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To me, being a minimalist meant decluttering my home, ridding myself of all the unnecessary “stuff”, and living my life intentionally.
And while it wasn’t easy to get where I am today, I’ve never looked back.
I see the positive changes minimalism has made in my life and to my mental health.
I am less stressed, more organized, more productive and all-round happier.
But there is still one area that trips me up every year.
So in this post, I wanted to pull together all my minimalist Christmas know-how so you and I will have that information at our fingertips when the holidays start being, well, the holidays!
Why would you want a minimalist Christmas?
I can feel the stress growing just thinking about Christmas.
And that shouldn’t be the case!
Christmas should be joyful, not overwhelming, hence why a minimalist Christmas is needed.
And even if you love all the food, gifts, decorations and activities it’s still possible to create a stress-free minimalist Christmas.
Through taking charge of your holiday, you can reduce the angst and overwhelm caused by unnecessary consumption, over the top expectations and traditions that no longer serve you.
You can even take control of the “unnecessary gifts” by being specific with what you want for Christmas. Create a list of things you really need or want for your home that coincides with your minimalistic lifestyle.
You are a minimalist, living life on purpose, the way you want. Why not let that show in your holiday?
You have permission to let go of the traditions that no longer serve you
Just because every year until now you have given everyone 75 presents each does not mean it has to continue that way.
Celebrate purposefully just like you live with purpose.
Not only can you create this whole new life for yourself, but you can also create minimalist Christmas traditions that you and your family can enjoy.
Keep the traditions you may not want to use anymore as memories rather than obligations.
Maybe you’ve always gone out for dinner on Christmas eve, but in all honesty, it’s a nightmare.
Parking is horrendous, you have to remember to book a table at least three months in advance, you always end up staying out too late and then being tired on Christmas morning and the kids moan because they really want to be watching that Christmas movie being shown on TV.
But you don’t need to be doing this. It’s putting unnecessary stress on you and your family.
So declutter your Christmas traditions, keeping only the ones that really spark joy.
Do you really have to give a gift?
Gift-giving can be how you express your love for someone. It might be your “love language”. While others may show their love in a different way.
Gift receiving could also be part of your “love language” or others around you.
So while many people think a true minimalist would abstain from giving and receiving gifts, if that’s how you show and receive love then gift-giving is an important part of the holiday.
Although the last thing anyone really needs is more stuff…
So what’s the solution? Mindful gift-giving.
Rather than buying someone more clutter to fill up their house, consider one of these gifts instead:
Give experiences: Giving memories that can last a lifetime is sometimes more meaningful than a physical gift. There could be a place this person has always wanted to go or an activity you both would enjoy. My friend once brought me a day workshop on how to make sushi because I adore sushi, we went together and it was so fun!
Give something they truly want or even need: Most of the time, people around us send subtle clues that there are things they need for their home. If you listen or notice it on your own buy them that item as this can save them time and money, and give them something actually useful. My parents often buy me bath towels for Christmas which sounds like a bit of a boring gift but I love it because it means each year I have lovely new soft fluffy towels.
Give your time: Have you ever heard the saying “time is money”? Offer to babysit for someone so they can get a date night in or run errands. You can clean their house for them, or share some of your minimalist organization skills and help them do a deep declutter.
Give food: Perishables are always needed and will be used up, so feel free to give a few jars of delicious homemade jam or grab a few bottles of that person’s favorite wine.
Give to charity instead: While giving a gift may be part of your love language, receiving a gift may not be part of theirs. Donate money to charity in their name and choose a cause that is important to them.
Minimalist Christmas stockings: Traditionally stockings kind of end up filled with, err rubbish, to put it nicely.
But with a little bit of extra thought, you can create a stocking where the joy will last longer than the five minutes spent opening. I think it’s great to include some snacks or sweets that would appeal to that person. Then try and keep the majority of the stocking filled with fun but useful items. Think things like lip balm, fun hair ties, jokey but wearable cufflinks, or any other little gifts that that person would use.
Wrapping your gifts
Having spent several hours running up to Christmas wrapping gifts I think we have all asked the question, does it have to be wrapped?
And this is something only you and your family can answer. Personally, I love a wrapped gift and, when there aren’t too many, I actually really enjoy wrapping gifts too.
My alternative to expensive wrapping paper is newspaper! Not only is it cheap, but it also gives a great vintage, homemade feel to your gifts and it’s recyclable which a lot of gift wrap isn’t.
