Christmas with a Minimalist

Christmas is almost here and for some of us the last-minute shopping is draining our energy.  It’s these last few days before Christmas when we resort to purchasing anything that will cross off that final name from our gift giving lists.

If we aren’t shopping we are frantically squeezing in a thorough house cleaning and tidying, baking cookies and making sure we have all the ingredients for the big dinner.

When we minimize our life we can put an end to the frantic pace the holidays brought us.

We can choose to give gifts or we can opt out of gifts completely. I tend to be a moderate minimalist who enjoys giving gifts to those I love but it doesn’t mean I will go overboard or that I need to resort to last-minute gifts or [gasp] go into debt to accomplish this.

If I want to give to others I have to be willing to receive as well. A sticky situation to be sure, more on that in a moment.

One of the simplest ways to avoid the last-minute gift decisions is to keep a list of ideas with you throughout the year. I keep mine on my phone using Evernote.  As I make or purchase a gift I check it off but keep it on the list to refer back to so I always have a reminder with me. This prevents last-minute purchases as well. The last-minute purchase will never measure up to a well-planned gift.

I’ve also changed where I shop which means I never have to fight my way through crowds at a busy store or mall.

  • Consignment stores are a great place to pick up clothing. Last year I found lovely handmade robes for two little girls, ones I would never have found at a chain store.
  • Home preserved foods and baked goods are another gift frequently given each year.
  • For the book lover, visit a used book store. Many have discounted sections where you can purchase a book for a dollar or two. Being stuck at home a lot during the winter months I often receive a small box of books purchased from the discount shelves that I later donate to the local library.  This is a win-win. The giver spends very little money, no new resources were used to manufacture the gift and they go back to be used by many.
  • Etsy is another good place to find ideas. If you are crafty you can recreate the inspiration pieces saving yourself a lot of money. This year a two and five-year old will be receiving personalized superhero capes.
  • If you knit or crochet a new scarf, hat or sweater is a good gift if it is needed
  • If you are a gardener you can give either food preserved from your garden (or seeds you saved but only if your recipient is also a gardener).  This year my daughter wanted to expand her garden but didn’t want 200 seeds of one vegetable. She selected seeds from a catalog that I purchased to split with her wrapping her seeds in a pretty package.
  • For the bird watcher a bird seed wreath will bring countless hours of enjoyment.
  • Or you can give a family gift. Make up a basket and fill it with items that go together. Game night baskets can contain popcorn, drinks, cards or a board game, dice.  This is a perfect way to encourage family togetherness and/or build on a hobby the family has. This usually ends up costing way less than purchasing individual gifts for every family member.

The question I hear most often is how to enjoy the holidays if you are the only minimalist in the family.  This may take time but a happy compromise can be found.

Money is tight all around so even those who love to give at Christmas may be struggling to keep within a budget. If you are hosting Christmas dinner why not ask each person to bring a favorite dish and share the recipe with you as the gift?

Finally, we all know someone who loves to give gifts and would be hurt if you refused them or if you love to give gifts you must be willing to receive gifts in return. In this situation what works best is to make suggestions that are in keeping with your values.  Resist the urge to ask them to give you nothing. In my case, I ask for used books,  seeds for the garden or a new houseplant. The year I decided to green my kitchen I asked my children to go together to purchase a set of stainless steel pans and give me no other gifts.

When adopting a minimalist lifestyle the goal of getting through the holidays is to avoid giving or receiving gifts that will clutter up your home.

  • Give nothing that isn’t useful
  • Give consumable gifts
  • Give experience gifts
  • Above all don’t force minimalism on others.





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