothes:


Knowing you’re giving away your things to people who will appreciate them far more than you definitely makes the process easier.

Doing the Advent Challenge highlighted that while I’m probably better than a lot of people at not keeping stuff I don’t need, I could still free up some space in my cupboards. I intend to continue weeding out this month and taking what I call an essentialist (more realistic than minimalist?!) approach to my possessions. It’s actually pretty liberating.


The advent of the Advent Challenge

I’ll be writing an update soon about how I’m getting on with my Advent Challenge, but in the meantime, here’s the blog post where I read about it, including the trailer of a film called ‘My Stuff’, which looks brilliant!

A Lazy Girl Goes Green

Recently one of my close friends, Kate (who works for the awesome neighbourhood sharing organisations, StreetBank) drew my attention to a thought provoking film: My Stuff. The film centres around 26 year old Petri Luukkainen, a man from Finland who decides to put all of his stuff in storage and only take one item back per day, for a year.

The idea struck a chord with Kate, who believes passionately that we don’t need to own as much “stuff” if we simply opened our homes (and hearts) to others and shared the resources we already have. For Luukkainen, by shedding himself of his belongings, he was able to focus on the things that really mattered.

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From one challenge to another!

Reading this blog post got me thinking… The more I pondered, the more I became convinced I wanted in! So once I’ve finished the Breadline Challenge at the end of this week, I’ll be taking the Reverse Advent Challenge.

Er, the what challenge now?!

The Reverse Advent Challenge involves giving away one of your possessions every day during the run up to Christmas. No doubt you’ve done some quick maths and worked out that’s a total of 24 items!

But isn’t Christmas the time for getting and giving presents?

Indeed! Christmas is synonymous with battling crowds at the local shopping mall to find the perfect gifts for friends and family. It’s about trees, turkey, tinsel and all manner of excess. It’s about asking for and (if you’ve been good) receiving things you want. It’s about spending money. It’s about – let’s be honest here – accumulating unnecessary stuff. I like presents as much as the next person, but I hate the commercialism of Christmas and the obligation people feel under to buy things for loved ones they perhaps can’t actually afford.

The Reverse Advent Challenge turns all of that on it’s head. It’s perfect for those of us who harbour a deep rooted sense of ‘bah humbug’ towards the negative aspects of December.

So who gets 24 items of your finest stuff then?

Any clothes will be joining the already large box coming with me to Crisis Christmas this year, and will be distributed to the homeless guests. Everything else will make its way to the charity shop my mum volunteers at. The idea of other people making good use of things I don’t need has given me that warm and fuzzy feeling for ages.

How much of a challenge is this going to be?

Good question. Whatever the opposite of a hoarder is, that’s me! If I don’t need/use/wear/like it anymore, it gets re-homed, quick sharp. Compared to a lot of people, I don’t have much unnecessary stuff. So perhaps the challenge will be tough. On the other hand, this is the perfect excuse for me to have a really good clear out and be extra ruthless with my possessions, and that’s a prospect I find oddly exciting!

I think the Reverse Advent Challenge is a great idea, so I hope this post convinces a few more people to join in. It gives this time of year a lovely spin and I can see this becoming a new Christmas tradition for me.