We are officially just a few weeks away from Christmas! The tree is up, the wreath is hung and I’ve started listening to Christmas music every chance I get, but besides those traditional things, this year is going to be a little different.
As I thought about what we wanted or needed for Christmas, I looked around the house… and thought long and hard….but I couldn’t think of a single thing. I was at a loss when the family asked us what they could get us, and then it hit me. We didn’t need anything. Our home and hearts are full. So this Christmas we decided to approach gift giving in a new way. The minimalist way.
Year over year, we rush around to buy meaningless gifts and give them to our friends and family, but why? Why do we buy things that have no purpose, nor value? I want my family to receive meaningful gifts that they will cherish for a lifetime or something that is practical, right? I want this year’s gifting to not feel obligatory, but memorable instead.
My mom has always been a practical gift giver. Of course she buys a few of those frivolous gifts we ask for, but for the most part she always gets us things that we actually need and can use. I’ll never forget the year she bought me a Swifter for Christmas. It was the year after I graduated from college and living out on my own. I knew exactly what it was when I saw it wrapped up, but a Swifter….for Christmas?? Now, here I am a few years later and I am grateful for that Swifter. I don’t know where the costume jewelry is that I asked for or the trendy fashion vest is that I just had to have, but I still have that Swifter to this day.
As J and I discussed how we were going to approach this year’s gifting strategy, we knew for certain that the easiest starting point was to forego buying gifts for each other. For our 1st married Christmas, we are going to fill our hearts and arms with love instead of a pair of shoes to throw in the closet and use that extra cash to pay off some debt – score! (that was a gift within itself) Now, the hard part was figuring out how to make this work with all the family holiday festivities.
For many folks in our family, gifting is a love language. For them, not buying someone a gift on Christmas would be a burden on their heart. So instead of insisting on no gifts, we made some some compromises and turned the gift exchange into a game and we are happy to report that both sides of the family are in!
So here’s how we are doing it. For one side of the family, we are playing a version of Dirty Santa. This is where everyone buys one gift for the game and in the end, ends up with one gift. That’s a win win for everyone! Now we’ve set some ground rules to ensure that there are no gag gifts, but rather only things that you, as the gifter, would want or need for yourself. That way, everyone goes home with something of some value and some laughs to last them until next year!
For the other side of the family we are drawing names in order to eliminate buying gifts for each individual person. This means that we buy one gift and receive one gift! For this approach we are able to provide 3 recommendations on what we might want, giving us an opportunity to request something we actually need, rather than receiving a gadget we will forget about once we return home.
Our minimalist Christmas is saving us an estimated $400 this year, but filling our hearts with love, our hands with a few practical gifts and memories to cherish forever!
If you are interested in having a minimalist Christmas, I am sharing a few tips below that are helping us this year!
- Avoid the ads and those pesky door busters. In fact, we skipped Black Friday AND Cyber Monday all together! Crazy, I hear ya! But you know what, we didn’t need those thingys and gizmos in our life and we are doing just fine with out them, but we now have money saved in our pocket because of our choice to refrain!
- Give experiential gifts. One of the most memorable Christmases was when my parents bought me a ticket for a mission trip to New York City. I couldn’t even tell you what else I got that year, but I do remember how much that one gift meant to me. Try giving tickets to a concert or a show or even a little trip, the experience and memories will live on long after the gift is opened.
- Give consumable things. Who doesn’t love a bottle of wine or some goods from a local shop in your hometown? These things go hand-in-hand with experiences.
- Give your time. Visiting with family over the holidays is one of my most favorite things. To see those that live miles and miles away is priceless, just spending time in their presence is enough. Another way to gift time is to volunteer. There are countless places to lend a hand over the holiday season to show love to communities across the world. An act of kindness and love is far more valuable than a gift, in most cases.
In what other ways are you living a minimalist life? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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I’m partying over here too!