Inside: There are a lot of expectations when it comes to what a minimalist Christmas is supposed to look like. Here’s a look at how minimalism transformed Christmas in our home and 3 strategies to help you fill this season with intentionality rather than accumulation.
A few evenings ago my husband announced that he was googling, “best toys for three-year-olds.”
Picture me, jumping off my couch, diving across the room and smacking the phone out of his hands before his eyes were compromised. Okay, so I didn’t actually do that because it was nine o’clock at night which is basically midnight when you’re over thirty. Instead I scolded him from a distance until he promised not to browse online for gift ideas we’d never heard of.
As the requests from family for gift wish lists roll in, it’s easy to feel pressured to come up with something our kids might need or may enjoy for Christmas this year.
But unless someone is giving out a love of vegetables, there is absolutely nothing my three-year-old needs this holiday season. Not even from me. However, nobody wants to hear that, and quite honestly I don’t blame them. “No gifts please” isn’t a responses anyone will take seriously.
In this real life of mine we adore the holiday season with all it’s giving and receiving. While our shift toward a minimalist mindset has certainly decreased the quantity, it’s also improved the quality and intentionality with which we give gifts.
My kids have even grown to appreciate our minimalist Christmas. I’m not the least bit worried that they’ll be disappointed this year.
Last year though, was a different story. I was a nervous wreck.
Our First Minimalist Christmas
2017 was our first holiday season as self-declared minimalists. As Christmas approached, my worry increased. Would my newly minimalist kids feel slighted?
While my confidence in our decision to embrace minimalism never wavered, I didn’t want to be met with disappointed little faces on Christmas morning.
After all, it wasn’t their fault we’d let Christmas gifting get so out of hand.
Pre-minimalism Christmas morning:
Despite my nerves, our first minimalist-ish Christmas went shockingly well. Like almost too well. I thought maybe I had landed myself on an episode of The Truman Show. Where are the hidden cameras?
That year, we had intentionally and carefully selected gifts for each of our kids. We gave fewer items, while trusting each would be cherished. It worked. The kids were thrilled and they didn’t seem to notice a difference at all.
Because we went minimalist the January prior, our extended family had a full year to watch us handle material possessions differently. We lead by example and they slowly but surely came around. They had our backs during our first minimalist Christmas and gave gifts more intentionally as well. We were so grateful.
The Best Part About a Minimalist Christmas
For as long as I can remember Christmas evening has felt like a game of Tetris. Scrambling while exhausted, searching for any open nook or cranny to store our new items.
When we had exhausted all our storage options, we moved what was left into the basement. There, sat an unopened pile of toys for us to distribute to our kids throughout the year. You know, whenever they needed something “new” to play with.
That first minimalist Christmas was completely different though. Everything had a place. No piles, no storing, no shoving, no stressing.
Instead, that evening my husband and I sat by the fire with a glass of wine talking about the day and reveling in the new life we gave our home by opting to own less.
It was one of those pivotal moments of confirmation that imprints on your heart and whispers, “Keep going. You’re on the right path.”
While it may be a little late in the game to get your extended family totally on board, you can still affect change in your home this holiday season. You are the editor and protector of peace in your home. You are the decider of what stays and what goes.
Choose today, to fill this holiday season with intentionality instead of accumulation by:
1. Purchasing with Purpose
Don’t just buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. If you are at a loss for what to give this year, choose gift cards, consumables or give to a charity on their behalf.
Below are a few articles filled with ideas to help you give more intentionally this year.
2. Choose Experiences Over Things
Gifting experiences allows us to curb the clutter, cut back on the excess and raise our kids to value adventure and time together over possessions.
Download these FREE Printable Holiday Gift Coupon Templates to give your experiences in style.
Edited for 2020: This will be much more difficult this year. It’s going to take more creativity to give experiences during a seasons when almost everything is cancelled.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Let Go of Traditions
I used to feel like it was my job to make sure traditions were executed perfectly, down to every last detail. It was exhausting and unsustainable. Loosening my grip on traditions has helped me pick up a giant cup of grace and enjoy each season for what it is, not what it’s supposed to be.
A New Tradition of Less
Make this year the start of a new Christmas tradition. A tradition of less. Not for the sake of owning less, but for the chance to let how you spend your days deeply align with what matters most to you.
I don’t look back on my many not so minimalist Christmases with shame or regret. Not at all. It was a necessary part of my story. Not just the story of me becoming a minimalist, but the story of me growing into who I was made to be.
“Without weariness, there is no thrill of hope.” -Shannon Martin, Ministry of Ordinary Places
Instead, I look back and see the very reason for the season. I see new life, relentless grace and hope.
For more inspiration
Need Some Serious Pre-Holiday Decluttering Motivation?
Here we will tackle 3 common decluttering obstacles so you can let go and get uncluttered for good. If you’ve ever gotten started and then gotten stuck, this FREE resource is for you!