Another great option is to use cloth. For example, if you bought someone a new bedsheet you can always wrap other gifts for that person in the new bedsheets. In fact, wrapping with cloth is a tradition in Japan with it’s own name — Furoshiki. With special techniques on how to wrap with cloth, it’s practically an art form within itself.
Using gifts to wrap other gifts for the same person saves money and is unique and if you have old scarves lying around, you can use those as well. Get creative!
What about Christmas cards?
Ahhh Christmas cards, the bane of my life.
Okay, that’s a bit extreme but I often forget all about Christmas cards until the last minute, then have no time to get them written and sent, and then I just feel so much guilt when I receive everyone else’s cards to me when I haven’t managed to send any myself…
Maybe you can relate?
I mean one of your traditions could be sending Christmas cards to EVERYONE and this may be your favorite part of the holiday. If that is the case keep the tradition going.
However, if you are like me, I will be looking into other options this year that will stop me feeling the guilt and that I will actually remember to do.
E-cards are becoming very popular. Most card companies have an online option where you can simply send a virtual card to your loved ones over the holidays.
Another option that I want to try is sending out emails explaining instead of purchasing cards I have chosen to give that money to charity.
I think a lot of people would appreciate knowing that money is going to help others instead of on a card.
How does a minimalist decorate for Christmas?
Traditionally, decorating for Christmas involved a lot of well everything. I know as a child I couldn’t wait to festoon the house so it was covered tip to toe in tinsel, glitter, ball-balls and whatever else I could find in our decoration box.
As I’ve got older I now appreciate a much simpler, less overwhelming Christmas decoration style.
If you’ve got kids that adore a crazy festive look but all those colors just make your head spin, then maybe consider letting them go absolutely wild decorating their own bedrooms so they still get to go all out, but then you can have a bit more creative control in the communal spaces.
I personally love using older decorations that my parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents used. Sure they might have a bit less shine than they did 50 years ago but all the memories associated with them is just incredible.
Plus this massively cuts down on waste and overconsumption of the lastest Christmas decor in the shops.
Another great way to decorate your home at Christmas as a minimalist is to go a bit more DIY.
If crafting is your thing then get searching on Pinterest and start making some beautiful decorations for your home.
You could always integrate the making of decorations into the actual holiday itself. Plan a few get-togethers with your family where you make the decorations. Kids would love this as well.
But if you’re not a crafting genius then consider what you can find instead, particularly in nature.
After all, there is nothing more festive than cut holly across a fireplace or a bowl of pine cones collected from the garden.
So many of us must travel to many different houses for the holidays, as a minimalist this can be a little painful because traveling does end up consuming a lot of resources.
As a lot of minimalism is about being eco-friendly it might be worth creating a schedule for your trip that allows you to travel more efficiently.
Plus the more planning time you have the more likely you are to find slightly nicer alternatives than being stuck in a car for eight hours. Maybe you could take a cross country train and make an adventure of it.
Or stop off along the way at something amazing.
Don’t be afraid to start planning your Christmas travel early in the year so you can have a stress-free holiday.
Christmas hosting: You’re allowed to ask for help
Whether it is a pre-Christmas party or everyone’s at your home for the big day, you don’t have to shoulder the financial or work-related responsibilities.
Feel free to reach out and ask others attending to lend a hand, particularly when it comes to the Christmas dinner (which I know seems to be a great source of stress for many households).
- Plan a few months in advance what the menu will be, that way you can ask people to bring a dish or dessert while still knowing there will be enough food for everyone. If you’re doing this make sure you give people an idea of the serving size for each dish, so like cauliflower cheese for eight people.
- Alcohol can get expensive very quickly so just ask everyone to bring a bottle of something the majority likes, and if they’re very picky, maybe something they like too.
Wastage can also be a big problem with food at Christmas, I mean we’ve all spent the week after Christmas day stuffing turkey sandwiches down in an effort to get rid of all that food!
If your Christmas dinners normally wayyyy over-cater with all the guests bringing so much extra then, a good few weeks before Christmas, let everyone know in a nice way that whatever’s leftover after Christmas dinner WILL be divided up and sent home with everyone.
That way you won’t have Aunt Marge making 17 different dishes because she wanted to use up what was left in her cupboards…
Also on this subject, if you’re the over-caterer, just remember that you don’t need to buy in enough food to last several weeks. The majority of stores only close on Christmas day. No one is going to starve.
The point to all of this is don’t feel obligated to do things. Practice the traditions you love and declutter those that no longer spark joy in your or your family’s life.
A minimalist Christmas could be your best yet.