Have a Minimalist Christmas
With the Christmas season upon us, it brings to mind what matters. Community, having a home that feels safe and warm, creating, and taking care of ourselves. With those thoughts in mind, I’ve been thinking about how the Christmas season has turned into something so much less than that. So much of this season has become about consumerism and not about the birth of Jesus or for those less religious, the birth of community. But that’s what I want my season to be about. In the middle of a season known for death or rest, I want there to be birth in my season.
A Minimalist Christmas comes down to what you value. From giving to getting the things that are entering your life, should be things you want there. Gifts that add clutter and removes space for the things you want are not ones that need to be held onto. Giving gifts that cause stress, that are over your budget or that you don’t think will add value to others lives shouldn’t take up space anywhere. It’s about boundaries, understanding your wants and the wants of your loved ones and creating your own rules.
Here is how I’m approaching Christmas with at minimalist heart this year. We’ll start with giving…
Minimalist gifts to give
Let me preface my minimalist thoughts of giving by saying that I’m not a good giver. I’ve lived in a place of scarcity most of my life and have been a safe spender, to say the least. It’s something I’m working on it and am developing a healthier relationship with money. However, this still causes me stress around the holidays, especially when it comes from guilt for not being ready to give big.
The gift of grace – this gift is one I’m giving to myself. Grace in knowing that I will not be able to get everyone a gift and that my comfortability with what I’m willing to spend will be different than others, and that’s okay.
The gift of Creativity – If there are lot of people on your list or you’re working with a smaller budget the best way to give is through a small gift that goes a long way. Making homemade baked goods and wrapping them up to look pretty is always an easy and fun way to give those in your community a little something. I’ve also made homemade gel candles before, packaged up hot chocolate for individual gifts or made hand painted letters with words of love and appreciation for the people in my community.
The gift of community – The most important value to me is community. Spending time with friends and family means the world and I’m always excited to have a night with the ones we love. Inviting friends over for dinner or even just taking someone out for coffee as a Christmas gift is always the gift that keeps on giving. Finding ways to spend more quality time with the people you love is the type of gift that people will never forget. This also goes for the little ones in your lives. I know that My brother and sister-in-law would love for Clayton and me to babysit for a night while they go out to be together, and we would like to spoil my niece and nephew for a night. (Who wants to watch Coco?!)
Minimalist Approach to getting Gifts
This is always the hard one because we have people in our lives who just love to give a lot of things no matter what they are. Since we only have 900 square feet of house, we have limited space to store items and I have a very particular aesthetic. Even more than that we appreciate quality and just want to make space for things in our home that add value to us, not out of the obligation of keeping things because they were a gift.
Make a list – We tell the people in our lives we know want to get us gifts (I.e., mom and dad) the exact things that we want. Items that we’ll be purchasing or would love to have but would never buy for ourselves. This way they don’t have to guess. We also make it clear that there isn’t a need to get us anything and that if they wanted to go do something instead, quality time together would mean the most to us.
Don’t feel obligated to keep things – There are gifts that I get that don’t fit my style or don’t add value to my life but would add value to someone else’s. I don’t try and make something work. I show appreciation for gifts, I send thank you notes, and I let my loved one know how much it meant to me to be thought of. But this doesn’t mean I have to keep it. I can give it to someone who will value it. If it makes you feel better, keep the gift for a few months and then give it to someone who will use it or donate it.
Minimalism is all about adding value to your life, however, that may look. The gifts that you give and get should reflect your values and what you want out of life. If they don’t fit with that, then it’s okay to let them go. The Christmas season is meant to be a time to appreciate the things and people we have in our life. It’s a time to pass on the gift of grace and love. If things are overwhelming and stressful, it might be the time to step back and see what this season has turned into for you. If gift giving is the cause of your stress donate to a charity you love and tell your friends that you did that in their honor and skip the gifts this year. Instead, enjoy the birth of new beginnings and the love of community that comes with this wonderful time of year.