Are you new to minimalism? Will this be your first Christmas, or holiday period as a minimalist? Perhaps you have been living the simple life for a while now but the holiday season always seems to leave your relatives and friends completely confused by your behaviour.
If you fit into the above or you would simply like some new tips on how to enjoy the holiday season as a minimalist, you’ve come to the right place.
Breaking it to Friends and Family
When you begin making changes toward a minimalist lifestyle at some point you will have to tell your loved ones that you no longer wish to give or receive material gifts. When you first bring this up let your loved ones know that you value time and presence, and that you will be giving plenty of both in place of traditional gifts. For some of your friends and family this will be devastating. Many of us have long associated the holidays, particularly Christmas day with unwrapping presents. Some people in your circle will totally get it, and may even be relieved that they don’t have to struggle to find you a gift that you will like. Others will almost certainly try to get you a gift any way, these are the ones that you really need to sit down with and explain that you really, really don’t want anything from them. For the latter, take them out for a cuppa and try the following:
- Explain to them why you’ve decided to adopt a less is more lifestyle.
- Encourage them to learn about minimalism for themselves.
- Let them know what you would like in place of gifts, such as a home made pie, or something you would use like a big jar of your favourite coffee.
Be patient with the few people that still insist on giving you gifts, for them presents may always equal love so repetition and plenty of warning are the best keys you have. Let them know repeatedly and long before hand that you only want their company and maybe a nice photo of the two of you together.
What To Give in Place of Gifts
For so long, we’ve been fed this idea, that tangible presents equate to love. Its pretty tough on the human spirit when we think it can be packaged down into a little box, a sparkling ring or iPad. I am here to tell you stuff that can be brought with money in no way equals love and should never be held against someones worth. Not you, nor your loved ones can have a dollar value, and your worth as a human being could never be equated to something as limited as that which can be packaged on a shelf.
So with that in mind, if you still desire to give something, which of itself is not a bad thing, what do you give?
Experiences: This is my absolute favourite gift idea. Instead of giving a tangible gift, give an experience instead. This could look like: tickets to a show for yourself and your loved one, entry to a waterpark for your family, a massage for two lovebirds, the list is endless. The idea is that your gift is that which will strengthen the relationship between yourself and the receiver, because essentially you’re both enjoying a fun experience together. No, the receiver won’t have anything they can hold but instead a day spent doing something truly enjoyable with someone they love.
If you are looking for a totally free or low cost version of this you could try:
- For your partner, create a gift booklet which can be used for a ‘romantic massage’ or the “I’ve had a long day” foot massages performed by yourself.
- For children, a gift booklet could include ‘movie night of your choice together’, or ‘lets play football in the park together’.
Food and Drink: Not every experience needs to be costly, and one of the best gifts you can truly give is your time. It’s invaluable in today’s society; it will show your loved ones that you care and it will deepen your connection with them. During the holiday season instead of bringing gifts that can be unwrapped, tell your family or friends that you will be bringing a dish or two that can be shared.
I love being cooked for and somehow other people’s cooking always tastes a little nicer than my own. Ultimately cooking a meal for someone else and sharing it together is the gift of delicious food, love and time well spent together. If there are many people in your world that you had previously bought gifts for, ask them instead if around the holidays you could take them out to coffee or tea, or for some cake! Catch-ups are beautiful and I promise they will satisfy your soul much more than a physical gift ever could.
Handmade: Some of the most useful presents I’ve ever received have been handmade. These include handmade coffee body scrubs, bath soaps and candles, of which I enjoyed using every last bit of. You could print some great family or friend photos and have them framed, or create a photo album to capture a special vacation or event of a loved one. Pinterest has an endless supply of great ideas for handmade gifts.
If I had to pick an all time favourite handmade gift it would be the old fashioned, handwritten letter. Whether its a love letter from my partner or a handwritten letter from a friend, I cherish every word. I have a small box of keepsake items and it is mostly filled with letters and cards that have deep meaning for me. It is very healing to read back through them if I’m ever having a tough day.
Cash to Burn: If you’re one of those folk who is blessed with excellent finances and you’re seeking to spend it on your loved ones, instead of buying them presents or more stuff they probably don’t need, find out what they do need that would take stress off their shoulders. Paying for a loved ones next electricity or gas bill, helping to pay off part of a loan such as student debt, or giving a gift card for the next few weeks of groceries; any of these would be a highly valuable gift for many families or individuals during the holiday season.
One recommendation I would like to make for the holiday season is to take care of yourself. It’s not called the busy season for no reason, but it does not have to be busy for you. Take some time to plan your time; look at the days you have off, when will you be with family? For how long? Do you need to block out some time in your calendar to relax on your own in between visits?
For some, seeing family can add a lot of stress. To counter this, plan your time well so that you are your priority. Plan for balance and if you know you will be staying with family for more than a day, create time each day for yourself such as going for a long walk on your own, or meditating each morning. These small things can be life savers if you’re not used to being social around the clock.
Today’s gifts are tomorrow’s garage sales. – Anon