Cue Europe. As of midnight tonight, the Year of No New Threads is over. And, barring any bouts of amnesia and/or sartorial apoplexy, I made it!

Despite the handful of *new*-new items I received as gifts (including those infamous tights and a small selection of Christmas gifts), I skated through an entire year without purchasing any previously unused clothing, shoes, or accessories. Personal best! Ha-cha!

How will I move forward, you ask? My logix:

  1. I’ve discovered that I’m not hard-wired for shopping. Or, at least, I’m not hard-wired for department store shopping.
  2. I’ve reaffirmed my faith in thrift — the Right Thing will show itself if’n I just have the patience to wait and to watch.
  3. I’ve saved big bucks by avoiding new-stuff stores. (Cha-ching-a-ding-ding.)
  4. I’ve supported small-time artists, like Dust Design Co. on Etsy, from whom I snagged this (bitchin’) recycled necklace as a Christmas present to my own self:

    Camaro necklace

    The Dead Milkmen are gonna tantrum!

I do admit that, once next year hits, I’ll have to break down and stock up on a few essential unmentionables. Plus, a pair of Hunter wellies (hopefully on eBay!), because my current rain boots soaked my socks during our last winter romp. Other than that, however, I think I’m on the secondhand-and-handmade wagon ’til the wagon wheels fall off.

Happy New Year of Few New Threads, folks. May 2009 bring you health, happiness, and the thrift finds of your dreams.

The Year of No New Threads: The Complete Season

The Pledge1 Mo. Down2 Mos. Down3 Mos. Down4 Mos. Down5 Mos. Down6 Mos. Down7 Mos. Down8 Mos. Down9 Mos. Down10 Mos. Down11 Mos. Down

Living Small: One Year Later

December 28, 2008

What a year it has been. From its humble beginnings last winter, Living Small has brought me much joy — mainly because of you guys. Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, thanks for advising and suggesting. Small is the definitely the new Big, if you folks are any indication.

All the best for a great New Year. Keep it real, peeps. And keep it Small.

Merry Christmas to all.

December 25, 2008

I have a gift for you! Just click the pic — snapped outside my door this week — for a (slightly ironic) tune, recorded especially for you from the snowbound Living Small house.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Smallidays.

It’s the Twelfth Day of Craftsmas, and today I give to thee: Twelve Centerpieces! Bedeck your holiday table with one of these beauties, straight from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens (online, that is). Click the thumbs for the how-tos.


Christmas is coming, and it’s time to wrap the gifts! Wrap Small this year with one of these greener-than-standard-gift-wrap options.

Grocery sacks (a.k.a. kraft paper). Have yourself a very Martha Christmas! Turn your grocery tote inside out for a clean look, or take advantage of the patterns on the outside to create a signature gift. Not reusable, but recyclable. In lieu of taping corners, why not stitch them, à la Wild Olive?


Newspaper. You gotta love the prezzies that come clad in this week’s dailies. You can’t use it twice, but it beats recycling après read. For a fresh twist on an old standard, take a tip from Danny Seo: use newspapers to wrap a bottle of wine. Secure with a ribbon around the bottleneck, and then cut the top portion into strips and curl with scissors, as you would a ribbon. Fancy pants!


Gift bags. Who doesn’t reuse a gift bag over and over and over and over and over…? My mother is the poster-woman for reusing those things. I’ve been getting Xmas yummies in the same gifts bags for, like, fifteen years. We speak of them in (ir)reverent shorthand: The “Shorts” Tree. The Music Shoppe. Napoleon Santa. And to this day, they incite in me veritable paroxysms when I see them arrayed in all of their glorious bounty. Ooh!

While you’re already baggin’ it, why not pump up the volume? Make your own gift bag out of newspaper (shout-out to CRAFT Mag for this idea). Head. Spinning. So. Eco. Friendly.


Decorative tins. Thrift store time! Secondhand shacks abound with tossed-out cookie tins, tea tins, candle tins, whatchamawhosiewhatsit tins. And these tins are infinitely reusable as gift boxes. Clean ’em up (and embellish as below, if you’d like), pack yer stuff, and give, give, give!


Papercraft Gift Card Box. Like the gift bag, this little bit has a long life. Slip in a gift card now. Your recipient can use it to store all kinds of objects later — things like buttons and bubblegum cigs and pieces of string.


Fabric. Use up remnants, or make a gift out of the wrapping, too. Gifting a quilter? Wrap the present in a fat quarter or two. Presenting a sheet set or duvet? Bundle it in a pillowcase. Offering a pair of mittens? Swaddle them in a matching scarf. Chez Living Small, we’re fabric wrappers almost exclusively. (Easy, because my fabric stash doesn’t seem to deplete. I think I’m lazy.) All you need is a swatch big enough to cover your gift and some yarn or ribbon. It’s tricksy at times — no slick creases, no sticky tape — but it beats having to toss crumpled gift-shells, even if you’re recycling. (I Spy Smallers! Is that faux bois fabric familiar?)

And what about pages from a desk calendar? Or tinfoil? How do you wrap it up?

Tins via Design*Sponge; Fabric-wrapped gifts via me.