by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 26th November, 2018
So you've decided to have a minimalist christmas - what does this even mean?
If you're new to the concept of minimalism, you may have only seen it in the context of popular pictures of nearly empty rooms on social media, or all-white bedding. In truth, minimalism is a lot more than just an aesthetic. It's a way of living that prioritises what is most valuable to you and aims to declutter your life. So really, there is no one way to have a minimalist christmas, it will look different depending on your existing lifestyle and family.
For many people who are just starting out on their minimalist journey, the gift-giving season is daunting. On the one hand, you've newly embraced a life of less clutter and junk, but on the other hand you don't want to be rude to friends and family. Approaching the situation tactfully is key here, so here are some important tips to implement when attempting a minimalist christmas.
Probably the number one rule of a minimalist christmas is to let your friends and family know well ahead of time. This prevents them from going out and buying your christmas gifts early, only for you to turn around ask them not to get you gifts at all. It also prepares them for the idea of you not getting them bunches of gifts too and gives them time to prepare and think about what they might get you instead.
Many family members, especially parents and grandparents, don't take so kindly to the idea of leaving one person out of their gift-buying. It can feel saddening to them, or they may just think the whole idea is ridiculous. Either way, you should come up with a list of minimalist gifts that your friends and family can buy you, if they insist on buying you gifts. Try to think about things that would really add value to your life, and if they're expensive items such as a camera, suggest that perhaps more than one family member could contribute to the gift. If there are any non-material gift ideas you like, such as a spa date or new book for your kindle, let them know that you'd appreciate that too.
If there is truly nothing that you really want or need, try setting up a fund that family members can donate to. It could be for a charity of your choice, an investment in your future such as further education or a house, or it could just be there as a holiday fund. This way your relatives get a quick and easy option that allows them to fulfill their need to gift you something, and you can raise money for a cause of your choice!
Want to be more minimalist, but still want to contribute to the gift-giving? That's perfectly normal, it's fun to give gifts and it's often very awkward if you're the only one not giving gifts at christmas.
Start by asking your friends and family what they would really appreciate as a gift, normally people have some ideas of what they could benefit from. This ensures that you're not just buying commercial junk that ends up in a landfill.
When you can, look for the same items second hand, whether it be from a thrift store or online on sites like eBay. Lot's of secondhand items are in very good condition that the receiver of the gift may not even notice that it's secondhand. Vintage clothing is also very popular at the moment, so looking for clothes at a thrift store is a safe bet.
You could also offer experiential gifts, potentially even something that you and the friend or family member could do together. There are tonnes of cheap coupons for days out on sites like Groupon, and oftentimes the wackier it is the better it is.
If you're kids are a little older, explaining to them what minimalism is and why you want to have a minimalist christmas can be tricky. Kids are often very resistant to the idea of cutting down on christmas presents. One method that many parents find useful is adopting the "something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read". This way you cut down the presents to four for each child, a book, some clothing, something they need such as new stationary for school and something they want like a toy. This helps to greatly reduce the amount of clutter and toys filling up the house while also providing the kids with a good christmas experience.
Other family members often feel at a loss with what to buy kids, and may not appreciate you insisting that they don't buy clutter and toys. Many new minimalists accept these kind of gifts from other family members and simply donate them when they aren't useful or valuable anymore.
Not everyone is going to understand why you are trying to minimize the holiday season, and that's okay. There's nothing wrong with accepting gifts, even if they aren't going to add much value to your life. The act of gift-giving itself is what's ultimately important. Many people feel guilty for choosing to donate or get rid of gifts they don't want or need, but there's no need. The point of the gift itself is to express that person's love for you, and once it's done that, there's no need to keep it in your life if it isn't serving you anymore.