Have yourself a Merry Minimalist Christmas
Happy August everyone. Whilst visiting my local high street this week , I was shocked to see Christmas cards on sale.
Upon walking into the card shop I thought I had time travelled and arrived in late October, because I was greeted with a WHOLE WALL of Christmas cards. It’s still August!
I love Christmas, the family time, the laughter, the joy, the food and drink. I do not love shops pushing Christmas crap at you in the summer, I don’t really like it in late October either -but hey!
It has got me thinking about how to have a more minimalist Christmas though, free of the consumer shackles. The main Christmassy clutter culprits in our household are gifts and decorations, so here are a few ideas from a minimalist newbie/wannabe.
You could try to encourage everyone to opt out of gift giving, but most people (that I know) find this extremely hard to do. The idea of not ‘having something to open’ at Christmas, is inconceivable.
My husband and I and my grown up siblings and I don’t buy each other gifts, and haven’t done so for many years. Although over the past few years all of us in the family have taken part in a Secret Santa, with a maximum spend of £1 per gift.
This has led to a lot of pound (dollar) store ‘gifts’ being opened around the table (with the occasional lottery ticket thrown in to the mix — although I have no idea if you can still by a lottery ticket for £1). We do still buy for each others’ children — although this year have all agreed to knock this on the head and operate a Secret Santa for the children, they all have too much stuff already — so one present is more bearable than another four!
If opting out isn’t an option, you could encourage the giving and receiving of more minimalist gifts;
- gourmet gifts, these don’t have to be bought — bake some cookies, make your own wine — (one of my sisters makes rhubarb wine using the rhubarb from her garden)
- bath-time treats, again you can try making your own. Bath bombs are cheap and easy to make, and are a really fun activity for you and your kids.
- personal vouchers — give your partner a voucher entitling them to a month’s worth of Saturday morning lie-ins and a cooked breakfast when they get up (okay make it 2 weeks worth), give your best friend a babysitting voucher (you babysit and they can go out on the town with their beloved)
- experiences — a trip to the theatre/circus/zoo for the kids. If they are younger children maybe you could include a book/DVD about the theatre/circus/zoo so they get some instant gratification too.
-subscriptions — music, (e)books, film service subscriptions
- time together — maybe pledge to have a family weekend away with all of your nearest and dearest using the money you would have spent on gifts.
When it comes to our own children both of us and Santa have been incredibly guilty, in Christmases past, of going completely over the top with the amount of gifts we have bought (and that Santa has delivered). So how do we begin to pare this down a little?
Both girls (now 8 and 5) are aware of my quest to declutter. They are looking forward to starting the #MinsGame — we’re going to do this during the 30 days of September. And they do seem to understand some of the benefits of less stuff and more experiences. With that in mind we’re suggesting they think about things they would like to do next year and places they’d like to visit, with a view to them receiving gifts of a weekend away or a trip to the theatre etc. Physical gifts (because we will still buy them a gift or two) will be focused around (hopefully minimalist) hobbies (maybe a camera to ignite a love of photography). But we’ll see how this develops in the run up to the festivities.
My husband does love to decorate (mostly our ceiling) with gold foil stars and red and gold foil garlands — each one inevitably falls down about 30 seconds after he has Blu-tacked them up (repeat 10 times until all Blu-tac has been used and maybe a drawing pin and some sticky tape for good measure). This year I am going to gently suggest we ditch the halls with boughs of holly and the foil 80s throwbacks, and maybe just have a tree instead?
My favourite thing that we do is bedeck the Christmas tree with souvenirs.
When we go on holiday the kids inevitably want to buy a piece of crap, — sorry I mean a souvenir. So we let them do this, and we use the ‘souvenir’ as a Christmas tree decoration — these have included castanets, a Whitby Lucky Duck, shells on string (wow), a Czech peg doll etc .
Okay our tree is not going to win any home style awards, but it works for us because;
- the kids are happy with their souvenir
- we are happy that said souvenir is small (it has to hang on a tree after all)
- the souvenir is confined to the Christmas decoration box and only gets an airing once a year
- decorating the tree is a lovely experience where we can look at the souvenirs and reminisce about all of our trips away
So that’s just a few of my initial thoughts on a slightly more minimalist Christmas. What would you do to have yourself a merry minimalist Christmas? And you can’t say ‘ban it’ because that would just be too Bah Humbug! :-)