Comfort, Joy, and a New Leash on Life

Hawkbill Dog Co. is making the leash of the future.

Decluttering influencer Marie Kondo blew up in 2019 after she told us to ditch every item in our homes that didn’t “spark joy.” An enraptured dash toward minimalism followed, along with a big helping of backlash from collectors/hoarders — and then a second wave of protest that protested the protesters. Below, Asheville Made offers noncontroversial ways to tighten up your space (or your spirit) for the holiday season.

  1. It seems everyone and their second cousin in Western NC is making boutique apothecary items these days, but Faerie Made was among the first, and has proven to be the most enduring (faeriemadesoaps.com; at The Big Crafty Dec. 7 and 8). The great thing about soap? It never sticks around.
  2. Hawkbill Dog Co. is a revelation: Founder Joshua Hodges is crafting attractive, durable leashes out of discarded nylon climbing rope — material that would have ended up in the landfill and taken decades to break down. Say you saved your dog, and then you gift your friend with a Hawkbill leash: That’s a double rescue. (hawkbilldogco.com; at The Big Crafty Dec. 7 and 8.)
  3. “Less stuff, more memories” is the noble undercurrent of the decluttering movement. And while the National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn is expensive and crowded, it’s still fascinating to see the masterpieces that ordinary mortals can craft out of stale dough and fondant (through Jan. 4).
  4. If the Biltmore House embodies maximalism, especially in December, then the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock is minimalism. Or maybe populism. Sandburg was called a poet of the people, although the book-laden home he shared with his family feels more like a bastion of Scandinavian- influenced intellectualism. Isms aside, though, there’s something reflective and comforting about the house this time of year, with sparse period ornaments, poinsettias, hot cider, and storytelling. It’ll make you want to make poetry (Christmas at Connemara runs through Jan. 6, Sandburg’s birthday).
  5. Making memories for someone else creates no clutter. See unitedwayabc.org for local volunteering opportunities during the holidays.

In the interest of tidying up, our usual list of ten ends here. – By M.M. Bianchi

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