How to Have A Minimalist Christmas
Christmas is all too often a season of excess, stress and overwhelm and choosing to make your festivities minimalist is a potential answer to all three issues.
A minimalist Christmas doesn’t equate to a stingy, miserable Christmas – quite the opposite in fact! Not drowning in unnecessary presents, shopping and food and drink is often far more joyful, hassle free and creates space for precious moments.
Being minimalist is all about focusing on the things we really value and removing the other stuff. At Christmas that can mean reducing waste, excess and unnecessary overload – what could be better for a happy holiday season?
1. Buy intentionally and with purpose
A minimalist Christmas doesn’t necessarily mean buying fewer gifts, though it may result in that.
It’s more about buying with more thought and more purpose and cutting out the unnecessary.
It’s about avoiding buying tokens, trinkets and novelties that will be discarded or stored and instead seeking to only purchase or gift things that will be really useful or loved.
If there aren’t material items that fit into that category, consider gifting experiences instead. Vouchers or tokens for something that will create a fabulous and cherished memory is often far more valued.
2. Spend only what you can afford
How would you feel if you discovered that a friend, loved one or relation had got themselves into a sticky financial situation in order to buy you gifts? Awful, presumably. And anyone who cares about you would surely feel the same.
Often, we get caught in a vicious circle of buying because it’s expected. It may well be the case that someone is stretching themselves to buy for you and you’re stretching to buy for them, just because neither of you wants the embarrassment of raising the topic. Worse still, the well-intentioned gifts being purchased may not be truly necessary and whilst the thought and effort is no doubt valued, perhaps the actual item is not.
It can be truly freeing to have a frank conversation with people you often exchange gifts with to explain you want to reduce the excess of Christmas and free them of it too. Maybe suggest making some time for each other around the festive season instead. Rather than exchanging a physical gift, perhaps you could have a coffee together?
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert, famously made a compelling case for this in his ‘It’s time to ban unnecessary Christmas presents’ speech.
3. Club together
Rather than buying yet another toy for a child in your life, perhaps not being certain if they’ll really like it or if it’ll just sit at the back of a cupboard, why not find out a higher price tag item they’d love or would be truly useful and organise to club together with others to get that instead?
The same principle applies with the grown ups you buy for. Rather than them receiving lots of little inconsequential items, perhaps you could club together to pay for an item they really desire, some special tickets or a special meal?
Older relatives are often the first to say they don’t really need anything and yet they’re rarely listened to. Maybe find out what would really make a difference to them and see if it’s viable if a number of people are contributing. Maybe a really comfortable chair, some fantastic garden furniture or, in these times of video calls, technology to make that possible, perhaps with the addition, for those who aren’t already savvy users, of a promise of your support in learning how to work it.
4. Think quality and practicality
It’s easy at Christmas to buy lots of little knick knacks, especially where stockings are considered.
Often stockings are full of throw away plastic novelties and other totally unrequired things. When you’re shopping, try to think about quality and practicality. That’s not to say that something that’s merely desired as opposed to really needed is always a waste. Just ensure it really is desired rather than just on your list to pad things out and add another present to the pile.
Practical gifts sometimes seem dull, but sometimes they’re exactly what someone really wants. When something is desired and necessary, you’re really winning.
5. Discuss your plans
The fifth and possibly most vital point on the list is to be intentional and open about your desire and plans for a minimalist Christmas.
Consider what a minimalist Christmas means to you and how you want to make it happen and then talk to people around you about it as early in the year as possible.
If you don’t want your loved ones to spend money on gifts for you – let them know. Perhaps offer an alternative instead such as ‘I’d much rather have some of your company, maybe we can make a date to get together or to have a video call instead’.
Don’t be embarrassed about your desire to reduce the excess of Christmas. Ultimately what you’re saying is that you want more of the meaningful, more of the magic and less of the material and who can’t get behind that?