The Christmas before we started our minimalist journey was insane. I went all out. I was so excited about Christmas morning; all I could do was buy everything in sight for my children. I not only bought more than they needed, but I also bought WAY more than we could afford.
On Christmas morning that year, I hardly slept – I was so excited to see my kids’ faces as they opened their presents. My children didn’t even make it halfway through opening their gifts when they became anxious. You see, I wanted the gifts for them…and they just wanted to stop opening gifts so that they could play with the toys they already opened.
Within a few short days, the pile of presents that had been given to the children were just collecting dust in the corner of their rooms…and the kids were walking around the house saying that they were bored.
The January after that Christmas is when we started our minimalism journey.
So, let’s discuss the feelings that come with Christmas from a consumer standpoint. The two largest points of tribulation I felt for our first Minimalist Christmas were: guilt from not getting my children a TON of things and worry that they may be disappointed.
You see, we are extremely lucky that we can meet our children’s needs year-round without any worry…but with that understanding comes incredible responsibility. Raising materialistic children is not something I want…and materialistic children undoubtedly turn into materialistic adults.
Christmas is something we celebrate, not something we buy. In knowing that, can we just take a minute to agree that consumerist Christmas is just a big ole’ guilt trip?
It is time to break the cycle.
Warning: The months of accepting minimalism into our lives, provided adequate time for our children to adjust. By the following Christmas, our children fully understood that less was more. If you are attempting to go from a position in which you get your child everything on their wish list – to a minimalist Christmas, it may not go over as well as you would hope. With that said, I have a few ways to help make the transition to a minimalist Christmas easier for everyone involved.
Talk to your relatives.
This was a difficult task as my children are blessed with so many wonderful individuals in their lives who LOVE to give them gifts. Now, I’m not encouraging you to tell them not to get your child anything for Christmas – I’m simply telling you to suggest items that may fall more in line with the Minimalist Christmas you have in mind. For example: One year we were really into practical gifts, and we asked that grandparents give money towards swim lessons for Christmas. Another year we suggested memberships to places such as the zoo, or aquarium.
Be mindful of your gift-giving.
Minimalism is a concept that is played out and understood by all in our family. It is an ongoing conversation between my husband and me with our children. When it comes to giving gifts to others, talking to your children about the gifts you have chosen for relatives/friends is important.
For example: I have 7 nieces and nephews. My sisters and I choose to buy an ornament for each child for Christmas. That ornament is something meaningful that describes their year or current interests. The hope is that one day they will have a wonderful start on their own Christmas tree that is filled with fantastic memories of their life. My children understand that their Aunts and Uncles will be giving them an ornament each year, and they get so excited to see what it is.
Set up new Christmas Eve/Christmas Day Traditions.
Setting up new traditions around the holidays that are not just focused on opening gifts is important. Elliot and I sat out to create activities that allow us to spend quality time as a family and provide fun memories for all of us to hold onto. If you’re looking for fun new traditions, might I suggest: Making Christmas cookies, driving around to view Christmas lights, taking holiday cards to the hospital, playing a new board game or just sitting back as a family to watch a Christmas movie together.
So, how do we choose gifts for our children so that we have a Minimalist Christmas? I’m sure you have all heard a version of this list…but this is the one we use:
Our Children get 5 presents from us, and 1 item from Santa:
- Something they want. (This item is a big-ticket item. Something that keeps them awake at night dreaming of owning.)
- Something they need. (Be it sporting equipment or new art supplies, this category provides the children with a gift that will help them on the extracurricular end of things.)
- Something to wear. (In the past I have chosen the wear category to give my children new coats, jeans, etc. This year I am handling this category a bit differently. I am giving our children a weighted blanket to “wear” over them at night. This is an item they have all been begging for since Elliot and I bought one last fall.)
- Something to read.
- Family activity (usually a game we can all play together, or an activity we can go enjoy as a family).
- Santa Gift.
Even though our Christmas has changed over the last few years, the magic of Christmas still rings true in our household. If minimalism is something you want for your home, we hope that this list helps you transition your Christmas from a consumer to minimalist.
May this holiday season provide you with the opportunity to grow and learn as a family.